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More bus services and cheaper fares on way for County Durham passengers

Published January 10, 2023 3.22pm


More bus services and cheaper fares are on the way for the travelling public in County Durham, councillors will hear next week.

New priority infrastructure, improvements to bus stations and 250 replacement shelters are also planned, our Cabinet will be told.

The schemes will all be delivered by us as part of a regional Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), with the government having committed more than £160m for the measures it contains.

Works planned in County Durham and the wider North East have been welcomed by a national group that represents bus passengers, which says they will "transform bus services across the region."

Cabinet will receive an update on the BSIP when it meets next Wednesday 18 January.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: "There are some really exciting things planned that will greatly enhance the experiences of bus passengers in County Durham.

"We are putting the money towards laying on more bus services, making it easier for people to travel, be that to work, shop, attend health appointments or for leisure and socialising.

"We will also be introducing good value fares to bring the price of travel down for people which we hope will help in some way with the rising cost of living.

"We hope our plans will  benefit not only the travelling public but also the environment by reducing car journeys and therefore carbon emissions."

Regional plans

As part of the government's National Bus Strategy, regions are required to develop an Enhanced Partnership and produce a BSIP.

In the North East, responsibility for both lies with the North East Joint Transport Committee, which is made up of representatives of authorities across the region including us.

The transport committee has published its BSIP for the region and the government has confirmed indicative funding for it of £163.5m.

Planned works under the BSIP have been subject to consultation carried out by Transport North East, which provides strategy, planning and delivery services on behalf of the joint transport committee.

Dawn Badminton-Capps, Director for England at the Bus Users UK group, said: "The work being done by the North East Joint Transport Committee including Durham County Council will transform bus services across the region. Not only will this improve access to transport, it will attract more people onto greener, more sustainable transport options."

A report to the forthcoming Cabinet meeting sets out how in County Durham the BSIP includes plans for bus priority infrastructure at nine locations, to improve journey times and reliability. An initial three of these will be progressed at Coundon Gate roundabout; Durham Road/Whitworth Road in Spennymoor; and the B2688/A167 at Croxdale.

It also contains plans for development of additional park and ride facilities as well as 'pocket' park and ride -  smaller park and ride sites which are established close to existing commercial bus service routes. Councillors will be told that site identification is currently taking place along with feasibility work.

Improvements

Also included in the plan are improvements to bus stations at Consett, Peterlee and Stanley, including new CCTV and enhanced lighting, in the interests of safety and accessibility. Two hundred and fifty replacement bus shelters are also planned across the county.

The report sets out details of improvements to bus services across the county, including increased Sunday services, replacement of commercial routes deemed no longer viable by operators, and routes that are designed to make it easier for people to get to work. Furthermore we are looking to enhance capacity of our Link2 demand response service.

Lastly, the BSIP would allow the introduction of good value fares including a £1 single fare and £3 regionwide multi-modal day ticket for under 22s. A County Durham multi-operator day ticket would be available for £4; with a two zone multi-modal ticket for £6.50; and a regionwide multi-modal ticket for £6.80.

Cabinet will be told that it is anticipated that funding for delivery of the schemes will be released by the Department for Transport following a review of the plans.

The report to Cabinet can be viewed on the meeting agenda page.