June 24, 2022
Improved bus services and better routes for cycling and walking must be at the top of the “transport hierarchy”, England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) said in its new business plan.
EEH said that over the next three years it will plan an integrated regional transportation system “that provides a seamless journey from gate point to destination.” This will include: ticketing and information provision; first mile, last mile, including connectivity to transport hubs; Trip costs; safety and perceptions of safety; reliability; and convenience.
The plan states that the needs of the bus, along with walking, cycling and other forms of shared mobility must be at the “front of a connectivity approach”.
High-quality public transport links, such as the proposed rapid transit systems in Milton Keynes, Hertfordshire and Essex and the greater Cambridge area, will form the backbone of an integrated transport network, the report says. This will enable “smooth and reliable end-to-end journeys for communities in the region”.
“The growth of user-centric transport services, enabled by digital connectivity and facilitated by the spread of contactless payment, continues to transform opportunities for public transport to create new options for integration, ticketing and schedules.”
Only four of the region’s 12 local transport authorities have received funding from the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). “It is recognized that our partners will have different capabilities to achieve the ambitions of improving bus travel in the region,” EEH said.
Additional funding from the DfT will allow EEH to support all local transport authorities to provide BSIPs, implement improved bus partnerships as well as additional support for councils that have not received any BSIP funding.
EEH said it will publish the final version of its bus strategy for the region soon – and work on implementing its recommendations has already begun. This includes plans for a regional bus forum, which will bring together local authorities and bus operators from across the region, sharing best practice and improving understanding of cross-border issues.
“The forum will be a key tool for implementing a delivery framework from the bus strategy. The delivery framework will examine how an integrated, cross-border transport system can be achieved; how to improve journeys, for example by reducing the impact of congestion and improving the passenger experience; and build capacity and capacity of local transport authorities.
Installing mobility hubs that serve local communities offers the opportunity to offer a “frictionless” exchange between modes, primarily bus, rail and active travel, EEH said. “Furthermore, mobility hubs provide an opportunity for integrated mode planning, integrating not only public transport, but also future mobility solutions and a comprehensive network of pedestrian and cycle routes.
Walking and cycling are also an important part of the region’s overall transport system, particularly in Oxford and Cambridge, the business plan says. With additional support from the DfT, EEH is developing an area-wide active travel strategy that will seek to support the levels of walking and cycling that continue to grow in the area.
EEH said it will work with the charity Sustrans to improve the National Cycling Network Oxford-Cambridge ‘Varsity Way’ cycling and walking route.