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.
The 2014 Results
Gold Award Winner
Building on the success of Edinburgh's BusTracker real-time information system and responding to demand from passengers, SESTran has developed the technology to cover eight local authority areas across an area of three thousand square miles in South East Scotland, and feed direct into Traveline. The project delivers bus times, disruption and accessibility information as well as associated web, mobile and app services. Extremely impressed by the geographic coverage SESTran has achieved, the judges considered the scale of the initiative sets it apart and makes it a model of what can be delivered through constructive partnership, despite a current challenging financial environment.
Silver Award Winner
Luton Dunstable Busway, Luton Borough Council
To tackle severe traffic congestion and resulting delays to bus services on the Luton - Dunstable corridor, Luton Borough Council converted a disused railway line into a fast-track busway to present an attractive alternative to car use. Despite the long development time, the judges were impressed with the project as a successful partnership and how it had more than halved previous journey times, with multi-operator ticketing, smartcards and increased frequencies adding to the benefits. The scheme has already recorded strong customer satisfaction scores with 9% of Busway users transferring from the car, and the judges felt that the scheme had the potential to encourage much greater modal shift in this congested area.
Lewes Road Sustainable Transport Corridor, Brighton & Hove City Council
The Lewes Road Sustainable Transport Corridor links Brighton city centre to the two local universities and the Amex Community Football Stadium in the north of the city. The project has converted a 4.5km dual carriageway into a single carriageway for general traffic alongside a dedicated bus lane with better facilities for cyclists, reconfigured junctions and new 'floating bus stops' to remove bus and cycle conflicts. The judges were impressed with the combination of a broad range of ideas to encourage greater use of more sustainable forms of travel - enabling not only faster, more reliable bus journeys in both directions but already increasing bus patronage by 7% in under nine months.
Beach Bus, New Forest National Park Authority
Beach Bus was introduced in 2013 as part of a group of initiatives with Go South Coast to promote car-free visitor travel in the New Forest and to its coast. It has developed into a popular summer holiday service that links to rail, ferry and other bus services including the flagship New Forest open-top tours. Use of eye-catching 'retro' imagery, video, use of social media and Google adwords, discounts at attractions and even free ice creams appealed to the judges. The service has raised the profile of the bus as a fun way to travel, as well as providing renewed access to one or two isolated communities and positive feedback and passenger numbers, increased by 400% in its second year, go to show the scheme's success.
Portsmouth Park & Ride, Portsmouth City Council
Portsmouth's new Park-and-Ride at Tipner opened in April 2014 adjacent to a new junction on the M275 and forms part of the wider transport strategy to support the city's £1.8 billion plan for regeneration and growth. Use of the scheme grew very quickly in its first few weeks and extremely high satisfaction scores have translated into repeat customers, so beginning to achieve the objective of a more sustainable mix of travel modes into the city. The judges were particularly impressed by the combination of many high-quality features that have been applied successfully with Park-and-Ride and other bus schemes elsewhere, supported by enhanced bus priority ensuring quick journeys for those who use the facility.
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.