Plans to improve bus services in Sunderland

City council chiefs in Sunderland are to work on plans to improve bus services in the area.

There are plans to make improvements to bus services in Sunderland.
There are plans to make improvements to bus services in Sunderland.

Sunderland City Council Cabinet this week backed the development of an enhanced bus partnership to serve the region.

It comes after the submission of a bus service improvement plan by the North East Joint Transport Committee last month, which city council chiefs helped work on.

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Councillor Claire Rowntree, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for environment and transport, noted the work on improving bus provision will involve looking at the need for services and priority areas across the region.

She said: “Public transport is an integral part of how people get around in Sunderland and is key to achieving the council’s goals relating to air pollution, climate change and an inclusive economy.

“The council, in its role as highway authority, has worked with Transport North East, local authority partners and bus operators to develop the bus service improvement plan for the North East area.

“The plan sets out the vision for the North East in areas such as bus priority infrastructure and other infrastructure, bus fares, bus service support, marketing at zero emission buses.”

A report to cabinet noted Sunderland has relatively low levels of car ownership, and at the time of the last census in 2011, 35.6% of households across the city did not have access to a car.

It added while bus use has been in decline outside London, each resident of Tyne and Wear takes an average of 99 bus journeys per year, the fourth highest rate outside London and the highest of any major metropolitan area.

Sunderland has around 1.035 miles of bus lanes/bus links and has many of the region’s most frequent and well used services.

It was also noted increasing bus use will be “integral to reducing harmful vehicle emissions” by minimising the number of car trips, as well as providing other important health, safety and environmental benefits.

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Work will now take place between city council chiefs and bus operators on the development of the enhanced partnership scheme, which must be in place by April.

The work comes after in March 2021, the UK Government published the National Bus Strategy ‘Bus Back Better’.

This sets out the government’s desire to enable a recovery in bus usage after Covid-19 and required local authorities to come up with bus service improvement plans to access national funding.

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