Agenda item

BSIP (Bus Service Improvement Plan) 2023


Councillor Mark Coker (Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure) introduced the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) 2023 and highlighted the following points:


a)    If Plymouth was to reach its climate emergency ambitions, the bus would need to not only be a tool of inclusion, but the transport choice moving forward;

b)    A BSIP was a requirement following the 2021 National Bus Strategy;

c)    The BSIP set out what was required to make buses easier cheaper and better and more convenient;

d)    It was submitted in September 2021, but failed to attract funding along with 61% of other authorities, however, it remained the bidding document for this and future rounds of funding, so needed to be refreshed;

e)    Constructive feedback was provided by the Department for Transport and the team had used this to develop and refresh the BSIP;

f)     He had welcomed representatives from the Department for Transport in Summer 2023, and they had been impressed with many aspects of public transport in the city;

g)    The visit had been a reminder that Plymouth was well-placed to ‘deliver bus back better’, the aim of the 2023 BSIP;

h)    Improvements needed to be made in what remained highly challenging financial circumstances, and passengers and the bus industry were working with Plymouth City Council to identify improvements;

i)     The vision was to create a thriving bus network to connect people to important places with services that were frequent, reliable, fast, affordable, safe and clean;

j)     The vision was underpinned by nine passenger priorities focused on frequency, reliability, journey speed, affordability, safety, cleanliness, making buses simple, better connected, accessible and modern;

k)    The team were engaging with bus users on ranking these priorities to ensure the plan reflected the needs of current and potential users;

l)     The BSIP was a clear, evidence-based rationale for improvement of Plymouth’s bus services, that made the city well-placed to receive future rounds of government funding.


Supported by Rosemary Starr (Sustainable Transport Manager) added:


m)  A statutory partnership had been established and had come into effect on 1 April 2023, which would be the instrument for the delivery of the BSIP, should funding be secured, as required by the National Bus Strategy of 2021;

n)    The 2021 National Bus Strategy had been the first of its kind and aimed to restore public transport, increase use and it also included 12 themes which the BSIP responded to;

o)    The BSIP had also been designed to deliver against two strategic priorities within the Plymouth Plan: To deliver a safe and accessible and health-enabling transport system, and using transport to grow the economy;

p)    The BSIP had 3 strategic outcomes:

                      i.        Supporting the local economy and facilitating economic development;

                     ii.        Delivering wider social and health benefits;

                    iii.        Enabling reduction of carbon emissions and improving air quality;

q)    The vision of the BSIP was “to create a thriving bus network where everyone can be connected to important people and places, by services that were frequent, reliable, fast, affordable, safe and clean, which would help Plymouth achieve its net zero goals by 2030;

r)    The priorities were out for consultation with a variety of groups to ensure they were correct and ranked correctly;

s)     The BSIP included a proposal to set up a bus user panel to engage with people on a regular basis regarding both what they would like to see improved, and as a group with which to test proposals before implementation;

t)     1,670 responses had been received at that point for the BSIP Passenger Priority Survey and the top three priorities were frequent, reliable, fast and affordable;

u)    Six core corridors had been identified across the city and the improvements would be undertaken along these corridors in order for the investment to have maximum impact;

v)    Detailed the strengths and weaknesses of each of the priorities as detailed in the background paper uploaded for this item;

w)   The targets for the plan were in two sets, one for 2030 to meet Plymouth’s Net Zero target, and one for 2034 to tie in with the Plymouth Plan, these were also set out in more detail in the background papers.


In response to questions it was further explained:

x)    Buses needed to be able to get through traffic, but designs would not intend on holding up traffic;

y)    Passenger growth targets were ambitious but it was important to be ambitious following feedback from the Department for Transport;

z)    People that were 19 years of age had been identified as an appropriate age to increase child fares to. This would ensure it was the same across providers, and whilst there had not been proposals to increase the age further, there had been discussions around the provision of a skipper ticket that would work across providers to make travel more competitive in terms of cost;

aa)  They would take the suggestion that bus providers undertook bystander training to help make women feel more safe in using public transport at night, to the enhanced partnership;

bb) There were plans to introduce a park and ride location close to Sherford, once a certain number of houses had been completed there and was supported by Plymouth City Council, Devon County Council and South Hams Council;

cc)  The Bus User Panel was still being developed and the team were going to be in a meeting the following week to discuss best practice across the country to make the panel the best it could be;

dd) Traffic on the roads was expected to increase, and so the target of keeping bus journey times the same as they were was ambitious;

ee) The team would take the feedback for consideration that an orbital route in Plympton/Plymstock would be beneficial;

ff)    The measures within the BSIP were gender neutral;

gg)  Plymotion feedback would include information on the barriers people faced in using buses and the team could look to see if there was a trend amongst men, choosing to use their car rather than the bus;

hh) It was important to encourage the older generations to use the buses, whose usage of public transport had declined since the COVID19 pandemic, not just to encourage public transport use for environmental reasons, but also to improve mental and physical health;

ii)    Feedback from areas where bus shelters had been removed would be considered to determine if some could be replaced;

jj)    The team were working with employers to encourage change in the way people travel to work and the dockyard had introduced discounts for bus users, and bus services had been put on for match days for Plymouth Argyle;

kk) It was important to work with schools as children could be very influential on modes of transport used by parents;

ll)    Clear communication was essential to encourage people to use buses, including the real time information, as well as timetable and ticketing information;

mm)   Bus operators had joined the national neighbourhood watch campaign for   community safety and the enhanced partnership would continue this work;

nn)   The team were looking at other funding options available to make the bus networks greener;

oo)  The Peninsula Transport Board was working on a strategy for the west country and park and rides would be looked at within this, and the need for one in Cornwall to allow people to park and ride into Plymouth would be encouraged by Plymouth City Council;

pp)   Councillor Coker was happy to look into the possibility of care experienced young people getting a discount on buses with the providers.


The Committee agreed to:


1.   Endorse the draft of the 2023 Plymouth Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP);

2.   Endorse the nine passenger priorities set out within the BSIP 2023 as the drivers behind the improvements that the BSIP sought to deliver;

3.   Endorse the measures set out within the BSIP as key interventions, which supported the policies of the Plymouth Plan and, on delivery, would help deliver the identified passenger priorities.



Supporting documents: