Bus Service Improvement Plan

Our Bus Service Improvement Plan sets out our strategy and key initiatives we want to deliver to achieve our ambitious vision for better buses in West Yorkshire.

Our vision for better buses in West Yorkshire

In March 2021, the government published a new National Bus Strategy which sets out their vision to dramatically improve bus services in England, reversing the shift in journeys away from public transport as a result from Covid-19 and encourage passengers back to bus.

To help achieve this strategy, West Yorkshire Combined Authority have worked closely with bus operators to develop a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). Our Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) provides the opportunity to transform the local bus service for the people of West Yorkshire.

The Government has allocated £3 billion towards improving bus services throughout England. To deliver on the ambition of our BSIP and level up our local bus system, we need to secure a proportion of the £3 billion made available from The Government in their National Bus Strategy.

We want buses to be the first choice for travel in West Yorkshire - not because you don’t have a car, but because buses are more affordable, convenient to use, and better for the environment

Tracy Brabin Mayor of West Yorkshire

What we will deliver

Our Bus Service Improvement Plan sets out our strategy and key initiatives we want to deliver to achieve our ambitious vision for better buses in West Yorkshire.

  • An enhanced and more cohesive bus network – which takes people where they need to go, when they need to go.
  • Clear and simple fares – to make paying for bus travel more affordable, easier, convenient and flexible.
  • Improved, more inclusive customer service and support – so passengers have the tools to travel with confidence and the help they need if their journey does not go to plan.
  • Priority for buses on our road – so journeys by bus are quicker, with less time spent stuck in traffic, and are a viable alternative to the private car.
  • More green and better vehicles – to improve the onboard experience and make bus the sustainable choice for travel in West Yorkshire.

FAQs

Why are you publishing this plan?

In March 2021, the government published a new National Bus Strategy which sets out their vision to dramatically improve bus services in England, reversing the shift in journeys away from public transport as a result of Covid-19 and encourage passengers back to bus. 

The Government has allocated £3 billion towards improving bus services throughout England as part of the National Bus Strategy. To secure a proportion of the £3 billion made available, Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) are required to issue a notice of intent, produce a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) and have an Enhanced Partnership or commence the process of franchising (where this is being pursued) by the dates required. 

What is an Enhanced Partnership?

An Enhanced Partnership (EP) is a statutory partnership between one or more Local Transport Authorities and their local bus operators that sets out how they will work together to deliver the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) outcomes in the defined geographical area(s) set out in the EP. It is in two parts: 

  • An EP Plan: a clear vision of the improvements to bus services that the EP is aiming to deliver, mirroring the BSIP. 
  • One or more EP schemes: an accompanying document that sets out the requirements that need to be met by local services that stop in the geographical area defined in the EP scheme, to achieve BSIP outcomes. 
What is Franchising and who is it available to?

Franchising is a statutory framework whereby the bus network is controlled, designed and all services in the area are contracted by a Local Transport Authority. The power to establish a Franchising scheme is only automatically available to Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) – other authorities can request special permission from Government - and, to reach the point of making a Scheme, the MCA needs to have gone through a process of publishing an assessment, consulting on it and subjecting the assessment to external audit. 

What are the proposed timescales for an Enhanced Partnership?

Since becoming a Mayoral Combined Authority earlier this year, the Combined Authority now has mayoral powers to make a bus franchising scheme. To do so, the Combined Authority would need to prepare and publish an Assessment of the need for a Franchising Scheme (essentially a business plan), subject the Assessment to independent audit and instigate a public consultation. This process will take around two years to arrive at a decision point on franchising with procurement and implementation to follow.  

To initiate this process, the Combined Authority is recommended to serve a Notice to Prepare An Assessment of the need for a Franchising Scheme. The National Bus Strategy sets out that for Local Transport Authorities to access funding from April 2022 there is a requirement to be in an Enhanced Partnership by the end of March 2022. The Notice of Intent must be agreed with bus operators and submitted to the Department for Transport by 1 July 2021.  

By publishing the notice to Prepare an Assessment of the need for a Franchising Scheme, the Combined Authority is setting out a “roadmap” to bringing buses back into public control.  

What are the next steps?

The Government will use our, and other Authorities’ BSIPs to determine how to allocate the £3 billion of funding for bus to deliver the objectives of their National Bus Strategy.   

A decision by Government is expected in early 2022 and if successful, the Combined Authority and its partners will work towards delivering the plan as part of an Enhanced Partnership from April 2022.