Agenda item

Report of the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment (PTE/21/33), seeking approval of the main principles of a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), the forthcoming public consultation and a proposed bid to Government, attached.

 

An Impact Assessment is attached for the attention of Members at this meeting.

 

Decision:

RESOLVED

 

(a) that the main principles of a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) to be

agreed in partnership with local bus companies be endorsed;

 

(b) that the forthcoming public consultation on the main recommendations within the County Council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan be approved;

 

(c) that the proposed bid to the Government of approximately £34m per year (revenue) and with a local contribution based on the emerging allocated revenue budget for 2022/23 be approved; and in addition, approval to a bid for £7.5m capital for bus priority measures with a local contribution from the Local Transport Plan given, subject to a further review of cost and approval by the County Treasurer and the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport; and

 

(d) that delegated authority be given the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport to make minor amendments to the Bus Service Improvement Plan following the consultation and response from the Department for Transport (DfT).

Minutes:

(Councillors Biederman, Brazil, Connett, Dewhirst, Hannaford, Hodgson and

Whitton attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).

 

The Cabinet considered the Report of the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment (PTE/21/33), which sought approval of the main principles of a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), a public consultation and proposed bid to Government. The Report had been circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.

 

Bus was the main form of public transport in Devon, providing services to a large range of people, many of whom had no alternative means of transport. The opportunity to bid for extra funding would provide a quantum leap in

how the bus service operated in the future and the bid was the first step to engage with Government on how best to improve the current service and how it should be funded.

 

The Report set out the framework for the implementation of the aims and objectives of the Government’s National Bus Strategy – Buses Back Better (which aimed to make buses greener, more frequent, more reliable, easier to understand and use, better co-ordinated and cheaper) and how these would be applied to the Devon through the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).

 

The Strategy set out a way forward for the Council and its local bus operators to work together and form an Enhanced Partnership (EP) and a timetable was included within the Report, noting that by April 2022 the EP had to be in place as new discretionary forms of funding would only be available through this mechanism.

 

The DfT was looking for ambitious plans to improve local bus services and the Council planned to respond with the following proposals:

 

·         bus service improvements including improvement to rural services, evening and Sunday services, inter-urban services, Devon “Lynx” services and city and town services;

·         Bus Priority i.e. significant increases in bus priority to make the bus an attractive alternative to private transport;

·         Infrastructure (consideration of the whole journey and to establish a positive passenger experience);

·         Fares (seeking funding to reduce fares to make travel by bus better value);

·         Single network;

·         Future vehicles (targets for moving towards zero emission vehicles);

·         Passenger experience and the development of a Bus Passengers’ Charter;

·         Integrated transport;

·         Community Transport and the opportunity to further develop and integrate services;

·         Working with neighbouring authorities;

·         Impact of COVID19; and

·         links with other strategies and developments

 

The Head of Service’s Report contained an Impact Assessment for the attention of Members. The aim of the Plan was to improve bus services and attract more people on to them. The levels of improvement would very much depend on how much money was received from Government, but the overarching aim of the Plan was to encourage bus services for everyone to use and therefore there were no unmanageable issues arising in the Impact Assessment.

 

The Council had remained a strong supporter of public transport and had maintained financial support over a number of years. The opportunities provided by the National Bus Strategy were welcomed and the suggested improvements set out in the Report were an ambitious opportunity to put local bus services at the heart of the future transport network and offer a real alternative to private transport.

 

The matter having been debated and the options and/or alternatives and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, sustainability (including carbon impact), risk management, equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact) set out in the Head of Service’s Report and/or referred to above having been considered:

 

it was MOVED by Councillor Davis, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and

 

RESOLVED

 

(a) that the main principles of a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) to be

agreed in partnership with local bus companies be endorsed;

 

(b) that the forthcoming public consultation on the main recommendations within the County Council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan be approved;

 

(c) that the proposed bid to the Government of approximately £34m per year (revenue) and with a local contribution based on the emerging allocated revenue budget for 2022/23 be approved; and in addition, approval to a bid for £7.5m capital for bus priority measures with a local contribution from the Local Transport Plan given, subject to a further review of cost and approval by the County Treasurer and the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport; and

 

(d) that delegated authority be given the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport to make minor amendments to the Bus Service Improvement Plan following the consultation and response from the Department for Transport (DfT).

 

 

(NB: The Impact Assessment referred to above may be viewed alongside Minutes of this meeting and may also be available on the Impact Assessment Webpages).

 

Supporting documents: