Major improvements to buses are just around the corner as Lancashire County Council has awarded contracts for new services due to start in December, with more due to begin in February.
The council’s new administration has agreed to make an extra £1m available to support bus services, increasing the budget from £2m to £3m.
Key priorities are to restore lost links between communities, particularly in rural areas where people who don’t drive or own a car rely most on public transport, increase the frequency of services on routes where there is more demand, and stabilise the network to support routes which might otherwise disappear.
Key improvements to services due to start from Monday 11 December include:
• A network of Fylde Villager services to restore links to rural villages and increase the number of buses on routes between Preston, Lytham and Blackpool. These services will be operated by Rotala Preston Bus.
• Improvements to buses serving areas of Preston, Chorley, South Ribble and West Lancashire, restoring links to rural villages, and increase the number of buses. These services will be operated by Rotala Preston Bus.
• A new network of Pendleside Link services to restore rural village links and increase the number of buses across the Ribble Valley, Burnley and Pendle. These services will be operated by Boomerang Travel.
• Improvements to some services in Lancaster, with revised timetables for the Carnforth to Silverdale service, and the Lancaster to Knott End service to provide better links with trains and improve service reliability. These services will be operated by Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire Ltd.
County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “A good public transport network is vital to support our economy, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to access work and education. It also plays a vital role in helping people to carry out everyday tasks such as doing their shopping, visiting family and friends, and getting to health appointments.
“All county councillors have been involved in shaping these improvements by offering their local knowledge about where people will most benefit by being able to use public transport where there’s currently no service at all, or where having more frequent services will make using the bus a much more convenient option than it is at present.
“We’ve worked hard to make sure these proposals make the most impact with the resources available and have already had some really positive feedback from people who have told us that these improved services will make a real difference to them.
“A number of improvements to services will start in December but we’re also continuing discussions with bus operators in some areas of the county where we think the best option is to enhance an existing commercial service to better serve communities.”
A number of further improvements to buses are due to start in February 2018.
• Revisions to the ‘circular’ routes serving areas of Burnley and Pendle 9, 14, 15/15A to serve a wider area and increase the number of buses.
• Improvements to the 95 service between Colne and Burnley, combining with a new Service 95A to increase frequency of journeys and restore links to parts of Brierfield. These services are to be run by Holmeswood Coaches until February, with the operator beyond this to be confirmed.
You can find full details by searching ‘bus improvements’ at www.lancashire.gov.uk.