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, Gold Award
The West Midlands Bus Alliance: A UK First - Centro and National Express West Midlands
Partnership between Centro (now the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority), bus operators and other stakeholders has been thriving in the region for many years, particularly with the region's largest operator, National Express West Midlands. The West Midlands Bus Alliance is the first partnership of its type in the UK and provides formal governance ensuring there is greater buy-in from bus operators, as well as the highways authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships by providing shared ownership of objectives and delivery. The intention is that by working closely together all of the benefits that might otherwise be achieved through franchising can be achieved, but without the need for contractual relationships and their associated costs.
In a very comprehensive and well supported entry, the judges were impressed that there is integration at all levels between National Express West Midlands and Centro. Being a good model that could be reproduced elsewhere, they were also pleased to see a single body acting in the interests of bus passengers making the scheme a very worthy Gold Winner.
Winner, Silver Award
Elland Road Park and Ride - West Yorkshire Combined Authority and partners
The 800 space Elland Road Park and Ride opened in 2013 as a partnership scheme between the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Council, with First West Yorkshire as the partner operator. The ú2.8m project set out to offer fast, reliable, comfortable and frequent access for commuters and visitors to Leeds City Centre. It has demonstrated very strong passenger growth contributing to modal shift with over 500 cars are parked at the site and over 1,000 single passenger journeys made every weekday. Over 60% of people using the service are regular commuters and work is underway on extending the car park and plans are well advanced for a second site in the south east of Leeds.
The judges were pleased to note that the park and ride site had been created in partnership between the local authority, transport authority and a bus operator and has encouraged modal shift. The scheme is clearly very successful as it is being extended and a second site planned.
Winner, Bronze Award
Grasshopper Multi-Operator Ticketing - Aberdeenshire Council and partners
GrassHOPPER is the branding for an operator-led multi-operator bus ticketing agreement for North-East Scotland. It is administered by Aberdeenshire Council on behalf of a management committee made up of public sector organisations as well as First, Stagecoach and nine other smaller bus operators. Adult Day and Weekly passes for six geographical zones across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are available covering an area of approximately 6,500 sq km with a population of 500,000. GrassHOPPER tickets allow passengers to travel on any local bus route and to connect between bus services. Paper-based tickets were replaced with smartcard passes in the summer, with further product developments to follow.
The large number of bus operators, covering a wide geographical area, that are participating in the scheme impressed the judges. Integrated off-bus ticketing is to be encouraged and multi-operator tickets are very beneficial for customers. The judges were also pleased to see the aspiration to extend the scheme to include rail and ferry operators and develop e-tickets.
Who can be nominated?
Local authorities that have a statutory responsibility for transport in their area. This may 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 will be judged on the quality and content of submissions for this Award. The nominating person/company or the authority nominated needs 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.