Network Prioritisation Levelling Up

Network Prioritisation Levelling Up

This forms Worcestershire’s adopted Passenger Transport Strategy and Worcestershire’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). 

We will continue to support the commercial market. Where some transport needs cannot be met by the commercial market, the Council must consider whether it should intervene, by offering organisational, operational or financial support for any additional service provision. 

We will assess our priorities, in the context of funding made available as sustainability of services is critical to the success of any future network.

When considering for funding of routes, priority will be given to areas with higher population density. Where commercial services do not exist, priorities will be considered as follows:

  • urban connections
    • provide a service within urban areas over 15,000 to access the urban centre
  • inter-urban connection
    • provide a connection between urban areas of over 15,000 population
  • where train services exist along those corridors
    • linking to the nearest rail station instead of supporting the whole route
  • provide a service to areas of medium population density (around 7,000 – 15,000)
    • for example Bewdley, Catshill, Pershore, to the nearest town or suitable alternative

For areas of lower urban density, for example Upton-upon-Severn and Tenbury Wells, we will work with Town and Parish Councils, local interest groups and operators in each area to define the most appropriate local solution.

A core strategic network is required within Worcestershire to connect the main urban and inter-urban areas and to ensure this is fit for purpose must be supported by measures to improve the punctuality and reliability of vehicles.

The delivery objectives for Network Prioritisation in this iteration of the BSIP and subject to funding are:

Increase frequency of services on Worcestershire Strategic network (NPF)

It is clear from the analysis provided and from feedback via surveys and consultation Worcestershire’s current network is not fit for purpose especially when compared to other neighbouring and peer authorities.  

Substantial investment is required to Level up the network back to a basic standard with minimum levels of service being achieved across the network. This BSIP sets out deliverable objective to increase frequencies on all strategic corridors in line with National Bus Strategy requirements. 

Initially we will focus on building service levels up, so they are more frequent. We recognise that post covid this needs to be considered on a route-by-route basis but feel that Urban and Inter-urban route frequencies need to be increased across Worcestershire. 

When re-imaging the network we want to improve and simplify how services are presented with branding incorporate wherever feasible.

BSIP Targets

  • NPS1 - increase frequency on Worcestershire Strategic Network corridors
  • NPS2 - increase miles of Commercially run services
  • increase patronage on Worcestershire network (PG)
  • improve customer perception and satisfaction in Worcestershire Core Network (CS)

Increase service level patterns to meet the needs of residents (NPS)

Critical to supporting over-arching network is the need to increase service level patterns where there is no current transport provision as well as look at more evening and weekend services which have been shown to be severely lacking in some areas of the County. 

The network must be useable seven days a week and in evenings and we are considering the best approaches to achieve this which may include alternative service provision such as Demand Responsive Transport (DRT).

Where we have set a priority of delivering high frequency routes along the core strategic route this must be supported by additional services to allow a fully integrated Worcestershire. 

We will consider the best mechanisms to increase service levels which may include alternate service provision. We will integrate services with other modes of transport including Rail and Cycling and ensure that the system is presented as a simple and joined up system.

As Worcestershire Population continues to grow, we must ensure that the network serves new estates, workplaces and trip attractors. 

This must be done as early as possible to encourage sustainable trips with integration of modes being possible through the creation of innovative Mobility Hubs.

BSIP Targets

  • NPS1 Improve access to bus services
  • NPS2 Increase Worcestershire network mileage
  • increase patronage on Worcestershire network (PG)
  • improve customer perception/ satisfaction in Worcestershire Core Network (CS)

Bus Priority - Address operator congestion and pinch points impacting services (NBC)

Worcestershire County Council already has a programme of schemes to improve areas of congestion within the County. Local Bus Operators have provided critical locations that impact the reliability and journey time of services.

Worcestershire BSIP distinguishes the need to improve areas of congestion for all along with the need to deliver a range of bus priority measures specifically for Local Bus Transport only.

Where measures to relieve congestions for all traffic do not resolve reliability for local bus physical bus measures will also be explored.

BSIP Targets

  • NPC1 - creation of a feasibility study on Congestion, Bus Priority and consider a Punctuality Improvement Plan for next iteration of BSIP
  • NPC2 – resolve issues in identified operator congestion spots
  • improve journey time on impacted routes (JT)
  • improve reliability of services on impacted routes (RT)
  • improve public perception of congestion (CS)

Bus Priority - Accelerate the delivery of Measures in Worcestershire (NPD)

During the first phase of the BSIP we will start to introduce intelligent Traffic Light Priority (TSP) to improve the reliability of Local Bus Services with the initial focus being on Strategic Corridors.   

One of the key benefits of Worcestershire Real Time Information System (RTIS) is the ability to give buses ‘intelligent’ TSP at selected junctions. 

Traditionally physical bus lanes have been used, Worcestershire does not have large areas of road-space to accommodate bus lanes so initially we want to introduce virtual traffic light priority in areas of the County to improve journey time on strategic routes and improve the overall reliability of services in the County. 

