BUS passengers will soon be able to travel anywhere in the Taunton area for £1.

The new fare structure is part of an £11.9million package of measures from Somerset County Council as part of Somerset’s Bus Service Improvement Plan and includes proposals for new evening and weekend services on some routes.

The council and Somerset Bus Partnership this week launched the BUS IT campaign to encourage more people to use buses and save money, as well as helping safeguard the county’s bus services and protect the environment.

The £1 fares will be introduced from September, starting with the Taunton Park and Ride service, followed in the autumn by £1 fares on other Taunton area-based bus services. There will be a flat rate single fare or £2 return to any destination in the greater Taunton area.

The fare zone is being finalised with operators.

It is part of a longer-term goal to secure further funding for similar fare initiatives in other areas of the county.

Taunton’s Park and Ride remains free until after the completion of the Toneway/Creech Castle works, when the new £1 fare will be introduced. The £2 return is still half the original fare.

The proposals will also see transport hubs established in Somerton and Taunton, combining convenient waiting areas for bus passengers, better facilities to interchange between services, and additions such as bike racks, and a programme of measures in Taunton and Bridgwater to improve journey times on congested roads.

Cllr Mike Rigby, County Hall executive lead member for transport, said: “We're delighted to be able to introduce this new £1 fare.

"We know cost is a key factor in persuading more people to use buses and this should make a big difference, as well as helping protect the environment by cutting the number of cars on the road.

“It’s vital as part of preserving bus services in Somerset that we deliver more choice and cheaper fares for people – we’re also looking at introducing some targeted new evening and weekend services, some additional demand responsive transport services with the help of the Somerset Bus Partnership.

“The Government is ending the support grants which were introduced to help maintain services through the pandemic, and this has led to operators proposing cuts and changes to services from the autumn due to continuing low patronage – we want to protect as many routes as we can and by getting more people onto buses we can support that aim.”

READ MORE: Council urges people to use buses more often.