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Medway Council's tourism bus will be back next year after successful pilot

Around 3,000 people used the tourism bus during its pilot – and the council plans to run it again next year.

The eyecatching purple bus ran over the summer off the back of a bumper year for tourism in Medway, which saw 470,000 visitors.

It featured a voiceover from actor Brian Blessed, whose distinctive booming tones told passengers all about the attractions.

The Medway tourism bus
The Medway tourism bus

The bus linked eight destinations: Medway Visitor Information Centre, Rochester railway station, Chatham bus station, Fort Amherst, The Royal Engineers Museum, Dickens World/Dockside Outlet Centre, The Historic Dockyard and Chatham railway station.

It ran for 50 days, including throughout the school holidays, and there were seven services each day. As a rough average, around 60 people used it each day, and there were nine passengers on each journey.

No council employees travelled on it for free, the council confirmed.

Costume characters on the tourism bus
Costume characters on the tourism bus

Head of community services Cllr Howard Doe (Con), said it had been an "instant hit" and "we are already planning potential improvements for next year".

"Anything we can do to support tourism in Medway, which accounts for around 6000 jobs within the local economy, should be encouraged, and we feel the tourism bus has been a great success in its first year," he said.

"We have built upon our best year for tourism last year and will continue to promote Medway as a great place to live, work and visit."

Cllr Doe added that passengers had praised the service and how informative it was. "Many said they will use it again and recommend it to friends and family."

Passengers who took the trip included Toni-Claire Miller, from Gillingham, who said: "There was a lot about Medway I didn't know and when you are up high and hearing about its history, it doesn't seem too shabby."

Suzanne Warn, from Rochester, said: "It’s delightful to do the tourist thing. Everyone should do it. There’s so much you don’t know."

Labour group leader Cllr Vince Maple has been critical of the bus in the past.

He said he would reserve judgement on it until he found out how many of the passengers paid for their journeys, as opposed to taking advantage of the two-for-one fare offer promoted by the council in the Messenger.

"Without detail about how much money has been taken, it’s difficult to say whether it’s been a worthwhile exercise."

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