Locally designed bus services on route for North Somerset


New locally designed travel routes are to be created as part of a project focused around improving bus services and offering options to those that need it the most.

North Somerset Council and West of England Combined Authority have set up a new £2 million fund called WESTlocal, so communities can design and run their own public transport to better suit their needs.

WESTlocal buses will allow local communities to set up and run their own permitted not-for-profit transport. Fixed routes, timetables or minibuses can be created to travel to key locations such as supermarkets, shopping centre, local towns and transport interchanges.

Steve Hogg, North Somerset Council’s Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said: “WESTlocal is open to community groups, schools, faith groups, town and parish councils and much more. Plans can include individual ideas, or it can be a group submission.

“If you can demonstrate a clear demand within the community and a plan for ongoing monitoring and improvements, there is money available to put these services in place. We want to use this funding to get successful schemes up and running as soon as possible. It will be first come, first served so we encourage applications as soon as possible.”

WESTlocal buses must be available to everyone with regular ticketing options and are not to be used for membership groups. The council will accept expressions of interest that are not in competition with existing services, such as demand led transport WESTlink and other commercial services.

WESTlocal will be a different service to WESTlink, a demand led service that uses an automated service joining -up people’s desired journey into one trip to get people where they need to be as efficiently as possible.

To receive an expression of interest form visit WESTlocal - Travelwest. The deadline for funding applications is the end of April 2024. This project will be administered in partnership with the West of England Combined Authority.

WESTlocal is part of North Somerset’s Bus Improvement Service Plan (BSIP). Following a successful bid to the Department for Transport (DfT), over £105m of Government funding has been allocated for bus improvements, with £48m earmarked for capital improvements in North Somerset alone. £57.5m will be used as a pooled revenue fund with the West of England Combined Authority to enable delivery of the Bus Service Improvement Plan.

Guidance outlines can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/section-19-and-22-permits-not-for-profit-passenger-transport/section-19-and-22-permits-not-for-profit-passenger-transport