Getting around the north of Petworth by bus is now easier with the launch of a new service called the “98 Flex”, which is the latest service to launch as under the county council’s new “Book-a-Bus” service initiative.
“Book-a-Bus” is a demand responsive bus service, which will serve the more rural areas in the county that currently have limited or no traditional bus services available. This new service operates within set zones and offers passengers pick-up in locations close to them and travel to their destination all for the same price as a standard bus fare. Fares are currently capped at £2 per trip until 31 October 2023, and thereafter £2.50 until 30 November 2024.
The new north of Petworth “Book-a-Bus” is the second zone to be introduced. The “98 Flex” is a fully flexible service with no conventional timetable or routes, operating based on the bookings it receives via the “Ride Pingo” app or by phone. The service covers the rural area to the north of Petworth, with travel restricted to starting and ending within the same zone. Drop-off points with onward connections to travel by bus or train are also included within the service zone to ensure ease of onward travel.
The new service has been made possible by a partnership between the county council and Community Transport Sussex (CTS), the community transport operator who is providing the new service for this zone. CTS will deliver the service and use it as a springboard to increase the delivery of more community transport in the area.
Councillor Joy Dennis, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “Our new “Book-a-Bus” services are being trialled across rural areas in the county to better connect residents with their communities. The on-demand capabilities and flexibility they offer allows for travel that is more convenient for our residents and more efficient for our bus operators. This new service is part the council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan, which aims to make travel by bus smoother and more enticing to people.
“The “98 Flex” operates in an area that is new to us and serves those living to the north of Petworth, ensuring that travel to key destinations and onward connections are more accessible. At present there are two fully flexible vehicles operating in this zone.
“Our team is closely monitoring the new service to ensure it delivers what our residents need. The service is on a six-month trial and further expansion of the “Book-a-Bus” service to areas such as the rural north-west Chichester, and villages in North Arun is also being explored.
“In Our Council Plan, one of our strategic priorities is to help improve the county’s transport network to maintain a sustainable and prosperous economy. Supporting the launch of on-demand bus services such as “Book-a-Bus” will help us achieve that.”
CTS’s Chief Executive Officer, Matt Roberts, said: “We are very excited to launch this service with the county council and provide the local community in the north of Petworth area with an exciting new transport option.
“We understand that passengers have varying needs. Our minibuses are fully accessible for those with mobility issues or to those who are boarding with a wheelchair or a pram. Our drivers are also highly trained to be of support to every passenger.
“By providing this service, we are happy to be of support in ensuring that everyone is able to travel efficiently and stay connected.”
The new north of Petworth service will run flexibly between 7.00am and 7.00pm, Monday to Saturday, excluding Bank Holidays. To use “Book-a-Bus”, residents need to download the “Ride Pingo” app or call our call centre on 01243 85884. Residents looking for connections to Billingshurst should visit westsussex.gov.uk/billilinks.
For more information on “Book-a-Bus”, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/book-a-bus.