RCT has worked in partnership with Transport for Wales and Stagecoach to extend the ‘fflecsi’ pilot scheme to the 152 bus service between Tonypandy and Hendreforgan.
Fflecsi allows people to request a demand-responsive bus to pick them up near home, work or shops for essential travel, rather than following a set timetable at fixed bus stops.
Powered by technology from ViaVan, fflecsi was first launched by TfW and Newport Bus in May, replacing a number of scheduled local bus services in Newport and has received positive feedback in its first month of operation. It has also since been rolled out by TfW and NAT Group in north Cardiff.
Riders will be able to book a seat through the fflecsi mobile app, or by calling 0300 234 0300. To book, riders select a desired pick-up and drop-off location, and will be matched with a seat in a high-capacity bus that is fully compliant with public health guidelines for social distancing.
ViaVan’s technology will direct passengers to a nearby “virtual bus stop” for pick-up, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, fixed routes or schedules.
After the initial success in Newport and north Cardiff, the pilot scheme is now being rolled out in the Tonypandy and Tonyrefail areas of Rhondda Cynon Taf as the next stage in its development.
The Stagecoach 152 route, which will become a fflecsi service on 20 July, runs between Tonypandy and Hendreforgan, covering communities including Penygraig, Williamstown, Penrhiwfer, Tonyrefail and Thomastown.
Service areas have been designed for essential journeys and will include key destinations such as Tonypandy railway and bus stations, Tonyrefail Leisure Centre and supermarkets.
As part of the pilot scheme in the Tonypandy and Tonyrefail areas of Rhondda Cynon Taf, fflecsi services will run between 07:30 and 17:30, Monday to Saturday.
Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways and Transportation, said: “Encouraging people to use public transport once again – now travel and other restrictions are being relaxed – has many benefits for individuals and the wider community, including less traffic on our roads, reduced journey times and fewer carbon emissions.
“The fflecsi initiative is a very innovative way of putting the customer in control of their journey, and therefore making travelling by bus more appealing and accessible to a greater number of people.
“I’m pleased that, from Monday, the scheme is being extended, and having been already successfully piloted in Newport and areas of Cardiff it will provide the communities of Tonypandy, Penygraig, Penrhiwfer, Tonyrefail and Hendreforgan with public transport once again.”
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, said:“fflecsi is a very exciting trial for us as we continue to transform public transport in Wales. The ongoing covid-19 pandemic has had a direct impact on public transport and as we move forward the safety of our colleagues and customers continues to be our top priority.
“This new pilot scheme offers us the opportunity to look at a new way of operating public transport and in these current circumstances it will allow bus companies to move people while maintaining a social distance.
“I’m delighted that fflecsi has been positively received in Newport and north Cardiff, and I’d like to thank everyone involved for their hard work in achieving this. I look forward to finding out what we can learn from the next stage of the pilot scheme in the Tonypandy and Tonyrefail areas of Rhondda Cynon Taf, and how we can potentially apply this in other areas in the future.”
Nigel Winter, Managing Director for Stagecoach in South Wales, added: “We are delighted to work with TfW and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council on this flexible bus project for the Rhondda Fawr. By repurposing the funding provided by Rhondda Cynon Taf to run the Service 152, working together with TfW we are able to offer customers a new product that is flexible and potentially more efficient than a fixed route and timed service.
“We are looking forward to starting this new service and learning from the customer and operational feedback.”