A long-term plan for bus travel in the region is a key priority for England’s Economic Heartland during 2023, with a raft of work which will be delivered during the year ahead.
Already underway is a major programme of presentations, toolkits, one-to-one sessions and advice notes to support local authorities to plan, deliver and promote an effective bus network. A collaboration between EEH, Transport East and Transport for the South East, it has been made possible by £300,000 of government additional funding. The packages, supported by subject experts from Mott MacDonald and Arup, run until April and cover topics including:
- Fares and ticketing
- Data analysis, monitoring and evaluation
- Low cost and quick wins
- Building a strong case
- Bus infrastructure guidance
- Demand responsive transport
- Rural hubs and integration
- Funding mechanisms
- Alternative and low emissions fuels
In addition, EEH has established a bus forum bringing together the public and private sector, aimed at increasing cross-boundary collaboration over bus services which is essential to a successful regional transport system.
Guided by last year’s Regional Bus Strategy and discussions with partners, England’s Economic Heartland has several upcoming projects to support the delivery of a regional bus network which is fit for the future, covering:
- The economic case for regional bus investment
- Potential for better provision, infrastructure enhancement and new service models
- Passenger viewpoints
- Opportunities for integrated ticketing
- How digital technologies can be harnessed to market bus travel.
Chair of England’s Economic Heartland, Cllr Richard Wenham, said: “Buses are a fundamental part of our transport system, yet our Board has frequently highlighted the challenges local authorities have in simply maintaining current levels of service alongside planning for the future.
“EEH’s initial work, in collaboration with our neighbouring STBs, will support the region’s transport officers with practical tools in areas such as planning, quick wins and making successful funding bids. Over the next year, working with the EEH Bus Operators’ Association, we will continue to make the case for investment in the region’s bus network and ensure that any funding received can be maximised, resulting in better patronage, journey times and reliability and a more sustainable transport system.
“Last year, only a third of our partners received any bus service improvement plan funding. In the coming months EEH will work to ensure funding for bus-based transit is a government priority. Building on the evidence captured in 2022’s Regional Bus Strategy, EEH will press DfT for a clear funding settlement for local transport, managed and prioritised by local partners who know their communities best. This isn’t always about new funding, but rather making sure funds which are available can be spent where we need it most.”