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Call for an up to date bus strategy locally to meet Government's funding bid deadline in 10 days time

April 6, 2021 11:45 AM

Cllr Greg Stone 2021Opposition Liberal Democrats on Newcastle council are seeking further clarity from the North East Joint Transport Committee and transport bosses on their intentions for a new bus strategy for the region, after the Government's publication of a National Bus Strategy in March. Tyne and Wear has lacked an up to date bus strategy in recent years following the collapse of Nexus plans for a Quality Contract Scheme, and the JTC has not yet set out its full response to the Government's blueprint, having received only a brief update at its last meeting in March.

Liberal Democrats councillors in Newcastle are urging transport bosses to go further in setting out how they envisage the region implementing the National Bus Strategy's plans, and are noting that the deadline initial funding from Government to increase the capacity of transport authorities to devise Enhanced Quality Partnership plans and governance boards closes on April 16th.

The Liberal Democrats Opposition is supportive of Enhanced Quality Partnerships which envisage greater co-operation between bus operators and councils to deliver an improved bus network and timetables, and offer opportunities for fleet upgrades to increase provision of low-emission electric bus services, and wants to see Nexus and the Joint Transport Committee to maximise the current opportunity.

Opposition Liberal Democrats transport spokesperson Cllr Greg Stone said

"An up to date bus strategy for Tyne and Wear has been missing for some years now, with council leaders seeming to favour a wait and see approach. The Government's proposals are widely seen as giving a new impetus to the sector, and I hope to see emerging proposals from Nexus and the JTC before the end of this year. We need to be seizing the opportunity to work collaboratively with bus operators and to secure significant fleet investment in clean electric buses to replace diesels which are significant contributors to emissions and poor air quality. We are already seeing operators introduce new electrics in the city, but more needs to be done by transport chiefs to maximise the potential benefit from new funding streams."

"We cannot afford to miss the bus on this, particularly as bids for Government funding to pave the way for Enhanced Quality Partnership Plans and Boards are due in the next fortnight. I am calling for the Joint Transport Committee to give a clear indication that it intends to bid, and that it will be consulting on how it intends to implement EQP in Tyne and Wear, County Durham, and Northumberland before the end of 2021. Effective dialogue, joint working, and meaningful co-operation with bus operators is going to be key to getting improvements in place."