A new CountyConnect bus service in Northampton is providing an ‘on demand’ service, where residents in rural areas can call or text for a bus. This comes after Northamptonshire County Council phased out subsidies for non-commercial services as covered in CBW998.
The CountyConnect service started operating on 5 September and for the first time many rural communities have gained access to public transport. In many other locations, infrequent services running less than three times a week have now been replaced by daily services.
The demand response system focuses on five separate areas in Northamptonshire and centres round hub towns, where passengers can connect with regular inter-urban buses to make onward journeys.
The service works on a first-come-first-served basis and journeys can be booked up to a week in advance for travel to any other stop in the area served, not just the local town centre.
CountyConnect differs from conventional bus services by allowing customers to book a seat on specially designed lowfloor minibuses either by telephone, text message or via the internet and arrange to be picked up at a specific time at their nearest village bus stop.
As well as the existing CallConnect branded service in northeast Northants, the new CountyConnect service launched in September serves: Nene Valley, focused on Oundle, Thrapston and Raunds; Welland Valley, focused on Market Harborough, Long Buckby and Daventry; and South Northants, focused on Towcester and Brackley, including off-peak links to Banbury.