Enhanced Partnership vision

The Suffolk Enhanced Partnership will support the improvement of all local bus services operating in the Suffolk County Council (SCCCloseSuffolk County Council) Local Transport Authority (LTA) area and neighbouring LTA areas where services are cross-boundary. The Enhanced Partnership includes commitments for SCCCloseSuffolk County Council and all local bus operators to work together to improve local bus services. It includes a vision of the improvements that the partnership is aiming for and accompanying actions to achieve them.

The Enhanced Partnership is focused on delivering a future ready bus network – through working in close collaboration with valued stakeholders representing local bus operators, local authorities, communities and businesses, bus passengers and bus user groups, and the voluntary and health transport sectors. The preparation of our Bus Service Improvement Plan was the first stage in this partnership process and the Suffolk Enhanced Partnership plan replicates content from this to highlight how the step change in bus services required to achieve the objectives of the National Bus Strategy can be delivered.

Targets were set covering the whole county, all of which rely on partnership between Suffolk County Council and local bus operators to improve:

  • Journey time
  • Reliability
  • Passenger numbers
  • Passenger satisfaction


The creation of the Enhanced Partnership

In March 2021, the Government launched the National Bus Strategy with the aim of rejuvenating local bus services.

At its Cabinet meeting on 15 June 2021, Suffolk County Council gave approval to proceed with the development of an Enhanced Partnership.

In October 2021 the Bus Service Improvement Plan was published, describing our ambition for bus services across the County.

From December 2021to January 2022 the Enhanced Partnership Plan and Scheme was subject to a 28 day bus operator objection period, during which no objections were received.

A stakeholder consultation was held between 24 January - 6 March 2022 to capture views and comments. Comments submitted were reviewed and new proposals added to our list of potential interventions. There were no views or comments which warranted a material change to the initial version of the Enhanced Partnership document.

The Enhanced Partnership document was presented and approved at the 29 March 2022 Cabinet meeting. The first meeting of the Enhanced Partnership Board took place on 29 April 2022.

 


More details

The aim of the National Bus Strategy - Bus Back Better (GOV.UK) is to:

  • rejuvenate local bus services and make them more attractive for passengers
  • make bus services cheaper, easier to understand and use, faster and more reliable, and greener.

It's acknowledged (in the strategy) that there has been a decades-long decline in bus patronage nationally.

The bus strategy is the most significant change for bus services outside London since the 1986 bus de-regulation. Through the delivery of a statutory partnership, the strategy places emphasis on partnership working to define bus networks, service levels and fare strategies.

Increasing the use of sustainable transport, and encouraging the shift to zero emission vehicles, is key to delivering carbon reduction from transport related emissions in Suffolk. This will include decreasing the need to use cars, as well as moving to low and zero emission fuels for public transport vehicles.

A series of workshops were held with stakeholders from across Suffolk. These were used to capture thoughts and ideas to promote and develop a sustainable bus network for Suffolk. Feedback from the workshops and analysis of the existing bus services have been used to inform the content of our BSIPCloseBus Service Improvement Plan.

The guidance to local authorities and bus operators was published in May 2021. This included a template for the BSIPCloseBus Service Improvement Plan document.

The guidance states that the BSIP:

"...should describe in outline how a Local Transport Authority (LTA) and operators in an area can achieve the overarching goal of the National Bus Strategy - to grow bus patronage: both to build it back after the pandemic and then to increase it and raise buses' mode share.”

The guidance also acknowledges:

“Given that BSIPs will have to be produced within six months, they will necessarily be outlines. We do not expect vastly detailed and granular documents running to hundreds of pages. Nor will we take them as definitive or immutable commitments or statements of intent on your part."

Documents

The Enhanced Partnership (EPCloseEnhanced Partnership) is a statutory partnership between one or more Local Transport Authorities and their local bus operators that sets out how they will work together to deliver Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIPCloseBus Service Improvement Plan) outcomes in the defined geographical area(s) set out in the EPCloseEnhanced Partnership. It is in two parts:  

  1. An EPCloseEnhanced Partnership Plan - a clear vision of the improvements to bus services that the EPCloseEnhanced Partnership is aiming to deliver, mirroring the BSIPCloseBus Service Improvement Plan.
  2. One or more EPCloseEnhanced Partnership schemes – an accompanying document that sets out the requirements that need to be met by local services that stop in the geographical area defined in the EPCloseEnhanced Partnership scheme, to achieve BSIPCloseBus Service Improvement Plan outcomes

A stakeholder consultation was undertaken to hear from people and organisations who have an interest in making bus services work better.
Funding announcement provided by DfT on the 4 April 2022

Documents:

Purpose of this charter

The purpose of this charter is to improve bus services across Norfolk and Suffolk. It establishes a consistent standard for bus services to meet, regardless of bus company or county. It also aims to improve the way you can hold us to account.

It sets out the standard of service you, the passenger, can reasonably expect when you travel by bus. No matter if the bus company is big or small, commercial or council-supported – it’s the same standard for everyone.

 

Charter pledges

Everyone involved in bus travel can play their part in making bus services better and run smoothly.

Before you travel

  • Bus company and council websites will show this charter and information that helps you plan a journey
  • Information about service disruptions will be posted on bus company websites and apps. This information will be updated frequently, and will often be posted on social media platforms too
  • Services we say are running will run at least 99.5% of the time
  • You can track your bus and find out where it is on www.bustimes.org, or on bus company websites and apps where available

What you can expect at the bus stop:

  • A recognisable bus stop, with access to up-to-date timetable and contact information. Real-time displays at major stops.
  • An area to stand so you can board the bus easily. Where this is a problem, we will act on feedback to implement this as soon as possible.
  • A bus that shows what service it is and where it’s going
  • A bus that arrives and departs as advertised. (There may be occasional network problems causes by unavoidable factors. These could be issues like roadworks, diversions or unexpected traffic jams.)

