New Bus Services - Bucking the Trend and Supporting Services Across Urban and Rural Bedford Borough
Details of new bus services in both urban and rural parts of the Borough have been announced, and they confirm that we are bucking the trend and protecting and even improving services here at a time when they are being slashed elsewhere. Of course, as with any changes to bus routes, it is not uniformly good news, but overall across both urban and rural parts of the Borough access to decent bus services is being maintained and even improved. The headlines from the changes to both the Stagecoach commercial routes and the new Bedford Borough Council-tendered rural services run by Grant Palmer include the long hoped-for extension of services in Bedford and Kempston until up to 11pm, free rural weekend travel for under 16's and new paperless smartcard ticketing in the urban area. We are also continuing the vastly improved new Sunday services we introduced in Bedford recently, with routes which mirror those run commercially by Stagecoach over the rest of the week.
With bus services being slashed elsewhere due to the financial climate for local authorities, we have turned the problem on its head, by first finding out from residents what they want and then working with the operators to achieve the best possible services with the resources available.
The photo on the right sees Godfrey Willis of the Bedford Area Bus Users Association, Andy Campbell of Stagecoach East and Grant Palmer joining me in welcoming the new services.
Comprehensive information about the new services is available here on the Council's website: http://www.bedford.gov.uk/transport_and_streets/public_transport.aspx
However, to summarise, some of the key changes include:
- The new rural services introduced by the council will offer free travel to under 16's at weekends and during school holidays
- Late evening buses across Bedford and Kempston on most routes, with last buses up to 11pm, Monday to Saturday.
- Smartcard ticketing to be introduced on all Stagecoach buses, including the popular Megarider
- Rural locations seeing an increase in the frequency of services with some areas receiving a service for the first time in many years
- Regular half-hourly connection between the rail station, and the bus station
- Use of Grant Palmer bus stops in the vicinity of the bus station, for their new rural services, will result in better connectivity in town, between services for the North Eastern part of the borough, and the rest of the bus network
- Guaranteed connections at rural locations taking the worry out of longer journeys involving more than one bus