Bristol to push for new deal on buses

 

Bristol City Council hopes to sign bus operators up to a new partnership 'deal' involving a doubling of peak time commuter services in return for bus prioritisation and infrastructure.

It would also see the council work with operators to introduce an improved ticketing system with the aim of providing fixed price contactless tickets by 2022.

The Bristol Bus Deal will be considered at the council’s cabinet on 1 October.

A report to cabinet argues for a Memorandum of Understanding with relevant bus operators offering 'extensive bus priority measures, policy development that encourages commuter bus use and the investment in newer, cleaner buses, enhanced bus service frequencies in peak hours and improved reliability'.

The proposal is for Bristol to be part of a 'nested deal with the other West of England authorities' that enables each authority to sign up individual deals along a route, corridor or geographic area.

The report adds that Bristol does not have control of the bus network under the deregulated system. While this is technically true it could take control by securing a franchising system - however this would require approval from the Department for Transport, and appears to have been discounted by the council.

West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is considering options for the further development of partnership arrangements, and franchising options under its bus strategy, the report notes.

Under this specific deal, Bristol hopes to secure 'quick wins' along key commuter routes as it develops plans for integrated mass transit throughout the city.

All operators in Bristol would be invited to commit to the deal, however following initial talks tangible progress only appears to have been made with First Bus (West of England).

Talks with Stagecoach and CT Plus yielded 'no firm commitments'.

The Bus Deal would involve a high level commitment from First including investment in more, cleaner buses and a doubling of peak hour frequency on core routes.

Marvin Rees, mayor of Bristol, said: 'We will be considering this deal which focuses on improving commuter journeys to ensure buses are a more reliable and credible everyday option.

'The status quo of delays and traffic congestion is not an option. Our growing city needs an efficient, integrated transport network and the bus deal is a step toward making that a reality. By further increasing public transport demand in the Bristol region, we also build the business case for a mass transit system.'

A 10% improvement in connectivity by local bus services is associated with a 3.6% reduction in social deprivation, the report notes.

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