Warrington has received confirmation from the Department for Transport that it will be one of the Local Authorities to receive a significant cash boost from the National Bus Strategy - Bus Back Better – fund.
The funding is currently indicative and officers will be liaising with the Department for Transport to confirm funding over the next few weeks.
The council submitted its application for the funding last year, following a public consultation held during summer 2021 on its Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), which was submitted to government in October 2021. This consultation gave people the opportunity to have their say on how bus services in Warrington should be improved - and this funding will be vital to help deliver these improvements.
The indicative funding allocation of around £16.2m for Warrington means the council can commence delivery of its BSIP, working with partners over the next three years to make buses cheaper, more often, faster and reliable, easier to use and better integrated.
First published in March 2021, the national Bus Back Better strategy sets out the vision to dramatically improve bus services in England outside London, reversing the recent shift in journeys away from public transport and encouraging passengers back to the bus. The Government has committed £3 billion in grants to support the national strategy.
Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for transportation, highways and public realm, Cllr Hans Mundry, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news for Warrington and a real boost to our plans to invest in sustainable transport and transform bus travel in our borough.
“We are fully committed to driving up the number of people who choose the bus for their journeys, by creating a more reliable, sustainable and attractive bus service for Warrington. The confirmation that we have been awarded such a significant funding allocation from the Government is a real vote of confidence in our vision.
“We have listened to the views of local people in the development of our BSIP, and we will now be moving ahead with making many of those improvements a reality, as part of our work to deliver a bus service fit for the future.”
The funding announcement means work will soon be able to commence on a number of projects to enhance the operation of bus services locally, including schemes to improve bus priority around the A49 corridor. This will complement additional bus priority measures for Wilderspool Causeway, already planned using Town Deal funding.
In addition, Punctuality Improvement Plans will be introduced at identified congested hotspots across Warrington’s network, which will make journeys by bus quicker than they are today. The funding also includes provision for kick-starting improvements in fares and service frequencies.
The national strategy requires that, as part of the BSIP, the council puts in place an Enhanced Partnership model with local bus operators, which will see the council engaging with all bus operators in Warrington, ensuring high standards are set out in a number of areas, including:
- A fares review
- State-of-the-art vehicles, with the highest standards of quality and accessibility
- Clear targets for journey times and reliability improvements, to be reported at least every six months
- Identifying where bus priority measures are needed, including consideration of Bus Rapid
- Transit to transform key corridors and application of traffic management to benefit buses
Councillor Cathy Mitchell, Deputy Leader of Warrington Borough Council and Chair of Warrington’s Own Buses, said “We are making huge strides forward in our work to transform bus travel in Warrington, and this is the latest success story for our borough. I’d like to thank the team at the council who worked so hard to put together our bid.
“This funding award shows real recognition from the Government of the positive role played by municipal bus operators and gives us a fantastic opportunity to deliver massive improvements, across the board.
“Work is already under way on a number of projects aimed at improving the experience of bus users in Warrington. We’re now looking forward – through our Enhanced Partnership - to taking these improvements to the next level, delivering the industry-leading bus service that our passengers deserve.”
Managing Director of Warrington’s Own Buses, Ben Wakerley, said: “These are exciting times for bus travel in Warrington. Work is already under way on our brand new bus depot as part of the Town Deal programme, while our success in securing ZEBRA funding means we can look forward to the roll-out of our all-electric buses next year. The Bus Back Better funding is the latest piece of the jigsaw, bringing our shared vision for the transformation of our bus services a step closer to reality.
“I’m pleased that we have secured this funding. It will provide vital investment for the delivery of a modern, reliable and better integrated bus service, which will bring huge benefits for people in Warrington, our town and our sustainable future.”