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.
Nottingham City Transport and partners: Statutory Quality Partnership
Nottingham’s Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme (SQPS) is a legally-binding partnership between Nottingham City Council, the Traffic Commissioner and all local bus operators that use city centre bus stops. This, the first area-based SQPS in the country, was introduced by the Council in May 2010 to help improve bus flow efficiency, infrastructure, accessibility and to set minimum vehicle quality standards.
The judges pointed out that Nottingham has a long history of commitment to public transport culminating in the city being acclaimed as the UK’s least car dependent. The SQPS provides a further step in this process by ensuring that the city centre is served only by buses of a quality attractive to existing and potential users, and thus the investment of the bus companies and the council - and thus its desire to achieve modal shift in the interests of improvement to the city’s environment - is not undermined.
Whilst the particular conditions of an SQPS can always be debated, the judges felt that the basic premise could usefully be applied elsewhere providing both operators and the relevant local authority are prepared to commit to public transport and partnership in the same way as the city of Nottingham.
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.