First Bus say their X54 route does not attract enough passengers and is not viable

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A bus service linking Exeter with Axmouth and Colyton is being axed.

From March 24, First Bus is withdrawing the X54 route serving the two communities, saying it is not commercially viable.

The company says it will continue running the X53 Exeter to Poole service but with some changes to the timetable.

The services have operated with funding from both Devon and Dorset county councils since 2008. As they will now be run on a commercial basis, the bus company’s decision on route and timetable are now outside the control of the two authorities.

Operators say that due to the relatively low number of passengers and likely cost of reinstatement there is currently no immediate scope for reinstating the X54. Colyton passengers have an alternative, albeit less direct, means of getting to and from Exeter - via Seaton, Honiton or Axminster on other services. Axmouth also retains a link with Seaton through the Axe Valley Service 899.

First’s revised X53 timetable will see the 1645, 1745 and 1845 buses from Exeter replaced with two departures at 1700 and 1900. Bus operator Stagecoach will be providing a new ‘53’ service which will cover the 1745 from Exeter to Seaton and Colyford, and 1930 from Seaton to Exeter. These services will accept all First tickets.

County council highways spokesman Stuart Hughes said: “We would always welcome a bus service being taken on commercially as it demonstrates growing patronage, which has to be viewed positively. However, the downside here is the change to the service, but we have to respect the right of First’s management team to make its decisions. It’s unfortunate that not all routes on the service prove themselves to be commercially viable, and we appreciate a number of local residents will be affected by the loss of the X54, but the decision to make these changes is out of the county council’s hands.

“Colyton passengers will still be able to travel to and from Exeter via Seaton, Honiton or Axminster, and I am pleased we have been able to work with Stagecoach on providing a commuter service from Exeter to Seaton and Colyford which will accept all First tickets. Hopefully, this will ensure that we still have a good level of service in the rural bus network to this part of Devon.”

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