New agreement aims to improve Suffolk’s bus services

First bus ENGPPP00120140129162845
First bus ENGPPP00120140129162845

The Bus Punctuality Improvement Partnership, a joint initiative between bus operators and Suffolk County Council, was agreed earlier this week at the annual Operator Conference held at Endeavour House.

By signing up to the initiative, bus operators will regularly review punctuality of their services and identify the causes for any late services.

Once identified, each signatory has responsibilities to put remedies in place where they have influence.

Four companies signed up to the initiative at the event with several others due to add their names to the partnership in the very near future.

Major operators in the county have registered their commitment to participating in the scheme.

The companies currently signed up are First Bus, Ipswich Buses, Stephensons of Essex and Galloway.

Attendees of the event included delegates from Suffolk bus and taxi operators, community transport operators, the Department for Transport, DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency – formerly VOSA) and SCT (Suffolk Community Transport).

The conference was held so that all parties could jointly identify and address issues that affect punctuality.

As well as signing the initiative, twice yearly reports on punctuality levels will be submitted to the Traffic Commissioner for the Eastern Region who will monitor progress.

In the recent survey by Passenger Focus, the four key areas measured showed that Suffolk is performing well against the national average.

· Overall Satisfaction with Service – Suffolk score 93 per cent (national average 88) – this is the highest recorded score.

· Satisfaction with bus journey time – Suffolk score 89 per cent - (national average 86)

· Satisfaction with value for money – Suffolk score 64 per cent (national average 61)

· Satisfaction with punctuality – Suffolk Score 75 per cent (national average 76)

Councillor Mary Evans, assistant cabinet member for roads and transport, who attended the event said: “Suffolk County Council wants to encourage more people to travel by bus to ease congestion and improve air quality in our bigger towns.

“Two of the key factors in deciding to take the bus instead of driving are the punctuality and reliability of the bus service. I am really pleased to see bus operators sign up to the Punctuality Improvement Partnership.

“The agreement means that buses are fitted with equipment which tracks their journeys giving Real Time Passenger Information, so that passengers can know exactly when their next bus is due.

“It also monitors the punctuality which allows the county council’s Urban Traffic Management Controls in Ipswich and Lowestoft, to prioritise buses at traffic lights so they can keep up to time.”

Screens for the Real Time Passenger Information systems are due to be fitted at locations in across the county; information is already available for some services via mobile phone apps.