I am delighted at this week's announcement that a new pilot on-demand bus service is to begin operating in an area to the southwest of Shrewsbury this autumn.
Operated by Shropshire Council, the Connect On-Demand service will replace the under threat 20 (Shrewsbury to Radbrook), 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.
The new pilot service will operate from 7.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday, from September, with people able to book via app or by phone.
The service will pick-up and drop-off at locations within the pilot zone, including Radbrook shopping centre, Meole Brace retail park, and doctors’ surgeries. There will also be additional drop-off and pick up points at Shrewsbury bus and railway stations, and The Square.
A Sigma 7 electric bus will operate in urban areas and offer a new experience for passengers, being the first fully electric bus operating in Shropshire. Smaller diesel vehicles are set to 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.
Subject to funding, the council hopes to introduce a similar service in and around Shropshire market towns, enabling people to access services locally or to connect with bus or rail for onwards travel – and to access the wider regional and national transport network.
Connect On-Demand is the first aspect of Shropshire Connect, the second being Shrewsbury Connect, a reimagined Shrewsbury Park & Ride service offering connectivity to a number of key strategic sites across the town, including the hospital and rail station.
These two projects were the focus of a Levelling Up Fund (LUF) Round 2 bid to Government last year and I am continuing to assist Shropshire Council members and officers to secure funding in the next LUF round to help reinvigorate public transport in Shropshire.