Saturday Park and Ride to stop on 30 December

Taunton’s Saturday Park and Ride bus services will stop at the end of December as the County Council continues to manage reduced Government funding.

The withdrawal of the services was among measures announced in the summer to help bridge an £18m funding gap. They have been kept running until the end of December to cater for festive shoppers but will cease operating on 30 December.

The Council can confirm that Buses of Somerset will be running a new Saturday service from the town to Musgrove Park Hospital – addressing one of the key issues raised about the stopping of the services.

Consideration will be given to temporarily running Saturday Park and Ride services again on an ad hoc basis in support of major events and busy periods, such as the run up Christmas.

Councillor John Woodman, Cabinet Member for Transport and Highways, said: “We have to make the very best use of every pound of hard-earned tax payers’ money.

“Saturday use is considerably lower than that on week days and there are parking spaces in town – so unfortunately continuing to subsidise this service is something that we cannot make stack-up.

“The well-used weekday Park and Ride services will of course continue and we will still be spending more than £200,000 a year subsidising them, along with around £1.5m subsidising non-profitable bus services.”

Somerset County Council needs to find around £18m of savings this financial year following massive reductions in funding from central Government and rising demand for key services. The main central Government grant to the County Council for this financial year is down by around £16m and due to fall by a further £10m next year.

The stopping of the Saturday service is expected to save around £45,000 a year.

The number of Saturday passenger journeys at the Park and Ride averages below 600 (so less than 300 passengers), compared with the week day average of more than 1,400 journeys.

The Buses of Somerset Saturday service will run from town centre stops to Musgrove Park every 20 minutes between 7.30am and 8pm.