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:

The charter will set out what passengers can expect from both the bus operators and the Council, describing the standards of service that will be provided. The charter is currently a work in progress, once authorised by the Enhanced Partnership it will be published here.

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

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

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

2022-08-26 - (minutes will be made available after this date)

2022-09-26 - (minutes will be made available after this date)

2022-10-24 - (minutes will be made available after this date)

Passenger interest working group

2022-06-01 - Passenger Interest Group Minutes (PDF 147KB)


Councillor working group

2022-06-21 - Councillor Working Group Minutes (PDF 123KB)


Community Transport working group

2022-04-20 - Community Transport Working Group Minutes (PDF 60KB)

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