Seat booking service to be introduced on Thornbury to Bristol buses
BUS passengers travelling between Thornbury and Bristol will be able to book seats on special services.
Operator First West of England has launched a new website for online bookings, which will include some buses on the T1 route from August 10.
The bookable services will be marked T1b to make them identifiable to passengers.
Bookings will open on August 3, on Monday to Friday morning and afternoon peak time journeys.
Booked seats will account for just under half of the socially-distanced seats available on each bus – current layouts allow for a total of 35 passengers on double-deckers and 20 on single-deckers – with the remaining seats left available for non-booked customers.
The service was launched this week on First's Brislington Park and Ride service in Bristol, and is also being introduced on the Batheaston to Weston service in Bath next week.
First recently updated its app to give information about locations and seat availability on its services, which have reduced capacity due to coronavirus restrictions.
The booking initiative is being supported by the West of England Combined Authority and First says it is believed to be the first system of its kind operating on regular, scheduled bus services in the UK.
Bookings can be made between seven days and 15 minutes before a service departs.
First says a reservation "will secure a space on the chosen bus rather than a specific seat" and customers receive an email confirmation that is either scanned onboard or shown alongside an existing, pre-paid ticket.
Bookings will be made on a new, dedicated website, www.bookmybusride.com.
Customers who cannot make an online booking can use a dedicated phone line, 0786 697 7586, on Mondays to Fridays from 9am-5pm. Confirmation of all phone bookings will be sent in the post and people are being advised to make phone bookings seven days in advance to allow time for delivery.
First West of England Managing Director James Freeman said: “The initiative is in its early stages and, if successful, we hope to integrate the advanced booking technology into the First Bus mobile app, as well as the onboard ticketing software, to revolutionise both the customer and driver experience.
“With capacity on-board currently reduced to support social distancing, we hope this new optional booking service will help to reassure customers, particularly those travelling at busy times, that it is now possible to secure their space on certain routes, before even getting on the bus.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: "This is a terrific new service which will help people know they can rely on the bus and give them more reasons to leave their car at home."