Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
On 15th March 2021, the Department for Transport (DfT) published its wide-ranging National Bus Strategy (NBS) entitled “Bus Back Better”.
It is a strategy which sets out ambitious goals covering a range of key areas supporting bus operation. The NBS is backed by £3 billion of investment across England and a commitment to repurpose current funding. It is aimed at seeing passengers benefiting from “more frequent, more reliable, easier to use, easier to understand, better coordinated and cheaper bus services.”
There is an expectation that LTAs will work closely in partnership with bus operators, particularly those with commercial services, to better integrate bus routes and ticketing to make travel easier for passengers.
The strategy sets an ambitious timeline for LTAs to comply with the strategy, which allows continued access to both current and future funding. Operators also need to co-operate with this process to retain their funding streams.
The timelines dictate that it has not been possible to follow normal governance processes for development and sign off of this version of the BSIP but officers have sought to engage with all Members and other stakeholders throughout its formation and have developed a program that will allow for greater input to the version that will be formed following understanding of the funding settlement.
The required timelines to be met are as follows:
1. LTAs and bus operators must commit in principle to the introduction of EPs by 1st July 2021 – Complete
2. LTAs are required to publish a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) by the end of October 2021 – The purpose of this decision.
3. The EP will be developed in line with the Statutory processes to achieve implementation of the EP Plan and EP Schemes by April 2022.
The NBS effectively narrows the decision down to just two options. Firstly, to comply with the procedure and timescales set out by the DfT, or secondly, not to proceed with this second part of the process (BSIP publication). The latter course of action would put funding from the Government’s BSOG and CBSSG schemes at risk, taking some £7 million of annual funding out of Kent’s bus network.
As Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, I agree to:
• Publish on the KCC website and submit to DfT the pre-settlement funding version of Kent’s Bus Service Improvement Plan and
• Delegate to the Corporate Director, Growth, Environment and Transport, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport to approve any final amendments to reflect additional government guidance and non-material changes to the text of the Plan, prior to its publication.
Publication date: 21/10/2021
Date of decision: 21/10/2021
Effective from: 29/10/2021