Bus challenges discussed at Swindon summit
The need to continue open dialogue with stakeholders is one of the topics highlighted during the Swindon Bus Summit.
On the agenda of the inaugural was the current status of the network, described as ‘depressed’ with 30% of pre-Covid customers having failed to return. Attendees and stakeholders also looked at how best to move forward and innovate together through addressing the challenges and identifying opportunities to position buses at the heart of the future of Swindon.
Alongside key personnel from Stagecoach West and Swindon Bus Company were Sir Robert Buckland MP, Cllr David Renard (the Leader of Swindon Borough Council), Labour candidate Heidi Alexander and Jon Harris, Head of Strategic Transport at Swindon Borough Council.
“A key takeaway from the summit is the need to continue an open dialogue with key stakeholders, as well as listening to our customers to ensure buses meet the evolving needs of local residents” – Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director, Stagecoach West
Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director, Stagecoach West, said: “I’m really pleased with the discussions regarding the bus network in Swindon and how we can work together to protect its future. I was encouraged by the acknowledgement that it is a shared task and that we need to demonstrate to our communities that we are taking positive steps in an aligned way; this summit being an example of this.
“It was a productive session with insightful feedback from all parties, including local councillors representing their residents and individuals on behalf of small businesses. A key takeaway from the summit is the need to continue an open dialogue with key stakeholders, as well as listening to our customers to ensure buses meet the evolving needs of local residents.”
The next step is to establish a formal partnership arrangement between bus operators and Swindon Borough in the form of an Enhanced Partnership Bus Board. The board aims to align stakeholder needs and address items raised at the summit to support and improve the bus network in Swindon. These items include the need for improved passenger information, stronger engagement with different user groups and increasing customer confidence and perceptions of safety post-Covid.
“The feedback we received was invaluable, and we will put it to good use as we continue to look for ways to improve our services here over the coming months” – Andrew Wickham, Managing Director, Swindon’s Bus Company
Andrew Wickham, Managing Director, Swindon’s Bus Company, said: “We have enjoyed constructive discussions, with partners and stakeholders – all of whom regard the successful future of bus travel in Swindon as a top priority.
“It is imperative that we continue to work together to ensure the town has a comprehensive bus network – not only to help bring communities together and drive economic prosperity but also to lower congestion, and improve air quality here. We can do this by making sustainable transport the most attractive option for those living and working in Swindon.
“I’d like to thank all those who made a contribution. The feedback we received was invaluable, and we will put it to good use as we continue to look for ways to improve our services here over the coming months.”