Residents in the West of England are getting a special birthday gift starting today (Tuesday 1 August) – a month of free bus travel, part of a scheme designed to grow passenger numbers.
From today, all one million-plus residents in the West of England and North Somerset regions can travel on buses across the West’s 350-plus square mile network in the month of their birthday – completely for free. Passengers can make as many journeys as they like at any time of the day.
North Somerset Council is hoping residents will feel inspired to travel across the West of England and share pictures of where free bus travel can take you using #BirthdayBus.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris says ‘Birthday Buses’ will help locals in the cost-of-living crisis and get more people using buses to help take polluting diesel and petrol cars off our streets.
All the main bus companies, including First and Stagecoach, have signed up to the first of its kind initiative, and the region’s WESTlink bookable minibuses will also offer free travel.
It is hoped new passengers will take advantage of the month’s free travel and that, over the course of the month, build new routines. Data collected during the year will help build a better understanding of how the scheme affected passenger growth and the wider demand for public transport.
Worked up in partnership with bus companies, the phased nature of Birthday Buses, with a twelfth of the population eligible at a time, will mean increased demand can be managed.
Less than one in ten regional commutes are currently made on public transport and the economic impact of congestion costs the West of England £300 million a year.
Birthday Buses has been backed by groups including Bus Users UK who have called the scheme “absolutely brilliant”.
To sign up for a free bus pass, visit www.birthdaybus.co.uk.