Category: Transport Authorities

Warwickshire County Council selects Omnibus planning and publicity solutions

Warwickshire County Council selects Omnibus cloud-based planning and publicity solutions

18 May 2022 – Warwickshire County Council will plan and publicise bus services using Omnibus’ cloud-based platform – and deliver on a commitment to increase the quality of journey information for customers.

The contract was awarded following a tender process which will see the council implementing timetabling, mapping, timetable publicity, roadside asset management and data sharing solutions.

Warwickshire County Council selects Omnibus cloud-based planning and publicity solutions

In response to the National Bus Strategy to get more people travelling by bus, the provision of quality publicity information was identified as a priority measure in Warwickshire’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).

By using OmniSTOPdesign timetable publicity software, the council can create and maintain professional and accurate displays in multiple styles, sizes and formats without the need to use a graphic designer.

Derek Riley, Passenger Transport Officer at Warwickshire County Council, said: “Warwickshire County Council creates and maintains NaPTAN stops, timetable schedules, bus routes, roadside publicity displays, as well as analysing ‘what if’ scenarios and importing and exporting data.

“Following a county-wide survey to help shape our BSIP, better static timetable information was identified as a measure which would encourage more people to use the bus. For example, ‘easier access to bus service information’ featured as one of the top three measures in the results from both regular users and infrequent or non-users.”

“OmniSTOPdesign offers us new possibilities in timetable publicity that can take things to a whole new level. We will be able to manage roadside and online publicity information for local bus services, from improving roadside/in-street route and timetable information, including the use of digital displays, to integrating bus services and timetables in order to maximise scope for multi-modal connections.”

Peter Crichton, Founder of Omnibus, said: “I’m delighted that Omnibus has been successful in being awarded this tender. Our software solutions have been designed with the needs of transport authorities and bus operators in mind to improve operational efficiency.

“Our timetabling system provides flexible modelling tools that provide high-level timetables and schedules to give a quick view of effectiveness for different scenarios. Our timetable publicity software for stop displays enables users to produce information displays quickly and cost-effectively, whilst our communications and infrastructure applications provide accurate transport data to all internal and external downstream systems.”

– ENDS –

Omnibus Solutions: www.omnibus.solutions

Press contact at Omnibus Solutions, part of EPM Group

Harminder Sangha
harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com
07538 935 568

Empowering transport authorities with software solutions

Grow patronage, improve efficiency and deliver outstanding customer service

Merseytravel selects Omnibus cloud-based scheduling solution

Merseytravel selects Omnibus cloud-based scheduling solution

Merseytravel has extended its software partnership with EPM Group (EPM and Omnibus) through the adoption of the Omnibus cloud-based scheduling suite.

Omnibus’ solution provides users with a range of flexible and easy-to-use tools aimed at improving efficiency and reducing the margin for error when timetabling and scheduling and is accessible from any location.

Merseytravel selects Omnibus cloud-based scheduling solution

Merseytravel is the transport delivery arm of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and has previously worked with EPM Group on the deployment of contract management solution ETM DAS to monitor the performance of tendered routes in a central hub – reducing administration time and providing data to make cost-effective decisions. In addition, Merseytravel also implemented the interactive analytics platform EPM Insights which offers strategic insight through real-time management information and dashboards.

The scheduling suite integrates seamlessly with both products, removing the need for manual entry of timetables when preparing to issue a new tender. Timetables and scheduling data is then fed into EPM Insights for visual reporting and analysis.

The Omnibus TransXchange viewer tools can also be utilised to review submissions from operators to ensure compliance with the tender specification, making this process as efficient as possible when dealing with multiple tender submissions.

Jeanette Townson, Bus Development Manager at MerseytravelJeanette Townson, Bus Development Manager at Merseytravel, said: “The implementation of Omnibus scheduling suite will help streamline and increase the efficiency of the tendering process by removing the need for manual data entry.

“Previously this process involved creating timetables in Microsoft Word and Excel which was time consuming and difficult to update. The integration of the products and automation capabilities will help ensure data quality and provide significant time savings – freeing up valuable resources to focus on other priorities.”

Ian Churchill, CEO at EPM Group, said: “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Merseytravel, and this new integration is testament to the software’s capabilities as well as the value which is achieved with the two businesses, EPM and Omnibus, working together.

“Driving efficiency is the key goal behind our software solutions and we are committed to helping Transport Authorities improve the effectiveness of their organisation and the success of their networks.”

