|Stop Presss - 1st March 2022|
I am pleased to inform you that the Government has today announced a further Covid-19 Bus and Light Rail Support Package to run until October 2022 - see ((here))
We at the Option 24/7 Central Team would like to thank each and every one of you who contacted the key players to press for this outcome. The efforts of you and others like you right across the country are a significant reason why we have this welcome news, and you can all be very proud of the result that has been collectively achieved.
A message to our key contact representatives - 24th February 2022
|Enhanced Partnership - published 23.2.2022: (here)|
Please find [(here)] the latest draft of the Wiltshire Enhanced Partnership Plan (EPP).
You will note that it is not as detailed as was originally envisaged, mainly due to the uncertainties of the current bus market, such as the driver shortage and continued Covid funding, for example. However, it does have the makings of a good deal for us and the bus passengers we represent.
In terms of governance, there is a Forum of which we will be permanent members, and a Board, made up largely of council officers and bus companies, of which we will not. However, it is clear that the Forum will drive the Board - eg It will be the Forum's role to monitor targets, run feasibility studies and develop business cases for service and infrastructure improvements etc, and the Board's role to implement what the Forum recommends.
Also, given that these two bodies are likely to meet only a handful of times a year, Option 24/7's Service Level Agreement with Wiltshire Council that sets our monthly meetings in stone is likely to put us in an increasingly influential position. Therefore, please do keep your ideas, views and feedback coming.
In terms of specific commitments, both the pledge to increase evening and weekend services on interurban corridors, and the pledge to set 2 buses per hour on town bus routes as a minimum are in the EP Plan, which is excellent given the current climate. Also, do bear in mind that the Cabinet Member for Transport has publicly said a week or so ago that the 34 bus service improvements pledged as part of the £671k Subsidised Bus Service Fund award will still take place once the bus driver shortage has eased - This is regardless of the fact that some of the original £671k funding has had to be diverted to shore up/provide services like the new number 24 Warminster-Salisbury bus, and may also be required to shore up other bus services due to potentially reduced Covid funding. The Rural Mobility Fund bus service improvement package for Pewsey Vale will also go ahead as planned. As a reminder, a list of the relevant bus service improvements can be found [((here))].
The EP Plan also proposes a study entitled "Cleaner Buses", which will examine how best to decarbonise bus services across Wiltshire. Some of you are already working closely with us on decarbonised bus service proposals, and will thus be aware of some of the exciting ideas and innovative potential partners involved. The study will bring all of this together in one coherent plan, and Option 24/7 aims to be right at the centre of the process. Again, please do keep your ideas, views and feedback coming on this subject.
In overall terms, we would be grateful if you could read through the EP Plan draft and give us your thoughts via return email by Friday 4 March 2022. Once again, we have the agreement of Wiltshire Council to share the attached draft as widely as we wish to whomsoever we wish. Please do feel free to do exactly that in order to gain the widest possible insight from within your communities to inform your replies. We very much look forward to receiving them.