There will be changes to local bus services in and around Turriff later this month, as the current Stagecoach Bluebird Town and Circular service ends.
The majority of 257/258 service journeys on Mondays to Saturdays, which were supported financially by Aberdeenshire Council, will be replaced with an on-demand, council-operated minibus service.
The new Turriff Town and Circular A2B Dial-a-Bus Service starts on Monday, November 19 and is free to use.
It is being introduced to make the service more sustainable, while better meeting local needs.
It operates on demand, with passengers pre-booking journeys by phone or by email. Bookings can be made up to one week in advance, or two weeks in advance for transport to medical appointments.
Customers are recommended to book no later than the day before travel but “same day” bookings may be available subject to A2B receiving at least an hour’s notice.
The service will be operated by two wheelchair-accessible council minibuses liveried as A2B dial-a-bus and is funded via an EU project promoting sustainable rural travel.
Although they will operate on an advertised route they will be able to divert off this route on request, subject to there being sufficient time to do so.
When customers phone to book they should state what time they would like to travel and where they wish to be picked up from. They will be provided with an estimated pick-up time, which may vary a little from the advertised timetable depending upon whether the bus needs to divert off its route.
Service timetables will be available locally and can be picked up from Turriff Library, the Aberdeenshire Council Service Point at Towie House and the Post Office.
The service is being operated as a pilot under an EU-funded project known as G-PaTRA, which seeks solutions to rural transport needs while looking to reduce vehicle emissions.
Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Peter Argyle, said
It’s hoped this pilot project is a better way of serving residents’ transport needs, while trialing a new way of replacing a fixed route bus service with a more sustainable, demand-responsive transport service.
I hope people will be pleased with the new service, which seeks to accommodate passengers’ requirements as much as possible.
In other areas where A2B services operate, people have said that it has changed their lives, offering them opportunities for shopping, travelling and socialising which they would not otherwise have had.
We will of course keep a close eye on the success of the new service and I look forward to seeing how well it meets the demands of local travelers.
Chair of the Formartine Area Committee, Isobel Davidson, said
We’d encourage anyone who currently uses the Stagecoach bus service to contact the A2B office to register for the new service if they have not already done so.
We appreciate that having to book is something new that people will take time to get used to.
In the short-term the town bus service will continue to pick up people on the route when there is space, even if they have not booked.
However the project aims to reduce CO2 emissions by operating the shortest possible route whenever possible, which can only be achieved if passengers book in advance.
Anyone interested in using the new service is encouraged to register their details initially by calling (01467) 535 333, between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Those who register will be provided with more information about how the service operates. The same contact details can be used for any queries about the new service.