New minibus service operators named

The operators of WESTlink, the region’s new on-demand minibus service, have been announced.

WESTlink will be run by a partnership of Via and WeDRT.

Via is a global public transport, logistics and tech company that operates in more than 20 countries globally. WeDRT is a UK-based company with experience of working with Transport for West Midlands.

WESTlink will see a fleet of green minibuses rolled out from the Spring as part of a £3 million-plus investment per year from the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority and North Somerset Council.

WESTlink buses will not be constrained by a traditional timetable but will use clever algorithms to connect people and places. Passengers will be able get on or off at over 1,800 existing bus stops as well as a number of virtual bus stops.

They are designed to link people to key routes where they can pick up another bus or train.

Residents will book their ride through an app, visiting a website or phoning up.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “I’m pleased that after a rigorous commercial procurement process, Via and WeDRT are on board. This is an important step as we begin rolling out WESTlink for residents later this year. The status quo on buses isn’t working, and residents deserve better, so it is time to try something different. I am proud to have secured the largest amount of funding for buses in the country, which means I can make this investment in WESTlink. Of course, change is disruptive, takes time, and we will have to learn lessons as we work hard to get things right – but I’m determined we get on with trying something new. I am hopeful that WESTlink will be a key part in getting people from A to B in the West of England, and linking residents to the wider local bus network”.

Jonathan Hampson, Head of UK Partnerships at Via, said “Via is delighted to partner with Metro Mayor Dan Norris and the West of England Combined Authority to introduce WESTLink demand-responsive minibuses this spring. We look forward to seeing how our innovative software expands access to flexible, sustainable mobility in the region – filling access gaps in remote areas and making it easier for locals to travel without a private car. We’re confident other regions will look to the West of England as a leader for 21st century transport solutions.”

Charlie Crawford, weDRT Chief Operating Officer, said:“weDRT is thrilled to announce we will be launching and operating the brand new WESTlink service on behalf of the West of England Combined Authority, and in partnership with Via Technologies. Working with Mayor Norris, this service will be the largest of its kind in the UK and is set to transform and modernise the way residents move around the West of England region. Our experience in launching other ‘on-demand’ transport services across the UK gives us confidence in delivering the highest quality to the residents in the West of England”.

Steve Bridger, Leader of North Somerset Council, said: “WESTlink is the result of a shared programme of funding from the Government to improve bus services in the West. The new fleet of minibuses will offer a new local service to communities, allowing us to offer public transport to everyone who needs it. WESTlink is part of the £48 million Bus Service Improvement Plan, awarded by the Department for Transport, which will look to improve bus services in the West over the next two years. The ambition is to improve the quality and provision of bus services and today’s announcement is the first step towards that.”

More information:

  1. WESTlink will cover areas across the West of England region including large swathes of North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and parts of Bristol plus North Somerset. Please see attached map. Within this overall area, there will be local zones
  2. £3 million in funding is from the Bus Service Improvement Plan which was awarded to the West of England Combined Authority and North Somerset Council. There is also funding from the Future Transport Zone focusing on areas around Avonmouth, Severnside, Southmead and the Northern Arc
  3. Services will begin to start this Spring
  4. There will be 30 branded buses running throughout the day with the possibilities for extras at times of high demand
  5. Booking is available via app or website that has been developed by Via or a call centre provided by WeDRT
  6. Passengers can book 24 hours in advance.
  7. Using the app or website, passengers will be able to plan and book journeys by choosing their pick-up and drop-off points. They will also be able to pay through the app and it will notify them of the arrival time of the vehicle
  8. If booking via the phone, passengers will be able to speak to a call operator who will be book it for them. They will then have the option to pay by card over the phone
  9. For any passengers who don’t pay via the app or over the phone, they are able to pay cash to the driver. All passengers will have to prebook so will be guaranteed a seat
  10. A single fare for any length journey within a zone will be £2 adults, £1 children. All concessionary and older person’s bus passes will be accepted
  11. WESTlink will operate Monday-Saturday 0700-1900. The future transport zone will operate Monday-Saturday 0530-2130, Sunday 0900-1800 and fares may be different as the West of England Combined Authority is carrying out a 12-month trial as part of the Future Transport Zone programme and plans to evaluate different options
  12. It is open to all residents living in a WESTlink zone – including being fully accessible to residents in a wheelchair or with other disabilities
  13. Via will operate in a Northern zone while WeDRT will operate a Southern zone and the Future Transport zone. The two operators are working together using a shared app and call centre for booking, so passengers will not see any difference in their experience.

1 Comment

  1. I live in Clandown just beyond Bath and near Radstock many people rely on the 768 service .We are now being totally cut off .I’m a former independent councillor for the area and absolutely none of the present councillors have lifted a finger to help preserve this vital life line .I am currently looking after a 92 yr old mother and I’m unable to drive due to a medical condition .The answer from established political parties is F**k you.

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