• £2 million fund for communities to run “hyper-local” bus services

Metro Mayor Dan Norris is challenging communities across the West of England to design and run new bus services in their area as he launches WESTlocal (today Friday 17 March).

The £2 million fund will help local neighbourhoods set up and run their own new not-for-profit transport. “Local people know their communities best. Therefore, they should be at the heart of creating transport solutions that work for them”, says Mayor Norris.

“No two West of England communities are the same, and it’s because of this fantastic and wide diversity that I love our great region. But it also presents very real challenges, for no single transport solution can meet every community’s needs. The main local concern may be getting pupils to school, older people to the supermarket, workers to a large local employer at the start and end of shifts, or linking up a group of villages – or something else entirely.

“Last year, I held a series of very well-attended public meetings right across the West of England, listening carefully to the direct and forthright feedback of many thousands of local people. What it told me was that local communities are best placed to know their own unique challenges and to be most motivated to find the best transport solution for their particular needs. As a result, I’m setting up WESTlocal to unleash the power of local people working together.”

WESTlocal is open to a wide selection of community groups including schools, faith groups, town and parish councils and more. Proposed schemes must serve residents based in the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority area.

The key criteria for funding for WESTlocal are that the scheme is genuinely locally designed and is a new idea, rather than sustaining services that are already in place.

The fund is flexible, and communities can consider a range of ideas with fixed timetables or flexible services; and pre-booked or “buy on the bus” services. They could run to key locations such as health centres, shops or colleges.

Expert advice and support will be made available by the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority to all those looking to set up a new transport scheme to help communities in their efforts.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “This £2 million fund from my West of England Mayoral Authority will allow groups across our region to run their own public transport to suit their needs – that’s what WESTlocal is all about. I’m determined we try something different, because clearly many of the old ways haven’t been working well enough. I’m proud that by securing the largest amount of funding per head for buses in the country I can now make this investment in WESTlocal. I’m creating WESTlocal to allow people’s good ideas and local knowledge to play a key part in getting people from A to B in this brilliant region, and helping us reach our ambitious and important 2030 net-zero targets across the West of England”.

The scheme is being funded by the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority using money secured from government through the Bus Service Improvement Plan.

For more information, visit: https://www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/what-we-do/transport/westlocal/

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