£3bn 'bus revolution' could improve services across Lancashire

County Hall chiefs have welcomed the Government's new £3bn bus revolution which could mean better services across Lancashire.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 3:45 pm

But officers are still awaiting details of the project before sitting down with local bus operators to see what it will mean on the roads.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched the national bus strategy this week saying it should mean more frequent, reliable, easier to use and cheaper buses across England.

The shake-up will mean miles of extra bus lanes, price caps on tickets and more services at nights and weekends as the Government strives to make bus travel more accessible and affordable.

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Boris Johnson at the wheel of a new electric bus.

It wants "enhanced partnerships" which will mean councils improving the infrastructure in return for better services from bus companies.

Lancashire County Council, which will spend almost £7m on bus services over the next year, is expecting more detailed guidance from Westminster before it sits down to plan changes ahead.

"We recognise how important a good bus network is to help people access work, educational opportunities, and access basic services," said Coun Keith Iddon, LCC's cabinet member for highways and transport. "They are a lifeline to many people, particularly in our rural communities.

"We have continually invested in buses over the past four years, increasing the annual budget from £2m to around £6.75m for the next year, ensuring that the vast majority of people now have access to a frequent bus service, wherever they live.

Preston could see more bus services under the new initiative.

"We support the principals of the government's new national bus strategy, and look forward to working with local operators to ensure a sustainable, good quality network of services which people can rely on, and make public transport the mode of choice for our communities."

The initiative, called Bus Back Better, is Boris Johnson's long-term plan to reform how bus services outside London are planned and delivered and persuade more travellers to leave their cars at home and take public transport.

In it the Government says that while there are "pockets" of good bus performance outside the capital, far too many places have fallen behind.

The most controversial decision in the 10-point plan is to provide hundreds more miles of bus lanes in towns and cities, like those already in place in Preston which have raised a colossal amount of money in fines for the county council.

LCC's transport spokesman Coun Keith Iddon has welcomed the news.

According to figures Lancashire had 14 camera-controlled bus lanes in 2019, which caught more than 50,000 drivers in that year and brought in £1.7m

The plan also includes the production of 4,000 British-built electric or hydrogen buses for clean, quiet and zero-emission travel. There is pledge to end the production of diesel buses.

Cheaper fares with price caps are planned as well as more evening and weekend services, a more integrated system so people can move easily between trains and buses. Contactless payment will also be introduced on all buses.

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