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Bus Service Boost

Bus services across the borough are set to be transformed with major improvements to routes in rural and urban areas launching on August 21st 2011. The timetable changes include a 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.


The new plans are the result of extensive negotiation with bus operators Stagecoach and Grant Palmer, and have been the subject of widespread consultation with rural bus users.


Feedback from the consultation in rural areas, carried out in Spring/Summer 2010, is directly reflected in the changes in order that services are shaped by the needs of local bus users.


The combination of the Stagecoach commercial changes and the new Bedford Borough rural services will bring benefits right across the borough. Key improvements 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


The Park and Ride service will also be extended, so could provide a suitable travel option for individuals looking to get to and from evening events held at the Corn Exchange and venues across the town.

The Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “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 result is a real boost for local services, with most urban buses running much later into the evening, for example, and new or restored services in a number of rural areas. We are looking to build on this and form a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with all bus operators to enable a joined up approach to residents’ travel needs.”


A representative of Bedford Bus Users' Society (BABUS) commented: Whilst some areas may face changes to bus services currently enjoyed, comparisons with rural service levels in adjoining areas indicated that villages within Bedford Borough are still served well with many of the changes being a direct result of feedback from bus users."


Grant Palmer, Proprietor of Grant Palmer Ltd, said: “We are very much looking forward to a voluntary working partnership with Bedford Borough Council to maintain and enhance where possible the North Bedford Rural Bus network. We will endeavour to meet the community's needs and expectations with a network of routes that have been designed following community involvement via Transport Road shows organized by Bedford Borough Council."


Andy Campbell, Managing Director of Stagecoach East, added: “We are pleased to be working with the Borough alongside other operators to promote public transport in the area. I am encouraged by the pro-active approach taken by Bedford Borough Council.”


Stagecoach have just introduced £750,000 worth of new buses locally. The six new vehicles proudly promote ‘Bedford Bus,’ the new brand being launched for Stagecoach buses operating within the borough.


A summary of the new timetable is available at www.bedford.gov.uk/businfo with full details available later this month.

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