Epping Forest District Council has agreed to extend the trial of the demand responsive transport (DaRT87) service for a year from Thursday 1 April 2021.
DaRT87 replaced the Arriva 87 route which ended 31 December 2020. The service has been running in partnership with Epping Forest Community Transport (EFCT), on a 3-month trial basis with links to Debden, Theydon Bois, Epping, Epping Green and Harlow.
Trips and journeys
319 trips were made by passengers in January and February during the height of lockdown.
Most usage has come from NHS and other key workers from southwest Harlow, Epping Green and Loughton. Many others who have been unable to travel due to lockdown, but have registered interest, include 6th Form and college students to get to Epping St Johns and Harlow College.
Some essential journeys have also been made for shopping and medical appointments including the rapid test site at Theydon Bois.
DaRT87 is the only bus service entering Epping Forest Shopping Park and serves Epping and Debden tube stations.
Register before 31 March for free
The service requires user to register for membership because EFCT is a community transport operator. This is an easy process and anyone registering before the end of March 2021 will become a member for free, the usual membership is £15 a year.
The service is COVID-secure, following all current government guidelines including mandatory mask wearing, reduced seating capacity, on-board sanitisation and a shielded driver compartment. Journeys are required to be booked in advance to help adhere to social distancing rules and the demand of service.
Fares are kept as low as possible. All concessionary passes are accepted within Essex County Council guidelines. It offers several innovations including fully cashless payment and an app to track the location of vehicles and to pre-book journeys. All the buses are lower emission Euro 6 minibuses.
Keep vital public transport links going
Councillor Nigel Avey, Portfolio Holder for Environmental and Technical Services said:
This is an excellent result for this new service. The DaRT87 service is an innovative way to keep cost low and to keep vital public transport links going, especially for smaller settlements like Epping Green.
As lockdown restrictions begin to ease the potential for greater passenger growth is clear. With people returning to work we hope that this service will attract new passengers who may not have used public transport before lockdown.
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