Bus companies have joined together to form a bus operators' association for the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor and surrounding areas.
The association covers the same geography as England's Economic Heartland, stretching from Swindon to Cambridgeshire, and from Northamptonshire down to Hertfordshire. It will have representation on the Heartland's Strategic Transport Forum - an emerging Sub-national Transport Body – through the association's chairman.
The move will ensure bus operators have a strong voice on the planning and delivery of strategic infrastructure in the region, while also playing a crucial role in England's Economic Heartland's work to improve transport users' choice and journey experience.
The association includes Stagecoach, Arriva, Oxford Bus Company, Thames Travel, Carousel Buses, City Sightseeing (Oxford), Go South Coast, Centrebus, Grant Palmer and UNO bus.
Strategic Transport Forum chair, Mayor Dave Hodgson said: "I'm delighted to welcome the association to the Strategic Transport Forum. Bus travel is a crucial mode of transport for many people in the region and has the potential to offer many others access to work and leisure opportunities that they might not otherwise have.
"Working in partnership means that key aims of England's Economic Heartland, such as better integration of public transport, improving the first and last mile of our journeys, and enhancing the user experience, can now be taken forward and delivered at real pace.
"Having transport companies represented at our meetings and feeding into our emerging Transport Strategy is fundamental to achieving our ambition for the Heartland, and I'd certainly encourage train operators in the region to consider forming an equivalent association."
Robin Knight, from Stagecoach, and chairman of England's Economic Heartland's Bus Operator's Association, said: "Being part of England's Economic Heartland gives us a platform to ensure the voices of our customers are heard by regional leaders and government. As bus operators we move thousands of passengers on our roads every day, and so can provide important insight into plans to improve connectivity across the region.
"Setting up the bus operators' association is a real sign of intent that we want to play a leading role working in partnership to support economic growth across the Heartland. We want to be at the forefront of improving the user experience, increasing use of public transport and improving journey times."