Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Lead Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at the County Council approved the recommendations at his public decision meeting (held on Thursday 28 October 2021). Councillor Humby commented:
“I fully support the Government’s ambition to improve the speed and permanency of our recovery from the effects of COVID-19 and this Plan for improving services and infrastructure is equally ambitious on behalf of Hampshire residents. I am very pleased to approve the Plan and its submission to the Department for Transport. The National Bus Back Better Strategy is an exciting opportunity to improve bus services outside of London and make them more attractive to encourage more people to take the bus to work, school or leisure. We now need to see the Government’s ambition backed by additional funding coming to areas like Hampshire as well as the big cities in the midlands and the north.
“We are fortunate in Hampshire to have a long-standing, strong track record of working closely in partnership with bus operators in our local authority area which, prior to COVID-19, saw the county buck national trends with the number of bus passengers increasing year on year. This, together with our investment in schemes such as the Eclipse Bus Rapid Transit scheme between Fareham and Gosport, quality infrastructure like Andover Bus Station and the use of Government funding to provide contactless ticket machines and live, up-to-date passenger information at bus stops, puts us in a really good position for improving services further through ‘Bus Back Better’.
“Similarly, anything that can be done to improve the reliability of bus journey times will help bus services to be even better and so I am happy to agree the introduction of a policy that supports enforcement of bus priority restrictions. This is completely in line with the national strategy which recognises that ‘robust enforcement of traffic restrictions can bring benefits for buses.”
The Authority’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) sets out the vision and the proposed steps that would be taken to achieve higher standards in bus travel in Hampshire. It aims to achieve a substantial increase in bus use across the whole of the county by creating the conditions that will both attract investment for bus services and infrastructure, as well as grow the number of passengers.
The ability to carry out enforcement when bus priority measures are contravened will achieve greater compliance with restrictions which, in turn, will see improved bus journey times, service reliability, passenger confidence in and satisfaction with bus services, as well as an increase in bus usage.