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EPM Group Press Contact:
Harminder Sangha
Harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com
07538 935 568

Empowering transport authorities with software solutions

Grow patronage, improve efficiency and deliver outstanding customer service

Challenging time ahead for scheduling?

Challenging time ahead for scheduling

Scheduling is an art and there are concerns about an emerging skills gap that is about to hit the industry.

Much has been written about the bus industry’s skills gap – the missing generation of managers brought about by the sector’s deregulation in the mid-1980s. However, it seems that there are issues looming in other segments of the industry, specifically the increasing number of schedulers who have reached a certain age and are choosing to retire.

Challenging time ahead for scheduling

“We have a real and significant issue,” warns Peter Crichton, founder of Omnibus. “Schedulers tend to be of a certain age and more and more of them are retiring. Just how do we replace that talent that is now starting to leave the industry in increasing numbers?”

While the skills gap in industry management teams has been largely plugged with the profusion of graduate and internal management training schemes, Crichton expresses concerns about how the looming skills gaps in the scheduling function will be tackled.

“You can’t just pop people down in front of a computer and expect them to get on with it,” he says. “Scheduling is an art and a skill and it takes time to train people up to meet expectations.”

With staff costs roughly accounting for 45% of the cost base of the industry, even a 1% saving in resource can lead to significant cost savings. With a good, well-trained scheduler having the ability to save bus operators thousands of pounds, Crichton notes that good, thorough training is key as well as a thorough knowledge of the job and the tools of the trade.

“You can’t just expect people to take on scheduling within five minutes,” he says. “It takes time, training, knowledge and expertise. I wouldn’t sit someone fresh out of school or college in front of a computer and expect him or her to run my financial year-end. You need training and skills to be able to do that and scheduling is just the same.”

He contrasts the training that many of today’s new schedulers experience with his own training in the area in the late seventies in Greater Manchester. Crichton’s starting points was an intensive 4 weeks of training that gave him the nuts and bolts of the job. This was then followed by 12 months of on-the-job training under the wing of an experienced scheduler, where Crichton admits that he was given every drudge job going, but he learnt the scheduler’s art “from the ground up”. His career then progressed.

“It was just an excellent way of learning,” he says. “Back then there was a demographic time bomb that was about to explode too. The generation of schedulers who joined the industry in the immediate post-war era was on the verge of retirement, but there was structured training and there was a very clear path. What we have now is very similar – that generation is now coming up to retirement, but I’m not sure there’s that succession planning there today. I’m also not entirely convinced that the industry, on the whole, has the skills to provide a good level of training.”

Crichton remembers the paper-based systems that were in use when he began his career in the late seventies. “Back then we had four people scheduling just two depots as a full-time job,” he remembers.

“The advent of computers to assist with the scheduling process has really, really cut that down. I know of some companies where there’s just one or two people responsible for scheduling whole companies and there isn’t any form of structured succession strategy.”

He points to the management training schemes that the major groups and even some smaller operators have developed in recent years. Crichton feels that this is all well and good but it is structured towards people looking to reach the top in operational and engineering roles. As he says, there’s nobody thinking about recruiting and training the next generation of schedulers in any meaningful way.

“Those management training schemes aren’t really attractive to people who would be interested in scheduling, “Crichton says. “More and more operators are getting involved in apprenticeships for engineering staff to solve the problem of a generation retiring there, so why don’t we, as an industry, have some sort of formal training scheme for schedulers? Perhaps we need to think about almost a scheduling apprenticeship.”

This article originally appeared in the ALBUM magazine.

How LTAs should outline costs of BSIPs

BSIPs, A group of friends use the mobile phone while traveling in an urban bus

11th October 2021 – The Department for Transport (DfT) has updated guidance to local transport authorities (LTAs) and bus operators on Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs), which LTAs are required to publish by this month.

The guidance explains how LTAs should outline their funding requirements (both capital and resource) to deliver the expectations set out in the National Bus Strategy.

BSIPs, A group of friends use the mobile phone while traveling in an urban bus

They should provide an indicative view of potential local authority and operator priorities for additional government funding.

The guidance states: “We do not expect BSIPs to provide detailed definitive costings. BSIPs will enable the government to understand the appetite for transformational investments to support the bus sector in the funding period and beyond 2025.”

