Ambitions to improve bus services across North Yorkshire are at the heart of a proposal county councillors will be asked to approve this month.
At its meeting on 22 June, North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive will consider a recommendation to create an Enhanced Partnership with local bus operators.
This would secure continued access to national emergency funding for the bus sector through the Government’s Covid-19 Bus Services Support Grant, which is worth £27.3m a week nationally. It would also ensure the authority was eligible for any new sources of funding from the Government’s £3bn National Bus Strategy.
An Enhanced Partnership would see the County Council and local bus operators working more closely together to improve services. Early engagement has already taken place with operators to ensure a productive partnership could be developed to deliver improvements for passengers.
The National Bus Strategy aims to transform bus services across the country ensuring buses are more frequent, more reliable, easier to understand and use, better co-ordinated and cheaper. It requires local transport authorities to commit to establishing Enhanced Partnerships, or another option, by the end of June. The partnerships must be delivered by April 2022. The Government also requires local transport authorities to publish a Bus Service Improvement Plan by the end of October this year, detailing how they propose to improve services.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said:
We value the close relationship with our local bus operators and are committed to supporting reliable and well-used bus services for a number of reasons. In North Yorkshire, public transport, and especially buses, play a really important role in supporting our rural communities and helping our residents to remain independent. Efficient bus services also enable and encourage us to leave our car at home in favour of more sustainable transport, which reduces congestion, lowers pollution and helps us keep fit.