A HANDY new on-demand bus service is set to connect rural communities and villages to a town centre, business parks and hospitals.

The fully electric DigiGo service is one of the first of its kind in the country and responds to demand rather than having set routes.

The minibus service is being trialled around the south Braintree and north Chelmsford area.

Braintree Council communities boss Frankie Ricci said: “This is an innovative service which will connect people to our business parks, town centre and hospitals as well as surrounding villages.

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“The new routes will improve transport options for residents and support the growth of local businesses as well as revolutionise the way people get around.

“It will also help reduce the number of cars on our roads, easing congestion and reducing emissions.

“This is really positive news for residents and businesses in our district.”

The fleet of six minibuses will cater for students, families, the elderly and people travelling to work.

Accessible minibuses are also available for people with disabilities.

The service aims to provide a flexible and environmentally-friendly transport service for people who don’t live near main public transport routes.

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County Hall highways boss Lee Scott said: “The aim through this trial is to create a service which really becomes embedded in communities, attracting users of all ages and creating a platform to be rolled out in other parts of the county.”

To book an on-demand journey, residents need to download the TravelEssex travel planning app on their phone.

After ordering, passengers can pay for their journey through the app and track the location of their minibus in real time.

Tickets for the service can also be pre-booked up to seven days in advance.

The new service will operate seven days a week, from 7am to 10pm.

It will connect users to locations such as Broomfield Hospital, Chelmer Valley Park and Ride, Great Notley Country Park, Skyline Business Centre, Horizon 120 Business Park, Braintree Community Hospital and Braintree rail and bus stations.

Visit digigo.uk for more information.