Hull City Council and its partners including bus companies Stagecoach and East Yorkshire have agreed to commit to developing a bus service improvement plan for the whole city.
As part of the new National Bus Strategy, transport authorities have been asked to develop plans which consider things like the roll out of real-time data at local bus stops, touchscreen digital journey planning and simple low-cost ticketing to be used across public transport and even rapid transit opportunities.
Rapid transit is a dedicated route for guided buses or buses that run in a similar way as a tram. They have full and exclusive priority on the route and looks and feels like a tram service, often with double length buses.
Councillor Dean Kirk, portfolio holder for transportation, roads, highways and flood prevention, said: “The way in which we travel has changed. Transport habits during the pandemic saw a huge shift towards residents using cycling, walking and driving to get around the city. However our overall aim is for Hull to become carbon neutral by 2030, and to support these ambitious aims we must look at ways in which we can travel greener, minimise pollution and tackle congestion.
“That’s why we welcome the publication of the National Bus Strategy. We want people who live, visit and travel around the city to choose a more sustainable form of travel and as we develop plans to implement this, a reliable and efficient bus service is absolutely critical to this.
“Even if just five per cent of motorists chose a more sustainable form of transport, we would see a significant reduction in congestion levels and in turn improve air quality for the residents of Hull.”
East Yorkshire Area Director Ben Gilligan said: “Tens of thousands of people already use the bus in Hull every day, and the pandemic has shown that many key workers rely on the bus to get to work, so strategies for getting more people onto public transport is something that should be high on the agenda. We’re delighted to be working with Hull City Council and Stagecoach to help make bus travel even more attractive to people in the city, and we hope that many more Hull residents will realise that as well as being convenient and great value, bus travel is the best way to make our city greener, cleaner and less congested.”
Measures to improve the public transport offer in the city have already progressed with the implementation of smart city digital screens in Hull’s Paragon Interchange and the introduction of additional bus lanes which allow buses, cyclists and taxis to move freely throughout the day.
Matt Cranwell, Managing Director at Stagecoach East Midlands, said: “With the recently published National Bus Strategy, we now have a great and very timely opportunity to build on our strong partnership with Hull City Council even further and make sure that buses are at the heart of local economic recovery and harnessing their power in helping to tackle climate change, deliver better air quality and securing improved mobility for our communities.
“There has been a great deal of investment in recent years in vehicles, contactless ticket machines and easier ticketing solutions online and the mobile phone. As a Partnership there are further opportunities to enhance the services we offer to encourage more to travel sustainably.”
The bus service improvement plan will also build on the collaborative work carried out by the Quality Bus Partnership, which saw the introduction of the Hull Card and KAT Card. The Hull Card costs just £5 a day or £14.90 a week for unlimited travel using both Stagecoach and East Yorkshire buses. And the KAT card travel card created by Hull’s Young People’s Parliament (HYPP) which allows young people aged 19 and under to ride buses in Hull and parts of the East Riding for just £10 per week.
The council will also be launching a consultation to find out user habits and to understand the barriers people face when accessing public transport.
The National Bus Strategy will be discussed by councillors at the People and Communities Overview and Scrutiny meeting on Thursday 24 June.
If approved, the council’s bus improvement plan will be published at the end of October 2021 and reviewed annually.