An electrically powered people carrier will provide easy, direct, environmentally-friendly access into the heart of Cardiff
city centre during a three month trial.
The new bus will be free to use and is aimed primarily at wheelchair users and people with reduced mobility. It will replace the free 'b'; a pilot scheme that began last October and will come to an end within a month.
The Free 'b' service was introduced to coincide with the opening of St David's 2 last autumn, with the aim of providing support to the new 'bus box' system in the city.
The trial service, involving two single decker buses, has constantly been under review and although take-up has not been as high as expected, customer feedback has still highlighted demand for a smaller service that is able to reach more internal parts of the city centre and give added support to those who find it difficult to walk long distances.
The new bus will provide easy access to pedestrian-friendly areas where no other passenger-carrying vehicles are allowed. More than one route will be trialled during the three month period and an on-demand dial-a-ride facility will also form part of the pilot scheme.
The views of passengers with reduced mobility will be constantly monitored and reviewed during the trial period, along with usage figures.
To tie in with this pilot, the city centre's shopmobility scheme will also be extended. This service can be accessed via level three of the St David's shopping centre car park, where electric mobility scooters are available. Opening hours for this service will now run from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 6pm on Saturdays.
The new electrically powered bus service is supported and jointly funded by the Welsh Assembly Government via the Sustainable Travel City Grant.
It is the latest component in the city's transport evolution, aimed at keeping Cardiff moving. Major plans to reduce congestion and improve travel by foot, bike and public transport are now entering their second year.
Executive Member for Transport Councillor Delme Bowen said:
"We are committed to opening up the city centre for all and making accessibility as easy as possible. During the free b trial it has become increasingly apparent from passengers that a smaller service that can get right into the city may be more beneficial to those without full mobility.
"The new bus is environmentally friendly and by trialling different routes we hope to be able to provide as near to a door-to-door service as we possibly can. Combined with the extension of the shopmobility scheme, we aim to provide a city centre that is even more accessible for all shoppers, no matter what their circumstances."
Source: ©Cardiff City Council