Introduction  

 
  Local Bus Consultation

- Supported evening and Sunday local bus services

- Getting the right type of service

- Proposals around Devolution of Local Bus Services

Essex County Council (ECC) is reviewing the way it supports local bus services which operate on evenings and Sundays. It does not include those which are run commercially across the County. This consultation gives you the opportunity to let us know your views about the proposals. The consultation will end at 17:00 on Friday 22nd March 2019.

Background

We know that buses are important to many people. They help people reach school, college and work, to shop, go out and visit friends and to get to health appointments.

As is the case in most of England outside London, the majority of the bus network in Essex (around 85%) is run commercially. Commercial bus services do not form part of this review, this includes most of the daytime and peak period services in and between towns.

The remaining 15% of services are not commercially viable and the commercial bus operators will not therefore run them.

As Essex’s local transport authority, where no commercial service is provided, the County Council has a duty to consider whether one is needed and if, in the Council’s view it is, then to provide it.

How the Council decides whether a service is needed and what services it will support are set out in its Local Bus Strategy 2015 to 2020, which can be found here (https://www.essexhighways.org/uploads/files/local%20bus%20service%20priority%20policy%202015%20to%202020.pdf).

The services provided under this policy are paid for by Essex taxpayers. The supported network mainly operates in rural areas, and at less popular times for travel, such as in the evenings and on Sundays. At present ECC spends around £9m of taxpayers money on these services each year.

This consultation is looking principally at how ECC will support evening and Sunday services and at how we work with smaller other local authorities in Essex to provide services.

ECC has a strong record for supporting local bus services, especially when compared to the situation with many other local transport authorities across the country, where there have been significant reductions in the level of support offered. ECC remains committed to supporting an effective and efficient bus service network offering value for money to the taxpayer in the services it provides.

However the strong financial pressure on all local government funding means that ECC has to look very carefully at how it provides all its services to make sure that the limited funding available is focused where it will do most good.

What we are consulting over

This consultation is set out in 3 sections and outlines the three proposals that ECC are considering:

  1. The level of service we fund in the evenings and on Sundays. The evening journeys affected are listed in Appendix A and the Sunday services affected are listed in Appendix B. Only the ECC funded elements of any services are affected – where elements of services are run commercially these are not part of the consultation. There are also 2 evening services that exceed £5.00 Cost Per Passenger Journey (the level above which ECC would not normally support). Therefore we are proposing to withdraw those 2 services.
  2. Proposals to get the right type of service to meet your travel needs by making more use of alternate ways for providing services, such as smaller vehicles, demand responsive transport or taxi-buses.
  3. Giving local people more control over what, when and where services are run by adopting a policy of devolution. This would give local communities and their representatives at district, town and parish level the opportunity and funding to commission local bus services in their area, based on their understanding of local needs.
   
 
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