News
Yeovil 4 thumbnail.jpg

Wednesday 4 May: PARTY LEADERS IN SOMERSET BACK MORE MONEY FOR BUSES


Leaders of the Conservatives, LibDems, Labour and the Greens in Somerset are now all backing more money to be spent on buses which is a key point in the Somerset Bus Partnership BUS MANIFESTO that was launched last month.
 

Peter Travis, Co-Chair of Somerset Bus Partnership, said, “We launched our BUS MANIFESTO to make buses a key issue for all the parties standing for the Unitary election and we now have the leaders of all the main parties in Somerset personally backing our BUS MANIFESTO.
 

Also, more than half of all the candidates (that's over 170 of them) who are standing for election in Somerset have contacted Somerset Bus partnership individually and pledged their personal support for improving buses in Somerset.”
 

The 6-point Somerset Bus Partnership BUS MANIFESTO calls for a core network of frequent, high-quality services linking Somerset towns and villages, an extension of demand responsive Slinky buses, better integration with rail, cheaper fares especially for young people and to transition to zero emission buses by 2030.
 

The Somerset Bus Partnership notes, “Much of this will rely on Somerset winning more Government money, but we now have all the major political parties committed to providing increased financial support for buses over the next 5 years of the new Somerset Unitary council that we will be electing on Thursday”.
 

Somerset Bus Partnership was set up just over a year ago to campaign for better buses in Somerset. Somerset has been shown to have the worst rated bus services in the country and has the second lowest bus journeys per head of the population (according to Department for Transport statistics). Somerset Bus Partnership is independent and is not associated with any political party. It now has over 120 representatives of town and parishes from across Somerset.

The following candidates standing in the election for the new Somerset Unitary Council have indicated their support for the Somerset Bus Partnership BUS MANIFESTO (please see the following link for this information): https://www.somersetbuspartnership.co.uk/our-bus-manifesto
 

April 6 - Think Travel Portal Launched


Somerset County Council has developed a new journey planning website called ‘Think Travel’ which is now available through the link below. The website is dedicated to planning journeys within Somerset and includes information on public buses and community transport as well as SCC’s Slinky demand responsive transport (DRT) service. There is also a dedicated noticeboard area to help facilitate car sharing where individuals or groups can post offers or requests for lifts.
 

The website will be particularly useful to individuals or groups who have difficulty accessing public transport and want to know what other transport options are available to them.
 

Please can you share the link with partners, individuals and groups that you support or anyone that you think would benefit from its use.
 

https://somerset.thinktravel.info/


Tuesday 5 April - We have launched our Bus Manifesto for Somerset.  We will be asking all candidates in the upcoming elections to support what we feel is the minimum that the new County Council/Unitary Authority should agree to.

We will be publishing a list of those candidates who we have had replies from and have shown their support for our Bus Manifesto on Monday 2 May. The list will be published on Our Bus Manifesto page.

Friday 1 April - We have heard that an award will be made to Somerset County Council.  The indicative amount is £11.9 million, less than 8% of what was requested in the Bus Service Improvement Plan.  We are waiting for confirmation of the amount and how this can be used to improve Bus Services in Somerset.  Your views are important to us - please use the contact form on the contact us page to tell us what you think.

Thursday 24 March at 1930 - Next Somerset Bus Partnership meeting  via Zoom. Please contact us if you want to join the meeting. 

1 March - The Government anncounced the extension of the Bus Recovery Grant until October 2022. We would envisage this announcment will prevent most bus services being affected by severe bus cuts in April (the planned date for the next service changes). 
 

For more information: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/over-150-million-provided-to-safeguard-local-transport-services-as-the-country-emerges-from-the-pandemic

28 February - 126 Somerset Bus Partnership Respresentatives

We have now got 126 represetnatives across Somerset! If you would like

to be your parish representative please do get in touch. 

28 February - Over 50 letters by Somerset Bus Partnership

represenatives sent to Baroness Vere Of Norbiton (Buses Minister)

Rushi Sunak, Chancellor Of The Exchequer requesting a continuation

of the Bus Recovery Fund money.

This fund is due to run out at the beginning of April. If the fund isn't

continued then buses are likely to be cut by a 1/3 due to low bus usage

during Covid. Bus userage is around 60% of pre Covid levels in the

Somerset / South West. Pre Omicron it was around 70-75% Somerset / South West.

16 February - Peter Travis, Co-Chair of Somerset Bus Partnership interviewed on BBC Somerset. 

15 February: Email update to our represetnatives and call for action

 

Dear All, 

We have had a very busy few months since our last regional Zoom meetings with Somerset Bus Partnership representatives.  

This note is therefore an update but also a call for urgent action.

