EVENING and late-night bus services are set to return between Minehead and Taunton after Somerset County Council announced it planned to subsidise the journeys.

Currently, the last bus back to Minehead leaves Taunton at 7.30pm on weekdays, with the final bus departing Bancks Street, Minehead, at 6.55pm.

From the New Year, the county hopes to be able to introduce a timetable where the last bus from Taunton leaves at 10.30pm and the final service from Minehead departs at 10.15pm.

Minehead BID manager Karen Morledge said the proposed changes were a welcome initiative for people who needed to attend evening activities in Taunton but were currently unable to use public transport to do so.

Ms Morledge said: “This is a great opportunity for the businesses of Minehead to enable additional people to visit the town to enjoy some shopping and enjoy our range of eateries in the town.

“There is, of course, a lot on offer in Taunton, but at Minehead we are proud to offer even more choice with so many wonderful independent stores, and of course at the seaside.

“We welcome this move from our colleagues at Somerset County Council and we very much hope this will be implemented in the New Year.”

The proposed evening bus routes still have to be formally approved by the county council, which has been working with Somerset Bus Partnership on a ‘Bus It’ campaign, which aims to support improvements and encourage more people to use their local bus services.

However, a council spokesman said it was hoped evening buses would help boost the night-time economies in Taunton and other towns on the evening network, as well as supporting people who worked outside of 9-5 hours or needed to attend training and education courses.

The council’s transport and digital portfolio holder Cllr Mike Rigby said: “Evening buses are a vital part of our plans if we’re going to get more people using services.

“They will help improve the night-time economy but they also mean people have more options if they do not have access to a car or want to leave their car at home.

“At the moment our public transport system cannot compare to what is available in big urban areas – the services just are not there, but we want to change that.

“This is an important major step towards giving people in Somerset better public transport options during the evening.

“It is vital people use the services and make them sustainable in the long-run so they become a permanent fixture.”