Successful bid gets Norton Connector up and running
The new community bus service linking Norton to St Peter’s is to hit the road during September.
The Norton Connector will also call at Worcestershire Parkway station during its trips of 25 minutes each way from Tesco to the rail station via stops including St Peter’s Garden Centre, the Retreat pub and Norton Parish Hall at Littleworth.
The service’s first trip sets off at 8.40am on Monday, September 14 and will run four times each way daily from Mondays to Fridays inclusive.
The minibuses will have 16 seats and all Covid-19 protocols will be implemented, including the requirement for passengers to wear face coverings.
It is a dial-up service, operated by the community transport charity Worcester Wheels, on a first come, first served basis, when passengers book.
To use it, passengers must be or become members of Worcester Wheels, with lifetime membership costing £10.
That also enables members to use Worcester Wheels’ full range of services, by arrangement.
Those could include ongoing or separate travel into Worcester city, to Worcestershire Royal Hospital, doctors or dentists.
A single adult fare for all journeys is £2. Holders of concessionary bus passes and children under 16 will pay £1 per trip. Children aged under five go free but will still have to have a seat booked for them.
Fare payments are cash only, to be paid to the driver on boarding.
The Norton Connector is being funded by a Community Legacy Grant (CLG) from Wychavon District Council after Norton-juxta-Kempsey Parish Council successfully bid for the cash.
John Waizeneker, a member of the parish council who has led on the project, described the launch of the service as “hugely exciting”.
He explained: “The legacy grant opportunity came up so we thought we would have a go at that. It’s been one thing has led to another.”
With the service being monitored by Wychavon District Council as a potential model that could be rolled out to other parishes, Mr Waizeneker said: “What we are trying to prove over these next months is that it’s a viable proposition.”
He added that longer term funding opportunities would be explored. Norton-juxta-Kempsey Parish Council will cover the £10 membership fee for the first 25 local applicants who are not parish council members, staff or their families.
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Flexible service must be booked
To book a journey on the Norton Connector passengers have to call Worcester Wheels on 01905 450654 between 8am and 4pm no later than the day before they travel.
The booking line is open Monday to Friday.
When booking, passengers need to specify the day required, their desired pick-up point and where they intend to travel to.
Bus stops shown on the timetable are flexible and passengers will be advised of pick-up places and times.
Passengers should note that the service is flexible and the published times and stopping points shown on the timetable are indicative.
There is room for cases, bags, folded pushchairs and folded wheelchairs, although it is not possible to carry passengers seated in their wheelchairs.
The Norton Connector is a dial-up service operated by Worcester Wheels, a not-for-profit charity which is not allowed to take passengers who have not booked in advance.
For ongoing journeys passengers can connect at Worcestershire Parkway station to the X50 bus route to Worcester, Pershore and Evesham and CrossCounty trains to Birmingham and GWR trains to London plus other destinations.
At St Peter’s passengers can connect to the 32 Worcester to Kempsey bus route.
If anyone would like to be a volunteer minibus driver, Worcester Wheels is always keen to recruit more. It can be contacted on 01905 450654.
A small group of residents and minibus users is being set up to help develop the service over the next few months.
Passengers who would like to share their views can call Norton-juxta-Kempsey Parish Council clerk Jane Greenway on 01905 763515 or 07955 756528 to be added you to the list.
For all the latest news and timetables on the Norton Connector visit the dedicated page at: nortonjuxta-kempseyparishcouncil.org or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.