A Bus Travel Task Force for Worcestershire is being set up to review current bus provision and to ensure bus travel is able to meet residents’ needs across the county.
This group will be comprised of the County Council, bus operators, passenger groups, and the individual constituency Members of Parliament for Worcestershire.
The Task Force meetings will be an opportunity for all key partners and the County Council to hear about the challenges that are currently being faced by bus users, bus companies and bus employees. The Task Force will travel to each constituency within the county to ensure it is close to the issues in the local areas.
The aim of the task force is to provide a platform for new solutions and ideas on how the current issues can be addressed, these can then be shared with the Department for Transport.
Local Councillors will also be invited to the Task Force and residents are being encouraged to have their say by contacting their local councillors or by using passenger forums, who will be represented at the meetings.
Councillor Mike Rouse, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport said: “We know how important bus travel is to residents across Worcestershire, especially those who rely on their local services on a regular basis to make appointments, get to and from work or even see their family. Since I have come into my post, this is the number one issue brought to my attention by our residents. As such, I have increased the amount I now travel by bus to try and experience first-hand, the issues our residents raise. My ongoing experiences highlight that we need to work alongside our operating partners to work out how we make bus travel sustainable for all involved in this area. I’m hoping the task force will give the opportunity for some much needed discussions to be had and awareness raised of what is an ongoing issue for several local authorities not just us here in Worcestershire. ”
The task force adds to the work the County Council is doing, to understand and improve bus travel in Worcestershire using a three-phase approach: review, enhance and secure.
‘Review’ includes carrying out a full network review, which will be submitted to the Department for Transport.
‘Enhance’ means enhancing the abilities of the county council to do more to improve the passenger experience.
‘Secure’ means exploring the result of the Bromsgrove Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) trial and examining if this is a viable model for rolling out across Worcestershire to provide alternative options, a safety-net service, and improve network resilience where appropriate.
Councillor Rouse added: “I have set out our mission to review, enhance and secure our network now and into the future, and I hope this approach provides the residents of Worcestershire with reassurance that we are committed to making the necessary changes to provide longer-term viability where we can. There are many challenges to this puzzle, not least how we overcome reduced demand. Some tough decisions and conversations will be required, but by working together we can achieve a better bus network.”