01 June 2020

NAT Group has worked with TrawsCymru and Monmouthshire County Council to continue a bus link between Chepstow and Bristol, branded TrawsHafren. Customers will have the option to pre-book their journey on the service, which commences operation on Monday 15 June.

TrawsHafren (‘across the Severn’) will succeed Stagecoach’s Severn Express route. It will run initially on a six-month pilot basis. That will allow possible future improvements to be assessed, such as timetable revisions to suit commuters and students.

TrawsHafren pre-booking facility part of a technology platform
The pre-booking aspect forms part of a dedicated app for TrawsHafren. The app has been developed by Rise Digital Media. It also gives live vehicle tracking and advance cashless payments.

Pre-bookings can be made at any point up to when the bus arrives. To deliver that functionality, Rise Digital Media’s driver app for TrawsHafren will be integrated with the Ticketer machines used by NAT Group. Both the vehicle’s capacity and its occupancy level are thus known before bookings are taken. Customer numbers are initially capped to take account of social distancing guidelines.

Drivers will be provided with a tablet that gives them updates on loadings and includes a manifest of pre-booked customers. That allows passengers who have not pre-booked to also be accepted where free space permits.

Says NAT Group Managing Director Adam Keen: “We are delighted to be able to provide a continuation of the established Severn route, giving connections and travel options for cross-border passengers.

“This is a great example of an operator, a local authority and the Welsh Government working together for the good of the travelling public. I am sure that with new technology, dedicated drivers and the revised timetable, this route now has the best possible chance of success.”

Increase in passenger numbers hoped for, says operator
To deliver the technology platform for TrawsHafren, Rise Digital Media combined two of its existing services. Journey planning and real-time tracking is part of an existing platform for bus operators.

TrawsHafren app
NAT Group’s TrawsHafren service will have its own dedicated app that includes the ability for customers to book seats in advance
The ability to book and pay in advance is drawn from the NextStop product. That was originally designed for coach operators that run commuter services and dedicated shuttles.

NAT Group will use regular drivers on TrawsHafren. When combined with an improved timetable and the technology platform, the operator hopes that will lead to an increase in passenger numbers. The Cribbs Causeway shopping centre to the north of Bristol will also be served.

TrawsHafren will be NAT’s only cross-border bus route. Stagecoach ceases running its Severn Express between Newport, Chepstow and Bristol on 14 June. It took over the service from First West of England on 1 September 2019.

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