Gillian Keegan welcomes free buses in February as "Book-a-Bus" service expands

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Chichester MP Gillian Keegan has said that the expansion of West Sussex’s Book-a-Bus service will be “a game-changer” for rural communities.

Book-a-Bus is part of the West Sussex County Council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan, funded by Central Government, that aims to make it easier and more attractive for residents and visitors in the county’s rural areas with limited or no traditional bus service to travel by bus.

Following the success of the service in rural areas around Petworth and Chichester, West Sussex County Council has now confirmed the introduction of a “96 Flex” zone serving those in the northwest area of Chichester up to Midhurst. The “96 Flex” has no fixed timetable or route, instead operating on the bookings it receives via the Ride Pingo app or via the call centre.

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To celebrate the expansion, residents travelling via any of the Book-a-Bus services can travel for free during the whole month of February.

Bus services have been expanded cross the area northwest of Chichester.Bus services have been expanded cross the area northwest of Chichester.
Bus services have been expanded cross the area northwest of Chichester.

Speaking to local media, Mrs Keegan said: “This new addition to the Book-a-Bus service will be a game-changer for people across our rural communities. Now more than ever it is crucial that we stay connected to our friends and neighbours, and Book-a-Bus is the easiest and cheapest way to do this.

“With unwelcome increased charges in our district carparks coming in later this spring, I’m pleased to see our County Council responding with sensible and affordable solutions that will help rural communities stay connected and give a boost to the many small shops and other businesses based in our area."

The move has also been championed by the Roads Minister, Guy Opperman. Speaking ahead of the announcement, Minister Opperman said: “Local people deserve a modern, reliable, and affordable public transport system. I'm delighted to have worked alongside the local council and Gillian Keegan MP to give West Sussex over £19 million to boost its bus services.

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“This is a fantastic result for passengers northwest of Chichester and in Midhurst, who will enjoy this extended on-demand bus service to get around Petworth and Chichester more easily and with greater flexibility.”

Plans for further expansion to areas such as Westbourne, Stanstead Park, West Ashling, Rogate, Nyewood, Little Torberry, Woodmancote, and Forestside are expected later this spring.