Cheshire West and Chester Council has launched an on-demand rural bus service -- to improve connectivity in some of the more remote parts of Cheshire West and Chester.
The 'itravel' pilot scheme covers a wide area including Helsby, Frodsham, Delamere and Acton Bridge, as well as other villages, where no commercial services are available. For residents in the pilot zone, the bus service can be booked online, using a mobile phone app, or phone call, allowing a resident, or group of residents, to request a bus for a specific journey.
The service is not tied to a fixed route, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours or fixed schedules. It will link to train stations to further enhance connectivity for these areas. Two 16-seater 'mini' buses are available between 7am and 7pm, Monday – Friday, with low-floor access.
As you will see from the downloadable map, this scheme unfortunately does NOT include Tarvin, presumably, as we have 2 commercial bus services which run to Chester, Crewe, and Northwich, albeit on a frustratingly infrequent basis. One Tarvin resident commented:"It seems a shame that Tarvin residents cannot get a bus service to our locaL train station of Mouldsworth and I know from personal experience that getting a bus to Chester station requires another wait for a bus from Chester bus station to the Train Station and an additional£2-3 fare. The connecting busses are unreliable and the walk has proven to be all but impossible for my elderly relative who can no longer drive."
Nevertheless, if the pilot is successful, feedback will be used in revisions of the Council's Bus Service Plans to roll the scheme out to other parts of the borough.
The Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Highways, Councillor Karen Shore said: "This is a really exciting and innovative pilot scheme"
"The council continues to support the fixed-route bus network provided by commercial operators but unfortunately, commercial services are not always able to make some rural routes cost-effective. This is an area the council would like to see improve.
"This demand-responsive solution will help enable people of all ages to attend medical appointments, access further education and training or go shopping.
"The new bus service will help make more remote areas of our borough more accessible, reduce car dependency, connect communities and reduce transport related social isolation, as well as contribute to the council's own low-carbon aspirations.
"We will be monitoring this pilot carefully, as we are optimistic it could offer a way forward for the future of rural bus services in west Cheshire."
This £1.075m, three-year pilot service has been funded by the Department for Transport's Rural Mobility Fund.
The 'itravel' service launched on Monday 31 July with an introductory single £2 flat fare to mirror the Government's national scheme. People aged 19 and under can travel half fare.
Information on how to book the service can be found on the Council's website CLICK HERE
Ed:If any Tarvin residents are concerned that the scheme should be extended to Tarvin, you can write to Councillor Karen Shore. Mailto: Karen.Shore@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk