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Stagecoach partners with Kent County Council to develop ambitious bus improvement plans

10 Nov 2021

Stagecoach has partnered with Kent County Council (KCC) to develop ambitious plans to improve bus services and get more passengers to swap their cars for greener public transport.

It comes after Britain’s biggest bus operator confirmed it has supported the development of 60 of the 84 Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) submitted by local authorities to the government as part of its National Bus Strategy for England.

In Kent, it has worked with KCC to develop ambitious plans – reflecting months of discussions and consultation with the public to ensure the plans reflect the needs of local communities.

The plans, which were submitted to the Department for Transport on 29th October, include initiatives to lower fares, speed up bus journeys, boost accessibility and connections in city centres and rural areas, and improve customer information.

Headline initiatives for the BSIPs covering Kent include:

Possible use of innovative alternatives to the conventional bus such as Demand Responsive Transport
New and improved infrastructure for operators and passengers including bus priority measures and enhanced waiting facilities
Simplified fares and multi-operator tickets with additional off-bus and cashless purchasing options
Improved online and roadside information
Closely working with highway authorities and utility companies to improve bus provision and the management of roadworks

Stagecoach, which has been involved in the development of more plans than any other operator in the country, believes the regional bus strategies can help deliver improved services for customers, create healthier, more connected communities and support the country’s net zero ambitions.

It is urging the government to focus funding on plans that will make a practical difference to the costs and reliability of bus travel and attract people back to public transport after the damaging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The recent Autumn Budget and Spending Review confirmed that more than £3 billion of new funding will be available for buses over the current Parliament.

Stagecoach has also called on the UK Government to ensure that smaller local authorities outside of England’s big city regions do not fall victim to a “postcode lottery” of funding for their ambitious bus improvement plans.

Joel Mitchell, Managing Director for Stagecoach South East, said: “We’re pleased to have worked very closely with local authorities in Kent on the development of ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plans. 

“These plans have huge potential to help get the country back on board the bus by delivering lower fares, faster and more reliable journeys, better connections in city centres and more rural areas, and improved customer information.

“It’s important now that the increased funding for buses promised by the government is now delivered so these bold plans can be brought to life. Huge investment has already been committed to public transport improvements in the metropolitan Combined Authority areas outside London. Sufficient funding must also be given to smaller regions, including in rural areas which have smaller populations but where buses provide vital connectivity to local communities. 

“Bus networks are key to Britain’s towns and cities and supporting the country’s net zero ambitions. The quickest way to help leverage the power of buses to support this is by getting motorists out of cars and onto buses which would drive huge reductions in carbon emissions.”

Figures published by the Confederation of Passenger Transport show that UK citizens switching just one journey a month from car to bus would deliver a cut of 2m tonnes in annual carbon emissions. 

Stagecoach has recently proposed a package of policy interventions to kick-start the country’s town and city centres, boost health and well-being, and help deliver stretching government targets to reach net zero by 2050. 

The proposals include tax incentives, discounted fares and a national bus marketing campaign to match the recently launched advertising push to attract consumers back to trains. The company has also called for reform of motoring tax and a clear government roadmap of investment to support decarbonisation of bus sector and deliver 4,000 new promised electric buses in England.