The performance of most bus services is critically affected by local authority policies on traffic management, parking and road network development as well as land use and the relative importance placed on the needs of public transport compared to other priorities.
Even in these times of austerity, it is possible for authorities working either separately or in partnership with operators and other stakeholders to deliver projects that can improve local bus services. Underpinning such projects might be funds, such as the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and the Better Buses scheme in England, Transport Grant and Local Transport Services Grant in Wales and the Green Bus funds in both England and Scotland.
Winner 2013: Sheffield City Council and Partners – Sheffield Bus Partnership
The Sheffield Bus Partnership is a ground-breaking agreement bringing together Sheffield City Council, South Yorkshire PTE and the city’s main bus operators to make the bus network simpler, more flexible and more convenient. Many passengers now pay lower fares for their journeys and travelling around the city is much easier as a result of co-ordinated bus services and multi-operator ticketing. The judges felt that the Sheffield Bus Partnership was a watershed for the industry and has shown just what can be achieved through open and committed partnership, evidenced by the strong growth in passenger numbers, without the need to resort to the long and expensive alternative of Quality Contracts.
Runner Up: Metro (West Yorkshire PTE) and Partners – The Improved A65 – Travel The Easyway
By bringing about multi-operator ticketing and a substantial investment in new buses as well as traffic management improvements, the A65 Quality Bus Partnership project involving Metro, Leeds City Council, First, Transdev and Centrebus has delivered 13% more passenger bus trips over two years, going a long way to achieving its objectives of improving the attractiveness of bus use through faster, more reliable and punctual services, and providing a real alternative to the car. The judges felt that this was another excellent example of partnership working in a PTE area that had potential for adoption elsewhere.
Centro – Birmingham City Centre Interchange
Centro’s City Centre Interchange project implements elements of Birmingham’s Big City Plan to enhance the public realm and provide an integrated public transport information and wayfinding system. Delivering five bus interchanges with new passenger infrastructure and significant highway changes, and brought about through a statutory Quality Bus Partnership, the scheme supports the Midland Metro tram extension with the objective of making public transport a much more attractive option for commuters and visitors to Birmingham city centre.
Devon County Council – Integrating Transport In Devon
Actively promoting, facilitating and supporting bus use, Devon County Council has developed a comprehensive, all-encompassing approach to integrating transport services, improving network viability and growing patronage. This is achieved through working with bus operators collaboratively towards common aims, working with other agencies where this may increase bus travel, joined-up policies on planning and provision, demonstrating the value of buses in meeting key policy aims, providing good information for the public, and investing in improved infrastructure and accessibility. The judges felt that this was a very good example of partnership in a county with more than its share of deep rural areas.
Who could be nominated?
Local authorities that have a statutory responsibility for transport in their area. This could therefore include County Councils, Passenger Transport Executives, Unitary Authorities or Regional Transport Partnerships.
… and by whom?
We welcomed nominations from bus users, bus operators or local authorities themselves. Self-nomination was acceptable.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
Nominations were judged on the quality and content of submissions for this Award. The nominating person/company or the authority nominated needed to:
- Show the extent to which the authority actively promotes, facilitates and supports bus use or facilitates the operation of punctual and reliable bus services as part of their overall transportation policies
- Describe the project (which can include a specific initiative or an overall approach) being nominated, explaining how and in what way it helps to improve local bus services
- Set out how the project was developed and show the extent to which it involved partnership with bus operators, other stakeholders and bus service users and how each was involved in its development.
- Describe the results achieved by the project or initiative and demonstrate if it has achieved a shift in mode use, particularly attracting car users to use the bus, or has increased travel opportunities for previously isolated communities
- Set out how the project can be sustained in the future and how lessons learned from its implementation are being applied locally and might be applied in a wider area
- Demonstrate, where a project involves the provision of supported services, that the funds are being used effectively to encourage maximum bus use showing, where appropriate, how such expenditure complements operators’ commercial networks
- Show that plans have been made for adequate future maintenance where a project involves the provision of infrastructure.