A fleet of five low-emission coaches will be hitting the roads of Somerset this week.
Somerset County Council has decided to run the coaches on a number of school routes to help address a lack of competition in the market and reduce costs.
Following the loss of several large bus/coach operators in recent years, particularly in the Sedgemoor area, the price for daily school contracts had risen significantly.
The five coaches have Euro 6 engines – the most environmentally friendly diesel engines currently available – in keeping with the Council’s commitments to reducing carbon emissions.
By leasing the coaches and running the routes in-house, Somerset County Council hopes to inject competition back into the market, improve sustainability and reduce costs back to a more reasonable level.
Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “It is fantastic that local children will be travelling to school on these low emission, more environmentally friendly vehicles, contributing to the Council’s commitments on climate change.
“We work with a number of operators across the county to provide a safe and reliable bus network while ensuring the best value for taxpayers.
“It was clear that running these particular routes ourselves was the way to achieve best value.”
The school routes being served by these coaches are C721, C726, C732, C733 and C938, serving Hugh Sexey’s Middle School, The Kings of Wessex Academy and Wedmore First School. The 59-seat, fully seatbelted vehicles will be used for other SCC transport purposes and will also be available for private hire outside of school transport times.