On-demand buses to be trialled in Mansfield and Ollerton

Nottinghamshire Council will use Government funding to help get bus passenger numbers back to pre-pandemic levels – and will trial an ‘on-demand’ bus service scheme involving services being booked by phone and an app.

By Anna Whittaker
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 8:17 am

Documents show after the outbreak of the Covid Omicron variant, bus recovery slowed to about 70-80 per cent of pre-Covid activity.

And for concessionary fare holders, use has stalled at 55 to 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

The figures will be discussed at the next meeting of the council’s transport and environment committee.

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Buses at Mansfield Bus Station.

In response to the ‘slower recovery’, the Government has announced funding for a further six months, until October, through the Local Transport Fund.

The Government had already given financial support through the Bus Recovery Grant, which ended in March.

The council’s £4.1 million budget for local buses supports more than 100 bus services across the county.

Documents also show this summer, the council will also be using £1.5m funding to run a pilot project in Mansfield and Ollerton, which will see buses operate on a ‘fully flexible, on-demand basis’.

Council documents state: “These DRT services will not operate to a fixed route or timetable, but on a fully flexible on-demand basis to any destination within the operating area and further destinations outside the area to connect with traditional, fixed-route bus services.

“Customers will be able to book DRT services by phone, on the web or through an app.”

Papers published ahead of the meeting state the council ‘intends to build on current investment levels and high passenger satisfaction ratings to further develop and improve bus services’.

Councillors will also be updated on ‘bus recovery progress as the sector emerges from the Covid pandemic’.

Coun Neil Clarke, committee chairman, said “We are committed to getting people back on public transport following the pandemic.

“The DRT proposals offer an exciting opportunity to deliver improvements in public transport, providing an invaluable route to travel in areas not currently served by our bus network. They also support the council’s environmental ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030.

“I am confident that, if approved, these pilots will enable the Council to build on its current high passenger satisfaction ratings, as well as helping to shape future local bus investment choices and priorities, including the use of Bus Service Improvement Plan monies.”

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