The Transport Secretary said that the strategy, ‘Will deliver better bus services for passengers across England, through ambitious and far-reaching reform of how services are planned and delivered."

Improving the experience of passengers and increasing the number of bus journeys taken will lower carbon emissions and improve lives. As Simon Lusby puts it in his excellent article, correctly implementing the overarching strategy and positioning your Authority to take advantage of the financial injection will mean that local people ‘get to enjoy cleaner air, quieter roads, and the economic prosperity associated with increased mobility’.

Those of us who are passionate about the role of buses can certainly get behind those aims, yet there can be no doubt that publishing a strong BSIP (Bus Service Improvement Plan) brings with it its own challenges. Getting the process right could be the difference between success and failure when it comes to taking full advantage of the opportunities that the National Bus Strategy provides. Indeed, as Mel Holley points out in another great article, if your BSIP is ‘judged to be deficient, existing funding, such as for Bus Service Operators Grant, will cease.’

The deadline for submission of BSIPs is necessarily a tight one, and the task is made all the more challenging as, in the words of Lusby, ‘Authorities outside London have limited experience in the domain of Bus Service Planning’.

The passenger comes first

It is vital to put the passenger at the heart of your strategy, which includes the waiting environment and the information the passenger needs. By placing the passenger at the centre, you might well uncover a need to improve information and infrastructure. This requires confidence in your understanding of how your current setup is performing, which is only possible once you have firmly established and mapped out your current baseline. How do you go about collecting potentially hundreds of fields across thousands of bus stop?

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If we don’t keep on top of our infrastructure, the triffids will win. And passengers will lose.

The view from the control tower

Carrying out a survey of thousands of bus stops is a daunting task, even without considering how best to record its findings so that actionable conclusions can be drawn from the data that is produced. Externiture’s long experience in designing, installing, repairing and maintaining transport infrastructure has resulted in a range of tools and processes that allow us to provide a clear, comprehensive overview of your entire network. We have developed surveying applications that can be tailored to record almost any type of data, together with an extensive photographic and video library. This effectively creates a control tower scenario from which conclusions can be drawn intuitively. The software we have developed to support our processes provides both granular detail and a broad overview. You can drill down to an individual shelter or pole, as well as assess network or route information, infrastructure and accessibility that can drive investment decisions.

Bus stop survey 1     Bus stop survey 2

Each bus stop mapped. Custom survey questions help you capture what you need to know
 
The analysis phase

By entrusting Externiture to carry out your survey, you will quickly find yourself in a position from which you can examine integrations with active travel to join up improvements. You can view and analyse results by individual bus service, or slice by conditions such as accessibility, quality of infrastructure,  or type of infrastructure and information. This means that you can apply budgets effectively and build accurate conclusions into your infrastructure improvement plan.

Accurate information that can be analysed in detail is an important step to building a BSIP that will put your Authority in the strongest possible position to extract the maximum value from the opportunities provided by the National Bus Strategy. Getting the process right may help you access a larger share of the £3bn set aside to provide a better bus network. This in turn will result in social, environmental and economic uplift that will benefit not only those in your Authority, but the nation as a whole.

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Your data is presented clearly, helping you make decisions

The next step

If you’d like to find out how Externiture can help you submit a BSIP that will make the most of the opportunities on offer, contact us via the form https://www.externiture.com/get-in-touch, or call us on 01635 862 100, or use the chat button in the bottom right to request a free consultation over Teams to show how we can get the survey moving.