September is Catch the Bus Month, and Wiltshire Council is taking part to encourage more people to change their travel habits by taking the bus and celebrate it as a sustainable, inclusive and accessible form of transport.
During the course of the month, the council will highlight several positive aspects of catching the bus in Wiltshire, including free bus passes for older residents, ticket promotions, and apps that allow you to live track bus departures and arrivals.
The month began with a celebration of the council’s Enhanced Partnership with local bus companies, which helps to create a better bus network in the county.
The Department or Transport’s (DfT) National Bus Strategy requires local authorities to form enhanced legal partnerships with bus operators, and the council is working on a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) to achieve a vision for a better bus network.
Working in partnership with local bus operators such as Salisbury Reds, Stagecoach, First West of England and Faresaver, the plan aims to increase bus usage following a decline since the pandemic. It will bring a number of benefits to the residents of Wiltshire, including improved access to shops and areas of employment to help improve the economy, improved services to support vulnerable and elderly residents to access essential services, and supporting leisure travel and local tourism.
Buses reduce congestion, improve air quality and provide access to life’s opportunities. A double-decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road and switching just one journey in 25 to the bus would save two million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Cllr Laura Mayes, Deputy Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the bus companies with a combined aim of increasing usage and improving the service across Wiltshire.
“As stated in our business plan, we are continually reviewing our services to deliver better outcomes to empower local people with the support of an efficient and effective transport network.
“Bus user numbers have fallen since the pandemic, so we want to highlight what a clean, safe and cost-effective way to travel for people. Taking part in Catch the Bus Month this year will highlight the benefits of using the bus as a healthy, inclusive and sustainable way to travel.”
Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users UK the charity behind Catch the Bus Month said: “Buses make a huge contribution to all our lives socially, economically and environmentally. They are also a lifeline for communities providing access to education, work, healthcare, shops and leisure. We want to see more people get on board this September to protect these vital services for future generations.”
The council will be using Catch the Bus Month to highlight what is already on offer to Wiltshire residents, including:
- Concessionary bus passes for older and disabled residents, which currently entitles the holder to free off-peak travel on local services from 9.30am to 11pm Monday to Friday, plus all day weekends and bank holidays. From 1 September the 9.30am time limit will be temporarily lifted meaning passes will be eligible all day Monday to Sunday, including bank holidays.
- Wiltshire Day Rover tickets, other ticket promotions and contactless payments. The Wiltshire Day Rover ticket provides one day’s unlimited travel on nearly all local bus services in Wiltshire, across approximately 200 routes in the county
- The Connecting Wiltshire website (connectingwiltshire.co.uk), which provides useful information for planning a trip by bus, journey planners and live traffic, bus and train updates.
For more information on the Bus Service Improvement Plan, people can visit Bus Service Improvement Plan – Wiltshire Council. For more information public and school bus transport and concessionary bus passes visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk/transport-public-transport-bus or email firstname.lastname@example.org.