Bus Service Improvement Plan+: Where should the money be spent?

£3.6million is to be invested in improvements to Suffolk’s bus services over the next two years as part of the government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan+ (BSIP+) funding. This is money we have been granted to deliver small scale local improvements to public transport in Suffolk in line with the published BSIP.

These aims include supporting the current network, examining simplified ticketing, and paying for design work to create bus priority schemes that can be delivered in future years. Alongside these aims, we are looking to target actions such as simplified ticketing and paying for design work to create bus priority schemes that can be delivered in future years. 

The focus is to use the funding to target actions that will deliver the best overall outcomes in growing long term patronage and revenues to stabilise service levels, whilst maintaining essential social and economic connectivity for local communities.

In some places this may involve maintaining existing connections (either by conventional services or Demand Responsive Transport). Elsewhere it might be achieved by the provision of new services, increasing the operating hours or frequencies of existing routes; or reducing fares to support travellers.

We are therefore looking for innovative solutions that can be co-ordinated on a local level and sustained once the initial funding has been used.  This could be through a traditional style local bus service, community car, shared taxi, village minibus or a new option we have not seen before in Suffolk.

Applications are welcome from transport operators, local community groups and other organisations that have an interest in supporting transport for local communities.

To consider funding for a new idea, we need information about what you are asking for and what you think it will achieve for your community.  Requests should be submitted by a lead organisation and must include evidence that highlights there is support within the community for the idea.  Applicants should consider what services already exist in their vicinity and whether connecting to these to provide onward travel could enable more people to reach more destinations than the provision of a single bus route.

All proposals should demonstrate how they might be sustained after initial funding has been used.

We are proposing two rounds of applications:

  • Round 1: requests must be submitted for evaluation using the online form by 5pm on Monday 6 November 2023
  • Round 2: requests must be submitted for evaluation using the online form by 5pm on Wednesday 20 December 2023.

FAQs

How will schemes be evaluated?

It is proposed that each scheme will be reviewed on its on merit to confirm it:

  • aligns with the Suffolk BSIP aim to provide a high quality accessible and integrated public transport network developed to increase patronage on bus and rail and to bring about an upturn in revenue income and service sustainability
  • offers benefit to local communities and has local community support
  • represents a good use of public funding taking into consideration economic, social and environmental impacts of the proposal
  • is fair and accessible for everyone.

Not all schemes can be funded, so a prioritisation process will be completed to inform any decision to proceed.

In no particular order, this process will include but is not limited to reviewing projects in relation to:

  • the number of bus passengers (new and existing) that could benefit
  • the overall cost
  • reasonable value for public money
  • proposals for new or enhanced services that accept English National Concessionary Travel Scheme passes and Endeavour cards
  • how they integrate with other existing services
  • the likely long term financial sustainability of the project once the BSIP+ funding expires
  • how the project supports the aim to provide high quality accessible and integrated public transport network. This will be focused on assessing how the project links to
    • key destinations served: healthcare, employment, educational centres or transport hubs (new travel hubs, train or bus stations)
    • match in kind offers (what are you and any partner organisation offering as part of the project)
    • partnership working between organisations.

Are there any other mandatory requirements that projects must commit to / include?

Proposals for new services must accept English National Concessionary Travel Scheme passes and Endeavour cards.

Can infrastructure projects be included?

The BSIP+ funding is to target actions that will deliver the best overall outcomes in growing long term patronage and revenues to stabilise service levels, whilst maintaining essential social and economic connectivity for local communities. The fund is therefore primarily dedicated to introducing measures (such as service level improvements) and not facilities (such as infrastructure).

However, where it is considered that a better long-term outcome could be achieved from the inclusion of small scale infrastructure improvements we will review these in line with the conditions of funding guidance from government.

Will schemes other than new services be considered for funding?

Yes. Schemes that would support existing services through ticketing initiatives, targeted improvements in passenger information and integrating bus services will also be considered.

All schemes will need to align with the objectives of the Suffolk Bus Service Improvement Plan and 2022 update

All applications must be submitted using the form below to enable us to evaluate all ideas equally.  We are happy to help applicants with any specific questions they have. Please email bus.strategy@suffolk.gov.uk with the title “Request to discuss a BSIP+ funding application”. 

Download a printable version of the online form (PDF 700KB)
Paper applications should be addressed to: The Enhanced Partnership Manager, Passenger Transport, 8 Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2BX.

Cllr Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said:

“This is great news for Suffolk and this award of BSIP+ funding will make a real difference in the county. Suffolk is always keen to work with government and I look forward to seeing how we can use this money to improve transport links within Suffolk.”

Cllr Alexander Nicoll, Deputy Cabinet Member for Transport Strategy and Chair of the Suffolk Enhanced Partnership, said:

“As Chair of the Enhanced Partnership – a group that represents bus operators, the County Council, bus users, local communities, and other transport stakeholders across Suffolk – I am looking forward to working with our partners to get the maximum value for money from our BSIP+ funding award.”

Cllr Smith, Cabinet Member for Transport Strategy, said:

“I am pleased that Suffolk has received £3.6m of BSIP+ funding for 2023-2025. The county council and its officers have lobbied the DfT for a chance to secure funding for rural transport and that persistence has finally paid off.”

“Managing public transport in a rural setting is not easy. We don’t have the footfall of large urban areas such as London or Manchester, but our needs are just as important.”

“We can use this revenue-based funding to support the existing bus network and potentially to grow the network with the addition of new bus routes and extensions to existing routes.”

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