 

First, to update you on the progress that Somerset Bus Partnership continues to make in terms of representing and advancing the cause of bus passengers in the Somerset area through the Bus Back Better process. 

All our co-chairs now have seats on the key decision-making Bus Advisory Board (this Board is primarily a forum for all the bus operators in Somerset). We also have Peter Travis as Chair and Tony Reese as Vice Chair of the Bus User and Stakeholder Bus Group. We have had two meetings of the Bus Advisory Board and Bus User and Stakeholder Bus Group. 

We are in ongoing dialogue with MPs, County and District Councillors, officers at SCC and bus company executives. We have written to Boris Johnson and Baroness Vera.

We have been lobbying Somerset County Council to increase their funding of buses and have spoken at the SCC Scrutiny meetings as part of the budget review process for 2022/2023. We have also written to all the political parties with the Somerset Bus Partnership manifesto for buses. We have so far met with the Lib Dem, Labour and Green party representatives.  

 

Peter Travis has met with David Warburton MP, and he is currently seeing if a meeting can be arranged with David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, to discuss bus funding.

There is no announcement from the Department of Transport on how much money Somerset County Council will get for their Bus Service Improvement plan but they should hopefully hear in February. As soon as we have more information about the funding and next steps we will arrange a further meeting with our representatives.


Whether it is shaping the Bus Service Improvement Plan for the benefit of current and potential passengers or playing a pivotal role in moving forward ground breaking bus decarbonisation initiatives, Somerset Bus Partnership has been front and centre of it all.
 

But we couldn’t do any of it without the support and efforts of you, the ‘local representatives’ in the villages and towns of Somerset.

We now have over 110 representatives from across the county of Somerset ... we applaud you for stepping forward and taking on this role on behalf of your communities. It is because of your efforts the Somerset Bus Partnership gets a place at the top table and ensures our collective voice is heard about the issues facing bus users. Your input on your local bus issues is invaluable to us, and we have already raised with the key players many of the submissions that we have received. Please do keep them coming. 

 

URGENT ACTION NEEDED.
Bus Services in Somerset Under Threat

The Covid-19 Bus Recovery Grant funding is currently enabling our bus services in Somerset to operate despite most of our bus routes operating at only 60% of pre Covid levels.

 

If the Covid-19 Bus Recovery Grant funding is not extended into April and beyond, we will see our bus services slashed.

The Local Government Association is suggesting in April our bus services could be cut by 30%. Some bus services will go completely. Wera Hobhouse, Bath’s MP, has warned bus services will likely fall off a cliff in April if the Bus Recovery Grant is not extended. A leading bus operator said, “The bus sector is hurtling towards disaster.”   

Therefore, could you please … urgently … send an email (doesn’t need to be long) to the Government Buses Minister demanding that the Covid-19 Bus Recovery Grant funding is continued beyond April: 

BARONESS VERE OF NORBITON (Buses Minister) - email verec@parliament.uk 

Also we suggest you copy your email to your MP (below are the email addresses of Somerset’s MPs so please cc your MP): 

o   MARCUS FYSH (Yeovil) - email marcus.fysh.mp@parliament.uk 

o   IAN LIDDELL-GRAINGER (Bridgwater and West Somerset) - email ianlg@parliament.uk 

o   DAVID WARBURTON (Somerton and Frome) - email david.warburton.mp@parliament.uk 

o   JAMES HEAPPEY (Wells) - email james.heappey.mp@parliament.uk  

o   REBECCA POW (Taunton Deane) - email rebecca.pow.mp@parliament.uk  

Please also copy in Somerset Bus Partnership to any emails too. Our email address: somersetbuspartnership@gmail.com

Additionally, if you should speak to candidates for the Somerset Unitary Council May elections, please ask them what their plans are to protect and improve our bus services here in Somerset.

 

There’s never been a time when our bus services in Somerset have been at so much risk.

Your campaigning can make a difference.

Many thanks for all that you do.

The Somerset Bus Partnership Team.

 

February 2021 - Peter Travis, Co-Chair of Somerset Bus Partnership and Tony Reese, Co Chair of Somerset Bus Partnership appointed Chair and Co Chair of Somerset County Council's Bus Users & Stakeholder group. 

20 January - 110 Somerset Bus Partnership Respresentatives

15 Decenber - 96 Somerset Bus Partnership Respresentatives

Somerset Bus Partnership invited to join the new Somerset Bus Advisory Board

12 November 2021 - Somerset County Council is tasked with setting up a Bus Advisory Board under the National Bus Strategy.  The Somerset Bus Partnership have been invited to attend the first meeting on 23rd November. 

