Cheshire East Council expects to secure nearly £1.3m from the Department for Transport’s Rural Mobility Fund to improve links to the south west of Nantwich, it was announced at cabinet today.
The new services will positively impact the residents of Bunbury, Wrenbury and Audlem, where the public transport service offer is currently very limited.
The £1.26m funding will be used to operate new demand-responsive services, initially for three years. Two 16-seat accessible vehicles will be operating from 7am-9pm, which would allow for journeys to work and education, along with healthcare, shopping and leisure. The service will be available to all residents on a fare-paying basis.
The new service will utilise an innovative app-based booking system, which up until now has mainly been used in urban areas by major bus companies and transport authorities. The system will be flexible enough to integrate with existing public transport networks, providing an efficient, sustainable transport alternative at the touch of a button.
Speaking after the cabinet meeting today, Cheshire East Council deputy leader Councillor Craig Browne, said: “Although we must be cautious when encouraging people to get out and use public transport during a global pandemic, this is a fantastic opportunity to develop our plans for this innovative, new service and launch it later in the year.
“To successfully bid for any public funding at this extremely challenging time is something to celebrate and the availability of this new service in one of the more remote parts of our borough will be very welcome news to all those residents, who live, work and travel in those areas.”
The council will work with the Department for Transport over the coming weeks to finalise the business case for these new routes. Subject to funding being confirmed, the new service is expected to be up and running by Tuesday 1 June.