Slow progress on bus reform ‘quick wins’


The Cambridge and Peterborough metro mayor has hosted the first meeting of a long-awaited ‘bus reform task force’, which is working on a strategic bus review for the area. 

The review is considering a range of reforms including: 

  • longer minimum contracts for contracted services
  • optimisation of the contracted services network
  • providing better information to bus users and non-users
  • improved bus stop signage and infrastructure
  • and marketing the bus as a mode of transport, in particular to drive mode shift from cars.

Taking this forward has proven slow progress as the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Bus Reform Task Force only met recently in the Ely office of mayor James Palmer.

Mr Palmer chairs the first meeting of the task force

This was nearly a year after a council report highlighted an opportunity to ‘start delivering improvements to the network as quickly as possible’.

These reforms would ‘require close cooperation with bus operators and will explore operators’ appetite for partnership approaches such as Enhanced Partnerships, providing experience to inform the Delivery Options Review workstream’, it said.

The (Strategic) Delivery Options workstream is described as ‘the key workstream within the programme’ and is developing the business cases for options including enhanced partnerships and bus franchising'.

A spokesperson for the authority confirmed that this was the task force that has just met for the first time.

Mr Palmer said over a year ago: ‘It is important we seize opportunities to improve the services in the short term. I back the recommendation in the report to work with our partners, including bus operators and councils, through a new taskforce, to see real change delivered quickly, so people can start to see improved services in the short term.’

A progress report to the authority’s Transport and Infrastructure committee last month stated that a bus reform officer task group was established in April but that ‘officer level work has now reached a stage where it is appropriate to convene the Bus Reform Task Force’.

The January 2019 press statement also stated that the business case, as well as the necessary audit and consultation are earmarked for completion in early 2021, ‘which would set a new precedent nationally for speed of delivery’.

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