Next stop: Decision to be made on Hampshire’s plan for improving bus services across the county

Hampshire County Council is set to reach the next important milestone in meeting the ambitions of the Government’s ‘Bus Back Better’ strategy – aimed at driving significant improvements in local bus services (outside of London)

Oct 21 2021

Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Lead Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, is to be asked to approve the Authority’s proposed Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) setting out the vision and the proposed steps that would be taken to achieve higher standards in bus travel in Hampshire. Hampshire’s BSIP aims to be a catalyst for substantially increasing 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.  Agreement is also being sought to undertake a consultation exercise as part of the Government’s BSIP and Enhanced Partnership requirements.

The County Council agreed to sign-up to the national strategy in June 2021 as part of an Enhanced Partnership Scheme for which formal approval will be needed by the Department for Transport (DfT).  The Partnership, if agreed, will be required to be in place by April 2022. However, ahead of that, the County Council is required to submit a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) to the DfT by 31 October 2021, if it is to qualify to bid for a share of the Government’s promised £3 billion in funding for bus travel improvement measures.  

Submission of a BSIP is also essential for the Authority to apply for funding from the Bus Recovery Grant (replacing the Covid-19 Bus Services Support Grant) and the reformed Bus Services Operators Grant (BSOG), of which over £1 million per annum makes up the core local bus budget in Hampshire. 

In working towards the Bus Service Improvement Plan, the County Council has:
- Worked with bus operators to understand the barriers to improved services and passenger growth; 
- Engaged with businesses to obtain their views on local bus services in the county;
- Expanded its existing partnership working with neighbouring local transport authorities (with a view to achieving additional benefits for Hampshire residents);
- Developed proposals for bus infrastructure projects that could be delivered as part of an Enhanced Partnership Scheme;
- Worked in partnership with Hampshire’s local bus operators to look into the potential for a Zero Emissions Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA).

Councillor Humby will be making his decision about whether or not to approve the Bus Service Improvement Plan and agree the recommendation for further consultation at his public decision meeting on 28 October 2021