The first phase of the £4 million Bus Revolution project aiming to plug the gaps in services across Moray is expected to be given the green light next week.
Councillors will be asked to give the go-ahead for improved services on Speyside as well as ones connecting towns in the east of Moray, and for the relevant permissions to be sought from the Traffic Commissioner’s office, at a meeting on Tuesday.
Members of the economic development and infrastructure committee are also expected to agree the existing Dial M on demand transport service operated by the council and which Bus Revolution will become part of, will be renamed as m.connect.
Phase one of the project includes a new timetabled circular route from Cullen through Portknockie, Findochty, Portessie, Buckie, Portgordon, Enzie, Aultmore, Newmill and Keith running from 5.25am to 9.15pm Monday to Friday.
The service has been designed to coincide with train times at Keith rail station where possible.
A return service connecting Aberlour, Knockando and Archiestown with Elgin will increase from two times a week to daily.
New bus route will connect Cullen, Buckie and Keith
Additional buses, one covering the Buckie and Keith area and two on Speyside, will be available for on demand journeys between 6.30am and 8.30pm with people able to book through an app.
Employers will also be able to request transport for workers before 6.30am and after 6.30pm.
Six new buses, three 16-seater and three seven-seaters, have already been ordered, with the enhanced services expected to be up and running before the end of this year.
In her report transportation manager Nicola Moss said: “The heart of the Bus Revolution project is to enhance the provision of demand responsive transport, which is flexible to a dispersed population by using a principle similar to Uber ride sharing.
“A customer books the service based on their direct journey need and this is accommodated as near to real time as possible.
More bus services for Speyside
“The customer may need to have some flexibility in journey time to get the best fit, but it is a means of providing journey opportunities where fixed timetable routes would not be sustainable.”
Bus Revolution is part of the £100m Moray Growth Deal that aims to attract and retain young people and families in the area, create high quality jobs and opportunities for communities to prosper, as well as address inequalities including the gender pay gap.