A NEW contract to provide Taunton’s popular park and ride service has been awarded to The Buses of Somerset, the Taunton-based operation of First Bus.

The fleet of buses and drivers will be familiar to passengers as the company has been operating the service on a temporary contract since April this year.

The same timetables will continue for the two routes running between the town centre and car parks at Silk Mills and Taunton Gateway until the New Year.

The routes will then be extended to cover Musgrove Park Hospital.

Cllr Harvey Siggs, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “We put this contract out to tender and selected the best option for our customers.

"The Buses of Somerset have been doing a good job since April and we hope this will continue into the future.”

Alex Carter, Buses of Somerset’s managing director, said: “I’m thrilled that our tender for this longer term contract has been successful.

"In April this year, we stepped in to provide the service for Somerset County Council as replacement operator at very short notice, and our local management and operations team has done a superb job in delivering an almost faultless quality of service for our park and ride customers.

“This award serves as a tremendous incentive for our drivers, engineers and control team to continue with their excellent work.”