A fleet of ‘on-demand’ green minibuses will provide services to people in areas hit by transport cuts from this summer. The buses will get called to a location via an app on a smartphone or a phone call, and will take passengers to the nearest ‘transport corridor’ where they can get a bus or a train.
The WEST link minibus service will operate in ‘green zones’ across the West of England, including in parts of Bristol like Windmill Hill, Knowle, Brislington and St Anne’s. Tickets will cost £2.30 for up to three miles, and £3.30 for up to four miles. Journeys within city areas will cost £2.
The West of England Combined Authority is funding the service with money secured from the Government. Mayor Dan Norris said the scheme was also less likely to be hit by driver shortages as they will not need the licence required for driving a traditional bus.
He said: “Everyone knows the buses don’t currently work as well as we need them to, so it’s time to try something new.
“I know change is difficult and people will be concerned about other cuts to supported bus services funded through local councils. But WEST link will provide a much-needed new public transport option to help people get out and about to their destinations.”
The service will start in the summer, with a company contract to be announced in the coming weeks.
Bristol and the surrounding region have been impacted by bus cuts over the past few months. There’s also been a shortage of drivers which means some scheduled services have not been running.
In 2020, Transport for Wales announced a similar idea for in-demand minibuses in 11 areas. And it has since proved popular, serving 50,000 trips in its first year.
Mr Norris said ‘clever technology’ on the WEST link will use algorithms to best join up several people’s needs, combining them into one trip to get passengers to where they need to be as efficiently as possible.
The service will run between 7am-7pm Monday-Saturday. For more information, click here.