A new on-demand bus service is set to begin operating in late October, initially in two zones, and with plans in place to roll the service out across the county – on a zone-by-zone basis.
Operated by Shropshire Council, Shropshire Connect On-Demand will replace the 544 (Shrewsbury to Lyth Hill) and 546 (Shrewsbury to Pulverbatch) bus services which are fully funded by the council but have, over a period of time, seen a reduction in passengers.
It will also provide links to the new residential developments at Oteley Road in Shrewsbury, not currently served by public transport.
Under the new service people will be able to book a journey by app or by phone, choosing where they wish to be picked up, and when, and where they want to be dropped off.
The service will pick-up and drop-off at locations within both zones, including Meole Brace retail park, Nuffield Hospital and allocated doctors’ surgeries. There will also be additional drop-off and pick up points outside of the zones at Shrewsbury bus and railway stations, and The Square.
The service will operate from 7.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday, with people able to book via app or by phone. Single journeys will cost £2 for passengers over 19, £1.50 for those aged 5 to 19, with under-5s travelling for free. Concessionary passes, and school bus passes, will be accepted
A trial period for this first phase of the on-demand service will begin in late October and run until the first week of December. During this period the service will operate alongside the existing 544 and 546 services – with passengers offered a free trial.
In the first week of December (the ‘go live’ date) the on-demand service will become fully operational, and will fully replace the 544 and 546 services.
A ‘Sigma 7’ 16-seat electric bus will operate in urban areas and offer a new experience for passengers, being the first fully electric bus operating in Shropshire.
Smaller low-emission ‘EVM’ diesel vehicles will operate in more rural areas, to which they are better suited as they are better able to navigate lanes and roads less suited for larger buses.
And a fully-electric eight-seater ‘Vivaro’ vehicle will also be used.
Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for public transport, said:
“The start of our new on-demand service is part of Shropshire Council’s commitment to reinvigorate public transport in Shropshire and I’m delighted that the new Shropshire Connect On-Demand buses will soon be hitting the roads.
For many residents in Shropshire’s vast rural areas there are no local transport services to get them to work, leisure activities, medical appointments or college. This service strives to change that and provide a crucial link for residents requiring affordable access to essential services.
“Connect On-Demand will also work in areas not supported by sufficient local bus services, providing them with essential transport to their nearest market town and links to existing local bus/rail services for onwards travel.
“I encourage people to take advantage of the free trial in November to see themselves how the service will operate, and the advantages it offers.”
A series of roadshows will be held in the coming weeks to give people the chance to see – and sit on – the new buses, and to find out more about using the new service.