A new scheme which could change the way residents travel around the county is to be piloted in East Cambridgeshire.
Total Transport is a simple concept from Cambridgeshire County Council to bring together the numerous similar journeys which residents make for different purposes in a variety of vehicles.
Currently the Council has separate contracts for different services such as home to school transport, social care and community transport "“ these are paid on a separate basis and act on a standalone basis.
Total Transport aims to change this by replacing the existing system with a revised network of fixed bus routes, largely based around school journeys, and a new flexible minibus service, whilst continuing to support a social car scheme.
The Flexible Minibus Service will offer door to door transport on a pre-booked basis, meaning vehicles only run when and where they are needed. A new booking centre will make it easy for users to request the journeys they need.
The accessible minibuses will be staffed with passenger assistants to support those who are less mobile so they can make journeys to day centres, health appointments and social clubs as well as to the shops and other popular destinations.
In addition to the minibuses, a small number of school buses will be opened to the general public, although this is only proposed for specific areas where there is local support. The Ely Zipper route will continue with minor changes, and commercial Stagecoach services 9 and 12 won't be affected. The Ely circular (route 15) will also carry on unchanged.
Councillor Steve Count, Leader at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "Total Transport is such a simple but effective idea which could make a real difference to people's lives and allow the Council to save money while providing a better service. The new service will offer far more choice than is currently enjoyed by many users and the pre-booked journeys will mean no more wasted trips. The next few months will see lots of work and communication with the people and groups who will benefit most from Total Transport to make sure they understand how it works and how it will work for them.
"The pilot will begin in September 2016 and will allow us to evaluate what people think of the service and whether it has saved money. If it is a success then we will look to roll out the Total Transport concept across Cambridgeshire. All members at the Council are very excited by this scheme as it is a real example of evolving our services to better meet the demands of the public."
The next stage in the process is for officers to consult and hold drop in sessions in the pilot area of the north part of East Cambridgeshire covering Ely, Soham and Littleport ahead of the scheme launching in September 2016. Those residents wanting to share their views can complete an online consultation via the Council's website, or can email [email protected] to be sent the link.
The project is funded by Â£460,000 from the Central Government "“ the money was provided to research, design, implement and evaluate the pilot scheme.