FREE bus travel for a day is being offered to residents along two routes out of Taunton next week to encourage people to enjoy a festive outing.

They are the No 25 bus which travels via Norton Fitzwarren, Cotford St Luke, Wiveliscombe, and Waterrow to Dulverton, and the No 28 to Minehead, which serves Bishop’s Lydeard, Williton, Watchet, and Dunster.

Travel on the two buses will be free all day on Tuesday, December 19, as Somerset Council uses Government funding to promote public transport.

Both services are at risk of being dropped or reduced at the end of March, 2024, because they are not used enough to make them viable.

Somerset Council is currently using Government Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus (BSIP Plus) funding to subsidise the routes but has said it cannot continue to do so after March.

First Bus South said it cannot continue operating the routes without subsidy because not enough passengers were using them.

So, on December 19 passengers will be able to jump on and ride for free without any ticket, voucher, or code.

It is the latest round of a ‘Bus It’ campaign supported by the Somerset Bus Partnership and Buses of Somerset, to support the at-risk routes and try to boost passenger numbers.

Somerset executive Cllr Mike Rigby, said: “This is an excellent initiative.

“We are grateful to First Bus South for doing this, and we hope it will persuade people to try out their local bus route and have a great day out, while leaving the car at home for a change.

“It might not be free the rest of the year, but bus fares are just £2 for any single journey in Somerset until December, 2024, that is amazing value.

“We really want people to value and help protect these routes and the best way of doing that is to use them.

“The services are more reliable and if you choose to Bus It to work or the shops you will be saving hard-earned cash.

“It is worth checking our Bus It page to find out more.”

First Bus South said it would review the routes before the subsidies end next year, taking into account new data on passenger uptake. 

Company director James Eustace said: “We are proud to be supporting this fantastic initiative, helping people realise the many benefits of using the buses.

“By offering free travel, we want to encourage people to try the bus, perhaps to go to their Christmas shopping, go to a restaurant, or to explore the local area.”

Bus journeys can be planned using the council’s Think Travel portal here.