The service, which links Great Yeldham, Halstead and Colchester, is run by both Hedingham and First Essex. Since October 2016 both operators have accepted day returns, weekly, monthly and annual tickets from either operator on all 88 bus services.
Last week the two companies came together with representatives from Essex County Council to put pen to paper and formalise the Route 88 Partnership, an agreement to work in partnership to deliver the best possible service for the public.
As well as accepting each other's tickets, the Route 88 Partnership has many more benefits including:
- More flexibility in journeys thanks to better aligned schedules and routing
- Improved vehicle standards and accessibility
- Bus stop infrastructure improvements at key stops
- The Route 88 Partnership opens the door for better partnership working between commercial bus operators across Essex in future.
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Passenger Transport, said: “The Route 88 Partnership is great news for bus users in Essex.
“There’s often a lot of confusion about which operator runs a certain bus route and it can be very frustrating for residents to have to watch a bus go past because your ticket is not valid on that service.
“The Route 88 Partnership is a great demonstration of two bus operators who have come to the table with a solution and have worked with Essex County Council staff to deliver the best possible bus service for residents.
“Hopefully this will be the first of many examples of commercial bus companies working together for the benefit of bus users in Essex.”
Steve Wickers, Managing Director of First Essex, said: “We are committed to working with other operators and the council to create the best possible service for bus users. This partnership ensures customers can expect a high-quality and frequent bus service.”
Jeremy Cooper, Managing Director of Hedingham Omnibus, said: “Whilst this is still a competitive situation in terms of the market, it is important we work together as public transport providers to offer customers a sustainable and convenient alternative to travelling by car.”