The strategy sets out an ambitious vision to dramatically improve bus services in England outside London through greater local leadership, to reverse the recent shift in journeys away from public transport and encourage passengers back to bus.

LTAs and local bus operators must work together with local communities to plan and deliver a fully integrated service with simple, multi-modal tickets, more bus priority measures, the same high quality information for all passengers in more places, and better turn-up-and-go frequencies that keep running into the evenings and at weekends.

A BSIP is the essential first step as it will be the extent of the ambition, delivered through an Enhanced Partnership or franchising, that will be critical when Government decides how new funding is allocated.

Read the full announcement: BSIPs guidance 11/10//21

Network planning to attract new passengers

network planning, customers on a bus

The National Bus Strategy (NBS) sets out a vision to improve bus services with the principal aim of encouraging more people to use buses, which means the traditional approach of network planning is going to change.

Previously operators have driven most of the decision making due to buses being largely run on a commercial basis and have had full control in terms of the services they run, which communities they serve, the frequency of services, and the times of day they operate. Now, Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) will have more control over bus services and there will be a bigger push, not only for commercial services, but also economically necessary funded services to meet the needs of local communities.

network planning, customers on a bus

LTAs and operators have a responsibility to work more collaboratively in order to provide an integrated and efficient service for customers. The majority of LTAs have opted for Enhanced Partnerships over Franchising; working closely with operators to improve the network instead of having full control over bus services. Partnerships already operate very successfully, with examples in Nottingham, Brighton, and the West Midlands delivering passenger growth and high levels of customer satisfaction.

LTAs are required to set Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) which they will then closely monitor in order to receive grant funding. The majority of operators in the region must agree to the BSIPs and ensure that they consistently follow the points laid out in the plan to receive BSOG payments.

Utilising data to improve the network

The NBS is encouraging a more open sharing of data between LTAs and operators and insisting that processes become more transparent, which requires a level of trust from both parties. Previously operators will have only had to share data from contracted services, but now the LTAs require data from commercial services: such as patronage, revenue, and customer feedback.

This shared information can be used to inform the structure of the network. For example, an increase in bus lanes and traffic priority measures will speed up journey times, which means fewer buses are needed to run on that particular route, giving them the opportunity to be utilised elsewhere. This can also lead to a reduction in the cost to run the service, which in turn can be passed on to passengers in the form of lower fares. Faster journey times and lower fares will also help to encourage more people to use the bus.

In order to monitor the progress of BSIPs, LTAs need access to data to see whether or not the goals are being achieved and to see if they have made an improvement to service and patronage levels. These results are also required to be published under the funding terms, which means it is important to get accurate figures.

Software solutions can be implemented to monitor route performance to assess how successful a route is, and customer feedback can be collated and tracked to see where issues may have developed and why. Analysis tools can also be utilised to give a complete picture of the network by collating all the data into one system and offering breakdowns of individual areas. Users are able to view information such as patronage trends that are formulated into graphs and charts. This drill down capability provides intuitive interrogation of the data, investigating the root causes of any identified issues.

Coordinating services to streamline the network

A key point of the NBS is to simplify services for customers so that they feel more encouraged to use buses, whether that’s with multi-operator ticketing which enables the customer to use a variety of buses from different operators, or by implementing a more streamlined service.

The NBS encourages operators to work with LTAs to harmonise route numbers to improve the passenger experience. So instead of having two buses that serve different parts of the city but have the same service number, this would then change to two different numbered buses.

LTAs should plan an integrated transport network whereby other modes of transport, such as trains and trams are coordinated with bus services and arrive and depart at a suitable time so passengers can avoid waiting for long periods. Bus timetables should also be coordinated so different operators do not run buses at the same time, which will stop a duplication of effort and cut down on costs.

As well as streamlining the operational side, operator branding can be replaced with route branding to simplify the service. Software solutions can easily merge different operators’ timetables together and create a customised stop display that incorporates the route’s branding, making it easier for customers to know that they are getting on the right bus.

Improving process efficiencies

In many cases, processes between LTAs and operators are not synchronised and require time-consuming and error-prone manual duplication of data entry. Tools are available for mapping, timetabling, and scheduling, that can gather all the information from operators and consolidate this data into a single, combined view of operated routes which LTAs can then use to produce timetables for the whole network. Operators can then use tools that enable rapid scenario modelling to test for ‘what if’ scenarios and find the best way to service that route.

