MK Connect bus service wins prestigious national award for Milton Keynes Council

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
But many local users remain unimpressed with the ‘bespoke’ travel system

The controversial MK Connect bus service has won a national award for Best Public Transport.

Judges were impressed with the way Milton Keynes Council replaced all its subsidised bus routes with the demand-responsive transport service to cover the whole city.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The scheme, run in partnership with software provider Via, scooped the award at a glittering ceremony hosted by CiTTi Magazine in London last week.

An MK Connect minibusAn MK Connect minibus
An MK Connect minibus

A spokesman for Via said: “We’re really delighted to win. Milton Keynes City Council was a trailblazer in working with us to be able to monitor transport services, so we’re hoping to see lots of other local authorities take a similar steer and to put in DRT schemes to get more people back onto public transport.”

MK Connect was launched in April 2021 after the council scrapped many of the bus routes it had been subsidising over the years.

They were replaced with a fleet of seven-seater electric vans that offer a ‘cleaner, greener and bespoke’ way of getting around the city, says the council.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Passengers can book a journey straight from their phone, tablet or computer, or by calling the contact centre. The idea is that they will be picked up in minutes and dropped off steps away from their destination.

The minibuses are shared by passengers heading in the same direction, with pick-ups typically within a couple of hundred metres from each passenger’s home.

But within weeks of MK Connect being launched, the new service was prompting more complaints than compliments from the public.

Many people complained it was difficult to use, particularly for older people not familiar with phones and apps, and also unreliable with wait times of more than 30 minutes on occasions.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This has caused frustration of people reliant on the service to get to work or get their children to school.

Earlier this year, opposition Conservative councillors in MK called for improvements, saying: “Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) "DRT can be a useful service is managed correctly but with 30 plus minute waiting times, residents cannot reliably use this service to travel with.”