A new £1 bus fare becomes effective on Taunton’s Park and Ride service from the beginning of September to coincide with the expected reopening of the Toneway junction.
The service will cost just £1 for a single and £2 for a return from Monday 5 September in line with a new fare structure to be introduced for the whole of Taunton later this year as part of Somerset County Council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan. Children (5-16) will be able to travel half price and concessionary bus pass holders can travel free after 9.30am weekdays and all day on Saturday.
The Council waived fares for the service while the £8.3 million Toneway Creech Castle works were in progress, starting from August 2021, to help cut congestion by encouraging more people to use the service. In the last year, at their peak, numbers using it have increased nearly fivefold from around 2,323 a week in July 2021 to 11,381 a week in July 2022.
The new £2 return remains cheaper than the £3.50 peak return ticket in force before work commenced on the Toneway and is cheaper than a return was more than a decade ago. In addition, before the zero fare was introduced, concessionary bus passes were not accepted for free travel on the Park and Ride but this is now being introduced along with the cheaper fare.
The plan had always been to re-introduce fares once the junction was operational and Bridgwater Road reopened, and the project remains on budget and on schedule.
Cllr Mike Rigby, Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital said: “The zero fare was introduced while the Toneway works were in progress to help cut congestion and during that time we’ve seen a fantastic increase in the numbers using it – around 400,000 free journeys in fact, which is really positive for the environment in terms of cutting CO2.
“Obviously we can’t maintain the service for free indefinitely, but we want that upward trend in use to continue, in fact we want to make sure more people are using the bus in general which is why we’re introducing a heavily discounted fare not just for the park and ride but across Taunton, and hopefully across other parts of Somerset in the future if we can secure additional funding from the Government.
“Using the park and ride will still be great value – cheaper than it was in 2011, and that’s crucial while we continue to live through this cost of living crisis with soaring household bills. We’re pleased to be able to ensure commuters and shoppers can use the service cheaply for the foreseeable future as part of our Bus Service Improvement Plan.”
Earlier this month the Council and Somerset Bus Partnership launched BUS IT – a major campaign to encourage more people to use the bus, make savings and help protect the environment.
Submitted by Communications