By using integrated software solutions, LTAs can transfer timetables into contract registers and operators can import the information and work out how to make the service more efficient, such as moving journey times to cut down on costs. They can then feed this information back to LTAs and share ideas without losing data integrity.

Historically this data has been exchanged over paper, pdf, email or excel and this format has had to be rekeyed into the operator’s or LTA’s systems, which is very time consuming and can lead to errors. Ideally, planning data should be shared via TransXChange files which should be used as a standard format across LTAs and operators, regardless of the different systems used. This will allow for a more efficient sharing of data as the operator can then import that file straight into their scheduling system.

How Omnibus can help

With over 30 years’ experience in software and consultancy services, Omnibus provides software and consultancy for passenger transport schedulingstaff rosteringdepot allocation and timetable construction to public transport operators and local authorities, with solutions being used in over 180 sites across the UK and overseas.

Webinar – Set up timetable data correctly in BODS for the festive period

Set up data correctly for BODS

Christmas isn’t all fun and chocolate. In the schedules office it might even be considered a dirty word.

Why? Well it’s the time of year when bus companies find themselves having to create multiple bespoke sets of timetables and schedules, sometimes a different one each day over a 10-day period. This year there is the added requirement to supply compliant BODS data too.

Set up data correctly for BODS

The webinar is aimed at existing OmniTIMES and BODS Exporter customers to learn more about how to set up data correctly in BODS over the festive and New Year period.

When it comes to scheduling, is there too much trust in technology?

Close up of man using laptop

Computers are heavily relied upon for information, but sometimes the answer you want isn’t the one you always get. When it comes to scheduling, spotting when something isn’t quite right is a vital skill.

Can you trust technology? And the biggest question is: Can you trust your operation to be in the hands of technology?

Close up of man using laptop

With over 25 years’ experience providing public transport operators and local authorities with systems that meet their needs, Omnibus is one of the industry leaders in providing passenger transport software, whether that be to timetable, schedule, staff, record, manage and publicise services. 

Omnibus has a range of software solutions to meet any demand within the running of your operation, but it isn’t software that Omnibus discusses with routeone – it was the people who use it. 

Don’t de-skill a trade 

Scheduling is an art and a skill, and one that requires training. Most of all, it requires a scheduler, not just scheduling computer software. 

Transport is more than just a vehicle taking passengers from a to b, as operators will know, there’s hours of planning and organising that goes into running a functioning and successful bus service. 

Peter Crichton, Omnibus MD, says: “We still believe passionately that we need somebody that understands what they’re doing in the job. 

“If you’re the one controlling the computer, you should have a knowledge of what you’re actually controlling – having an understanding of what manual scheduling involves.” 

In a time where technology is evolving at a rapid rate and technological solutions are making tasks simple and easier – even if it means putting someone out of a job – Peter expresses his concerns about the “spin” computer systems get. 

“There’s quite a lot of spin these days about computers being able to do everything, but computers are only controlled by human beings who need to know what they’re controlling. 

“Scheduling is a skill. You don’t de-skill your accountants or your finance managers when you get a new piece of software, so why do people do it for schedulers?” 

Need to understand 

Using a computer system, if one chooses, is acceptable. But as Peter explains, someone will still need to understand what the outcome of the process should be. 

“At the end of the day, the whole thing with computers is, it’s garbage in, garbage out – and you only know whether it’s producing a good result if you know what you’re aiming for in the first place,” he says. 

“I think there is a tendency sometimes to undervalue schedulers, but with a stroke of a pen they can save companies hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

“You only have to input one – even when using a computer – silly parameter and make a meal-break twice as long as it needs to be and then suddenly your duties are costing a lot more,” Peter explains. 

Omnibus isn’t saying to rid the industry of computers, admitting that its computer systems will help just as much as the next, but it’s promoting the need for human control surrounding the job of scheduling. 

Whether a firm chooses to use a computer system or manual, someone will be at the helm inputting data – however, there is a disregard for training those people in control of scheduling. 

No magic box 

“There’s so much praise for how wonderful these computer systems are, and it might be seen as a bit of a luddite approach to be saying ‘oh you need to be trained’, but the only way you can judge something and to benchmark it is to know what it’s supposed to be achieved. 

“I think so many people think there’s a magic box, you just press a button,” Peter says. 

He also explains that while it will produce a result, someone will still need the knowledge to guide it to get that result. 

