Transport for Wales (TfW) is working in partnership with Cardiff Council and NAT Group to extend the ‘fflecsi’ pilot scheme to north Cardiff.
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.
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, the pilot scheme is now being rolled out in north Cardiff as the next stage in its development.
The NAT G1 route, which will become a fflecsi service on 29 June, runs between Gwaelod-y-garth and Mynachdy, covering areas including Whitchurch, Tongwynlais, Melingriffith, Llandaff North and Coryton.
Service areas have been designed for essential journeys and will include key destinations such as the University Hospital of Wales, Velindre Cancer Centre, Llandaf railway station and supermarkets.
As part of the pilot scheme in Cardiff, fflecsi services will run between 07:40 and 18:00, Monday to Saturday.
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 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 north Cardiff and how we can potentially apply this in other areas in the future.”
Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport at Cardiff Council, said:
“I am pleased that Cardiff is trialling this technology and new way of working. Before the covid-19 pandemic, the council set out our strategic vision for the city through our Transport White Paper.
“Improvements to bus travel is very much part of our plans, both as a viable option for commuters, as well as those who want to travel around the city. As we now look to recover from the lockdown, there is no doubt that it will be a challenging time for all public transport providers. This new system will improve efficiency, ensuring that the bus is only running when there is a demand for the service and customers are able to socially distance from others when travelling. If the pilot is successful, we will look at other areas of the city that could benefit from a similar scheme.”
Chris Snyder, ViaVan CEO, added:
“fflecsi represents an opportunity for municipalities across the UK to use technology as a solution to reinvigorate and transform public transport. We are proud to work with Transport for Wales to demonstrate how demand-responsive transport plays a powerful role in the introduction of flexible, efficient and convenient mobility offerings, and we look forward to extending fflecsi’s reach to the nation’s capital of Cardiff.”
Adam Keen, Managing Director of NAT Group, added:
“NAT Group are delighted to be the operational partner in this innovative and forward-thinking project, which is all about finding new ways of making buses useful and accessible to people. If public transport is to prosper and remain viable, these pilot schemes will need to become more and more commonplace. I very much look forward to receiving passenger feedback once the project starts, so that we can develop it further.”
Transport for Wales is looking to expand the service across Wales over the coming year, adding new services, features and learning from the pilot work in Newport and Cardiff.
To find out more, including details of the services and how to book, please visit fflecsi.wales.