The Sustainable Transport Policy Manager
presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each
Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'A' to these Minutes
in the Minute Book.
Officers responded to comments and requests
for clarification, details included:
- Under this
proposal, buses would continue to be operated as commercial
enterprises, with the odd exception where some routes were
subsidised by the Council.
- The conurbation was
lucky enough to be served by two good bus operators who had both
invested in the quality of their vehicles, many of which provided
services such as wi-fi, phone charging points and contactless
- Go South Coast was
considering the introduction of arrangements that would be similar
to that of TfL’s Oyster system.
- Routes were
introduced by operators and were regularly reviewed. It should be
noted that the council maintained a dialogue with operators to
ensure that areas were being served and that the council did have
the option to subsidise less profitable routes where appropriate
and budget allowed for this to happen – it would be possible
to bid for additional funding from the government going
- Baseline mapping
was being undertaken at present to establish gaps in the bus
network and inform future bidding opportunities. The data from this
exercise would be used to assess the need in the area.
- Bearing in mind the
tight timescale that had been set by the Government, the option of
franchising was not feasible to pursue at this stage, hence the
proposal to pursue the option of an Enhanced Partnership (EP).
- The move to
franchising of services would present considerable risk financially
and in terms of passenger expectations, and reputational risk to
the council. Additionally, the Council did not currently have the
capacity to introduce franchising at this time.
- In selecting the
proposed approach, officers had been pragmatic and franchising does
still remain an option for the future.
- There were some
issues between the main operators in the area and taking the EP
option was expected to remedy this.
- The EP would
include all bus operators in the area, not just the main two, with
the exception of the open-top tour buses.
- Officers had
utilised information that had been gathered from both users and
non-users of public transport to establish the priorities of
- The importance of
integrating transportation systems was recognised and officers were
focussed on the ‘first and last mile’ of
commuters’ journeys, particularly in regard to cycle access,
and were working with Beryl Bikes to explore options.
- There was no BSIP
document to share at present as it was still being drafted and
would be considered as a ‘high-level’ plan. Following
the publication of this, detailed solutions would follow with
proposals due to be considered by Cabinet in February 2022.
- There would be an
opportunity for the Council to bid for funding for a young
person’s travel scheme.
- It was recognised
that there were gaps within the existing network, particularly
within the Christchurch area and it was hoped that the introduction
of the EP with the BSIP would help to address this in due
- The ultimate aim of
this proposal was to ensure that bus services appeared more
attractive and to encourage better usage amongst both users and non-users.
- Two tranches of
funding were due to be announced by the Government and the Council
were awaiting more detail to be made available. One tranche would
be based on a formula basis based on the BSIP and the other tranche
of funding would be for higher valued proposals.
- It was expected
that the Government would also provided
funding to kick start some of these changes to allow for a more
commercially viable network that would cover its own costs.
It was moved and
seconded that recommendation (b) to Cabinet be amended to read as
Cabinet delegates authority to the Service Director
for Transport and Engineering in consultation with the Portfolio
Holder for Transport and Sustainability to negotiate, seek
stakeholder views and then publish a Bus Service Improvement Plan
(BSIP) to include a balanced
review of the benefits of moving to a Franchising model within the
next 5 years, with especial regard to the Dorset Metro concept,
multimodal integration, and the development of Mobility as a
service (MAAS) on behalf of the Council by the end of October 2021
in line with the requirements of the National Bus Strategy for
the addition of a third recommendation, to read as
(c) “that the evolving
Bus Service Improvement Plan, including longer term ambitions,
comes back to Cabinet for approval, especially with a view to
bidding via the Western Gateway for funding of wider public
Against – 2
Abstained – 2