Flexible bus plan to get a trial run

PUBLISHED: 14:23 09 November 2007 | UPDATED: 20:12 01 June 2010

UP to £100,000 could be set aside to launch a new bus service in the Wisbech area that has been labelled as a cross between a scheduled bus service and a private taxi. Cambridgeshire County Council chiefs have earmarked Wisbech and Huntingdon to pilot the

UP to £100,000 could be set aside to launch a new bus service in the Wisbech area that has been labelled as a cross between a scheduled bus service and a private taxi.

Cambridgeshire County Council chiefs have earmarked Wisbech and Huntingdon to pilot the schemes which they hope will see a massive increase in people using public transport.

The council says it needs to find new ways of meeting high levels of need in some areas but also to encourage people to switch from cars to public transport in a cost-effective way.

A report going to the council cabinet later this year explains that where such Demand Responsive Transport services have been introduced they have generally been successful.

"DRT services seek to combine the social, economic and environmental benefits of the bus, with the high quality service of the taxi/mini cab in areas of low public transport need," says the report.

Modelled on projects carried out elsewhere, including Lincolnshire and Norfolk, the council believes the scheme could eventually be rolled out across Cambridgeshire.

The report says pilot schemes could act "as an exemplar, to help people understand the benefits that such a scheme would bring".

DRT aims to "bridge the gap between existing bus services and community transport provision, which the public perceive as failing outside of public transport provision, perhaps of the eligibility criteria for use of community transport schemes".

The council is expected to lease a minibus for a year - at a cost of about £20,000 - and may even ask Lincolnshire County Council to run the Wisbech pilot.

Costs are estimated at between £60,000 and £100,000 but councillors will be told these are "very preliminary estimates that could look very different when developed in depth".

The council hopes publicity will help determine the new routes which will be programmed to feed into connecting services- and passengers should be able to buy through tickets once they board the bus near their home.

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