April 2023: News from Metro Mayor Dan Norris

I’VE always said that local people know their communities best. I’ve also always remarked that people across the West are endlessly able to come up with great ideas. You only have to look at my Big Choices public meetings I held last summer to see that!

Now you may or may not have come to these meetings, where I listened to thousands of people air their concerns and suggest solutions to the many, many challenges we have on the buses at present. If you did, thank you for engaging in one of the knottiest issues this region is facing right now!

If you didn’t, fear not. You’ve still got time to tell me your community’s unique transport challenges and help me find the best transport solution for its particular needs.

Welcome to WESTlocal – a new £2 million fund from the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority to help communities design and then run their own version of new transport in their patch.

Maybe the challenge in your area is driving children to school? Getting older residents to the shops? Workers to large local employers at the start and end of shifts?

Whatever it is, with WESTlocal – open to a wide selection of community groups, schools, faith groups, town and parish councils, and more – we will unleash the power of local people working together, and keep residents on the move.

All you need to do is come up with an idea, then get together with other groups in your community (or go it alone if you want to), identify a range of transport needs and come up with a transport scheme to tackle them. We will support you to put those plans into action and make them a success.

The fund is super-flexible, and communities can consider a range of ideas, with fixed timetables or flexible services, and pre-booked or “buy on the bus” services. They could run to key locations – think GPs or colleges. And various vehicles can be used. Traditional buses, minibuses – you name it!

Your proposed scheme must serve residents based in the West of England area. Your ideas must be locally designed and new – they can’t simply keep schemes going that are already in place.

For those thinking “but I’ve never run public transport before, Dan” – don’t worry.

Expert advice and support will be made available every step of the way, to help all those looking to set up a new transport scheme.

Once you have got your idea, contact transport.operations@westofengland-ca.gov.uk and put ‘WESTlocal idea’ in the address line.

The West of England Combined Authority will get back to you to explain the rest of the process. You have from now until the end of April 2024 to have the idea and get the application process in. Okay, so now you can get going – there’s nothing stopping you!

This is people-powered transport, designed and delivered locally.