National Bus Strategy for England
BCP Council Bus Service Improvement Plan
We’ve been working closely with local bus operators on a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), with the aim of significantly improving bus services across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
As part of our commitment to transforming travel across south east Dorset, we want to increase the number of people travelling by local bus services. To do this, the BSIP – itself part of the Government’s National Bus Strategy – aims to ensure buses are more frequent, more reliable, cheaper, better co-ordinated, and easier to understand and use.
What is the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP)?
In 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) released Bus Back Better, a National Bus Strategy for England. This was a £3 billion initiative that required local transport authorities like BCP Council to submit a BSIP, unlocking DfT funding and support.
Our plan has been developed in full partnership with local bus operators and other stakeholders, and outlines our ambitions to improve bus services across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. It sets out a high-level vision to deliver much improved local bus services and significantly increase the number of people travelling by bus.
Following the DfT’s review of the BCP BSIP the Council was one of 31 areas selected for funding and was awarded £8,858,430 across a three-year period from 2022/23 to 2024/25. The funding allocation awarded to BCP was split between revenue and capital spend as £2,753,791 and £6,104,639 respectively. While this was not the full funding amount requested by BCP Council, it does provide the stimulus to deliver several critical projects across the BCP area that will specifically benefit local bus services and their passengers.
To ensure they’re working as intended, these plans are required to be updated at least every year - BCP Council first published its BSIP in October 2021, and the most recent report was published in October 2022.
By creating an ‘Enhanced Partnership’ with local bus operators, we will secure continued access to national short-term funding for the bus sector to support continued recovery from the impact on passenger numbers of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will also ensure the council’s eligibility for any new sources of funding from the DfT’s £3bn National Bus Strategy. The Enhanced Partnership was formally adopted in February 2023 and followed the revisions needed as a result of changes in bus operators in the BCP area (with morebus now operating nearly all routes). In line with the BSIP, the Enhanced Partnership has a plan and a scheme, which sets out in detail the initiatives that will be implemented.
Proposals for the BCP Council area include measures to speed up buses to reduce journey times and improve punctuality, increase frequencies on some routes, and run targeted fares offers. We are committed to supporting bus travel as part of our sustainable environment objectives, helping to tackle the climate and ecological emergency as well as reducing traffic congestion and improving accessibility for residents and visitors.
The priorities within the plan are based on results from a consultation that took place between 29 November 2021 and 7 January 2022 on 11 proposed key actions. A report of the findings is available here.
Other useful links
Enhanced Partnership Plan and Enhanced Partnership Scheme
Bus Improvement Plan Appendix