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Better buses coming to connect rural communities

Published
17.06.2021

Gloucestershire County Council cabinet will consider progressing with the on-demand rural bus pilot when it meets on 23 June.

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Earlier this year, GCC successfully received £1.352 million in funding from the Department for Transport’s Rural Mobility Fund. The county council plan to use the money to pilot two on-demand bus services for two years; one in the Forest of Dean and one in the Cotswolds, improving sustainable public transport options currently available in these most rural areas of Gloucestershire.

If the recommendation is approved, the county council will start to procure four accessible minibuses and get the pilot on the road.

The new on-demand bus services would be available from spring 2022, and could prove a lifeline to isolated communities as well as a feasible and convenient alternative for lower carbon travel. Currently, 46 per cent of residents in the North Cotswold pilot area and 24 per cent of residents in the South Forest of Dean pilot area do not live in walking distance of a regular (e.g. one per every 2 hours) bus service. As a result, improved connections in these areas will help people from all walks of life to access transport for work, leisure and education in a way which was previously not possible.

Cllr Philip Robinson, cabinet member responsible for public transport, said, “Bus travel is vital to many people in rural areas, and in particular for people who don’t have access to a car. This pilot will boost sustainable transport available in the Forest of Dean and in the North Cotswolds, connecting communities and providing an alternative to car use. I expect it to make a real difference for our most rural communities.”

The pilot will offer affordable journeys for anyone who needs transport between designated pick-up/drop-off points such as existing bus stops or hamlet/village centres. These journeys, running 7am to 7pm weekdays plus a Saturday service will link to local transport hubs and train stations, offering a guaranteed link with main public transport services. The service aims to work with local transport providers to investigate integrated and convenient ticketing options.

The service will be live by spring 2022, and bookings will be possible by phone or online.

Read the cabinet paper online.

Find out more about transport options near you at https://www.thinktravel.info

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