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The Government launches Bus Back Better: A long-term strategy for bus provision in England

01 April 2021
The Government has launched the national Bus Back Better Strategy ("the Strategy") setting out its long-term vision for bus provision in England. The Strategy details what future bus services should look like to passengers and how both Local Transport Authorities ("LTAs") and bus operators can improve those services. 

What are the aims of the Bus Back Better strategy?

The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, announced on 15 March 2021 that the strategy "will deliver better bus services for passengers across England, through ambitious and far-reaching reform of how services are planned and delivered."

The proposed changes under the Strategy includes introducing:

  • simple, cheap flat fares that can be paid using contactless cards;
  • daily and weekly price capping across different operators;
  • easy-to-understand services, consistent high standards and comprehensive information using mobile devices;
  • 4,000 new zero emission buses; and
  • a date for ending the sale of new diesel buses in the UK.

The challenge for Local Transport Authorities 

The Strategy is ambitious and it is clear that successful implementation will require significant input from LTAs. By the end of October 2021, all LTAs will be expected to have published a local Bus Service Improvement Plan, detailing how they propose to use their powers to improve their bus services. The strategy also outlines that LTAs will be expected to install bus lanes in areas of high traffic stress, make more existing bus lanes full-time and consider physical changes such as road footprints and installing point closures to private cars to divert through traffic where there is insufficient space for bus lanes.

The Department of Transport will also consult on proposals to reform the Bus Service Operators Grant so that grant funding will only be available to LTAs and operators who are in an 'Enhanced Partnership' or where franchising is being actively pursued. 

Further information about the Strategy can be found here.

Comment

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that "buses are the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to improve transport" though the challenges that the Strategy aims to remedy are broad and extensive. The Strategy has scope to bring significant change and improvement to bus services in England not only for the passengers that use them but also for the LTAs and operators who provide them. 

If you are a public body currently considering how the Bus Back Better Strategy might affect you, please contact a member of our UK public sector team to discuss how we might assist you.

Author: Paul Hopton.

Further Reading