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SPT sets out path towards bus reform

Written by SPT 14/03/2024

SPT sets out path towards bus reform

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) is considering the recommendations arising from the Strathclyde Regional Bus Strategy (SRBS) Options Development and Appraisal work at its Partnership meeting this Friday (15 March). Should they be approved, SPT will then consult widely on the recommendations over the following months.

The SRBS considered a range of delivery models and following appraisal of all the options against a range of criteria, the recommendations proposed to SPT’s Partnership Board include that SPT should commence work on establishing local bus franchising, in line with the requirements of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019.

Following a full review by consultants, the recommendations state that franchising provides the greatest certainty of making significant improvement to the network to achieve passenger growth, better accessibility for all, and deliver wider public policy outcomes.

However, the report also estimates the cost of carrying the franchising process to the point of implementation is c. £15m and could take between five to seven years to establish.

Therefore, the recommendations also propose actions to see more immediate improvements and include a proposal that SPT and its partners should also progress with Bus Service Improvements Partnership (BSIP) arrangements in the medium term.  This would provide a firm basis for private and public sector commitments to arrest further passenger decline, stablise and improve the bus network while we work collectively to establish the franchise model.

The appraisal identified that BSIPs generally perform well against most criteria and can be implemented relatively quickly with suitable investment. However, the report is also clear that the success of any delivery model is reliant on improving bus priority, reducing congestion and adequate resources to fund a fully functioning network. 

SPT Chief Executive Valerie Davidson said: 

“The recommendations being taken forward to the SPT Partnership for wider consultation sets a strong approach to tackle a declining bus market, build for growth, and deliver a network that is attractive, accessible, and affordable to passengers and communities. 

“While local bus franchising offers the greatest certainty for the best outcomes, it will take time to establish, and maintaining the status quo in that time is not sustainable. The facts are we need to do something now to halt the declining bus market and BSIPs, supported by suitable investment, offer scope for significant an interim improvement which could start that work while we begin the process of establishing a local franchise model and start to build for growth. 

“I encourage everyone with an interest in the future of bus services in the region to participate in our upcoming consultation and let us know what you think of our proposed options for the future of bus in the region.”

The upcoming consultation to look at the preferred options will launch at the beginning of April.