CPT calls for Recovery Partnerships post-pandemic

To get more passengers back on buses post-pandemic, CPT has suggested Recovery Partnerships. It suggests these would be entered into once the current support mechanism ends.

CPT envisions Recovery Partnerships will build on the positive relationships established between operators and local authorities during the pandemic. They would enable them to agree how to deliver a bus network that meets the needs of passengers and delivers sustainable growth in passenger numbers.

Any Recovery Partnership would be supported with funding from central government, CPT advises, and will need to be supported by other initiatives to help get people back onto the bus. These include a government and industry backed marketing campaign and at least £1.2bn of investment in bus priority measures to speed up journey times.

The initiatives that are put in place would be decided locally, CPT says, but could include:

  • Funding to get new services off the ground
  • Support for existing valuable links which are not viable in the short term with the aim of making them commercial where possible
  • Bus priority measures to make journeys more reliable for the long term giving people the confidence to travel by bus
  • Targeted fare initiatives to encourage people to give bus a go

CPT Chief Executive, Graham Vidler, said: “Buses remain fundamental to millions of people’s daily lives. As we recover from the pandemic we will need to review and reset services to meet the needs of passengers as people go about their lives differently.

“Recovery Partnerships will deliver the local flexibility to allow tailored solutions and sustained improvements for passengers and ensure that bus networks continue to play a central role in delivering thriving communities and helping people live healthier lifestyles.”

To deliver Recovery Partnerships CPT is calling for £500m to be allocated for their implementation in 2021-2022 in the forthcoming Spending Review and for it to be ring fenced.

Graham Vidler continued: “By having the funding for Recovery Partnerships ready to go we can ensure that passengers have the services they need to get back to work, help rejuvenate high streets and deliver a green recovery.”

Responding to these calls from CPT, Urban Transport Group Director, Jonathan Bray, said: “We have worked closely with government and bus operators to keep bus services running during the pandemic and will continue to do so.

“However we do not believe that the current emergency arrangements for closing the revenue gap created by Covid-19 for public transport in our areas are efficient or robust given that they rely on local transport authorities continuing to pay for concessionary trips that aren’t being made, as well as being based on a patchwork of multiple poorly coordinated funding streams. Instead the bus strategy offers the opportunity to simplify and streamline funding arrangements for an industry that is now reliant on public funding.

“The best way to do this is devolve funding for bus to city region transport authorities so that public transport services as a whole can be planned and delivered in a coordinated way that best meets the distinctive needs of each area during the pandemic whilst ensuring best value for money for the taxpayer.

“This would also provide a sound basis for an orderly transition to either enhanced partnerships or franchising, depending on local circumstances and ambitions. In this way public transport can support city region economies as they build back better from this crisis while ensuring that there is local accountability for this key public service which, as the pandemic has underlined, so many of our poorest communities are reliant on.”

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