On behalf of Halse Parish Council, they are looking at ways to improve facilities for our residents and recognising that our population is higher than the national average age. One aspect we are exploring is the re-introduction of a weekly bus service to Taunton. Previously a bus was operated by Somerset County Council which ran from Halse through Fitzhead and into Taunton one day a week, returning later in the same day. It allowed those without a car or preferring not to drive, to visit shops, banks, hairdressers, socialise or, simply, enjoy the town for a few hours.
Halse PC have approached Berrys Coaches about utilising their school bus operation on its empty journeys. The idea would be that the bus collects children as it passes through and deposits at Kingsmead in a morning. Then returns to Taunton through Fitzhead, Halse and Ash Priors between, say between 9am and 9.30am and drops off in Taunton around 10am. Similarly, in the afternoon it would collect villagers from Taunton at about 2.30pm, deliver them back to the district and then continue to Kingsmead for the school run.
Berrys are interested in the proposal, but it is early days and not made easier by current circumstances meaning that their services are very limited. However, whilst we are in this predicament what would help is to try and access potential demand for a service as described to run, initially, say one day a week.
They do not wish to limit this opportunity by age, it will be open to all, but it may not operate during school holidays and so is unlikely to work for under 17s. This service may be good for those who might prefer to avoid the hassle of driving and parking even if they are well able and it could be considered better for the climate!
Regarding cost for the service, this will have to be discussed once potential uptake is known. Depending on Berrys, it could be done on a fare basis or a set operating cost. In the case of the latter there may be local means that might assist, like the Halse Support Fund.