The Worcestershire RTIS will use central TSP instead, where the central RTIS will communicate directly with the UTC system to request priority using RTIG standards. 

If a junction is not on UTC, it can have TSP added using an outstation transmission unit (OTU) for UTC communications, without having to have full UTC control.

The traffic signal controller configuration will need to be amended for each junction to accept the TSP request and to define how it is to be actioned if granted

A reporting function will also be delivered to record the number of times TSP requests are made in terms of junctions and services for user-defined periods and allow for more detailed monitoring on the impact that TSP has on Journey time and reliability.

As well as delivering virtual bus priority during the first phase of our BSIP we will aim to carry out a feasibility study to understand where physical measures could be introduced.  

Worcestershire is committed to improving bus priority but due to the levels of service that currently operate on its network the first element will be to significantly increase frequency and service levels which combined with improvements in infrastructure, improvements to fares and sustained and improved marketing we feel will deliver modal shift. 

The impact of modal shift maybe such that physical bus priority measures may not be required in all areas.

BSIP Targets

  • NPC1 - creation of a feasibility study on Congestion, Bus Priority and consider a Punctuality Improvement Plan for next iteration of BSIP
  • NPC2 - increase number of bus priority measures in operation (Physical/ Virtual) 
  • NPD1 - reduction in TSP requests at Junctions 
  • improve journey time on impacted routes (JT)
  • improve reliability of services on impacted routes (RT)
  • improve public perception of congestion (CS)

Bus Priority - Introduction of additional bus clearways and look to make these enforceable (NPE)

Worcestershire has already delivered enforcement on one key pinch point due to operator issues and is committed to look at additional bus clearways focusing initially on the core strategic route network to enables journeys to be quicker and more reliable.

Parking enforcement of bus clearways is currently ANPR enforceable and from December legislation will also allow for ANPR enforcement of several moving traffic regulations including yellow box junctions.   Identification of locations will form part of the initial feasibility study

Any additional funding made from enforceable schemes should be ring-fenced to support the sustainability of Worcestershire’s passenger Transport network.

BSIP Targets

  • NPC1 - creation of a feasibility study on Congestion, Bus Priority
    • consider a Punctuality Improvement Plan for next iteration of BSIP
  • NPC2 - increase number of bus priority measures in operation (Physical/ Virtual) 
  • Improve journey time on impacted routes (JT)
  • improve reliability of services on impacted routes (RT)
  • improve public perception of congestion (CS)

Bus Priority – Mitigate the impact of Roadworks (NPR)

We recognise the impact that Roadworks have on operators and on passengers. We want to ensure that there is more consistency in how information is provided to operators and to Local Bus Users. Planned roadworks are already published by the local authority.

As part of the BSIP we want to consider more innovative methods of delivering Road Work information and for how route diversions could be delivered (including use of priority measures) to improve the impact of both planned and emergency roadworks.

We want to improve passenger information related to roadworks and recognise the adverse impact that this can have on travellers. 

BSIP Targets

  • NPC1 - creation of a feasibility study on Congestion, Bus Priority and consider a Punctuality Improvement Plan for next iteration of BSIP
  • NPR1 – improve number of planned roadworks notified to bus operators (%)
  • NPR2 – improve number  of emergency roadworks notified to bus operators (%)
  • improvement in journey time on impacted route (JT)
  • improvement in reliability of services on impacted routes (RT)
  • improvement in public perception of roadworks (CS)

Consider Education and Social Care Provision as part of the Worcestershire core network offer (NPN)

Worcestershire County Council is committed to the provision of a comprehensive school transport network catering for both pupils entitled to free home-to-school transport under the Education Act, and for the convenience of other pupils on a fare-paying basis, subject to current legislation.

The Council also provides transport arrangements for children and adults in relation to its Social Care responsibilities.

When securing subsidised passenger transport services, the County Council will seek, wherever appropriate, to integrate these with school transport and social care transport services and vice versa. In the interests of integration, the option of a multi operator concessionary ticket will be considered.

We will continue to consider Independent Travel training as a mechanism to provide accessibility to the network.

BSIP Targets

  • NPN1 – increase the number of schools served by the Strategic Network
  • NPN2 – increase in the number of school Trips on the Worcestershire Network
  • NPN3 – increase in the number of socially necessary trips on the Worcestershire Network
  • increase patronage on Worcestershire Network (PG)

Associated survey analysis

  • 21% of respondents stated that frequency/routes should be improved (Transport Focus)
  • approximately 75% would use public transport if frequency were to be improved
    •  non-public transport users from the Worcestershire Passenger Transport Survey
  • there is currently a 44% satisfaction rate (NHT) for frequency of bus routes
    • declining with a 16% gap on the average
  • 18% of respondents stated that punctuality should be improved (Transport focus)
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