Warwickshire is set to receive a share of the £10.5 million that has been allocated to the West Midlands and aims to protect and improve the areas bus networks up to 2025.
The news comes on the back of the announcement, made on Thursday 28 September by Roads Minister Richard Holden, that six local authorities in the West Midlands will receive the second £10 million allocation of the Bus Service Improvement Plan+ (BSIP+) for 2024-25.
At a recent meeting of Warwickshire County Council’s Cabinet, approval was given for the list of prioritised actions from the Warwickshire Bus Service Improvement Plan (WBSIP) and that are supported by the Warwickshire County Council Cross Party Working Group that was created to look at bus service improvements. These actions include:
- A fully integrated bus services on the Warwickshire Bus Network;
- The availability of simple multi-bus operator tickets, multi-modal tickets and ‘tap on / tap off’ fare payment, like London;
- Bus priority measures on the local highway network;
- High quality and standardised information for all passengers;
- Better turn-up and go (demand responsive transport) service frequencies that keep running into the evening and at weekends;
- Increasing bus use through behaviour change activities that encourage modal shift; and
- Financial support for bus operators.
Cllr Jan Matecki, Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Transport and Planning said: “The announcement of £10 million of funding for the West Midlands as part of the government’s BSIP+ for 2024/25, is fantastic news for our residents, businesses and the diverse range of bus operators that we have in the Warwickshire.
“Bus passenger numbers have noticeably increased since the pandemic, however, there is work to do in further increasing bus patronage to pre-pandemic levels and beyond. Buses are the most utilised public transport mode in the county and remain a fantastic and viable option for travel across Warwickshire. Not only are they cost-effective – particularly at the moment with the £2 single capped adult fare pilot – they are also much better for the environment, promote social inclusion and provide more health benefits compared to car travel.
“We recognise that work has to be done to improve bus services across the board if we are to encourage more of our residents to commit to the modal shift of using our fantastic network of buses and are confident that the increased funding and our robust plans for Warwickshire’s buses are a positive leap in that direction.”
Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “Buses are the most popular form of public transport, and so many residents in the West Midlands rely on their local service to get to work, attend medical appointments, and see loved ones.
“We are delivering for local communities across six local authorities by providing a further £10.5 million to improve and protect essential local services, as we continue to boost transport connections in the West Midlands to help grow the economy.”
From introducing new services, or enhancing existing ones in the weekends or evenings, or to making tickets cheaper through reduced fares for elderly or young people, local authorities can use the new BSIP+ allocations in several ways to improve bus services for all residents in their areas.
There is also the option for local authorities to use the investment to protect bus services with low passenger numbers, so that residents who rely on them for essential services can continue to access their local bus.
Throughout September, the Council will be supporting Bus User UK’s catch the bus month 2023 and more details of this can be found here: https://bususers.org/catchthebusmonth/