NORTH Somerset community groups can now apply for a share of £2 million to set up their very own public transport.

The WESTlocal fund has been set up by North Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority as part of the region’s Bus Service Improvement Plan.

Successful groups such as schools, town councils, faith groups and more will be able to design and run their own not-for-profit transport to help meet the needs of the local community.

This could include anything from buses with fixed routes to flexible minibus services.

Those interested can put forward their own individual ideas or work together with others as part of a wider group submission.

The funding will last until March 2026, so schemes that have the highest chance of long-term financial viability will be preferred.

The deadline for funding applications is the end of April 2024.

To express your interest, visit the Travel West website.

No prior knowledge is needed. Help will be available at every step, including through partners such as the Community Transport Association. 

Cllr Hannah Young, executive member for Highways and Transport at North Somerset Council, said: “This WESTlocal funding gives individual communities the power to design the public transport solutions that will best meet their local needs.

"I’m pleased that through our Bus Service Improvement Plan we can now offer this opportunity to fill gaps in the public transport network and connect people to key services.  

“With a dedicated team available to support any applications, I would urge local communities to consider how their public transport network could be improved and use this innovative Bus Service Improvement Plan funding to enhance your area.” 

UK Government Roads Minister Guy Opperman added: “Local people deserve a modern, reliable, and affordable public transport system and I'm delighted to have worked alongside the local council and local MPs to give North Somerset and the West of England over £105 million to boost its bus services.                      

“Part of our £2 billion to improve bus services in England, this is a fantastic result for passengers across North Somerset who will now have more say and control over the local public transport network, helping passengers get around more easily and with greater peace of mind.”