This week we announce a trial which follows last year's conference on integrated transport. A this event Sir Moir Lockhead laid down a challenge to the bus & rail industries to do something much bigger than the current PlusBus bus add-on option for some rail journeys and find a way to package bus travel for all decent length rail passenger journeys.
From 1st April an important trial is taking place for three months. During this trial all rail tickets costing more than £25 where the destination is Bristol (Temple Meads or Parkway) will be valid for a direct journey on one of our buses commencing at either of those stations (and returning to it if it is a return ticket). The trial will seek to establish what modal shift much be achieved (from taxi or car pick-up) if the bus travel is "free" and included in the ticket.
In a full scheme, our aim is to see whether every rail ticket to every non-London destination over a certain price cannot include this bus travel. It would be funded by a token increase in the rail ticket price and the pot would be divided between the operators using the same mechanism as is currently used for PlusBus. A token increase is almost unnoticeable on the rail ticket prices but generates sufficient cash to compensate bus opertors for what is generally off-peak marginal extra business.
We see passengers arriving at unfamiliar rail destinations hesitant to use local bus services. We are sure that if it is "free" many more will take the opportunity to use them.
The trial is called the Bristol SuperBus and is launched this week.
We've also invited the other operators in Bristol to join the scheme. There's no pot to divide up for the trial but hopefully there will be if it is a success.