New ‘stop-to-stop’ service launched

PEOPLE living in Pucklechurch, Shortwood, Siston and other rural areas will be able to book a new minibus service to link them to major bus routes from April.

The green WESTlink minibuses do not run to a timetable – instead they are booked up to 24 hours in advance by phone, online or using an app, similar to a dial-a-ride service.

But the destinations for the buses will be limited to existing stops elsewhere on the transport network, such as bus stops for metrobus or park and ride services, and the service is not a “substitute for getting a taxi,” according to Metro Mayor Dan Norris.

The “stop-to-stop” service, funded by the West of England Combined Authority using £3 million from the government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan, will eventually include 30 minibuses across the region in areas which do not have a regular mainstream bus service, which means Emersons Green and Lyde Green will not be covered.

Single fares will cost £2 for adults and £1 for children, for any length of journey, with concessionary and older people’s bus passes accepted on the services, which will run from Monday to Saturday from 7am to 7pm.

People will have the option of paying in advance or in cash on the minibus.

The new services are the largest “demand responsive transport” scheme in the country, having only been run before on a much smaller scale.

Mr Norris said: “This is a major investment for a key project. And it’s new to us all, so it certainly won’t be plain sailing. Undoubtedly things will go wrong, but we’re ready to learn as we go along.”

The services will be run by two operators, global public transport, logistics and tech company Via and WeDRT, which has experience of working with Transport for West Midlands.