Report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport
20.1 The Lead Member considered a report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport.
20.2 The Lead Member RESOLVED to:
(1) Approve the high level apportionment of the Government’s indicative Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) allocation as detailed in Appendix 1 of the report;
(2) Approve the draft Enhanced Partnership (EP) Plan and Schemes to allow the County Council to proceed in to the statutory process to ‘make’ the EP Plan and Scheme as detailed in Appendix 2 and 3 of the report;
(3) Approve that the underspend from the Transport Hub budget can be used to fund the early implementation of some of the BSIP fare reduction proposals and to delegate to the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport the authority to finalise these proposals; and
(4) Agree to delegate to the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport the authority to finalise the apportionment and amendments to the Draft EP Plan and Scheme following further technical work and from feedback from the Department for Transport.
20.3 East Sussex County Council’s mission as a local transport authority is to ensure that East Sussex residents and visitors enjoy the highest possible quality bus services that provide a frequent and comprehensive choice, reduce congestion, and make a positive contribution to better air quality and decarbonisation. This mission is supported by the authority’s bus operators who will play a key role in its delivery.
20.4 The East Sussex BSIP is a highly ambitious plan that seeks to stimulate and drive significant improvements to bus services across the local authority area and the wider region. The proposed apportionment of East Sussex’s indicative allocation intends to deliver as much of the ambitious proposals as possible, provide value for money and:
• Recover bus usage from the Covid-19 pandemic, taking account of consequential changes in travel patterns
• Increase bus usage significantly in the next few years and to eventually deliver a transformational change in bus usage.
• Deliver a step change in bus provision to both current and new bus users.
20.5 The implementation of the BSIP fare reduction proposals will have greatest impact if introduced in the busier summer months. Use of the existing underspend from the Transport Hub budget will fund the early implementation of the BSIP fare reduction proposals for Young Persons and General fare reductions. As well as providing benefits to users, this will assist East Sussex’s bus operators in maintaining a high quality bus network in East Sussex. The early implementation of the fare reduction scheme will also be viewed in a very positive manner by both operators and the DfT and is likely to stimulate passenger recovery post pandemic. It is estimated that the current projected underspend of £515k would be sufficient to fund these fare reductions until East Sussex County Council receive grant funding from DfT in the Autumn.