Sunday, 24 March 2019

New Saturday bus service to begin with free fare day

New Saturday bus service to begin with free fare day

A NEW Henley town centre bus service will begin next Saturday (March 16) when travel will be free for the day.

The town council is paying to extend the weekday service as a year-long trial in response to demand.

There will be three hourly buses connecting the town centre with outlying areas running between 9am and 2pm.

The 151 to 153 routes, which Reading Buses took over from Whites Coaches in August, are subsidised by statutory contributions from developers that are building new homes in the town.

However, this money will eventually run out so the council is working with the new operator to find ways of making the service commercially viable.

Extending the service will cost about £12,000 for the first year but a six-month break clause has been inserted into the deal if it proves unsuccessful.

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, who chairs the council’s bus working group, said: “After the successful launch of the Monday-to-Friday service in August, we are pleased to announce this Saturday service.

“This bus service has been a lifeline for many members of our community.

“It also helps air quality in Henley where we encourage residents to leave their car at home and jump on the eco-friendly bus.”

The Connect Henley-on-Thames bus runs on compressed natural gas, which has far fewer emissions than a diesel vehicle.

It is equipped with audio-visual equipment so customers are told what stop they are approaching, USB charging points for phones and free wifi.

Councillor Donna Crook, whose elderly father Peter is a regular bus user, said: “It is accessible for wheelchair users and prams and when most people get on the bus, they have a nice chinwag. I recommend everybody uses it.”

Town and district councillor Lorraine Hillier said the bus was growing in popularity. She added: “We feel it is the right time to launch this Saturday service. Hopefully it will encourage more people to leave their cars at home and come into Henley on the bus.”

Tony Pettitt, chief finance officer at Reading Buses, said: “We are delighted to once again partner with the town council to provide the people of Henley with a Saturday service.

“The first Saturday will be completely free, although we do remind customers that they will have to pay the normal £1.50 adult single or £2.50 for an all-day ticket on subsequent Saturdays.”

To view the bus timetable, visit www.reading-buses.co.uk

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