Nottinghamshire County Council will use government funding to help bring passenger numbers on buses back to pre-pandemic levels and will pilot an ‘on-demand’ bus service scheme involving phone-booked services and an app.
Documents show that after the omicron variant emerged, bus recovery slowed to around 70-80% of pre-covid activity.
And for discount fare holders, usage has stalled at 55-60% of pre-pandemic levels.
The figures will be discussed at Nottinghamshire County Council’s transport and environment committee on May 4.
In response to the slowing recovery, the government announced funding for a further six months until October 2022 through the Local Transport Fund (LTF).
The government had already provided financial support through the Bus Recovery Grant (BRG), which ended in March 2022.
The council’s £4.1m budget for local buses supports more than 100 bus services across the county.
Documents also show that this summer the council will also use £1.5million in funding to run a pilot project which will see the buses run on a fully flexible, on-demand basis.
The new Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) project will be tested this summer in Ollerton and Mansfield, and in Rushcliffe in the autumn.
It comes after the authority successfully applied for funds from the National Bus Strategy Rural Mobility Fund 2020/21.
The Council documents stated: “These DRT services will not operate on a fixed route or schedule, but will operate on a fully flexible on-demand basis to any destination within the area of operation and other destinations outside from the area to connect to traditional fixed-route bus services. Customers will be able to book DRT services over the phone, on the web or through an app. »
Documents released ahead of the meeting indicate that the council intends to build on current levels of investment and high passenger satisfaction rates to further develop and improve bus services.
Advisors will also be updated on the progress of bus recovery as the sector emerges from the covid pandemic.