He adds: “It’s got to have parameters and you’ve got to understand the rules the parameters are there to achieve, what you’re trying to get from those and how to tweak those parameters to get the result you want – it’s not just a case of press a magic button and it’ll all work. 

“Schedulers need to understand what they’re actually doing. This is why we’re saying there is a need for the industry to start training again.” 

Essential training 

Omnibus is running a scheduling training course, which it says is getting enquiries because people are realising they need to have the skills to understand what it is they’re trying to achieve. 

The course is based at Omnibus’ own training rooms in Oldham and lasts for two days. It is open to anyone interested in planning and scheduling and takes place throughout the year. 

The training sessions come after the company decided to takeover Jim Hulme’s schedule training course TransACT. 

Peter says: “Jim wanted to retire, and we decided that this vital course needed to carry on, so we’ve taken over the rights to it.” 

The course gives an insight into how to produce timetables and schedules manually, which might seem counter intuitive for a company that specialises in scheduling software. But by understanding the manual process, it gives an ability to know what answer to anticipate from the computer and becomes easier to spot anomalies, usually caused by restrictive or incorrect parameters. 

Peter adds: “You would never ask someone who didn’t know how to do accounts to run your year-end figures. Likewise, with scheduling, you shouldn’t expect someone with no knowledge of how the process works to get the best from the software.”

This article originally appeared in routeone magazine.

Why do we still bother to schedule buses?

Three Dublin Bus double decker buses on Westmoreland Street, Dublin city centre.

There has been much talk across the bus industry about demand forecasting, dynamic route management and big data.

With all the technology and data now available to operators, why do we still bother to schedule buses?

The simple answer is scheduling your operation in advance will give you the best plan possible for any given day of service.

Three Dublin Bus double decker buses on Westmoreland Street, Dublin city centre.

This is unavoidably as true today as it has been in the past, however, the wealth of data available to us may advise a movement away from the ridged service patterns of the past.

Realistic schedules help financial forecasts

Traditional service patterns, such as ‘school days’, ‘school holidays’, ‘Saturdays’ and ‘Sundays’ are if nothing else, easy to interpret. That means anyone stood by the road on a Wednesday in mid-summer can easily predict that the buses are operating the ‘school holidays’ timetable. The danger of moving towards more complex (though arguably more precise) service patterns is that you may lose a degree of that predictability. 

Regardless of the number of service patterns required and created, the work carried out by a good schedule compiler will always ensure that every journey required, for any given day of service, is resourced in the most efficient and economical way.

The resulting set of schedules are often then used to predict costs and develop financial forecasts, so it is essential that the planned hours, miles and resources determined by these schedules are realistic to lessen the chances of any sudden financial strife for the company. How realistic these schedules are will depend upon how sensitive the data used to create them is to any unpredictable forces that are prevalent in the real world.

As we have mentioned, it is unarguably necessary for your scheduler to create driver duties that are efficient, but they should also be realistic and fair. This should be in recognition that the true costs of driver duties is found in the total paid hours, after the work has happened.

If duties are not realistic then the actual paid hours are likely to increase from the hours planned. Also, if they are not fair then staff retention or absence could start to become an issue.

Communicating with customers

But scheduling isn’t all about the money. Your completed schedules are also required to communicate with the travelling public as to what journeys are available.

Bus companies have a legal obligation to provide information regarding their services, not only to the public, but also to the local authority and the Traffic Commissioners office. This means that the scheduling process must take place in ample time to correctly resource and make any necessary changes to service before declaring the journeys you are going to operate. 

How you communicate any changes to your services is key and should not be seen as a begrudged legal obligation. Also, it should be recognised that how easy it is to communicate any changes to anyone, will depend heavily upon how complex your service patterns may have become in the pursuit of precision. 

Many operators have embraced various technologies to help reach out to their customers; be that through social media or dedicated mobile apps and websites. These technology based methods should not, however, be the only interface you have with your customers or else you risk denying information to those who are less ‘connected’ or who may only travel occasionally.

Power of a customer-focused driver

To reach out to these groups perhaps some clear messages either on or off the buses could be employed, but perhaps most crucially, you should never underestimate the power of a well-informed and customer-focused driver. 

Here again we have an example of how communication is key. Having those who have to deliver any schedule produced engaging with changes, has to be encouraged. If nothing else, getting information on how and why certain parts of an existing schedule may or may not work too well ‘on the road’ is vital. But by giving the workforce as much information in advance of a change will mean that they are able to communicate directly with your customers, armed with the facts and real knowledge. 

