As part of Somerset County Council’s support of the wider Covid-19 vaccination programme, consideration has been given to assisting access to vaccination appointments. As a result, the following measures have been implemented, with effect from 1st February 2021:
- The 09.30am start time for the acceptance of Concessionary bus passes on all local bus services in Somerset has been temporarily removed. Bus operators have all been contacted and have made the necessary changes to ticket machines, so no pass holder will be charged a fare if they travel before 09.30 am. This is a temporary measure and will be reviewed as the vaccination programme continues to roll out. Once this dispensation is no longer required then the restrictions will be reinstated.
- For Community Transport and Slinky Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) Services where Concessionary Bus Pass holders do not get free travel but instead have to pay half fares, operators of these services across Somerset have agreed that if someone makes a booking, and when asked the journey purpose they state they are attending a Covid-19 vaccination they will be offered free travel. All passengers are asked the purpose of their journey at the point of booking, so this should be able to ensure that those being vaccinated benefit from free travel.
Additional Bus Service
Bath & West Showground – a half hourly service operated by First West of England from 08:00 to 20:00 from Wells Bus Station via Shepton Mallet terminating at the showground has been implemented temporarily. This will operate seven days a week providing connections to/from other bus services at both Wells Bus Station and Shepton Mallet Cenotaph (bus interchange). Concessionary pass holders will have free travel and fare payers will pay normal fares. The operator will claim back costs for this additional service through the Covid Bus Services Support Grant (CBSSG) scheme, so there will be no cost to SCC.
Two key pieces of information for passengers travelling are:
- Passengers must take their appointment letters with them.
- Passengers should aim to use the timetabled journey which arrives at the Bath & West Showground as close to their appointment time as possible to avoid waiting time on site.
We are working closely with the NHS and partners to consider the need for a shuttle service to the Racecourse. At this time the site management do not believe there is sufficient demand for a shuttle service and there are other vaccination site options in Taunton for those without transport. We continue to keep this under review.
If anyone needs help to access an appointment, they should call the Coronavirus helpline on 0300 790 6275. Lines are open from 8am to 6pm, seven days a week.