New minibus service set to hit the road

A NEW minibus service operating throughout the West of England region is due to hit the road this month.

Keynsham is one of the areas covered by the scheme, which allows passengers to book a West Link minibus via phone, app or a website, to take them from more remote areas to major transport routes.

The services will run 30 bright green minibuses as part of a £3-million new scheme known as ‘demand responsive transport’.

The new services are the largest of its kind in the country, having only been run before on a much smaller scale.
Dan Norris, the West of England metro mayor, admitted there would be teething problems as the new services are rolled out over the summer months.

Mr Norris said: “Stop-to-stop tailor-made travel is new for everyone. I am really pleased to see the first West Link bus, which is going into service from April and rolling out thereafter. I hope West Links become a familiar and welcome sight across our region. We will be adding more and more until we reach our first milestone of 30 full-time minibuses planned for later in the year.

“This is a major investment for a key project. And it’s new to us all, so it certainly won’t be plain sailing. Undoubtedly things will go wrong, but we’re ready to learn as we go along. But I’m determined we get on and try something different, because the old solutions to our transport problems are not up to the challenges of the modern world post-pandemic.”

West Link minibuses will include comfortable seats with headrests, wheelchair access, spaces for prams or buggies, and spaces for folding bikes. Eventually, the app and booking phone service will be able to advise passengers about major public transport route timetables.

The services will cover parts of North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Bristol and North Somerset, which are currently poorly served by public transport.

Many of these places will also soon see traditional subsidised bus routes scrapped, as councils decided not to increase the transport levy for these routes in line with inflation.

Two companies will operate the minibuses, Via and WeDRT. Passengers will be able to book a seat on a minibus 24 hours in advance, choosing their pick-up and drop-off points. They will be able to pay through the app, or by card over the phone, or in cash with the driver.

Single fares will cost £2 for adults and £1 for children, for any length of journey. Concessionary and older person’s bus passes will be accepted.

The services will run from Monday to Saturday from 7am to 7pm in the ‘northern zone’ and ‘southern zone’. And in a ‘future zone’ – which also launches in April – services will run from 5.30am to 9.30pm Monday to Saturday, and 9am to 6pm on Sundays.

But it’s unclear where the zones actually are, and fares might change in future.

For the latest details, visit

Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service