THINGS are looking up for a community based around the number 65 bus route, which was saved following a residents’ petition one year ago this week.

Last summer, Monmouthshire County Council had planned to end the 65 service which runs between Monmouth and Chepstow, via several small villages.

But since that decision was reversed, the villagers who rallied together in defence of the 65 have enjoyed a brand-new bus, an expanded service, and greater sense of community spirit.

Rosemary Corcoran, who started that petition last year, said this week: “We’ve had a good 12 months – so much so that Monmouthshire put a new bus on the route. It’s much more user friendly and suitable.”

A Friends of the 65 Bus group keeps users updated with travel information, and Mrs Corcoran praised the group’s togetherness.

“We think of it as a community,” she said. “I feel like more people are using the bus now, to go to the local pub, or to Monmouth or Chepstow for lunch.”


Residents had feared the loss of the 65 bus route would further isolate villages, which had already lost other services such as pubs, post offices and shops.

The route was, and still is, relied upon by many older members of the community. Without the 65, they would have had no way to leave their villages and stay in contact with their circle of friends.

When presenting the residents’ petition to Monmouthshire council last year, Cllr Debby Blakebrough said any decision to remove public transport was in opposition to “Monmouthshire’s vision to end loneliness and isolation and to create a thriving and connected county”.

This week, Cllr Phil Murphy, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for resources, repeated the local authority’s commitment to tackling such problems.

He said: "We strive to maintain services for our communities.

“We have listened to what is important to the Friends of the 65 Service and continued the service, recently we also acquired funding for a new bus.

“Rural isolation and combatting loneliness is so important to us, where we constantly looking at ways to alleviate it.

“Transport is just one aspect that helps, being able to get out and about helps communities maintain their lives and boosts health and wellbeing.

“I would encourage more people to use this route, it’s a great way to travel along the beautiful countryside between Monmouthshire and the Wye Valley.”

As the one-year anniversary of the route’s rescue approaches, Monmouth MP David Davies congratulated the Friends of the 65 Bus group on their success.

I am delighted to hear that passenger number are increasing," he said.

"Continued efforts are being made to explore different ways of using the 65 service - which runs along one of the most picturesque routes in Wales - such as walking trips, visits to pubs and restaurants for lunch, or swapping car journeys for the bus.

"While it is good to be able to share positive news, it is now imperative to promote, develop and encourage more people to use this vital community link so that it does not come under threat again."