Wiltshire Council wishes to update people throughout the county on the Government’s national bus strategy and the work that is being done in Wiltshire to improve local bus services.
In March this year, the UK Government published its ‘Bus Back Better’ vision, underpinning a national bus strategy for England and outlining ambitious reform of how bus services are planned and delivered.

The strategy will deliver better bus services for passengers across England, through ambitious and far-reaching reform of how services are planned and delivered. It will make buses:

• more frequent
• more reliable
• easier to understand and use
• better co-ordinated
• cheaper.

The strategy is seen as an important part of the Government’s levelling-up agenda and recognises that where commercial bus companies and local transport authorities work closely together, buses are the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to improve transport. Some £3bn has been set aside in this Parliament to be spent on increasing bus usage nationally through the national bus strategy. In addition, and as a prelude to this, in March 2020, the Government granted the county of Wiltshire £671,000 as revenue support to help to improve the provision of local bus services.
Wiltshire Council would like to thank those that took the time out to respond to Briefing Note No. 21-08 by providing suggestions for new services or changes and/or additions to existing services throughout Wiltshire communities by using the money awarded. Wiltshire Council will look through and consider all the responses that have been sent and will issue regular updates on the plans.
The Government’s strategy complements the Council’s aim to encourage more people to travel by bus to help support our carbon neutral objectives, and to reach and connect more people who live in rural communities who don’t have a viable way to get around.

The Council has already been successful in receiving some of the £3bn fund, with a successful bid of £1.2m to improve demand responsive transport in the Pewsey Vale area. This will be in operation next year after a public consultation, which will help establish the most appropriate way for the service to be provided. Additionally, Wiltshire Council are holding an informal consultation with the public and businesses to help to produce a Bus Service Improvement Plan later this autumn. A local bus services plan is a requirement to be part of the Bus Back Better strategy.

Alongside all the existing information held on services and usage, this non-statutory survey, that will run until Monday August 23rd 2021, will provide an even better understanding of how bus services are used and how their usage has been affected by the pandemic. The survey should take no longer than five minutes to complete: Wiltshire Council are keen to hear from non-bus users, as well as those who currently use them, as this will provide a much more wide-ranging picture of the current situation and people’s circumstances. The survey can be found here.

The Government’s strategy and associated funding is an exciting opportunity to improve bus services throughout England, and the focus of Wiltshire Council is to successfully make improvements throughout the county that will benefit all those that use bus services, which in turn may attract new users. The Council also recognises how important public transport is, particularly in a vast rural county like Wiltshire, and that it can also be the lifeblood of many a community.

Wiltshire Council would appreciate the support of the county’s residents in spreading the word about ‘Bus Back Better’, and encouraging people and representatives of businesses and organisations within their communities to take part.

Any questions about this ongoing project should be addressed to Wiltshire Council, who will do their utmost to provide regular updates.