FOLLOWING feedback from local users and utilising the data gathered from journeys undertaken to date, some changes are being made to the PINGO demand responsive transport pilot scheme operating throughout Berwickshire to improve the service.

The changes aim to improve accessibility for residents living in remote rural areas of Berwickshire, helping them connect into the wider bus network whilst also streamlining the service to promote the use of the fixed route bus services already in operation.

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To free up capacity on the three designated PINGO buses currently operating, allocated pick-up and drop-off points will be established in every town in Berwickshire (Greenlaw, Duns, Chirnside, Eyemouth, Berwick, Coldstream) from Monday 4 December. The PINGO service will prioritise these as a destination to link passengers into key services, amenities and the existing fixed route bus services.

Further changes will also be introduced from 8 January 2024, with the PINGO service operating in a more structured manner focussing on helping to connect residents who live in the most rural areas and operating less across areas where existing bus routes already run.

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This is to ensure those residents who do not live in an area with existing bus services and rely on the PINGO service to travel from isolated parts of Berwickshire can be prioritised.

Residents who have mobility issues will continue to receive a ‘door to door’ service which can only be booked via the call centre on 01289 385 506.

As part of the alterations to the service, PINGO will also no longer drop off passengers in Eyemouth or Berwick Upon-Tweed at times where fixed bus routes operate. Instead access to these towns will be provided by connecting passengers to the network that serves those towns.

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That means that during the hours of 09:00 and 18:00 customers should be booking PINGO to transport them to the nearest town to access the fixed route bus services.

To help improve transport links for residents who live in and around the towns of Berwickshire, SBC has recently increased the frequency of certain existing service routes including the number 60 service in a bid mitigate the loss of services previously operated by operator Travelsure.

Councillor Jenny Linehan, Executive Member for Environment and Transport said: “The PINGO DRT trial service has had an extremely positive impact in helping residents of Berwickshire access transport – particularly in areas where there are no existing links.

“Throughout this trial we have always been open to making changes based on feedback from users and data gathered to continually improve the service. That feedback has shown that many of the journeys ordered by residents through PINGO are to supplement existing services which already operate.

“To address this we have increased the frequency of certain existing services to offer more flexibility and in doing so create more capacity for journeys from isolated, rural areas.”

“If any resident is unsure of the changes or needs help booking a PINGO journey I would ask you to refer to the instructions on the Border Buses website, or give the friendly PINGO team a call on 01289 385 506 and they can help with your query and setting up a PINGO journey for you.

Claire Lark, operations manager at Borders Buses, said: “We hope the changes help deliver the PINGO service to those residents in the most rural areas where it’s vital we provide a link to connect them to the existing bus network.

“We recommend customers download and book their trips on the “Ride Pingo” app or by using our Pingo hotline 01289 385506 .”

PINGO journeys can be booked by either telephone on 01289 385 506 or by using the mobile app.