Community invited to influence routes and timings for new m.connect bus service in Forres area
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THE team behind a new local bus service is looking for suggestions as to how to improve it.
m.connect currently offers a timetabled service from Forbeshill through town to Knockomie, as well as an on-demand operation, however, this is likely to expand as the Moray-wide project that launched in May moves into its next phase with a closer focus on the wider Forres area.
Bus Revolution senior project officer Steve Robertson confirmed service 314, which operates five days-a-week from 8.40am-5pm, links Forbeshill and Victoria Road to the town centre and onto Tesco, Lidl, Forres Health Centre, and Forres Dental Care, also serves residents on Grant Road, Falconer Avenue and Mannachie Road.
Mr Robertson said: “Currently, m.connect is in delivery of the first phase of the 10 year growth project.
“Phase 2 will be determined through detailed analysis of demand, the current bus network and consultation events in 2024 which will inform the project board of where m.connect should expand and what times and days the services should operate.”
Mr Robertson hopes that as many local people as possible complete a transport survey to be released this month.
He said: “Please inform us of any public transport issues or barriers. What would help residents access work? What times and where should the bus network operate to support journeys to work? More widely, what links would the community like to see that are currently not there?
“Please speak with your community councils to let them know your thoughts. Also, engage with the Moray Transport Forum as they will help shape the strategic conversation with Stagecoach and Moray Council.”
While people can still use the number 0300 123 4565, passengers can also book using the m.connect app, from two weeks in advance or up to one hour before travel.
The app - available to download for free from Apple and Google Play stores - allows users to create and manage journeys. Bus ticket features, vehicle tracking and notification options are all part of the function.
Options to pay by credit/debit card, National (Scotland) Entitlement Cards and with cash are available, while the operating zones and fare structure have been simplified. There’s also a £9 all day travel option. Group bookings will be available from October with the option to repeat a favourite journey without going through the full booking process each time.
m.connect is the first stage of the £4.3m Bus Revolution project funded through £4m of Scottish Government funding and £300,000 from Moray Council.
“The on-demand m.connect service is operated through a competitive, awarded contract to Mundole Taxis and Maynes Coaches,” added Mr Robertson. “It operates Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm and on Saturdays from 9am-5pm.”
m.connect is working with employers and public bodies including the Department for Work and Pensions, Developing the Young WorkForce Moray, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and third sector organisations to inform of its available services.
“http://www.moray.gov.uk/moray_standard/page_125954.html contains all service information,” added Mr Robertson.
“This is listed on all our promotional material and we have active social media content @MorayCouncil and @m.connectbus.”