So, why do we schedule. Well, in part it is to ensure that we can operate services efficiently and economically and, therefore, control the costs of our operation much more keenly.

Scheduling also helps to ensure that our legal responsibilities as an operator are met. But we also schedule to help our customers by providing service information that is truthful, reliable and can be understood. How we ensure the quality and reliability of this information is through good communication between those who plan the services and those who have to deliver them.

Are you ready for Bus Open Data Service (BODS)?

Network Big Data Transfer

The Bus Open Data Service (BODS) provides bus timetable, vehicle location and fares data for every local bus service in England.

The Department for Transport (DfT) wants to make it easier to travel by bus and says the open data will enable passengers to plan their journeys with confidence, spend less time waiting and find the best value tickets.

Aiden Proctor gives a rundown on the intricacies of a BODS timetable file.

Network Big Data Transfer

What is BODS?

The Bus Open Data Service is a scheme led by the Department for Transport (DfT) that requires all bus operators in England to publish timetables, fares and live vehicle tracking in an open data format that can be read by other downstream users. The intention is to provide more data to transport users, improving accessibility but also allowing third party developers access to the data.

What is required?
In regards to timetables, operators are required to supply a TransXChange (TXC) file that is either uploaded and hosted on the DfT site or hosted elsewhere but linked to the DfT site. The DfT wrote a separate list of requirements for the data it wanted to be included in a TXC file for BODS. This is known as the PTI Profile. It is currently on version 1.1A.

Fares and live tracking data is supplied differently and not in the scope of Omnibus.

What is the difference between a file for BODS and a standard TXC file?
The PTI Profile sits within the TXC 2.4 schema – that means the BODS file is laid out and set up in the same way as a normal TXC file but some of the data fields that are optional within a standard TXC 2.4 file are mandatory in a BODS file. The PTI Profile also stipulates the way that some of the data entries must be configured – this may be different to how you would export it as a normal TXC 2.4 file.

So what does that all mean?
It means that producing a standard TXC 2.4 file will not produce a compliant BODS file. That is why Omnibus created a separate BODS Exporter within our TXC Exporter Module.

Why is it separate?
Our standard TXC Exporter is very versatile in the way it allows users to configure the data fields they export in a TXC file. BODS does not have this flexibility – it must contain certain data and in a certain format. Therefore, we created a separate export routine. The BODS Exporter offers no ability for a user to customise their output because the data format is very specific as detailed by the PTI Profile.

What is happening in the real world?
The DfT have set a deadline of 30th September 2021 for all timetable files submitted to BODS to be compliant with the PTI Profile 1.1A. This means that a standard TXC 2.4 file or an invalid BODS format file will no longer be accepted.

Our friendly team is fully versed on BODS requirements and can walk you through the whole process, and continue to support you as requirements evolve. Think of us as your partner and just know that we’ve got your back; all you need to do is get in touch and we’ll be happy to make this process as simple as possible for you.

£226.5m bus sector funding to succeed CBSSG

Female passenger sitting on a bus

7th July 2021 – A £226.5 million bus sector funding package to ensure services outside London continue to run after coronavirus restrictions are lifted, has been announced today.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the cash injection for operators in England will run from September 2021 until the end of the current financial year. After April 2022, no further COVID-19-related support for the sector will be provided.

Female passenger sitting on a bus

The funding will be provided on a formula basis and follows the current emergency support package – COVID-19 Bus Service Support Grant (CBSSG) – which ends on 31 August.
In a written statement to Parliament on 6 July, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said that the bus sector funding will fund operators and local authorities.

“In addition to helping maintain services, recovery funding will support the key aims of the National Bus Strategy of encouraging local authorities and operators to work together to deliver better bus services. In return for receiving funding, operators will be asked to commit to co-operating with the process for establishing Enhanced Partnerships or franchising,” he said.

The announcement comes as the DfT said it has received 35 Expression of Interest applications for the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, which gives local transport authorities the opportunity to compete for a share of £120 million to support the rollout of zero emission buses across England.

Both schemes are part of the government’s drive to build back better and greener from the pandemic, as the UK prepares to host COP26 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has welcomed the funding. But it called on the government to work with “industry to loudly back a return to bus” to support the economic recovery of towns and cities and “ensure the country remains on track to meet its ambitious climate change and air quality goals”.

Read the full announcement – £226 million package to support vital bus services.