Economic boost for the Cotswolds
By Andrew Merrell | 10th May 2019
An economic boost for the Cotswolds is how new bus services to help students and shoppers travel across the Cotswolds have been described by a chamber of trade.
Stagecoach West began by sitting down with the Cirencester College to work out how it could improve services for students travelling from the nearby town centre and further afield.
The end result is what is being hailed as a "major improvements in transport to Cirencester and across Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire".
Annemarie Thurgood, director of the Cirencester Chamber of Commerce, said: "To offer more transport from both smaller and larger towns in and around the county is fantastic.
"The fact that the new routes will have public access allows people to easily commute or visit Cirencester.
"The service will also encourage students and workers from outside of the area to consider the town as a place to study or work in.
"The college annual pass gives students the independence to find weekend and evening jobs within our local community. On the flip side, this enables those that may struggle to find a job here to look further afield, but remain living in Cirencester."
Karen Fraser, vice principal of student experience (pictured top, second from the left), said: "This is a win-win opportunity for our students, who will enjoy flexible travel to suit both their timetable and work placement needs. This will be at no extra costs and, as a bonus, they can use the ticket on weekends and holidays without paying more.
"In addition, our community wins by having better, sustainable transport links into Cirencester. This includes journeys from Kemble Station, which will help people to get to work more easily, as well as visit our fabulous town centre and hopefully boost the local economy."
James O'Neill, commercial manager for Stagecoach West (pictured top, far left), said: "Some students will get the benefit of an extra journey to the college later in the morning, as well as an earlier trip home at night.
"The subsidised college ticket is a great discount on the public bus price, but those who may not want to pay upfront will still be able to pay our driver on the day."
The partnership between the college and Stagecoach West will deliver 10 new bus routes from September and also allow students to use their tickets outside of teaching hours to travel to improving access to work experience and employment opportunities.
The routes include brand new links from Yate on Service 862; Gloucester City Centre on Service 866; and Kemble on Service 860.
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The Academic Year Megarider pass will be the same price as a seat on the existing coach service and offers students unlimited use of the Stagecoach network across Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, South Gloucestershire and Bristol, within the academic year.
This includes evenings, weekends, and term-time holidays and Easter and Christmas.
The routes will also be fully open to the general public, providing extensive and direct peak-time links into Cirencester from across the local area.
It is hoped the improved public transport will help ease parking pressures within Cirencester.
From September, 600 students are expected to use the new network on a daily basis, reducing the carbon footprint of the student commute, and easing pressure on the local road network.
The service will run on a clear timetabled basis, with full journey planning and live bus tracking available online and via the Stagecoach app.
Stagecoach West will be at Cirencester College's Open Evening on Thursday, June 27, from 5pm to 8pm, to discuss the new route network and answer questions.
Register to attend at www.cirencester.ac.uk or contact the Student Journey team on 01285 640994.
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