Bus funding bid disappointment

6 April 2022

Cheshire West and Chester Council is very disappointed to hear that their £37 million bid to the Department for Transport for funding to improve bus services has been unsuccessful.

In October 2021 the Council submitted an ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) for the borough aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bus.

Councillor Karen Shore, Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport said:

“I am shocked that not only did Councils have to compete against each other, but most of us haven’t received any support to make crucial improvements to our bus services.

“This is very disappointing news, for our communities. Our bid to improve public transport across the borough was very ambitious and we will be asking the Department for Transport for feedback on our application.

“Good bus services help areas to reduce congestion in towns and stop rural communities being cut off.  They’re vital in tackling social exclusion and loneliness and can help cut air pollution and reduce carbon emissions.

“As part of the bidding process we have developed a new Enhanced Partnership between the Council and bus operators across the borough that is being submitted to the Department for Transport later this month.

“The Department for Transport has confirmed they will be providing additional funding for a dedicated bus Enhanced Partnership Officer for the next three years. They also told us further BSIP funding may become available in the coming months, and we wouldn’t be required to provide a new application for this.

“Despite the disappointment we are still progressing our exciting plans to introduce an on demand rural bus service following a grant of £1.075m from the Rural Mobility Fund for a three-year trial of an innovative public transport service for our residents living in rural and suburban areas.”

The Council are now working with all the bus companies operating commercial services in Cheshire West and Chester on an improvement plan that will encourage people to use them more often.

An Enhanced Partnership has two parts: a plan with a clear vision of the improvements to bus services that the Partnership is aiming to deliver plus an Enhanced Partnership scheme, setting out the precise detail of how the BSIP vision and objectives will be achieved.

The Enhanced Partnership scheme objectives were reliant on the £37 million to provide more frequent, faster and reliable services across the borough, lowering fares to make bus travel more affordable and a simpler fares structure to help people get the best value ticket for the journey(s) they are making.

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