Enhancements to a bus service linking Exeter and East Devon has seen passenger numbers increase by more than 30% over the past year.

The CONNexIONS service updated the 56 service in October 2018. Between then and October last year, the service has been used by over 220,000 passengers. That’s up from almost 165,000 on service 56 in the previous year – an increase of over 33%.

Stagecoach South West, Devon County Council and East Devon District Council have worked in partnership to establish the CONNexIONS service.

Funding from Devon County Council and East Devon District Council, via the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone, has helped improve the route between Exeter St David’s, the City Centre, Met Office, Science Park, SkyPark and Exeter Airport.

Early morning and evening journeys have been added to the service from Monday to Saturday with a 30-minute frequency during the day on the section of the route between St David’s and the Airport. Buses continue onto Exmouth up to every 60 minutes.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for transport, said:

Everyone involved in this enhanced service is pleased to see how well it’s been received and how popular it’s proving. It’s also encouraging to see more people opting to use public transport and helping Devon to reduce carbon emissions. This service is providing vital links to key areas to support continued business growth in the Enterprise Zone and illustrates what can be achieved through partnership working.

Councillor Ian Thomas, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for finance and Chair of Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone Board, said:

The increase in passenger numbers is fantastic and demonstrates that the enhanced service is providing real choice in terms of how people can commute to and from work.    

The Council is committed to providing homes and jobs for local people and the CONNexIONS service helps to link these two things. This investment is helping people to reduce their carbon footprint whilst also supporting the transition to a low carbon economy.

Paul Clark, Operations Director at Stagecoach South West, said:

We are always looking for new ways to enhance our CONNexIONS service to meet the needs of our customers. We are delighted to be able to offer such a high frequency service making a vital link between the city, local business parks and the airport. The introduction of these additional services alongside great value tickets makes the CONNexIONS service a great travel option for all.

The service is seen as an essential link to the rapidly expanding business centres in the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone. More than 10,000 jobs are expected to be created in the Enterprise Zone in the coming years.

A day of unlimited travel in the Exeter zone costs just £4 and covers all destinations between St David’s and the Airport. A single fare to the Airport costs just £2.60. For £6, customers can get a day of unlimited travel along the full length of the route to Exmouth. Customers can buy tickets by cash or contactless from their driver or as mobile tickets via the Stagecoach app.

The introduction of the CONNexIONS service has also led to Stagecoach upgrading timetables on other East of Exeter and East Devon routes. Improvements include a circular city route that connects IKEA with the city centre in both directions and more frequent journeys between Pinhoe and the Science Park.

Full details on all services, including timetables, can be found at: www.stagecoachbus.com.