MK Council’s demand-responsive public transport service, MK Connect has reached a major milestone with just over 100,000 journeys taken by local people since its launch six months ago.
MK Connect is the biggest service of its kind in the UK, and was introduced in Milton Keynes as other councils were cutting subsidised public transport entirely, with an estimated 134 million miles of bus routes cut nationally in the last decade.
The Council used to spend around £3m every year subsiding bus routes that were infrequently used even before the pandemic. Instead of cutting services entirely, it's investing almost £2m in MK Connect and in cross boundary links to keep an accessible transport service running for people who otherwise might not have an option to get to work, shops or other essential facilities.
MK Connect is aimed at residents who aren’t served by an existing bus route and don’t have access to other means of transport. Vehicles are shared by passengers heading the same way, with pickups typically within a couple of hundred metres of the passenger’s home. Once booked, the average wait time for passengers is currently around 30 minutes which compares favourably to typical wait times for the bus services MK Connect has replaced – often 30, 60, and even 90 minutes.
In a recent survey more than a quarter of MK Connect users said they were now going out more regularly than when they relied on infrequent subsidised buses. 84% said they would be disappointed if MK Connect didn’t exist. Passengers surveyed made comments including “it’s affordable and helpful for my early shift when there are no buses running” and “convenient and friendly and the waiting times are WAY less than the old buses”. The Council also found that around one in five passengers using the service considered themselves as having a disability. The fleet is made up of accessible vehicles, and drivers receive training to support customers with visible and non-visible disabilities.
The easiest way for people to book MK Connect is via a smart phone app, although the Council’s customer service team can do this on behalf of customers that need help.
Cabinet Member for Climate Action and Sustainability, Cllr Jennifer Wilson-Marklew said: “MK Connect is making a real difference to local people who aren’t served by a bus route or don’t have straightforward access to other options. People have told me it’s a real lifeline.
"It’s the biggest service of its kind in the country, and we’ve always said there would be things we need to learn and adapt over time. This is already starting to bear fruit with shorter waiting times than at launch. It’s good to see so many people making use of MK Connect, as we’re committed helping residents get around MK more easily – and sustainably.”
For more information about the service, click here.