Circular bus routes linking north Earley, Woodley and Maiden Erlegh with Royal Berkshire Hospital and Reading town centre are being reintroduced from 3 September - replacing the existing temporary Service 12.
Service 12 was a substitute for the popular 19a/c bus which was discontinued after its increasing costs left Reading Bus needing unaffordable subsidy levels to continue running it.
Since then, the borough council has been working closely with those people who used the former 19a/c to identify what they valued most about it, to help shape the retendering process. The consultation invited people living in Woodley and Earley to tell the borough council about their travel patterns, their views and opinions on Service 12 and 19a/c, and what they’d like to see in the future.
The council received a number of competitive bids for the tender, and the contract was subsequently awarded to Reading Buses. Tickets will remain interchangeable with the wider Reading Buses network. The new service will again be known as the 19a/c.
The new routes will reflect those of the old 19a/c. Buses will run hourly in each direction towards Reading. Journey times from Culver Lane to the Royal Berkshire Hospital will be less than 15 minutes, and morning peak journeys will be reintroduced. Buses will also travel the same route throughout the day and provide a service between Woodley, Earley and Reading in the afternoons.
“Following extensive consultation with our residents, we understand how important this bus route is,” said Cllr Anthony Pollock, interim executive member for highways and transport. “We’ve made more funding available for the service, and have used a creative approach to secure a cost effective solution for our communities.
“We thank everyone who provided feedback, as well as Woodley and Earley Town Council, which allowed us to work with the winning tender to tailor this service to local needs. In particular, with morning journeys for residents - who need to get to Reading for work or to attend hospital appointments before 9am - and with the timing of journeys for travel to and from Reading School.”
More information about the new 19a/c, its timetables and route maps are on the My Journey website.