By Rhiannon James
A new on-demand public transport service will not exclude those without a smartphone, operators Newport Transport has said.
Yesterday, Newport Transport and Transport for Wales (TfW), announced a major expansion to the fflecsi bus service, which lets passengers ‘book’ a bus with a smartphone app.
The service was trialled successfully in the Rogerstone and St Julian’s areas last year and the expanded service will see a total of nine buses operating throughout Newport.
The fflecsi bus service is designed to pick passengers up from anywhere in Newport, regardless of whether they are at a bus stop or not.
Passengers without a smartphone can still book a journey by calling 0300 234 0300.
A spokesperson for Newport Transport, the Newport City Council-owned bus operator, described the fflecsi bus service as “ideal for commuters” because they are able to book their transport up to seven days in advance. Once booked, passengers are given a pick-up bracket of around 20 minutes.
The full service is due to launch later this summer.
Newport Transport said the pilot conducted in Rogerstone and St Julian’s allowed them to monitor passenger journeys to better understand local public transport in Newport.
While Newport Transport is keen to emphasise that current timetabled services will be unaffected, data collected from passenger habits will be key in shaping services of the future.
Scott Pearson, Managing Director for Newport Transport, said: “As the main bus operator in Newport, we are confident that the interaction between fflecsi and the normal scheduled bus services will provide valuable information enabling our operations team to review the scheduled bus services.”
Councillor Roger Jeavons, deputy leader and cabinet member for city services, said: “We believe this is a great opportunity to improve the public transport network in the city and offer our residents enhanced bus services that give more choice and more flexibility with their journeys.”
The fflecsi service will operate from 6am to 11pm from Monday to Saturday, in addition to a Sunday service between 9am and 7pm.
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, said: “This innovative service is an important part of Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government’s vision to reduce car usage and promote greener forms of travel, while also supporting the local economy and ensuring access to public transport.”
Prices will remain the same as the Newport Bus service and passengers will be able to pay as usual once they have boarded the bus – including concessionary pass holders.
Newport Transport said that a high proportion of fflecsi bus passengers in the pilot were concessionary pass holders, but were unable to say whether they accessed the service through the app or call centre.