Meeting documents

SCC Bus Advisory Board
Tuesday, 23rd November, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting

No. Item


Welcome and Apologies for Absence


The Chair noted that the meetings of this Board are not subject to the statutory public meeting requirements and will therefore be held virtually, with a recording to be made and published on the Council’s website.  Members of the public can also observe virtually.  The Chair reminded attendees that the role of this Board is to provide a formal structure for discussion and engagement between the local authority and bus operators.


There were apologies from Andrew Ardlely (South Western Railway) and Doug Claringbold (First West of England).




Public Question Time

Please note – public questions should be submitted in writing no later than 3 clear working days before the meeting –



Terms of Reference - Agreement and Acceptance pdf icon PDF 60 KB


The Strategic Manager-Highways and Transport, Mike O’Dowd-Jones, presented the draft TOR, which have been discussed in a previous informal meeting and were attached to the Agenda.  The government guidance suggests that the Bus Advisory Board (bus operators and Local Authorities and partners) help to deliver the Enhanced Partnership (EP) Plan and Scheme; it was proposed that this be an informal partnership working by consensus and by representation to improve services.  It was further noted that there are interim arrangements in place to invite the representatives from bus user groups to take part until the Bus User and Stakeholder (BUS) Group can meet to formally elect a Chair and agree on bus user representation on the Bus Advisory Board.


The Strategic Manager proceeded to highlight one change in the draft TOR, specifically to Paragraph 4.3 regarding a Vice Chair; it is now felt that if the Chair is not available, an SCC officer can chair in his place.  This paragraph will be amended.


It was further noted with respect to the BUS Group that their purpose is to seek and report the views of a wide number of groups, involving free and frank exchange to assist with implementing the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) once funding allocation is confirmed, and that the Bus User and Stakeholder group will be set up before Christmas.


Questions were then asked; the first was whether the issue of bus stations and other infrastructure would be involved in the transition to the unitary Council.  The response was that it is early days and this is yet to be worked out, but it is assumed that all assets of the five Councils will be combined.  Any assets included within the BSIP will be discussed with District Councils, and the details will emerge later.


The Bus Advisory Board members unanimously accepted the Terms of Reference.


Meeting Standards - to confirm the format and standards expected

To receive a verbal update.


The Service Manager-Government and Democratic Services, Michael Bryant, reiterated that all Bus Advisory Board meetings would be run virtually, as they are not subject to the 1972 Act requiring that members attend in person.  As meetings are virtual, it was requested that anyone speaking identify themselves before doing so.


The Board were further informed that agendas, reports and recordings will be available on the SCC website; the Agenda will be published five clear days before the meetings, and any public questions must be submitted by three clear days before.  Meetings will be run on a consensus of opinion approach.


The Bus Advisory Board noted the meeting standards.



EP Process Timeline pdf icon PDF 818 KB

Presentation to follow.


The associate representative from WSP presented "Bus Back Better: Enhanced Partnership (EP) Plan and Scheme Process", first discussing the timeline for the process.  He provided background information, noting the National Bus Strategy called Bus Back Better launched by the government on 15th March 2021, which seeks to provide more attractive, affordable, understandable, useable, reliable, and green bus services.  The EP Plan and Scheme need to be prepared by the end of March 2022, which is a very intensive timeline.


The Bus Advisory Board noted the timeline.



Draft EP Plan and Scheme pdf icon PDF 3 MB

‘‘Draft copy of the EP Plan and Scheme. Text shown in ‘red’ relates to the guidance from the DfT and has been left in for information, this text will be removed prior to finalisation of the Plan and Scheme"


The associate representative from WSP continued with his presentation on the Enhanced Partnership Plan and Scheme, which has six themes:


·         Transport decarbonisation

·         More extensive and frequent network

·         Reduced travel costs

·         Improved network coordination between all travel modes

·         Easy access and reliability

·         Comfortable network with improved facilities


It was highlighted that the EP is a means by which to deliver the BSIP following a statutory process in the DfT guidance, which uses the Bus Services Act of 2017 and updates from the National Bus Strategy, and that the EP Plan provides a vision and objective for services while the EP Scheme provides precise details of how the vision and objective will be achieved (e.g., bus stops, targets, etc.).


The Board were informed that an important aspect of the EP is the formal operator objection period of at least 28 days following preparation of the EP Plan and Scheme and notification to operators.  It was noted that, as the timescale is very tight, any unforeseen amendments or changes must be avoided; this is why meetings and other engagement between the operators and the local transport authority (SCC in this case) are ongoing.  The presentation then moved to the Formal Consultation, which will include all operators affected, organisations representing local passengers, other local authorities that would be affected by the proposals, Traffic Commissioners, the Chief of Police for each area, Transport Focus, the Competition and Market Authority, and any other persons as the authority thinks fit.


In the EP Scheme, the obligations of the LTA involve facilities (new physical assets) and measures (actions to support the BSIP such as lowering fares and subsidies).  All of this is subject to the aware of sufficient funding through the BSIP process, which SCC will provide.  The obligations of the bus operators will be proposed once the EP Scheme is fully set out. 


It was then noted that:

·         In the EP Scheme, the obligations of the LTA involve facilities (new physical assets) and measures (actions to support the BSIP, such as lowering fares and subsidies.  All of this is subject to the award of sufficient funding through the BSIP process, which SCC will provide.  The obligations of the bus operators will be proposed once the EP Scheme is fully set out.

·         LTA facilities include the above-mentioned more extensive and frequent network (priorities include addressing reliability and punctuality), safe and comfortable network (introducing a bus stop design guide and hierarchy model), and facilities which can provide wider access to information across the network. 

·         LTA measures will include SCC support of operators towards zero emissions to achieve transport decarbonisation, seeking a range of measures such as digital Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) to meet priorities for a more extensive and frequent network, support of operators for simpler fares and promotion of growth in order to reduce travel costs, working with operators to ensure acceptance of contactless payments for all fares by April 2022 as well as launching the Think Travel information portal in order to improve accessibility and reliability, support  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Wider Governance Issues

To receive a verbal update.



The Strategic Manager-Highways and Transport, Mike O’Dowd-Jones, gave a verbal update on wider governance arrangements, noting the need to set up a Bus User Stakeholder group and get views from passengers, as well as the need to set up focus groups and ask representatives to take part in the Bus Advisory Board.


It was noted that, in terms of the EP Plan and Scheme, the documents will be published very soon, so bus operators need to consider all of the content and advise the Board if there are any legal issues. 


In the discussion, it was advised that there had been good working relationships with bus driver unions, and it was asked if there should be a formal mechanism to speak to them, specifically the policy officers.  It was also suggested that more regional lobbying for funds should be done.  It was responded that it was a good idea to work with unions and drivers, but it should be done through the operators, and that there was great involvement already in South West lobbying (the Chair noted that he would be in London next week lobbying with respect to rural transport).


The Bus Advisory Board received and discussed the presentation and agreed with the governance arrangements.



Any Other Business


There was no other business.



Next Meeting Date

To confirm future meeting dates (it is proposed that the Board meetings Monthly until March 2022).


The Board were informed that the next two meetings will be held on 16 December 2021 and 18 January 2022, with meeting held monthly.