Buses in the news : Now you could soon ride around Somerset's county town on a bus for as little as £1

By Daniel Mumby - Local Democracy Reporter

12th Aug 2022 | Local News

The Current Taunton \'Fare Zone\'. CREDIT: Somerset County Council. Free to use for all BBC wire partners.
The Current Taunton \'Fare Zone\'. CREDIT: Somerset County Council. Free to use for all BBC wire partners.

It could soon cost as little as £1 to ride around Somerset's county town by bus.

Somerset County Council has announced its intentions to introduce new lower fares on bus services in and around Taunton, funded by the £11.9M it received for its bus service improvement plans from the Department for Transport.

The council announced in early-August that the fares for Taunton's park and ride sites would be lowered to £1 for a single and £2 for a return after the long-running Creech Castle roadworks (and the accompanying free travel period) comes to an end.

Officers will now negotiate with commercial operators to finalise the new £1 'fare zone', with the first tickets being available to purchase from the autumn.

The new flat fares – £1 for a single, £2 for a return – coincides with the new 'Bus It' campaign recently launched by the council and the Somerset Bus Partnership, aimed at encouraging more Somerset residents to use public transport to cut emissions, save money and protect existing routes.

This initiative is part of a longer-term goal to secure further funding to deliver similar fare initiatives in other areas of the county.

These include the creation of transport hubs in Somerton and Taunton – allowing for simpler and faster changes between services – and a programme of measures in Taunton and Bridgwater to improve bus journey times at congested parts of the road network.

Free travel for concessionary bus pass holders will continue as normal.

Councillor Mike Rigby, portfolio holder for transport and digital, said: "We are delighted to be able to introduce this new £1 fare.

"We know cost is a key factor in persuading more people to use buses and this should make a big difference, as well as helping to protect the environment by cutting the number of cars on the road.

"It's vital as part of preserving bus services in Somerset that we deliver more choice and cheaper fares for people.

"We're also looking at introducing some targeted new evening and weekend services, some additional demand responsive transport services with the help of the Somerset Bus Partnership. We hope to update passengers soon on this."

The Taunton hub is expected to be based at the existing bus station site on Tower Street, while the location of the Somerton hub has not yet been determined.

In light of numerous campaigns to secure rural bus services – including the 173 between Wells and Bath – Mr Rigby said the council would do what it could to prevent routes from being cut.

He said: "The government is ending the support grants which were introduced to help maintain services through the pandemic, and this has led to operators proposing cuts and changes to services from the autumn due to continuing low patronage.

"We want to protect as many routes as we can and by getting more people onto buses we can support that aim."

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