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Bus Back Better

Bus Back Better

Over the last 5 months Transport for the South East, England’s Economic Heartland and Transport East have been working with local transport authorities across the three regions to provide the support they need to deliver on commitments in Government’s Bus Back Better strategy.

This three-stage project is a result of £300,000 of additional funding awarded to the three STBs by the Department for Transport to help support LTAs with the delivery of their Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs).

Supported by consultants, Mott MacDonald and Arup, the three STBs have worked closely with LTAs and bus operators, through a series of workshops and questionnaires. 

The following 11 support packages have been identified:

  • Fares and Ticketing
  • Data analysis, monitoring and evaluation
  • Low cost and quick wins
  • Presenting a strong case and influencing decision-makers
  • Bus infrastructure guidance
  • Demand responsive transport
  • Rural hubs and integration
  • Funding mechanisms
  • Collaborative working and bus forums
  • Marketing
  • Alternative/low-emission fuels

Buses are the workhorse of our region’s economy, helping get people of all ages to work, to school, to the doctor or the library, to the shops or to see friends and family. Before the pandemic, there were more than a half a million bus journeys a day in the South East. We don’t just want to see that number recover, we want it to double over the next thirty years, getting more people out of their cars, improving our towns and cities and helping break the link between economic growth and ever-increasing traffic and air pollution.”

Councillor Keith Glazier, Chair of Transport for the South East

Here is an overview of just a few of the support packages.

Fares and ticketing

The aim of this package is to help local transport authorities develop a greater understanding of fare levels, structures, ticketing models, and concessionary fares among other things. It will increase LTAs knowledge of how to develop fares and ticketing schemes at a local level.

To develop this package we researched fares and ticketing schemes delivered throughout England to gain a clearer understanding of the range and suitability of different types of fares and ticketing schemes.

In addition several case studies of fares and ticketing schemes that have been successful in England have been developed.

This package of support will provide LTAs in the region with case studies, a briefing note containing focused advice and guidance and a webinar.

Rural hubs

This support package looks at rural hubs and integration. The Bus Back Better programme requires LTA’s BSIPs to improve bus patronage by better-integrating bus services to accommodate people changing modes to complete their journey (interchange).

This package will provide advice to LTAs on how they can do this at various scales and in various contexts.

Mobility hubs and interchange locations need provisions for multi-modal transfers. They should also have appropriate and accessible facilities and service information for all users.

The support package developed provides a list of typical infrastructure requirements and specifications for multi-modal rural interchanges. These include a comfortable waiting area, weatherproof shelters, appropriate lighting and more.

Another area investigated was appropriate design features, such as high kerbing for level boarding and consideration of personal security requirements.

Multi-modal transfers should be located around establishments such as shops or pubs. This makes the hubs more attractive for both locals and tourists and encourage usage.

Through development of case studies we can help LTAs understand how to deliver interchange projects of varying scales, including costs, planning and timeframes.

Case studies were collected on multi-modal rural interchanges for small towns, medium towns, large towns, and coastal settlements. These will demonstrate the features of interchange hubs. Including interchange with other buses, rail services and cycle hire.

The package includes several case studies where effective and low-cost solutions for rural transport infrastructures have been implemented across the U.K. setting out cost-effective approaches for development.

Alternative fuels

This support package looks at alternative and low-emission fuels. Following the COP27 meetings, the impetus to achieve net zero has increased. One way of achieving this is by switching to zero emission alternative fuels.

This support package will explore how making the switch to low-emission fuels could potentially reduce the cost of bus services as well as making them more environmentally friendly. It offers advice on electric and hydrogen vehicles as well as covering funding and procurement issues.

Working with bus specialists we have compiled guidance and advice on alternative fuels to present to LTAs and operators.

Topics included in this guidance will be:

•            The maturity and availability of fuel and technology options

•            The benefits and costs of retrofitting existing bus fleets compared to investing in new buses

•            Governance and workforce requirements and integration with wider fleet vehicles

A webinar on alternative and low-emission fuels will be held for all relevant LTAs and stakeholders. This will include presentations from subject matter experts, who will support the development of written advice on the topic and a Q&A session for attendees.

What's next?

The delivery of these 11 support packages will continue until the end of April 2023. They will be monitored and evaluated to ensure they are adding value.