Stagecoach partners with transport authorities across England to develop ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plans

Stagecoach has partnered with dozens of local transport authorities across England to develop ambitious plans to improve bus services and get more passengers to swap their cars for greener public transport.

Key points:

  • Stagecoach companies involved in 60 out of the 84 strategies submitted to Department for Transport for funding
  • Initiatives to lower fares, speed up journeys, boost connections, improve customer information
  • Call on government to ensure smaller authorities receive sufficient funding to deliver plans

Britain’s biggest bus operator has supported the development of 60 of the 84 Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) submitted by local authorities to the government as part of its National Bus Strategy for England.

Improvement initiatives in each of the BSIPs reflects months of discussions between local authorities, bus operators and consultation with the public to ensure they reflect the needs of local communities.

The plans, which had to be submitted to the Department for Transport by 31 October, include initiatives to lower fares, speed up bus journeys, boost accessibility and connections in urban areas, city centres and rural locations, and improve customer information.

Stagecoach, which has been involved in the development of more plans than any other operator in the country, believes the regional bus strategies can help deliver improved services for customers, create healthier, more connected communities and support the country’s net zero ambitions.

It is urging the government to focus funding on plans that will make a practical difference to the costs and reliability of bus travel and attract people back to public transport after the damaging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The recent Autumn Budget and Spending Review confirmed that more than £3billion of new funding will be available for buses over the current Parliament.

Stagecoach has also called on the UK Government to ensure that smaller local authorities outside of England’s big city regions do not fall victim to a “postcode lottery” of funding for their ambitious bus improvement plans.

The BSIPs include:

  • Fare initiatives: Fare discounts for young people, ‘Back to Bus’ fare promotions and new multi-operator fare capping in Norfolk by 2025.
  • Bus priority and rapid transit schemes: Proposal for a ‘Connecting Oxford’ project that is aiming to dramatically reduce traffic levels in Oxford City Centre by creating a series of ‘traffic filters’ amongst other measures, including an ongoing corridor-by-corridor approach to measuring bus performance, of analysing points of delay and developing schemes which increase average bus speeds.
  • Rural connectivity: in Devon, a commitment to provide a minimum number of services each day for all communities with over 500 people.
  • Improved information: a new integrated travel and traffic website in Hull to help plan the best options for a journey.

Carla Stockton-Jones, UK Managing Director for Stagecoach, said: “We’re pleased to have worked very closely with our local authorities on the development of 60 Bus Service Improvement Plans, the most of any bus operator in the country.

“These plans have huge potential to get the country back on board the bus by delivering lower fares, faster and more reliable journeys, better connections, and improved customer information.

“It’s important that the increased funding for buses promised by the government is now delivered so these bold plans can be brought to life. Huge investment has already been committed to public transport improvements in the metropolitan Combined Authority areas outside London. Sufficient funding must also be given to smaller regions, including in rural areas which have smaller populations but where buses provide vital connectivity to local communities.

“Bus networks are key to Britain’s towns and cities and supporting the country’s net zero ambitions. The quickest way to help leverage the power of buses to support this is by getting motorists out of cars and onto buses which would drive huge reductions in carbon emissions.”

Andy Burton, Assistant Director for Streetscene at Hull City Council, who worked with Stagecoach on one of the BSIPs, said: “We were thrilled with the engagement of Stagecoach and their invaluable contribution to the development of our BSIP, which we believe will bring substantial benefits to the people and visitors to Hull.”

Figures published by the Confederation of Passenger Transport show that UK citizens switching just one journey a month from car to bus would deliver a cut of 2m tonnes in annual carbon emissions.

Stagecoach has recently proposed a package of policy interventions to kick-start the country’s town and city centres, boost health and well-being, and help deliver stretching government targets to reach net zero by 2050.

The proposals include tax incentives, discounted fares and a national bus marketing campaign to match the recently launched advertising push to attract consumers back to trains. The company has also called for reform of motoring tax and a clear government roadmap of investment to support decarbonisation of bus sector and deliver 4,000 new promised electric buses in England.

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