Please see the update from WSCC in relation to the free rural bus service in February 2024.
Paul Richards, Locum Parish Clerk
Following the success of the “Book-a-Bus” service in rural areas around Petworth and Chichester, the service has now expanded with the introduction of the “96 Flex” zone serving those in the northwest area of Chichester up to Midhurst.
“Book-a-Bus” is a demand-responsive transport system for those living or working in the county’s rural areas with limited or no traditional bus service. The “96 Flex” has no fixed timetable or route, instead operating on the bookings it receives via the Ride Pingo app or via the call centre.
The ”’96 Flex’ Book-a-Bus” service travels around rural areas in north west Chichester including Lavant, South Harting, West Marden, and Singleton.
Plans for further expansion to areas such as Westbourne, Stanstead Park, West Ashling, Rogate, Nyewood, Little Torberry, Woodmancote, and Forestside are expected later this spring.
“Book-a-Bus” is part of the West Sussex County Council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan, funded by Central Government, that aims to make it easier and more attractive for residents and visitors to travel by bus. To celebrate the expansion, residents travelling via any of the “Book-a-Bus” services can travel for free during the whole month of February.
Councillor Joy Dennis, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: "I am proud to share that ‘Book-a-Bus’ has had over 2,000 passengers carried since its launch. The flexibility this service provides helps keep our residents in rural areas connected with their communities and provide continued access to any essential and leisure services they may need.
“I encourage anyone who hasn’t done so yet to give it a try.“Ensuring that we help our residents keep connected is at the heart of our strategic priorities as a council, so continually improving our transport network with better bus services is very important as it helps us maintain a sustainable and prosperous economy for all those in West Sussex.”
Roads Minister Guy Opperman said: “Local people deserve a modern, reliable, and affordable public transport system. I'm delighted to have worked alongside the local council and Gillian Keegan MP to give West Sussex over £19 million to boost its bus services.
“This is a fantastic result for passengers north west of Chichester and in Midhurst, who will enjoy this extended on-demand bus service to get around Petworth and Chichester more easily and with greater flexibility.”
Matt Roberts, Chief Executive Officer for Community Transport Sussex (CTS), the company providing the service for the county council, said: “We have seen how the local community values this flexible transport service and are very excited to expand the service to more passengers.“As a charity transport provider, we see first-hand how vital it is for those in rural areas to keep connected with their communities.”
To “Book-a-Bus” or plan your journey, download the Ride Pingo app or contact our call centre at 01243 858854. Anyone can use the service anytime between 7.00am to 7.00pm, Monday through Saturday. Passengers travelling in groups can request up to 5 seats per booking, subject to availability.
For more information on the “Book-a-Bus” service, how and when to book and the different locations it covers, visit: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/travel-and-public-transport/bus-and-coach-travel/bus-passes-and-discounts/bus-it/book-a-bus/