06 Nov 2017
• Stagecoach announces plan to extend little & often service
• Bus frequencies to increase on town routes E and G
• Buses to Godinton and Repton Park will double in frequency
• New 20 minute Mercedes minibus service for Little Burton, The Street, Eureka Park and South Willesborough
Bus operator Stagecoach has announced plans to extend its ‘little & often’ minibus service. From Sunday 19 November local routes E and G will increase in frequency when they become part of the Mercedes operated little and often network.
Godinton Park and Repton Park, which currently get two buses an hour, will benefit from double the frequency with buses every 15 minutes. Little Burton, The Street, Eureka Park and South Willesborough will also benefit from a boost in frequency, with buses every 20 minutes.
The fleet of Mercedes minibuses, which come with faux leather seats and ‘Euro 6’ specification low-emission engines, first hit the road in February. Since then Stagecoach say that they’ve seen growth in passenger numbers on the high frequency B and C routes, connecting the town centre and station with Park Farm and Kennington, and the William Harvey Hospital and Willesborough. Now the bus company are set to enhance routes E and G by bringing them into the higher frequency little & often scheme.
Stagecoach managing director, Philip Norwell, said that these routes have continued to attract more and more passengers. “In 2015 we doubled the frequency of buses in Godinton Park. Now, less than three years later, we’re able to double it again. This is testament to Ashford’s continued growth and our commitment to supporting it with a responsive and high quality transport network.”
As part of the changes route E will extend beyond Ashford centre to serve South Willesborough and Orbital Park. Route G will become a dedicated service for Godinton Park and Repton Park linking them with the town centre and international station.
The bus company point out that routes B and C will continue to operate much the same with little & often buses every few minutes throughout the day, but there’ll be some changes to bus times to fine-tune the service to reflect the number of passengers carried at various times of the day.
A recent survey commissioned by Stagecoach found that nearly 60 per cent of its new customers who began using the little & often service since it launched in February, previously used their cars to make the same journeys. Philip Norwell said “This is a clear indication that providing a higher frequency, quick and convenient bus service helps reduce car use – which in turn frees up road space and improves air quality in the town.”
The expansion of the little & often minibus operation comes eight months after Stagecoach first introduced the technology to pay using contactless on its buses around town. The company say that over a third of all bus fares in Ashford are now paid by contactless including Apple and Google Pay. Mobile phone tickets have also caught on in the town with a growing number of passengers buying their bus ticket on their Smartphone using the Stagecoach Bus App.
The Stagecoach Bus App is available free from the App Store (iPhone) and Google Play (Android). Payments via the app can be made by PayPal, debit or credit card.
This season, Stagecoach ‘little & often’ is the official match day sponsor of Ashford Ladies Rugby Team. The ladies, who are competing in the Women’s National Challenge 1 league, sported their ‘little & often’ branded kit at the Kinneys Field ground on Sunday where they played Streatham & Croydon ladies.
More information about the upcoming timetable and route changes in Ashford is available here.