New Uber style mini-buses for Yate and Thornbury area

A fleet of green minibuses will form a new Uber style on-demand service for Yate, Thornbury and Pucklechurch among other areas across South Gloucestershire where some bus services have been cut recently.

Passengers in these designated zones will be able to hail a WESTlink minibus on a smart phone or online up to 24 hours in advance.

The minibuses, which will be launched in the spring, will not be restricted by traditional timetables.

Passengers will be able to get on or off at hundreds of existing bus stops plus some virtual ones where there currently isn’t a stop.

The 7am-7pm Monday to Saturday service is also designed to link passengers to a main bus or train route so they can then continue their journey.

Operators Via and WeDRT were announced this week.

Commenting on the appointments, West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “I’m pleased that after a rigorous commercial procurement process that Via and WeDRT are on board.

“This is an important step as we begin rolling out WESTlink for residents later this year.

“The status quo on buses isn’t working, and residents deserve better, so it is time to try something different.

“I am hopeful that WESTlink will be a key part in getting people from A to B in the West of England, and linking residents to the wider local bus network”.

Jonathan Hampson, head of UK Partnerships at Via, said “We look forward to seeing how our innovative software expands access to flexible, sustainable mobility in the region – filling access gaps in remote areas and making it easier for locals to travel without a private car.

“We’re confident other regions will look to the West of England as a leader for 21st century transport solutions.”

Charlie Crawford, weDRT chief operating officer, said: “Our experience in launching other on-demand transport services across the UK gives us confidence in delivering the highest quality to the residents in the West of England.”

Manager of Yate Shopping Centre Andrew Lowery welcomed the move.

“An on-demand mini-bus service could be a great benefit to the people of Yate and surrounding areas to access the centre,” he said.

“The centre will work with the operator to ensure it is well publicised.

“We will encourage visitors to use it to as any such service will relieve the pressure on the local road network and on-site car parking, not forgetting the sustainability benefits.

“People are always asking for improved public transport services, a shuttle bus type of operation around the town could be a very popular and successful initiative.”

District councillor Ben Nutland, who represents the Yate North ward on South Gloucestershire Council, also welcomed the service.

“Many constituents have raised concerns with me over the last few months regarding the number of bus cuts in Yate,” he said.

“While this service won’t replace the cut services directly I hope it will go some way to reconnecting people.”

Yate MP Luke Hall said that while he welcomes any extra services he believes that the priority should be to ‘make existing services more reliable and frequent’.

“We must be clear that these specific services from WECA are no replacement to the valuable north Yate bus network,” said Mr Hall.

“Our priority must be to focus on making our existing services more frequent and reliable, for the many Yate residents, commuters and families who rely on these important connections.”

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