Conservative led Wiltshire Council has launched a new, flexible, on-demand bus service to connect rural communities in the Pewsey Vale area.
At a celebration event held today (Thursday 3 August), at the Vale Health and Wellbeing Centre in Pewsey, Wiltshire Council launched a new, flexible, on-demand bus service to connect rural communities in the Pewsey Vale area.
The first of five new on-demand and semi-flexible bus services covers the area west of Pewsey, from Pewsey to Devizes.
Wiltshire Connect is different from a conventional bus service, in that people can book journeys at a time to suit them using the Wiltshire Connect app or by phone. Anyone can book and travel between any designated pick up and drop off point within each travel zone, and the council's smart technology matches up journeys with other passengers travelling in the same direction. The technology has been developed by Ioki, which has extensive experience of supporting similar on-demand transport across Europe.
The service uses modern, accessible, air-conditioned vehicles that are available to book between 6am-8pm Monday-Friday and 7am-7pm on Saturdays. Rides can be booked up to seven days ahead and with as little as 30 minutes' notice on the day, subject to availability.
Wiltshire Connect costs £2 for adults for all journeys until 31 October, and then £2-£2.50 for adults from 1 November 2023 to 30 November 2024, depending on the length of the journey. Following that, the standard fares for all journeys will be £2 or £3 for adults. Children and young people aged under 21 pay half fare of £1 or £1.50, depending on the length of the journey. Ten journey tickets are also available for both adults and young people at a reduced rate.
This first service has launched at the same time as the revised 101 service between Pewsey and Devizes, which is a semi-flexible bus service that sticks to a planned route and timetable but can deviate from that route when there is customer demand to do so.
Two further on-demand services will get under way over the coming months; a service that covers Marlborough and the Great Bedwyn area launching on 4 September, followed by one that will extend east of Marlborough as far as Hungerford later in the autumn. There will also be a new, semi-flexible route between Marlborough and Devizes. The council has worked in partnership with GWR to highlight the improved connectivity with Wiltshire Connect and the rail network at Hungerford, Bedwyn and Pewsey.
The new services are being funded by a £1.2m grant from the Government's Rural Mobility Fund following a successful bid by the council. All the services are being run by Salisbury Reds but feature striking green Wiltshire Connect branding.
Cllr Caroline Thomas, Cabinet Member for Transport, said:
Wiltshire Connect will revolutionise bus travel in the Pewsey Vale area and beyond, linking rural communities, reducing social isolation and helping people to travel at a time to suit them while, at the same time, reducing the environmental impact of carbon emissions compared with using a car.
It's really easy for people of all ages to book their bus journey on the smartphone app, or by calling our dedicated phone line, up to seven days before they wish to travel or with as little as 30 minutes' notice.
Wiltshire Connect meets our Business Plan commitments to have vibrant, well-connected communities with improved rural bus links, and with links to GWR services at Pewsey, Bedwyn and Hungerford stations, more people can leave the car at home to travel to a range of destinations across the country and beyond.
The Wiltshire Connect app is available to download on Apple and Android devices, and anyone without access to a smartphone can call 01225 712900 to book their ride. To find out more about Wiltshire Connect, including route maps, people can go to www.wiltshireconnect.co.uk(opens new window).