All operators in Bristol would be invited to commit to the deal to help improve their peak hour services. Initial discussions have taken place with First Bus (West of England) about the proposed partnership agreement, which would start with upgrades and extra services to the number 2 bus route. This would include bus stop enhancements, amending traffic signal phasing and some junction changes. The council has also had initial meetings with Stagecoach and CT Plus, but no firm commitments have yet been reached.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said:
“People living and moving through one of the UK’s major cities should have a genuine choice about how they travel. By investing in infrastructure to support sustainable options, we make buses a realistic alternative. 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.
“We do not have direct control over bus services and cannot force providers to maintain loss-making routes, however we can work together and create the infrastructure for bus priority to help speed up and expand services.”
The proposed deal requires the city’s main operator, First Bus, to invest in more cleaner buses and additional employment and training opportunities to support the doubling of peak-hour frequency on core bus routes.
Cllr Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Transport at Bristol City Council, added:
“This is an exciting opportunity to further increase the number of people taking the bus to work, as Bristol bucks national trends and grows passenger numbers. This is the first time in decades Bristol is properly investing in public transport infrastructure which is much-needed to build the conditions for bus services to be a success.
“Within the current deregulated bus market, we do not have the powers we need to decide how bus services are run. However through greater collaboration with the bus industry, we could prioritise commuter services by giving space to buses so they can maintain more reliable, uninterrupted journeys.
“We are calling on private operators to get on board with us to solve one of our city’s biggest challenges.”
For more information about what the bus deal contains, read the Cabinet report for the 1 October meeting via the council’s website.