A NEW innovative shuttle bus service linking rural areas and outlying villages with the town centre, bus and railway stations will launch in Bromsgrove on Monday, July 19.
‘BOD’ – Bromsgrove On Demand – will be delivered by Worcestershire County Council, in partnership with Via and enable people to book through a mobile app or by phone.
The service has two 13-seat buses on it, which are fully accessible for disabled people and wheelchair users.
The scheme will operate between 7am and 7pm from Monday to Saturday with people summoning it to a ‘virtual bus stop’ where they are.
The first week will be free and after that fares will be a flat rate of £2.50 for journeys, making it cheaper than taxis. Concessionary bus passes can be used and there could, in the future, be a season ticket option for those wanting to use it regularly.
App users can suggest their pick-up and drop-off locations when booking and scheduling journeys and the number of passengers.
This will enable quick and efficient shared trips without any detours and improve connectivity, particularly between villages and rural areas and regular buses, trains and the town centre. People can also use it to get from A to B locally, for example to a friend or family member’s house.
The initial bus being used is fuel-run but the district council has ringfenced £250,000 in this year’s budget for electric vehicles to be introduced, along with the app and touch-screens at stations so people can summon it.
The scheme is the brainchild of Worcestershire County Councillor Adam Kent, whose Bromsgrove District Council’s portfolio also covers transport.
He decided to bring it to Bromsgrove after seeing the success of similar schemes by other organisations, including Transport for Wales, Milton Keynes Council, Stagecoach, Go-Coach and Arriva.
At a preview of the service on Wednesday, Coun Kent said: “I’m absolutely delighted – we are delivering something which will give residents a lot more than they have at the moment.
“Bus services are great if they can survive but we’ve all seen big 40-seaters with two people on going from A to B and they are not viable.”
He added this provided another option to address the viability issue.
District council leader Coun Karen May said: “This will solve many connectivity issues – it’s exciting, totally innovative and it’s wonderful Bromsgrove has been selected as the first area in Worcestershire to get it.”
Bromsgrove is piloting the scheme for Worcestershire and Coun Alan Amos, cabinet member with responsibility for highways and transport, said he hoped it would be ‘rolled out across the county as soon as possible’.
Users are being urged to provide plenty of feedback to the county council so any changes which are needed can be made to ensure it suits everyone’s needs.