The Fflecsi bus program is coming to an end in Newport next month, and for many of our readers it’s all about ‘what could have been’.
Run by Transport for Wales, Fflecsi was a reservation-only bus service which involved unfixed buses to set timetables or routes.
Instead, residents could call or use an app to book a bus, which would then show up — like a taxi service — at the requested time.
The Welsh Government hailed the Newport trial as “successful” and said it had provided “substantial data…to improve future planning of public transport routes” in the area.
We asked the opinion of our readers on social networks, and many of them were less impressed with the Fflecsi service.
Chief among their criticisms was the effectiveness of the program, and many readers said they had problems booking a bus online.
Mark Seymour called Fflecsi a “good idea in theory, but booking seemed impossible”.
“Too bad the systems gave up on an innovative idea,” he added.
James Richards said he “hardly ever saw people use them” but “every time I wanted one to go home, [I] was never able to reserve one due to ‘unprecedented demand'”.
Emma Young raised a similar point. She said she “only used them once because every time I wanted to reserve them there were none available – what was the point of having them?”
And Ceri Stead said: “I could never book one anyway, so I’ll see it go past where I need to go [with] no passengers.”
But some Fflesci users shared more positive experiences.
Claire Peach said the service was “very” successful for her family and helped her son get to work and school.
Craig Holyoake told us the service was “excellent” and “very prompt”.
Amanda McBrearty said her mother had praised the “excellent” drivers, while Cerrie Crockett said it was “a shame” the “reliable” service was coming to an end in Newport.
Fflecsi operates similarly to a taxi service, and this has been raised by readers in both a positive and negative light.
Mary Rose Bacca-Webb said she had “no problems” with the service, which she called “better than a taxi”.
But Rich Jones described Fflecsi as being “like a very inefficient taxi service that this taxpayer subsidizes”.
Michael Enea also raised concerns about the funding, asking: ‘How much loss has this affected TfW (Transport for Wales)?
Some readers have shared stories of their own negative experiences with Fflecsi.
Lisa Treharne said a bus “dropped my 62-year-old mother away from [my] house in absolute darkness, when there is a stop in front of my house”.
Sarah Williams added: ‘An 83 year old friend of mine had to call a taxi several times to get to the bus stop as they often don’t show up.
And others said the service started well, until it was extended to Newport.
“It was good at first until more people started using them,” said Leanne Cook. “My worst experience, other than not being able to book regularly, was a trip from Bassaleg to Royal Gwent Hospital early in the morning. Normally a 15-20 minute journey, but that day took longer than one o’clock.”
Liz Urquhart said Fflecsi ‘worked really well at St Julians’ but when he developed ‘it was awful’.
“I know a lot of people who struggled to get an Fflecsi after it was extended,” she added.
City bus company Newport Transport will announce a new bus timetable in a fortnight, and new services will be introduced from Sunday 4 September.
This means passengers will have a three-week transition period before Fflecsi services stop.