Lancashire County Council is working closely with bus operators to prepare for a major change in the way buses are funded and organised following the government’s launch of The National Bus Strategy, Bus Back Better in March 2021.
The strategy sets out an ambitious vision to improve bus services in England, with a focus on councils and bus operators working more closely together, and alongside local communities, to create a network that reflects local people’s priorities.
The first step is for councils and bus operators to create a Bus Service Improvement Plan, which will act as a vision for how we try to improve bus services in Lancashire over the next few years. This will then be used to help create an Enhanced Partnership Scheme with bus operators, which will set the standards for all bus services running in the county.
The timescale that we must fulfil is extremely tight and our first Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) must be published by the end of October 2021 Our Enhanced Partnership Scheme needs to be in place from April 22. These very tight timescales have been set by Government and failure to deliver on these will result in support funding for buses being withdrawn.
The BSIP should explain the current local situation. Provide information about passenger numbers, average fares, bus speeds, road congestion and other factors affecting public transport operations. It should detail information about local operators and how services are designed with local people in mind. How much funding does the LTA currently use to support services and what are the main barriers to bus usage and growth in the area?
BSIPs should then decide how Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) and operators propose to deliver the key goals of the Bus Strategy in the area, this includes;
- More frequent bus services with better provision in evenings and weekends. They should be faster and more reliable, cheaper and easier to understand. There should be better integration with other modes and innovation.
- There must be significant increases in bus priority, which means protected bus lanes and bus gates.
- Bus stations should be protected from closure and redevelopment, be improved and well maintained and there should be staff available for customer care and information.
- The local bus network should be presented as a single network with clear passenger information. There should be a strong network identity, bus stops should show accurate information, with real time where relevant, and timetable changes minimised.
- Buses should also be accessible for all, so stopping facilities need to be upgraded and be Equalities Act compliant. There will be options to bid for the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas Scheme with partners, to deliver more modern buses and decarbonisation.
It is intended that BSIP’s will give passengers more of a voice so there is a requirement for a Passenger Charter, for the Enhanced Partnership, giving users rights to certain standards and mechanism for redress at a local level .
It is intended that BSIP’s will require regular updates, as a living document, at least every 12 months.
As part of this, we wish to gather the views of Lancashire residents and other stakeholders and we are conducting a passenger engagement survey. We would be extremely grateful if you could take a few moments to complete the survey as it would help us understand your views on the current bus network and highlight your priorities for the future. The survey can be found here www.lancashire.gov.uk/roads-parking-and-travel/public-transport/
Thank you for your help and assistance in this. Should you require any further information or you would like to provide additional feedback then please contact the Public Transport Team at firstname.lastname@example.org