More buses on their way to North Somerset communities
On-demand transport is to be introduced in North Somerset, allowing many people who are currently without local service to get back on the bus.
The new Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) services go where they are needed and operate without a fixed timetable, typically using smaller vehicles than regular bus services. North Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority have been working together on contracts for these new services, which are due to become operational from Monday 3 April this year.
A number of assisted and commercially operated bus services were suspended in North Somerset last year so this will be particularly good news for the communities affected.
On-demand transport will bring public transport to areas of North Somerset that have traditionally had difficulty maintaining scheduled services due to low passenger demand, or that may not have been accessible to larger vehicles.
The areas set to benefit from DRT zones are still being evaluated and adjusted over time to accommodate demand, but the broad areas where they are expected to become operational are:
• Weston-super-Mare (Locking, Hutton, Worlebury and surrounding hamlets)
• the south-east of North Somerset, including Bristol Airport
• the south-west/south-east of North Somerset, including Axbridge in Somerset.
Cllr Steve Hogg, Executive Member for Highways and Transport at North Somerset Council, said: “This development is such good news for communities struggling to access public transport since a number of commercial services were suspended last year due to declining ridership A demand-driven service allows buses to go where they are needed and using smaller vehicles is better for the environment.
“We have high hopes for DRT. It’s not a miracle cure, but it’s an important step. There is no fixed route and no fixed timetable – the bus comes to you.”
Initially, 16 buses will operate in North Somerset Monday to Saturday from 7am to 7pm. Passengers can book their rides by phone or via a mobile app.
Buses are available for short journeys or to connect to the wider public transport network.
Fares are based on local bus fares and discounted Diamond Travel passes are accepted, along with multi-operator West of England ticketing for seamless onward travel.
In May 2022, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that North Somerset Council would receive equity funding of almost £48 million to improve bus services in North Somerset over the next three years. The Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) outlines a major investment program by North Somerset Council in partnership with the West of England Combined Authority. The goal is to improve the quality and delivery of bus services to a level that creates an attractive alternative to using private vehicles.
Cllr Steve Bridger, Chair of the Council, added: “Our aim is to make public transport available to everyone who needs it. Delivering on-demand services in low-density areas is key to this and will also help us accelerate the decarbonization of transport – a key priority for us as part of our commitment to address the climate emergency.”
More details will be announced in the coming weeks before the services launch in April.