An on-demand bus service will be piloted in an area of the Black Isle, making it easier for residents to use public transport.
The service will start on June 28 in the Ferintosh Community Council area and operate between 9.30 am – 4.15 pm, Monday to Friday.
It will complement the scheduled peak services on Service 22 to Inverness that will continue to be operated by Stagecoach.
It will take residents to and from Tore Service Station, where passengers can join any of Stagecoach’s mainline A9 buses.
Electric bus to be used on service
Passengers can also book journeys between any two points within the Ferintosh Community Council area. This includes Culbokie to Mulbuie and Mulbuie Ridge to the Cromarty Firth.
The bus will collect and drop-off residents anywhere where it is safe to stop and as near their homes as possible.
During the pilot, which runs until March 2022, a five-seater electric vehicle will replace the current diesel bus.
It is also hoped to have volunteer drivers ready to extend the service into night time and weekends to provide essentially a 24/7 service.
The aim is to give residents seven day access to all Stagecoach’s A9 services at Tore Service Station. For the first time this would allow residents to attend evening events in Inverness.
The pilot scheme is a partnership of Hitrans, the regional transport partnership, Stagecoach, The Highland Council, CSI Ross-shire and Ferintosh Community Council (supported by Culbokie Community Trust).
It is supported through an EU InterReg project called MOVE which seeks to improve public transport provision.
A more accessible, frequent and sustainable service
Neil MacRae, partnership manager at Hitrans, said demand-responsive services are becoming more popular in rural areas. They provide a more accessible, frequent and sustainable service in areas where residents live remote from fixed route bus services.
“The frequency of bus journeys can therefore now be increased since the community bus will only be travelling within a small constrained area. It will link with the more frequent A9 bus services operated by Stagecoach.”
Bruce Morrison, who is leading the project on behalf of Ferintosh Community Council, said: “The current fixed route bus service is used by a very small number of residents.
“Demand-responsive bus services are proving more useful for residents in rural areas. This pilot we hope will prove to be more valuable to more of our residents.
Demand-responsive services are becoming more popular in rural areas
“The more useful we can make this service, the easier it will be to sustain valuable public transport for years to come.”
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