Another DRT for Warwickshire

Saturday 28th May 2022

As well as a new station opening in Reston, Monday also saw another DRT scheme take to the road; this time in Warwickshire thanks to £1.02 million from the DfT’s magic money rural mobility funding tree.

And if you’re thinking ‘haven’t I read one of your blogs about a DRT bus you got from Warwick Parkway station before?’; indeed so and what excellent DRT memory recall you have, but that scheme is part of West Midlands Bus On Demand and is in collaboration with the University of Warwick.

This new scheme is based exclusively in Warwickshire in an area to the west of Warwick and Kenilworth including the village of Hatton. I can’t show you the area covered precisely as the click through map on the IndieGo Plus (that’s the brand name being used) website takes you to this unintelligible mass….

Warwickshire have been operating three traditional Dial-A-Ride operations using the brand name IndieGo in Atherstone, Coleshill and Rugby for some time and a bit like in the Norfolk set up (Flexibus and Flexibus Plus) they’ve added the word PLUS on to the IndieGo brand name to indicate this one’s got an App as well as a telephone booking line, which in a rather bizarre twist I found out is answered by someone in a call centre based in South Africa.

Stagecoach Midlands have gained the four year contract to run IndieGo PLUS using four new Mercedes Sprinter minibuses (including a spare bus) to the usual interior spec based at Leamington Spa bus garage.

I’m guessing someone at the design agency given the task by Warwickshire County Council to come up with a bus livery has never travelled on a bus with contravision before as they wouldn’t have covered most of the windows with the stuff. They also don’t seem to know much about what makes for an attractive bus livery rather than a parcel van.

But livery, the South African call centre and the rather strange map aside, it was the usual DRT story for my try out experience of the service on Tuesday lunch time.

Being only the second day I guessed it would be quiet and therefore easy to book a couple of journeys at my desired times and on the train to Warwick I managed to manipulate the App by clicking on the list of prescribed ‘destinations’ which appear alongside the map shown above and easily booked a ride from Warwick Parkway Station to Hatton Country World which seemed an interesting destination to head to – it’s one of those Garden Centre PLUS establishments geared up to attract families with amusements and entertainments as well as artisan type retail outlets.

The nearby village of Hatton (two miles west of Warwick) used to be served by the Stagecoach operated tendered route 16 running approximately every two hours with some journeys continuing to Kenilworth as the now abandoned timetable shows.

The route has now been withdrawn in favour of IndieGo PLUS but Country World is located down a country lane not previously served by route 16 so it was a bit of a novelty to access it by bus.

My train was due to arrive into Warwick Parkway at 12:32 so I booked my ride for 12:40 receiving confirmation of a 12:42 pick up, later updated to 12:49. And just before 12:49 Simon appeared (having been on a well deserved break until then after starting at 06:00) and pulled up at the bus stop in the car park by the station entrance to pick me up.

We had a good chat during the ten minutes it took to drive to Hatton Country World. Although it was only the second day of the service Simon, a veteran bus driver of thirty plus years, was enjoying his new duties on IndiGo PLUS finding it a refreshing change from driving route 16 and other bus routes in the area as well as school buses which he drove for many years.

He dropped me off where the SatNav told him was as far as he could take me which was just off the road by the entrance to Country World and he popped off to the coach park while I wandered down to have a look around and grab a coffee.

It’s a pity the bus couldn’t continue to the actual entrance down this piece of road

It’s a pity the SatNav won’t allow the bus to continue further and turn in the car park as that would save visitors on the bus having to walk along the drive to the main entrance which motorists can drive along. I would have thought this ‘leisure destination’ was a prime target for users of this new service and it would be good to make it easy for bus passengers.

Half an hour later I walked back up the drive and Simon reappeared at the same spot and took me back to Warwick Parkway Station where one of his colleagues was also parked up waiting for custom.

IndiGo PLUS charges £4 for a single journey and £6 return, with children aged 5 to 15 paying £3 and £4.50 respectively. It’s all paid for via the App. Concessionary passes are valid for free travel and journeys can be booked up to two weeks ahead of travelling. Hours of operation are 06:00 to 19:30 Mondays to Saturdays with no Sunday service.

All the usual caveats re DRT apply and in this case of course, there is a customer base, albeit small, of passengers who used to have the certainty of route 16’s timetable but can now enjoy the gamble of booking when they desire travelling and enjoy the flexibility of other destinations in the area served – if they can work out where they are on that map.

