Bus stop markings on a road

A £61million plan to boost local bus services in Staffordshire over the next five years has been unveiled.

Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet will decide today (19th June) whether to push ahead with the request for the money, despite missing out on government funding previously.

The Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) includes proposals for new and extended routes, longer operating hours and increased frequencies in areas such as Lichfield and Burntwood over the next 12 months.

There are also longer term plans to revamp bus stations, introduce a young person’s travel card and roll out real-time passenger information at busy stops.

It comes after the all councils were asked to publish a new or updated BSIP this month, in order to secure the release of funding for 2024-25.

According to Staffordshire’s plan, passenger bus journeys in the county have fallen by 44% since 2017, with a “significant drop” in the distance travelled by bus over the last ten years.

The proposals to support local services are set to cost around £6million this year, subject to funding being approved, with a further £24million asked for to support routes over the next four years, £8million for fare promotion schemes and £23million for capital projects.

The county council had previously requested £113million to support a BSIP in 2021, but Staffordshire was among a number of areas in England which missed out on funding.

The introduction to the new BSIP says:

“We were disappointed not to secure funding for our first BSIP. We have learnt from this and now set out a clear and realistic vision to create a sustainable bus network and encourage more people to choose a bus as their preferred form of transport.

“The BSIP, along with our emerging Local Transport Plan, puts buses at the heart of our sustainable transport offer and contributes to many of the council’s wider objectives – connecting residents to jobs and education, reducing carbon emissions, and improving public health.”

Staffordshire County Council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan

The proposals for supporting bus services in 2024-25 include extended operating hours, routes and frequency in Lichfield, Burntwood and Chase Terrace.

It would also see a new route introduced to serve the National Memorial Arboretum.

The BSIP would also ensure “socially necessary” services with lower numbers of passengers in Lichfield are able to continue.

The county council’s assistant director for connectivity and sustainability Dave Atkinson said:

“We want Staffordshire people to be better connected with improved travel options. While we understand that for some people buses are essential, we want to encourage more to choose them as an alternative to car use.

“We understand that this can only be achieved through ongoing improvements to services and facilities.

“While the county council is not responsible for bus services, we have a role as the transport authority to work with operators to support improved services, coordinating these across the county and securing external funding to enable this to happen.

“Our Bus Service Improvement Plan sets out how we aim to achieve this, working closely with operators and listening to residents so we can target funding effectively.”

Dave Atkinson
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Veteran ex army
29 days ago

Why not introduce a veterans bus card for cheaper travel.

Ben
29 days ago

I hope these extended hours cover the X3 – Birmingham. The first bus from Lichfield is 0722 and the last bus going to Lichfield is 1707. Basically unusable as an alternative commuting option to the train unless you work on Corporation Street itself.

Susan Pinnock
29 days ago

I hope these New bus Services include the Rural areas. Like Hammerwich and Surrounding Areas 🙏🙏🙏

Carl Sholl
29 days ago

Lots of public funding going to private companies run for profit not for the benefit of passengers. Bring bus services into public ownership. It’s not good enough to say the county council is not responsible. Who is responsible? Who can we hold accountable?

John Allen
29 days ago

Fully agree, Carl, the privatisation of public services has been good news for private companies, but a disaster for the public. The highest rail fares in Europe, companies providing services being subsidised from the public purse, which is surely the worst of both worlds, and the loss of the basic principle that public services should be for the benefit of the public, not the shareholders of private companies. Just look at the current fiasco of water companies discharging sewage into rivers to see what a bad idea privatisation is. We can thank the Tories for this mess.