Transport operator Stagecoach is trialling a new channel which involves 30 Mercedes Sprinter minibuses. The project is known as Stagecoach Little & Often which will offer passengers a new turn up and go method for the local people of Ashford, Kent.
Stagecoach invested nearly £3 million in a fleet of 30 Mercedes Benz minibuses which will all include state-of-the-art ticket machines, allowing you to pay for travel with contactless credit/debit cards, Apple Pay and Android Pay which is the first of its kind in Ashford.
The minibuses will enter service on Sunday 12th February 2017, which will see an increase from 3 to 12 buses an hour on some routes of the investment.
The 17-seat minibuses will be operating to very high levels of frequency, offering journeys for its passengers nearly every 5 minutes throughout the daytime and then during the evening and on Sundays the time will be expanded to every 15 minutes due to less demand for high-frequency buses at these times.
Where can you travel?
Route B – Little & Often minibuses run up to every 6 minutes (during the daytime) Mondays to Saturdays, linking Kennington, the town centre, the rail station, Asda, Park Farm and Bridgefield. During the evenings and on Sundays, minibuses run up to every 15 minutes.
Route C – Little & Often minibuses run between William Harvey Hospital, Willesborough, the rail station and the town centre up to every 5 minutes (during the daytime) Mondays to Saturdays. Minibuses run up to every 15 minutes during the evenings and on Sundays.
Updated – Stagecoach’s Little & Often service expands
Since Sunday, November 19th, local routes E and G have both seen an increase in frequency when they became part of the Little & Often network of routes.
Godington Park and Repton Park, which in the past only had two buses each hour has had the service frequency double to every 15 minutes.
Since the service first hit the road in February, Stagecoach has said it has seen growth in passenger numbers on high frequency B and C routes, connecting Ashford town centre and the station with Park Farm, Kennington, Willesborough and the William Harvey Hospital. Routes E and G have now been brought into the higher frequency Little & Often scheme.
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.
Stagecoach said routes B and C will continue to operate much the same with little & often buses every few minutes throughout the day, but there will 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% 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 added: “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.”
This initiative is very similar to another service recently announced by Arriva called ArrivaClick.
Take a look at the Little & Often Launch Party here: