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Innovative public transport flourishes in Shropshire with Via's Connect On-Demand Service

Shrewsbury takes a leap into the future with demand-responsive transport that revolutionises local travel.

Andy Ambrosius •
shropshire council

Fewer than 100 km outside of Birmingham lies Shrewsbury, a charming town witnessing a transformative shift in its public transportation, thanks to a new partnership between Shropshire Council and transport technology provider Via. The collaboration has replaced flagging subsidised bus routes with a  demand-responsive transport service that is not only enhancing mobility, but setting a new standard for public transport in smaller communities.

Serving rural areas to the south of the Shrewsbury town centre, the initiative has boosted public transport usage and garnered positive community feedback. Shropshire Connect On-Demand replaced the 544 (Shrewsbury to Lyth Hill) and 546 (Shrewsbury to Pulverbatch) bus services, which were fully funded by the council but have, over a period of time, seen a reduction in passengers.

"Following the successful launch of the Connect On-Demand service in December 2023, the service has gone from strength to strength," notes Ian Nellins, the Shropshire Council's Cabinet member responsible for public transport. "We would like to thank all our customers and those yet to join us through our launch period and our first operating year. The feedback provided has been incredibly valuable and we are really pleased with the positive engagement from the local community."

With an average waiting time of less than 17 minutes, passengers can enjoy quick and reliable access to transportation. The system utilises five vehicles to deliver a high volume of trips without sacrificing quality of service: trip ratings sit at 4.9/5 stars on average.

shropshire vehicle

"This is welcome news for the many residents living on Lyth Hill that have been asking for this new innovative service, using smaller buses that would be made available for them to use," said Roger Evans, local Shropshire Councillor for Longden. His enthusiasm underscores the council's commitment to expanding and enhancing the service to meet the needs of both residents and visitors.

The Connect On-Demand service not only meets the practical mobility needs of Shrewsbury’s residents but also contributes to environmental sustainability. "We are also aware that some passengers have opted to use the service rather than using private cars," Nellins adds, pointing to the environmental benefits of Connect On-Demand. "This demonstrates that a reliable and flexible bus service will help to reduce traffic in Shrewsbury town centre.”

"For many residents in Shropshire’s vast rural areas there are no local transport services to get them to work, leisure activities, medical appointments or college," continues Nellins. "This service strives to change that and provide a crucial link for residents requiring affordable access to essential services.​"

Such initiatives are vital in reducing urban congestion and lowering carbon emissions, making Shrewsbury a model for other towns to follow. Connect On-Demand exemplifies how innovative solutions can transform public transport into a more accessible, responsive, and sustainable system. The collaboration between Shropshire Council and Via shows the potential of public-private partnerships to create significant community benefits. As the service looks to expand further, it promises to keep adapting and improving, ensuring that it remains an indispensable part of Shrewsbury's transport landscape.

Andy Ambrosius avatar
Andy Ambrosius

Via Resource Editor