A stronger partnership between the county council and bus companies can lead to improved services for Staffordshire communities, according to a report published this week.
While the county council does not run bus services, it has a role in shaping them and supporting an improved network for residents.
Now it is looking to build an enhanced partnership (EP) with local bus companies to develop services across the county where possible. An enhanced partnership arrangement will also support the county council whenever it bids to central government for additional funding for improved local transport in years to come.
If approved by the county council’s cabinet next month, its existing bus service improvement plan will be fully reviewed and form the basis of the enhanced partnership arrangement. This will then be submitted to government to demonstrate Staffordshire’s commitment to better and expanded services.
It is hoped that the county can reverse the decrease in bus travel experienced over the pandemic period. In 2022/23 there were approximately 8.3million adult passenger journeys in Staffordshire, compared to 12.6million in 2019/20.
The government has allocated funding to the county council to support improved bus services from July this year to April 2024. Funding for the following year will be received when the enhanced partnership has been established.
The county council also continually speaks to its neighbouring authorities on transport issues across their boundaries.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet support member for highways Robert Pritchard said: “Improving the county’s bus services wherever possible is important to our communities – enabling people to access the services they need, connecting with friends, family and work and helping to boost the economy.
“While we’re not responsible for bus services, we work closely with companies operating in Staffordshire to support them in shaping the network and can access central government funding as part of this.
The county council is also committed to working towards a low emission bus network and encouraging more people to use buses to reduce traffic on our roads.”
The Staffordshire Bus Strategy will be discussed by members of the Prosperous Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday July 6.