Combined Authority’s vision for better buses
Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, which is responsible for public transport across the area, is recommending £2.3m investment in local bus services as part of a 5-point vision for better buses.
The vision has been endorsed by members of the Transport and Infrastructure Committee’s on Wednesday 15th November and the money will pay for improvements to bus routes subsidised by the Combined Authority which are not commercially viable but are vital for keeping local communities connected, as well as better information for passengers, support for bus driver recruitment and a targeted fare scheme for young people and care leavers
The investment, which is being recommended to members of the Combined Authority Board, who meet on November 29th, also includes funding for four new bus routes. Three of these new bus routes are proposed to utilise Demand Responsive Travel (sometimes called DRT), which is a flexible service that provides a bus to users who specify their desired location and time of pick-up and drop-off. It works in a similar way to other, taxi style, ride-share apps.
Funding for these activities is being provided from the Government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus settlements.
The Committee also noted that government have extended the £2 fare cap until December 2024 to help bus users struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
Mayor Dr Nik Johnson said: “I know how important reliable bus services are to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and am determined to deliver on my promise of substantial improvement. This investment puts more buses on our roads, makes real-time information easier to access, and keeps communities connected. In making our bus services better, more people will use them which will help make further progress, getting us closer to the high-quality region-wide network we all want, need, and deserve.”
The Combined Authority, and Mayor Dr Nik Johnson, have adopted five priorities to improve its bus routes which includes:
- Adding more buses to the network;
- Providing bus users with better information
- More reliability;
- Nicer, better quality buses;
- Value for money.
The first stage this work to improve buses, is a review of the 70 routes directly subsidised by the Combined Authority. Of those, 19 have been put forward for further investigation as they are either not commercially viable or borderline commercially viable. They have been assessed against a set of measures including usage, keeping people connected and cost to taxpayers to assess whether continued or further investment is the right course of action.
The Combined Authority has committed itself to providing the best possible bus network with the funding available. However, it has also stated that taking back control of the entire network, through a process called franchising, would enable much greater improvements to the network in the longer term. A consultation on franchising is likely to take place in the new year.
A number of other Combined Authority areas have already taken control of their networks including Greater Manchester and Liverpool while West Yorkshire is consulting its residents.