Local Bus Services and Demand Responsive Transport

Welcome to Somerset Council’s Bus Services Conditions of Carriage, a comprehensive guide outlining the terms and regulations governing your travel experience on our network of bus services, including Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT). At Somerset Council, we are committed to providing safe, reliable, and accessible public transportation options for residents and visitors across our beautiful county.

Our Conditions of Carriage document is designed to ensure that all passengers have a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities when using our services. Whether you’re a daily commuter, a weekend explorer, or a first-time rider, this document is intended to make your journey with us as pleasant and trouble-free as possible.

We take pride in delivering an inclusive transportation system that connects communities, supports local economies, and reduces the environmental impact of individual travel. As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we encourage your feedback and participation in helping us enhance our services.

Please take a moment to familiarise yourself with the contents of this document, which covers essential information such as ticketing, boarding procedures, safety guidelines, and accessibility policies. By adhering to these conditions, you not only ensure your own comfort and safety but also contribute to the overall positive travel experience for all passengers.

We value your choice to ride with Somerset Council’s Bus Services and DRT, and we look forward to serving you as you explore our vibrant county, connect with your community, and embark on your daily journeys.

Conduct of passengers

The safety and wellbeing of our passengers, staff, and property are of utmost importance to Somerset Council. We are dedicated to providing a secure and comfortable travel experience for all. To achieve this, we have a strict policy in place – we will not tolerate any form of abuse directed towards our staff or damage to our property.

Our committed team of drivers and support staff work tirelessly to ensure you reach your destination safely and on time. We kindly request that all passengers treat our staff with respect and courtesy. Any form of verbal, physical, or emotional abuse directed at our employees will not be tolerated and may result in legal action.

Likewise, our buses and facilities are public resources that we maintain for the benefit of the community. We expect all passengers to treat our vehicles and infrastructure with care. Any intentional damage to our buses, shelters, or other property will be taken seriously and may result in criminal charges.

By travelling with Somerset Council’s Bus Services, you are not only choosing a convenient mode of transportation but also joining a community committed to fostering a safe and respectful environment for all. We appreciate your co-operation and understanding as we work together to ensure a positive and secure travel experience for everyone. Thank you for your support in keeping Somerset’s bus services safe and enjoyable for all passengers.

We reserve the right to refuse you entry, or require you to leave our buses or premises at any time, should we have reason to believe that your behaviour jeopardises the safety, security and comfort of others.

When travelling with us you must

  • refrain from smoking either conventional or electronic cigarettes or vaping
  • behave in a manner that is not abusive or threatening and does not cause offence to other customers or staff
  • refrain from eating and drinking items which make the environment unpleasant for other customers or otherwise cause offence
  • refrain from playing loud music or operating a personal device at a volume which may be heard by other passengers
  • refrain from leaving rubbish or discarded items on the bus
  • not be wearing soiled clothes (including shoes) or carrying any soiled items which might stain the seats, cause discomfort to other passengers, and so on
  • follow the instructions of our staff and act in a manner which shows due regard for the safety and comfort of other customers and company employees, including not standing adjacent to emergency exits, the vehicle entrance, next to the driver or sitting in gangways, on staircases or standing upstairs on a double deck vehicle
  • if the vehicle you are travelling on is fitted with seat belts, you are legally required to wear them
  • notify a member of staff immediately if you sustain an injury whilst boarding, travelling on or getting off a bus
  • follow the directions of staff concerning the maximum number of standing passengers that a bus is permitted to carry. All of our vehicles contain clear signage setting out their standing capacity
  • except in an emergency, not talk to the driver whilst the bus is moving, obstruct the driver’s vision or otherwise distract them
  • have due regard at all times for the needs of our elderly, young and disabled customers and, in particular, vacate seats and spaces designed for the elderly and disabled when requested
  • not distribute leaflets, papers or other articles or offer anything for sale or collect for charity without our prior written consent
  • not interfere with equipment fitted on the vehicle, or
  • not deliberately damage or deface any part of the vehicle.

Customers who, in the opinion of the bus driver or other company officer, appear likely to behave in an antisocial manner may not be allowed to travel.

Dogs

Passengers are permitted to bring dogs on board our buses under certain conditions, ensuring the comfort and safety of all passengers.

Only one dog is permitted to travel on the bus at one time with the exception of an assistance dog. This policy aims to maintain a comfortable and safe environment for all passengers. Guide dogs accompanying visually impaired passengers are always welcome on board, regardless of the occupancy.

In cases where a passenger wishes to bring more than one dog on board, it is at the discretion of the bus driver to permit this. The driver will assess the situation based on the number of passengers, available space, and the behaviour of the dogs. Passengers are responsible for ensuring their dogs remain well-behaved and restrained while on the bus. Dogs should be on a lead or in an appropriate carrier and must not cause any disturbance to other passengers.

Passengers must ensure that their dogs are clean and do not create a mess on the bus. Any waste must be properly disposed of and removed from the vehicle. Passengers with dogs on board assume full responsibility for their pets’ actions, including any potential harm or damage caused by their dogs.

The bus driver has the authority to refuse access or request the removal of any dog that poses a safety risk or creates a disturbance to other passengers. Passengers are expected to cooperate with the driver’s instructions regarding their dogs to ensure a pleasant journey for everyone on board.

