A new Bill will give councils the power to deliver better journeys for passengers while reducing congestion during rush hour…
A Bill designed to increase bus use, cut congestion, and improve local economies has been introduced to parliament.
The new Buses Bill will give local authorities the ability work with operators to introduce smart tickets that work across a range of public transport to make journeys easier.
With over 4.65 billion bus journeys completed during the 2014-15 financial year, this form of transport is the most used by the public. Additionally, buses play a significant role in reducing congestion. Without buses rush hour congestion in city centres would be 21 per cent higher, which would cost millions in lost time.
The Bill will see a push for technological advances, such as on-board Wi-Fi, and new apps including data on fares, timetables and routes. This could help increase the number of journeys via bus by an extra five million a year.
Roads Minister Andrew Jones said: “Good bus services can help cut congestion and deliver better journeys for hard-working people, helping them get around and get on.
“We are determined to increase bus usage and these measures are designed to give councils access to a range of powers to help deliver regular, reliable services for all.
“We are also looking to end the frustration of not knowing when the next service will turn up, by giving software developers the data they need to produce new apps.”
Council will enter into “enhanced partnerships” with bus companies. Existing partnerships have seen councils achieve success, with passenger numbers growing by 13 per cent in the year after new buses with unique liveries were launched in Portsmouth and Waterlooville.
In Oxford, the bus strategy saw Stagecoach, Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel introduce a SmartZone card, which enables passengers to travel on any bus in Oxford.
In areas with an elected mayor, bus franchising will be allowed where appropriate. Those without an elected mayor will be able to implement this with the permission of the Transport Secretary.