And that’s another one done. Do let me know if you hear of any more DRT schemes starting up – there’s still some more Rural Mobility Fund winners yet to hit the road.

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu

14 thoughts on “Another DRT for Warwickshire

Add yours

  1. Whilst it does not say so you can zoom in on the map by left clicking on the mouse. You can also select a zone or any of the other options. Some places are list twice so you get Holiday Inn Express list as an Employment site -Destination Only whatever that might mean. Does it mean you can go there but not come back?
    It is also listed as a WW Meeting Point May 24th 2022. No idea as to what the WWW stands for or why the date

    There is also a list of POI’s destinations which I assume stands for Places of Interest

    To add to the fun there is also a UBUS service and a Back and forth Service and a VASA service


  2. Can this service even breakeven ?

    3 buses for the service plus one sitting around doing nothing ass a spare. Plus the call centre and app costs

    I have no real idea of the costs but am assuming it costs £50K each for the 3 buses used for the service and £1oK for the spare bus . Call Centre ? maybe £30K a year. So in the region of £200K a year on my figures which may be totally wrong

    If we assume an average fare of £5 return then it needs 20.0000 passengers a year to breakeven

    The service operates 6.30 to 7.30 6 days a week excluding Bank Holidays. The probability is it will only be carrying passengers for about 50% of that time. So about 70 passengers a day per bus


  3. Diamond Bus operate a similar on demand service in nearby Bromsgrove over the boarder in Worcestershire whilst National Express operate the long standing Ring & Ride scheme across the West Midlands Combined Authority.


  4. They might get more passengers if it operated until late evening, including passengers during existing hours who want to come back after seeing a show or eating out. Terrible contravision, Windows are for looking out of, not for livery or advertising. Perhaps in this case it will hide how few are on board.


    1. Unlike in the West Midlands Country where demand responsive services continue to 11pm Monday to Saturday I really don’t think Warwickshire County Council has anywhere no the budget to offer a late evening service unlike Transport for West Midlands who also operate thiers from 8am to 3.30pm on Sundays


  5. I’d imagine that Country World is really car world and almost nobody visits by bus?That window covering would be very annoying and apart from you not being able to enjoy the countryside you can’t tell when your bus stop is coming up if you know the local area .designed by a motorist no doubt.


    1. Having visited it previously I can’t see why anyone in thier right minds would want to visit it, it’s a very Walt Disney plastic kind of place. If you do want to visit it the 514 is your best bet.


  6. Where, in residential areas, are all these people going out at night? Locally, everyone (and their car) seems to be at home by 9pm. No different elsewhere in the Shires, as far as I can tell.

    The buses, like any other business, have to adapt to the world as it is, not the world as we’d like it to be in the wilds of our imagination. Even the mid-evening commuter services are withdrawn for lack of business. Staying in it seems is the new going out. Get used to it.


    1. Our NXWM X8, 9 & X10 services run until 01:05 each night from Brum , are fully commercial and are full most evenings post pandemic. There is a demand for late night services here I often have to stand on the 01:05 Service 9 from Brum


  7. The failure rate of these type of services is very high typically in the region of 70% . Most users of these type of services are concessionary pass holders typically 75%

    The services can be broken down into two main varients

    a) Fixed Route Pre book services

    b) Flexible pre book services

    Most tend to fall into the later category

    I find it difficult to understand the logic of fixed route pre book services


    1. Demand transport has operated sucessfully as Ring & Ride in the West Midlands County for over 30 years currently operated by National Express under contract to Transport for West Midlands


  8. The hours of operation seem quite generous to me for what is a deeply rural area – the well-heeled area of Hatton Park, built on the site of a former hospital, is the largest settlement. It will be interesting to see if Indiego PLUS manages to grab any of the market for journeys to Warwick Rail Statino or Warwick town.

    Hatton Country World started in the retail world as a craft centre, but like other such places has become more “boutique” over the years. It isn’t my favourite place but it is quite popular with people who enjoy that sort of thing. It has always been difficult to reach by public transport so I think it’s worth including the place as a destination – it could possibly, just possibly, generate some useful against-the-flow traffic. I can imagine some ENCTS holders could be attracted to getting there and back for nothing, with little risk of finding the vehicle full.

    But not if IndieGoPLUS only drops them off at the far end of the drive – that’s how to make bus passengers feel second class citizens. I hope a way is found to sort it out.


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