New bus to keep West Dart ‘lifeline’ on road
A BRAND new bus has taken to the road serving as a lifeline for outlying districts in and around Dartmouth.
The West Dart bus has been running for nearly 30 years providing public transport from Dittisham, Blackawton and the associated hamlets every Friday into Dartmouth, twice a month into Totnes and monthly to Newton Abbot.
Now the voluntary-run operation has taken delivery of a new vehicle to secure the future of the service that has been a focal point of community life since August 1985.
Chairman Jerry Neville said: ‘There were then and still are no schedule busses serving these villages. It’s no wonder that our passengers describe the West Dart Bus as a lifeline.
‘Back in 1985, the return fare to Dartmouth was 90p. Today it is still a very reasonable £4 return but, with national bus passes in operation, a lot of our passengers enjoy a free service.
‘Our 10 drivers are all volunteers drawn from the two villages. It’s quite a commitment, but they would all say that they feel it a priviledge and a pleasure to be able to do this.
‘The co-ordination of all this operation has been efficiently done for the last 20 odd years by Shirley Edmonds, who has also been a driver during all this time.’
Mr Neville said the vehicle also operates as a school bus during term times, taking Dittisham children to and from Blackawton Primary School.
‘This greater commitment demands a paid driver, but the service is supported financially by Devon County Council,’ he said.
‘This, together with the weekly village runs, provides the finance to enable us to renew our bus when we feel that it is appropriate to do so.
‘Our new bus, like our old one, is a smart and comfortable Mercedes, but is more efficient and incorporates up-to-date safety requirements.
‘Our old bus is still in very good condition and we have sold it to the Harbourne Shuttle, a similar operation to ours serving the Totnes area, where we hope it will give many more years of active service.’