If you’ve recently taken a ride on a bus around Bristol then it was probably a First Bus by First Group, the company which manages 95% of the services in the city. A small trickle of people, however, may have had the opportunity to ride the Bristol FreeBus which began its pilot route in December and is aiming to begin a proper service in April 2011.
While this latter service is entirely free for those unable to pay, monetary support is welcomed by the company and people are encouraged to become members or donate. I say ‘company’ but FreeBus is a non-profit organisation and charity, funded by its membership and voluntary donations. They aim to provide a comprehensive, environmentally friendly and free public transport system for Bristol and aim to have 500 members by the end of 2010. Apparently there are 46 to go until the magic number.
FreeBus have set a startup threshold of £25,000, to be raised through a combination of memberships, donations and non-statutory funding. No funds will be collected until this threshold is reached. Memberships are therefore a pledge to support the project when service operation begins
The initial route is an express loop between Temple Meads, Broadmead and the City Centre but the FreeBus service will expand with its membership.
More than just a transport service, there is a conservation and ethical feel to the service with the fleet of customised minibuses aiming to be the greenest in the city and offering disabled access and bicycle carriage.
The guiding principles of this new service are as follows:
- Cars are polluting our air and destroying our communities.
- The only way to affect change is to provide alternatives.
- Public services should be for people, not profit.
- Private business will never provide a genuine alternative to the car.
See the website for more information for the FreeBus plans. Their ethics and goals are quite motivating and inspiring so if you are looking for an alternative that will leave you happy to have helped then do take a moment to visit.