Nottinghamshire transport chairman wants meeting with minister about improving bus services

Nottinghamshire Council’s transport and environment committee chairman has asked to meet with the Transport Secretary about potentially improving the county’s bus services.

By Andrew Topping
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 10:31 am
Updated Thursday, 5th May 2022, 10:43 am

Coun Neil Clarke says he has requested a meeting with Grant Shapps about getting ‘actual support’ for more bus services in Nottinghamshire.

It follows the release of council figures showing passenger numbers on countywide services are yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, with buses seeing about 70-80 per cent of their pre-Covid activity.

For concessionary fare holders, usage is stalled at 55 to 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The authority has confirmed it will use Government funding to help increase passenger numbers while also trailing Demand Responsive Transport, an ‘on-demand’ bus service scheme in Mansfield and Ollerton, involving services being booked by phone or by an app.

This will be piloted during the summer, with the £1.5 million pot seeing buses operated on a ‘fully-flexible, on-demand basis’.

However, Coun Clarke said he has also requested a meeting with Mr Shapps to see how the authority can further improve existing services across Nottinghamshire.

The council’s £4.1 million budget for buses supports more than 100 services across the county, while various funding schemes are being announced by the Government to target public transport.

However, Coun Clarke says many Government funding pots target the ‘equipment that goes along with bus services’, rather than funding for services directly.

He told the latest committee meeting: “I have written to the Transport Secretary and his colleagues to request a meeting to talk about bus services and their funding.

“I’m sure every member can quote instances with timings of bus services not always being very good for people who actually work.

“It is an opportunity for me to say we are doing something proactive to speak with the Secretary, in order to forward our ambitions for increased bus services.”

In response to the ‘slow recovery’, the Government has extended bus funding for a further six months until October 2022 through the Local Transport Fund.

Whitehall had already given financial support through the Bus Recovery Grant, which ended in March.

And Nottinghamshire County Council has been successful in its bid for the National Bus Strategy Rural Mobility Fund, which is helping to trial the on-demand service this year.