Council seeks approval for £37m funding bid to boost borough's bus services
6 October 2021Next week Cheshire West and Chester Council’s cabinet will be asked to approve a central government funding bid for £37m to improve all aspects of bus travel in the borough.
The Council has been working closely with bus operators to develop an ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bus. The plan involves a variety of measures to improve bus services and passenger experience.
The Government has earmarked £3 billion towards improving bus services throughout England as part of its National Bus Strategy, Bus Back Better, to be split across local authorities in England.
The BSIP sets out the ambitions the Council and operators have for bus service improvements and hopes to secure a proportion of the funding to benefit people living, working and travelling in Cheshire West and Chester.
The plan has been produced following a period of comprehensive engagement with the public via a widely available online survey. The survey had an excellent response rate with input received from individuals as well as representatives of local businesses, charitable and community organisations, local campaign and political groups, and charitable and third sector organisations.
If approved, the Council will submit the bid by 31 October 2021. The BSIP also forms part of an Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the Council and the bus operators in the delivery of an improved bus network across the borough.
The Enhanced Partnership includes a clear vison and plan for the improvements the Council and operators are aiming for together with the actions required to achieve a more attractive bus network for the future.
The Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, Councillor Karen Shore said: “Good bus services help tackle congestion in towns and stop rural communities being cut off. They are vital in tackling social exclusion or loneliness, provide access to employment by creating sustainable transport options and increased bus usage could help cut air pollution and reduce carbon emissions.
“Our plan has been collaboratively produced with bus operators themselves to ensure that we prioritise the right actions.
“We need to stabilise the bus network against future cuts and decline, first helping it to recover from the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to create a platform from which to build; and then grow the network, to create a good level of service throughout the week and evenings.
“We also plan to enhance its quality and identity as one cohesive network, improving value for money, and simplifying both fares and ticketing to remove critical barriers that prevent members of the public from using bus services in the borough.”
The Council’s next Cabinet Meeting takes place on 13 October 2021 at 10am.