Passengers across Cornwall will benefit from the new National Bus Strategy, more details of which have been announced today, which will deliver the most ambitious reform to the bus transport in generations.
It is good news that Cornwall was chosen as a location to pilot this new strategy, and Cornwall Council will now need to work in partnership with operators on ambitious new Bus Service Improvement Plans for the benefit of passengers in order to be eligible for future funding.
Councils and operators will be expected to provide:
• Simpler single bus fares with daily price caps, so people can use the bus as many times a day as they need without facing mounting costs.
• More services in the evenings and at the weekends.
• Integrated services and ticketing across all transport modes in the area, so people can easily move from bus to train.
• Easy to access information, including online, so that services are simple to use.
• All buses to accept contactless payments.
Councils will also need to franchise services or establish statutory partnerships with operators – ensuring that they work in collaboration for the benefit of passengers. They will also be required to publish an improvement plan.
Such improvements will be underpinned by fundamental reforms to the sector, and will see operators need to work with their local councils on targets for improving passenger numbers, reliability and passenger satisfaction, to be eligible for future government funding.
Only councils and operators who work to meet these requirements will continue to receive the £100 million per month emergency Covid funding for the sector, or any new sources of funding from the £3 billion investment.
The plans have been welcomed by St Austell and Newquay’s Member of Parliament, Steve Double, who said:
“I am pleased to see the Government come forward with more detail on the New National Bus Strategy today.”
“I have previously worked with Cornwall Council’s transport team since 2019 to successfully make the case for Cornwall to be a part of a £23.5million four year pilot for this scheme which was introduced last year but has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Due to our rural nature, public transport has always been more of a challenge to deliver effectively across Cornwall, and this additional funding is of great assistance to help deliver a bus network that works for all.”
“It has always been a priority of mine to increase Cornwall’s connectivity and this scheme, which is now rolled out nationally, shows once again that we are at the forefront of the Government’s agenda when it comes to investment in transport and building back better from COVID-19.”