“New” park and ride for Taunton
We have just been told about a brand new contract for Taunton’s Park and Ride service. The service connects the town centre to the Silk Mills and Junction 25 car parks. Somerset County Council announced it had awarded a five-year contract to Buses of Somerset. And it is indeed a new contract. But it is exactly the same contractor, part of the First Group, that ran the old contract. A spokesperson for SCC told us “there was a competitive tendering process for a new five year contact. Buses of Somerset was awarded the contract after bids were submitted and evaluated.”
So no difference and for now at least, they will be operating to the same timetable. We understand the bus fares will also remain the same.
What had managed to pass us by was that there have been other changes too. Before the pandemic SCC decided to withdraw the service as they felt it was too expensive to run. Somerset West & Taunton council stepped into the breach. For two years they have funded the service. SCC continued to run it and contract for it, but with SW&T funding.
That arrangement came to an end, rather more quietly than when it started, in April. SCC have obviously decided they can now afford to run it. And with a new unitary council beckoning, it does make sense to just get on with it. Rather than argue about who is paying for what.