This will undoubtedly cover the boring bits, like terms of reference, and other administrative details, but it 18will show the way as to how serious the leadership of the Council are in engaging with stakeholders and users of the bus service. 
 

More than 80 representatives4 October 2021 - We now have have more than 80 people willing to report on

bus service improvements needed in Somerset.  We are wll on the way to our goal of a bus champion in every

village and town.  Come and join us - write something on our Contact page and let us know what you think

Somerset Bus Partnership Meeting 14 & 16 September

On the 14 & 16 September we held Zoom meetings to update on the Somerset Bus Service Improvement Plan with over 80 Councils, bus user groups and interested parties. 

The  link for Tuesday’s Zoom meeting (90mins long video) can be accessed here: https://youtu.be/4H0700KIV4g

Click on the pdf logo for the slides from the meeting

 

 

YT.JPG

NEXT STEPS
 

1.     Please do write to your MP and given the state of the bus services in Somerset. Emphasise how the Somerset BSIP deserves to be seen as a priority by the Department of Transport.

 

2.     Please contact your County Councillor to ensure the Somerset BSIP addresses your issues with your local buses.

 

3.     It’s never too late to feed your thoughts to Somerset County Council about your bus issues. Email transport@somerset.gov.uk and please copy us in via our email address: somersetbuspartnership@gmail.com.

 

4.     We are concerned about the state of many bus stops and bus shelters (and indeed bus stations) across the County.

 

a.      If there are bus stops and bus shelters local to you that are in need of some care and attention please email us at: somersetbuspartnership@gmail.com and provide the name of the bus stop (on the bus flag at the bus stop or obtained via Google Maps (click on the blue bus icon where your bus stop is located), location of bus stop (e.g. bus stop name: Sainsbury’s Superstore and the and the bus stop code if you can find it. Location: Sainsburys, Sandy/s Hill Lane, Frome)

 

b.      Also let us know if the timetables aren’t up to date on the timetable cases. Please provide bus stop name, location, bus stop code and date of timetable.

 

c.      If you’re a town or parish councillor, could you send us a list of bus stops you own or maintain in your area name of bus stop, bus stop code and location).

 

5.     Last but certainly not least, we are very keen to encourage local people to come forward to represent their area or even their bus route. If you feel you could help us either by becoming your local representative or suggesting someone you feel could undertake that role, then please let us know.

 

We are waiting to hear back from Somerset County Council when our next meeting will be. We will be in touch soon.

27 August 2021

We are due to meet Somerset County Council and their consultants to hear how the Bus Services Improvement Plan is progressing, on 10th September.  We will report back to users and user groups after that. 

21 August 2021

Somerset County Council bus survey results announced. See pdf document with Somerset Bus Partnership's analysis. 

9 August 2021

Six days left to tell Somerset County Council what you think of bus services in Somerset and how they could be improved.

Please use the Somerset County Council Questionnaire at somerset.inconsult.uk/somerset.bus.survey/consultationHome  or send an e-mail to transport@somerset.gov.uk  

You can use the feedback form which you will find in our Useful Documents page, or just send an e-mail.

The deadline for this is 15 August 2021, so do it NOW.

13 & 15 July 2021: Somerset Bus Partnership Meeting 
 

We held two Zoom meetings toover100 Councils from across Somerset on why Somerset needs a BSIP, along with our thoughts on what strategies should underpin this Somerset Bus Service Improvement Plan.


Also the link of Tuesday’s Zoom meeting (just over an hour long video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cLmLn2ocUo&t=85s 

Our PowerPoint slides can be viewed here:


​26 July 2021

Somerset County Council are now working on the Somerset Bus Services Improvement Plan, and are looking for feedback from everyone.  This means you!

Please use the Somerset County Council Questionnaire at somerset.inconsult.uk/somerset.bus.survey/consultationHome  or send an e-mail to transport@somerset.gov.uk  

You can use the feedback form which you will find in our Useful Documents page, or just send an e-mail.

The deadline for this is 15 August 2021, so do it NOW.

​30 June 2021

Somerset Bus Partnership seeks and gets assurances from Somerset County Council with regard to consultations.

The response from Mike O'Dowd-Jones is on our documents page​​​

21 June 2021 - Somerset County Council commits to Enhanced Partnerships and Bus Improvement Plan

At the cabinet meeting on 21st June, Somerset County Council

•   Agreed that SCC commit to preparing an Enhanced Partnership Plan

     and Scheme; and

•   Delegated authority to the Strategic Commissioning Manager -

     Highways and Transport, in consultation with the County Solicitor,

     to draft and publish a Statutory Notice of Intent confirming this

     Commitment.

https://democracy.somerset.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=134&MId=1322

161595031_10165106851610161_8321722348801401050_n.jpg