During the journey you can expect:

  • To be able to pay to travel by contactless, mobile apps or smartcards – not just cash
  • A range of value-for-money tickets that are easy to understand and buy
  • Buses that are:
    • Comfortable
    • Accessible, with a standard wheelchair space
    • Cleaned inside (at least) daily
  • Professional bus drivers who offer good customer service and assistance to passengers

What you can expect beyond your journey:

  • A clear, consistent process for complaints, feedback and praise – with a timely resolution
  • Bus companies and councils working together to improve your bus services by:
    • Improvement plans
    • Thinking of the needs of passengers and the travel market
    • Consulting you on and informing you of major changes
  • Bus companies and councils working together to comply with this customer charter

How you can make a difference too:

  • Respect bus drivers and their requests, other staff and fellow passengers
  • Report damage to buses, bus stops or bus shelters to help us know what we need to fix
  • Clearly signal to the bus driver that you want to board, and have your pass, ticket or payment ready as you board
  • Keep your bus clean – keep feet off seats and take litter home
  • Allow wheelchair users to use the dedicated wheelchair space
  • Sit where possible – don’t stand at the front of the bus, blocking others
  • Ring the bell in advance when you want to get off. Stay seated or hold onto the handrail while the vehicle is moving

Who has signed up to this charter

The following councils and companies have approved this charter. They will endeavour to meet or exceed the charter pledges.

 

How to give feedback about bus services

Constructive feedback will help us continually improve our services, especially if we haven’t met the standards set out in this charter.

If we’ve let you down, we’re keen to put things right. We’re keen to have responses and outcomes that are consistent too, giving you extra confidence.

Feedback isn’t just for when things go wrong. Let us know when we’ve made your day or done better than you expected.

Before you send us feedback, take some time to read about the scope of this charter and what it covers.

How to give feedback

 

Who to contact

Contact the relevant bus company to give feedback about:

  • Driver behaviour
  • Lateness
  • Vehicle cleanliness
  • Fares
  • Ticketing
  • Bus service timetables 

For all other issues, contact the relevant county council:

What to include in your feedback

Make sure you tell us:

  • What happened, when and where (date, time and place)
  • Who was involved, including bus ticket details if possible
  • The outcome you want from giving your feedback

Review and response

The bus company or council will review your feedback.

They will contact you with an outcome within 28 days of getting your feedback.

If you’re unhappy with their response

If you're not happy with the response, contact Bus Users UK. They can support you to take your complaint further.

Scope of this charter

 

Legal considerations

 

Statutory rights

This charter does not affect your statutory rights.

Legal relationships

This charter does not change any legal relationship between bus operator, local government and passenger.

Links to legal rights

This charter contains links to key documents that will help you if you want to read more about your rights, such as a bus company’s conditions of carriage.

Equalities Act and inclusivity

The measures in this charter aim to improve the inclusivity of services and how they are held accountable. They will take protected characteristics (eg age, ethnicity, disability, etc) into account.

 

Who and what this charter covers

 

Geographical area

The counties of Norfolk and Suffolk

Local transport authority

Norfolk County Council and Suffolk County Council.

This includes services crossing between Norfolk and Suffolk.

It does not include services crossing Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire or Essex. They will be covered by a separate charter.

Bus companies

  • Norfolk: 14 bus companies
  • Suffolk: 20 bus companies

See full list of charter signatories

Services covered

Registered local bus services are covered by this charter. This means bus services registered to carry fare paying passengers locally and run under a Public Service Vehicle licence.

This includes:

  • Regular scheduled services
  • Flexibuses

It does not include:

  • Schools only bus services
  • Long distance coaches
  • Private shuttle buses
  • Rail replacement bus services

Improving your services and funding them

We’ve made Enhanced Partnerships (EPs) with bus operators to deliver our Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs):

Charter timeline

This charter was first published and came into force in July 2022.

We will review how well we are meeting the charter pledges every 12 months.

Next review due: July 2023.

Useful links

Bus user groups

Norfolk County Council

Suffolk County Council

 

 

2022-04-22 - Enhanced Partnership Board Minutes (PDF 151KB)

2022-05-25 - Enhanced Partnership Board Minutes (PDF 142KB)

2022-06-29 - Enhanced Partnership Board Minutes (PDF 185KB)

2022-07-29 - Enhanced Partnership Board Minutes - (PDF 112KB)

2022-08-26 - (meeting cancelled due to the mourning of Queen Elizabeth II)

2022-09-26 - (meeting cancelled due to limited availability of members)

2022-10-24 - Enhanced Partnership Board Minutes - (PDF 95KB)

 

The Partnership will look to provide a stronger commercially viable bus network across both rural and urban Suffolk. The interventions will increase the numbers of people using buses and support the decarbonisation agenda. Interventions will need to be managed within the budget allocated. 

Submit your ideas and views to bus.strategy@suffolk.gov.uk explaining the proposal and why it is felt it is commercially viable. 

Please visit our pages on reporting, applying or requesting issues related to bus infrastructure in Suffolk. For defects relating to the highway please use the Highway Reporting Tool.


Further information

Below you can find a list of documents that are relevant to the Bus Back Better Strategy:

The DfT has published the national bus strategy

Bus Service Improvement Plan Guidance

Enhanced Partnership Guidance

The Transport Act 2000

Transport Focus link




Page last updated: Tuesday 17 May 2022