A second subscription community bus service has been relaunched with concessionary bus pass holders travelling for free for the first six months.
Torbay Community Development Trust was forced to withdraw the number 65 bus in 2018, but the service which runs between The Willows and Market Street in Torquay via Hele, St Marychurch, Babbacombe and Plainmoor was back on the road this week.
Funding from Torbay Council will allow Our Bus to operate both the 65 and 61 service whilst a core of subscribers are recruited to keep the service running independently.
The subscription service is modelled on the number 61 service, which has been running between Livermead, St Lukes and Torquay since November 2019 – believed to be the first community bus service in the country to be funded solely by its passengers.
One of the first to take advantage of the reinstated service, which left from outside Marks and Spencer in the Willows on Tuesday, was Val Baker, who joined the service near her home in Babbacombe; it was her first trip to town since the pandemic started.
“It’s a lifeline for many people and a lot of elderly people feel very isolated and trapped in their own homes with shopping being the biggest problem for them,” she said “I was able to pop into a couple of shops before getting the bus back again. It was great.”
Seventy-seven-year-old Val was one of the original campaigners for the service when a private operator was forced to give up when subsidies were withdrawn and was devastated when the replacement 65 Our Bus service also stopped two and a half years ago.
“It is so good to see it back. It isn’t just a bus it is a community bus and everyone on it today was so happy, chatting away,” she added.
TCDT’s Community Transport Coordinator, Kelly Bedoyan said: “We are delighted to be able to bring this service back as we know how much it is needed and we are grateful to Torbay Council for helping make it happen.”
The Our Bus 65 service runs from 9am to 5pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and full details can be found on the TCDT website: https://www.torbaycdt.org.uk/core-work/ourbus-torbay/
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