Evening bus services on some key routes are set to be introduced as part of a major shake-up aimed at increasing bus use.
Somerset County Council has revealed plans to subsidise evening services connecting Taunton with the towns of Minehead, Bridgwater, Wellington and Chard after 8pm and running to at least 10.30pm. Currently most of the services stop between 8-8.30pm.
The evening bus proposals are part of Somerset’s Government-funded Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) which aims to increase bus patronage by radically improving the public transport offer for people in Somerset.
From 5 December a £1 fare becomes effective for any single bus journey in Taunton, and further measures are planned under the BSIP in the coming months.
The proposed evening bus routes, which need to be formally approved by the Council are as follows:
- 21 Bridgwater to Taunton (Musgrove Hospital to Bridgwater Bus station – last bus from Musgrove Park 11.04pm)
- 22 Wellington to Taunton – last bus from Taunton 11.05pm
- 28 Minehead to Taunton – (including Cotford St Luke and Norton Fitzwarren on the route. Last bus from Taunton 10.30pm – 10.15pm from Minehead
- 30 Chard to Taunton – last bus from Taunton 10.10 (via Gateway Park and Ride)
- 1 service Taunton to Priorswood/Musgrove Park/Silk Mills Park and Ride -last departure from town centre to Silk Mills 10.35pm/last departure to Priorswood at 11pm
It’s hoped evening buses will help boost the night-time economies in Taunton and the other towns on this evening network, as well as supporting people who work outside of 9-5 hours or need to attend training and education courses. The proposals were discussed at this week’s Somerset Bus Advisory Board with the aim of finalising timetables and introducing the services early in the new year pending formal approval.
Somerset County Council and the Somerset Bus Partnership have launched the ‘Bus It’ campaign to support the BSIP improvements and encourage more people to use bus services at a time when many routes have been lost or are under threat due to lack of patronage.
Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital Cllr Mike Rigby said: “Evening buses are a vital part of our plans if we’re going to get more people using services.
“They will help improve the night-time economy but they also mean people have more options if they don’t have access to a car or want to leave their car at home.
“At the moment our public transport system can’t compare to what’s available in big urban areas – the services just aren’t there, but we want to change that. This is an important major step towards giving people in Somerset better public transport options during the evening.
“It’s vital people use the services and make them sustainable in the long-run so they become a permanent fixture.”
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