To seek approval for the creation by the North East Joint Transport Committee of an Enhanced Bus Partnership for the region in accordance with the National Bus Strategy.
Cabinet received a report seeking support for the creation by the North East Joint Transport Committee (JTC) of an Enhanced Bus Partnership for the region in accordance with the National Bus Strategy.
Approximately 5.9 million miles of bus journeys in a year were made in North Tyneside, pre-Covid. The Local Plan and the North Tyneside Transport Strategy stated that the Authority would work with partners to maintain and enhance bus provision as part of an integrated public transport network.
The Covid-19 pandemic had had a profound effect on bus travel since March 2020. Reduced bus patronage had meant that, in common with other regions, the North East’s bus network was now being heavily supported by Government funding. In its National Bus Strategy, published in March, the Government recognised that the existing model of bus service delivery was not working, and set out a more formal framework for partnership working between authorities and bus operators.
In July, the North East JTC had issued formal notice of its intent to prepare an Enhanced Partnership Plan and Schemes for bus services and had begun working with local bus operators to pursue this. The National Bus Strategy required each area to publish a Bus Service Improvement Plan by the end of October 2021, and to have an Enhanced Partnership with bus operators in place by April 2022, in order to receive any ongoing Government funding.
Transport North East, on behalf of the North East JTC, had carried out public engagement over the Summer and feedback from this engagement would inform the preparation of the region’s Bus Service Improvement Plan. The plan would show how transport bodies and bus operators would work together with local highway authorities, and local communities, to plan and deliver a bus network where buses were better coordinated and easier to understand and use.
The development of the partnership was expected to involve local authorities making certain commitments to support the use of buses: for example, agreeing to deliver bus priority or enforcement measures. Once the Enhanced Partnership was created, such commitments were legally binding on local authorities. The Authority’s engagement with Transport North East and bus operators during the development of the Enhanced Partnership would help to ensure that any such commitments reflected North Tyneside’s strategies and policies on such matters.
The work initiated by the JTC to develop an Enhanced Partnership therefore represented an opportunity to deliver aspects of the Authority’s, and the region’s, transport objectives – and to secure ongoing Government funding for bus services.
Cabinet considered the following decision options: to accept the recommendations set out in paragraph 1.2 of the report; or alternatively, to not accept the recommendations.
Resolved that (1) the creation by the North East Joint Transport Committee of an Enhanced Bus Partnership for the region in accordance with the National Bus Strategy be approved; and
(2) further reports be submitted to Cabinet on the progressive development of
the Enhanced Bus Partnership and its implications for North Tyneside.
(Reason for decision: To clearly indicate the Authority’s support for the development of an Enhanced Partnership, which represents an opportunity to deliver aspects of the Authority’s and the region’s transport objectives and to secure ongoing Government funding for bus services.)