Bid for £61m to boost county bus services

Council chiefs are bidding for £61m from the government to bolster bus services in Staffordshire over the next five years.

The authority's new bus service improvement plan (BSIP) includes proposals to introduce new services, safeguard and extend existing routes, extend operating hours and increase frequencies in 2024-25.

Passenger bus journeys in the county have fallen by 44% since 2017, the plan states, and under the proposals supporting services are set to cost about £6m this year.

Cabinet members approved the BSIP on Wednesday.

The government has asked all councils to publish a new or updated BSIP this month, in order to secure the release of funding for 2024-25.

The authority previously missed out on a service funding bid for £113m in 2021 and has been working with the Department for Transport to understand what it could do differently to be successful with a new bid.

'Alternative to car use'

Supporting bus services in 2024-25 include plans to extend operating hours on routes serving Leek, Stafford, Lichfield, Cannock, Burntwood, Chase Terrace, Biddulph, Newcastle, Keele, and Tamworth.

Extended routes in Uttoxeter, Rugeley and Hednesford, Tamworth and Lichfield and increased frequency for routes in Cannock, Chase Terrace, Burntwood and Lichfield.

It would also mean the introduction of new routes in Stafford, Stone, Newcastle, Keele, Kidsgrove, Biddulph, Rugeley and Hednesford, and to the National Memorial Arboretum.

The council would also ensure socially necessary services and existing lower patronage routes continue in Lichfield, Perton, Wombourne, Leek, Audley, Kidsgrove, Biddulph, Codsall and Norton Bridge.

Dave Atkinson, assistant director for connectivity and sustainability at the council, said while the council was not responsible for bus services, it had a role as the transport authority to work with operators to support improved services.

"We want Staffordshire people to be better connected with improved travel options," he said.

This news was gathered by the Local Democracy Reporting Service which covers councils and other public service organisations.

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