Two pilot projects that will test different ways of delivering bus services to local communities, will take place in North Wales, including looking at modern technology to solve the problem of bus travel.
Up to £1 million has been made available for responsive bus trials, which will test different models of demand bus services and where appropriate, build on existing delivery models.
Two of the trials have been confirmed for North Wales, with the remaining two taking place in West Wales and in the Valleys Taskforce area
The results of the trials will be analysed and will help inform the development of demand responsive travel over the next few years.
Depending on their success, a decision will be taken on initiating a permanent arrangement.
Transport Minister Ken Skates said: “It’s an unacceptable fact that in places such as the Mersey Dee Region, 1 in 5 people cannot get to job interviews because of an absence of affordable public transport. 1 in 5 people locked out of work, because they don’t have the luxury of owning a car.
“Through the design and testing of the different models we can test key aspects of demand responsive bus travel services including integration of patient and education transport as well as the use of new mobile technology.
“The schemes will provide important information and insight for rolling out integrated responsive services to the rest of Wales. Further information on the pilot projects will be made once arrangements have been finalised with local authorities and operators.”
The bus network in Wrexham was recently described as being at breaking point after Arriva Buses Wales announced it would be reducing and axing a number of its services.
There have been a series of losses to the local bus network in recent years, with hundreds of people losing their jobs and a number routes across Wrexham affected after Ruabon based GHA Coaches entered administration in 2016.
Cllr David A Bithell, Lead Member for Environment and Transport, said: “I welcome this announcement.
“While no details or decisions have been made or announced, we have been in discussions with Welsh Government and recently visited a new type of bus travel with the minister.
“It is clear that the bus industry has been damaged in recent years, and to address the decline, we have to look at different models.
“The new rail franchise also gives us an opportunity to develop a more integrated approach to transport across North Wales and Wrexham.”
Cllr Dana Davies has recently championed modern technology, including ‘Arriva Click’ that Arriva describe as “ArrivaClick is an intelligent, on-demand and flexible minibus service that takes multiple passengers heading in the same direction and books them into a shared vehicle. Think of ArrivaClick as a bus that’s smart enough to come when you want it and where you want it. You select your pick-up and drop-off points. As we are a corner-to-corner service, we’ll pick you up at a nearby corner and then drop you off within a couple of streets of your requested destination. This helps us ensure that even with multiple pickups, trip times are as efficient as they can be.”
Cllr Davies told us, “The Labour Group asked Council at February’s meeting to look at implementing a demand responsive model for local public transport in Wrexham. We suggested the Council consider the option of piloting a model similar to that of Arriva Click, currently operating in Liverpool South.
“There is a need to act as many of our communities are becoming more and more isolated with residents unable to catch a bus to visit friends and family or even get to and from work.
“The Labour Group very much welcomes this new funding and hopes Wrexham Council will work with Welsh Government to secure Wrexham County as one of the pilot areas for North Wales.”
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