A NEW demand-responsive ‘taxi bus’ is to be launched in Berwickshire from next week, it has been announced.

After two years of piloting the innovative Digital Demand Responsive PINGO Service in Berwickshire, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) will be making alterations to the service from Monday (May 20).

The current contract with Borders Buses is set to expire on May 19 after which Teviot Taxi will operate a new Berwickshire DRT taxi bus service in the Berwickshire locality.

The service will operate seven days per week, over an amended operating area with revised hours of operation and will revert to a telephone booking system. To make the service more sustainable in the long term, it will be combined with existing school transport contracts to maximise the efficient use of vehicles throughout the day.

The service is aimed at improving access to the existing fixed route bus network for residents who stay in more rural areas of the locality. The operating area has been defined using data gathered from the previous PINGO pilot, by identifying the rural areas that had high demand for travel, out with the fixed route bus network.

A spokesperson for SBC said: “We understand that this may impact upon some people’s transport needs, and we will try our best to make the transition between services as smooth as possible.

“We would like to thank Berwickshire residents for their support whilst we tested digital demand responsive transport in the Borders.

“The feedback and enthusiasm have been invaluable in helping us develop the service. We would also like to thank Borders Buses, their drivers, the routing company and local members for helping us develop and deliver the service over the past two years.

“The objective of the pilot was to introduce a digital demand responsive transport service that served the new Reston Station whilst also enhancing transport links into employment, education, and the fixed route bus network, for people who stay in the more remote rural areas of Berwickshire that do not normally have access to public transport. Since the service commenced there have been over 20,000 journeys across the Berwickshire locality, connecting people into work and leisure.

“Since October 2023 and the withdrawal of Travelsure from the area, there have been some positive changes to the bus network in Berwickshire with Borders Buses enhancing connections between Duns and Berwick. A new service 32 was also introduced.”

In conjunction with the new taxi-bus service, a new Borders Buses service 34 timetable will commence connecting Duns and Coldstream with three journeys per day.

The spokesperson added: “As with PINGO, the new service will take time to bed in, and we will continue to monitor and make changes. The council’s passenger transport team will communicate details of the new services over the coming days.

“If you have any questions or concerns regarding the conclusion of the PINGO digital demand responsive bus service, please don’t hesitate to contact SBC’s passenger transport team: LBSTransport@Scotborders.gov.uk”