The government has produced a National Bus Strategy – Bus Back Better – which sets out how more people can be encouraged to use local bus services.
Every Local Transport Authority is required to enter into a legal partnership with local bus operators by April 2022 to deliver improvements. Our Bus Service Improvement Partnership identifies the main ways in which we plan to provide a better bus service for the city. It will initially operate for five years from 2022 to 2027.
Government will consider our plan, and we are hoping they will be able to quickly indicate the level of funding we may receive to enable us to develop our proposals and include in our legal partnership.
The government has provided guidance as to the type of interventions that are likely to get more people on buses. We have used this guidance to help shape our proposals. Some of the main elements of the Plan are detailed below.
Shorter journey times
We want to tackle the road junctions where bus passengers are often delayed. Our main aim is to upgrade our traffic signal system so that more signals are linked to each other and they can use historical and live traffic data to optimise timings. By squeezing more efficiency from our signals we can have enough time to provide bus priority at some junctions, by extending the green time when a bus is approaching, for example.
We also propose to build some new road links that will take traffic off existing busy roads that buses use. These include a link between Newport Lane and the new Etruria Valley Link Road, which would take traffic away from the congested Trubshaw Cross and also give buses the opportunity to use it to provide better access to jobs at Etruria Valley.
More frequent buses
Our proposals will provide a ‘turn up and go’ level of frequency on main routes, with a bus at least every ten minutes. Other services would have a bus every twenty minutes.
Longer hours of operation
Our Plan will provide more buses in the evenings and on Sundays. This will make it more practical for people to use the bus to get to and from work, and for leisure and social activities.
A review of fares
Fares can be seen as expensive and confusing. Our Plan includes proposals to put a lower cap on the cost of a day ticket; to standardise across all operators an upper age of eighteen for which young persons’ fares are offered; and to focus more on offering a simplified range of tickets that can be used on all operators’ services.
Our Plan includes installing more level boarding kerbs at bus stops to enable more people with limited mobility to be able to use the bus.
We also propose to introduce some new routes where there are currently none. We will explore options for more flexible transport, such as Demand Responsive Transport, which can get closer to peoples’ homes and be booked in advance.
Each bus stop will have a timetable and other standard information for users. Some bus stops will have ‘next bus’ countdown displays. Buses will be equipped with next stop displays, with facilities to enable them to be used by those with visual impairment.
Whilst operators will be free to provide their distinctive individual route branding, there will also be a new network brand. This will emphasise that the bus network is one system, provided by a number of operators. It will complement the all-operator ticketing and information proposals.
There will also be a Passenger Charter, outlining what passengers should expect from the service and who to contact with any problems.
CCTV will be installed at more bus stops and on more buses, to improve personal safety. Lighting levels at bus stops will be reviewed and improved where feasible.
This will be managed locally through a small, dedicated team.
We will enter into a partnership with bus operators and other partners by April 2022.
Like many businesses, bus operators are feeling the impact of the pandemic. Our first step is to ensure that existing bus services are retained when the current emergency funding package expires next spring. We then hope to gradually grow the level of service and to provide many of the infrastructure improvements outlined to make bus travel accessible, affordable and a genuine option for people to be able to use to get around the city. The amount we are able to do, however, will be heavily influenced by the funding that is provided by central government.
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