Transport for Wales (TfW) is working in partnership with local councils and bus operators to launch a pilot project that will allow people to request a bus to pick them up near home, work or shops for essential travel.
Newport Bus is running the first pilot scheme called ‘fflecsi,’ which began operating in some areas of Newport from Monday 18 May.
Fflecsi replaces a number of scheduled local bus services with more flexible services that can pick up and drop off near work, shops and homes by request, rather than following a set timetable at fixed bus stops.
Seats on fflecsi are booked using an Android/Apple app or by calling 0300 234 0300.
Once a fflecsi passenger is booked on a service, Newport Bus is able to guarantee that the passenger will have a seat and enough space to respect social distancing guidelines.
As part of the Newport pilot scheme, fflecsi services will run between 0730 and 1830hrs, Monday to Saturday.
Service areas have been designed for essential journeys and will include key destinations such as hospitals and supermarkets.
If the initial pilot of fflecsi is successful, TfW will look to roll the scheme out to more areas.
Ken Skates, the Minster for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said: “The pilot scheme we will be trialling in Newport over the next 3 months could shape the bus services of the future. While we are living with the restrictions on our every-day lives, this demand responsive transport system could be the answer to some problems faced by our key workers trying to get to and from work at a time that suits their shifts. We are also looking to expand this pilot and are working with several other companies to implement a demand responsive transport service.
“We will be working closely with the local authorities, TfW and our partners to monitor its success.”
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, said: “fflecsi is a very exciting trial for us as we continue to transform public transport in Wales. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has had a direct impact on public transport and as we move forward the safety of our colleagues and customers continues to be our top priority.
“This new pilot scheme offers us the opportunity to look at a new way of operating public transport and in these current circumstances it will allow bus companies to move people around while maintaining a social distance.
“I look forward to finding out what we can learn from the trial in Newport and how we can potentially apply this in other areas in the future.”
Jane Mudd, Leader of Newport County Council added: “We’re delighted that Newport has been chosen as the pilot area for fflecsi, and grateful to our partners at Transport for Wales and Newport Bus for facilitating this.
“The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly impacted upon public transport provision within the city, and fflecsi will play an important role in helping our residents make essential journeys and deliver key services.”
Scott Pearson, Managing Director of Newport Transport said: “Newport Transport is proud to be working with TfW to trial a different option in public transport for our customers. In these challenging times we must look at various different modes in which we can serve the people of Newport and keep them safe while on our buses giving them the confidence to travel with us.”
Transport for Wales is looking to expand the service across Wales over the coming year, adding new services, features and learning from the pilot work in Newport