Exceptions
Any exceptions to these rules may be made at the discretion of the Somerset Council in special circumstances, subject to prior approval.

Carriage of wheelchairs and buggies

Only appropriate low floor vehicles are permitted to transport wheelchairs, disabled buggies, certified mobility scooters, compact prams, and unfolded buggies. Wheelchair access is available on all of our buses but cannot be guaranteed without prior booking.

We will transport small strollers and unfolded buggies on low floor buses within the designated area, subject to space and the driver’s discretion, but only when it is not necessary for a passenger using a wheelchair or an authorised mobility scooter (passengers using wheelchairs have absolute priority by law). At no point may strollers or buggies obstruct the vehicle’s aisle.

However, if a passenger desires to embark in a wheelchair (or a passenger without a wheelchair if no wheelchair user is travelling), you must make sure the appropriate area is made available as required by law.

If a customer in a wheelchair (or, if no wheelchair user is travelling, a disabled buggy or approved mobility scooter) needs this space, you must co-operate by making room for them. This includes moving any small strollers, folding any buggies, and putting them in the luggage area.

Boarding and alighting

Boarding and alighting a bus safely is crucial to ensure your own well-being and that of your fellow passengers. Follow these simple steps for a safe bus journey:

Boarding the bus
Arrive at the bus stop or designated pick up point a few minutes before the scheduled departure time to avoid rushing. Stand in an organized queue, keeping a safe distance from the edge of the road or platform. Follow any marked queue lines or signs if available.

Wait for the Bus to Stop. Allow the bus to come to a complete stop before attempting to board. Wait for the bus doors to open fully and allow passengers to disembark. Have your fare ready or present your bus pass or payment card to the driver. If transferring from Digital Demand Responsive Transport (DDRT) please have your transfer ticket ready for inspection by the driver.

Respect priority seating for elderly, disabled, or pregnant passengers. These seats are usually clearly marked. Use handrails: when boarding, if available to maintain balance and prevent falls.

Alighting the bus
Signal for your stop shortly before your intended stop, signal the driver by pressing the “stop” button or cord. In some buses, you may need to tell the driver verbally. Make your way to the exit doors and stand clear of the doors while waiting for the bus to stop. Be cautious of the step down from the bus to the pavement and use handrails if available to assist you.

General safety tips

  • Always follow the driver’s instructions and be courteous to fellow passengers
  • Hold onto handrails or seats to maintain your balance when the bus is in motion
  • Avoid standing or moving around the bus while it is in motion
  • Keep bags and personal items out of the aisle to prevent tripping hazards
  • Be mindful of wet or slippery conditions when boarding or alighting during rainy or snowy weather
  • If you have mobility challenges, consider sitting near the front of the bus for easier access to priority seating and the exit.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure a safe and smooth bus journey for yourself and those around you.

Ticketing

Bus Service
We are unable to provide refunds for tickets purchased on our vehicles. However, if you cancel within one hour of travel, a credit will be applied to your account. Please carefully consider your travel plans and ticket purchases before proceeding. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

DRT Service
DRT services are often designed to accommodate flexible and dynamic schedules based on passenger demand. Therefore, once a ticket is purchased, it cannot be refunded as it may affect the overall scheduling and capacity of the service. Refunding tickets purchased on vehicles or in advance can disrupt the efficient operation of our services, including the allocation of resources and seating arrangements. Ensuring that all passengers have an equal opportunity to access our services is a priority. A strict no-refund policy helps maintain fairness and availability for all passengers.

Ticket alterations or changes
While we do not offer refunds, we may provide options for ticket alterations or changes under certain circumstances. If you require assistance with altering your ticket or have concerns about your booking, please contact our customer service representatives for further guidance.

Concessions
Children under 5, accompanied by an adult, will be allowed to travel for free.

Luggage

Passengers are kindly reminded that the transportation of luggage on the bus is entirely at their own risk. While we make every effort to ensure the safe and secure conveyance of your belongings, unforeseen circumstances and external factors may occasionally lead to loss or damage. We recommend that passengers take necessary precautions, such as securing their luggage and avoid carrying valuables in bags.

Lost property

You must hand any items found on a bus to the driver. Where any lost property is found or handed in, we will take reasonable steps to return it to its rightful owner. In order to find the owner or determine the type and value of the lost property, we may open and analyse any packages, bags, or other containers.

If you have lost an item, please contact HelloDDRT@somerset.gov.uk as soon as possible. Items will be returned to the owner if they can positively identify them.

If lost property is not claimed within a month it will be disposed of appropriately. Disposal methods will include the secure disposal of electronic and storage devices, donations made to charity (for example clothes or money) and items sent to recycling or general waste. Perishable items will be disposed of within 48 hours (or earlier if they are, or become, offensive or present a health risk).

Complaints

We take passenger feedback and complaints seriously as we strive to continually improve our services. If you encounter any issues during your journey, please do not hesitate to contact our customer service team. Your input is invaluable in helping us address and resolve any concerns promptly and enhancing the quality of our services. We appreciate your assistance in making our bus services better for everyone.

Customer services –
Phone – 0300 123 2224
Letter – County Hall, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 4DY
Email – transport@somerset.gov.uk

Last reviewed: November 29, 2023 by Paul

Next review due: May 29, 2024

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