Build back better with Burnley buses

Burnley bus operator Transdev is declaring its support for a £3 billion Government plan to place buses at the heart of the nation’s transport recovery beyond the pandemic.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 3:45 pm

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is today unveiling the National Bus Strategy, the most ambitious shake-up of the bus industry in a generation, with plans for simpler fares in towns and cities, more frequent services and hundreds of miles of new bus lanes to make journeys quicker and more reliable.

The plan sets out how the bus industry will work with regional and local authorities to deliver the improvements, through either a statutory ‘enhanced partnership’ with councils or by franchising.

Transdev chief executive Alex Hornby said: “Our company has been proud to lead the way when it comes to growing the market for bus travel and delighting our customers through our relentless focus on innovation and investment.

One of the Witchway buses
One of the Witchway buses

“We are pleased to see that the Government is matching the confidence we have in the ability of the bus to drive a green, economic recovery and a clarity of vision on what is expected from bus operators and local authorities.

"This reflects many of the things we already deliver, day in and day out, as part of our continued attention on the needs of our customers, from ultra-low and zero emission buses, to attractive and frequent services and contactless day and week fare capping.

“However, the biggest opportunity to create growth in bus use could be the shared commitment now expected from operators and local authorities in terms of punctuality and timekeeping, and the funding to support more bus priority, as we know buses being on time is the customer’s key demand.”

The National Bus Strategy sets out plans to deliver:

· An expectation that operators and local authorities work together in creating local Bus Improvement Plans

· More bus lanes to make journeys quicker and more reliable

· Simpler fares with daily price caps

· 4,000 new British-built electric or hydrogen powered buses.

· An end to sales of new diesel buses, with a consultation also launched today.

Mr Hornby pointed to investment in the operator’s Lancashire bus network, including 14 British-built buses worth £3.8m. launched in December on its Witchway express linking Burnley and Rawtenstall with Manchester – and says plans for hundreds of miles of new bus lanes will also help to persuade more people to switch from the car to the bus, reducing pollution and making buses more efficient.

The bus firm also achieved a 15% increase in customers following the acquisition by Transdev of former council owned company Rossendale Transport in 2018, and a relaunch of bus networks across Lancashire.

Mr Hornby said: “We believe buses can make our towns and cities better. As a form of sustainable mass transit, they enable the most people to move about in a safe, comfortable and efficient way. Often the lowest emission vehicles on the road, they set the example as a clean and green form of transport.

“We now look forward to picking up the agenda with our local authority partners to deliver improvements that will translate into a huge step-change in the perception of the bus and in customer growth.”

Today’s National Bus Strategy announcement follows the launch in November 2020 of Transdev’s own blueprint for action to boost buses and revive communities.