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West Berkshire Bus Survey 2023

Tell us your experiences

Consultation status Results published
Start date: 2023-07-10
End date: 2023-09-10
Results 2023-10-30
Category: Roads, Transport and Parking
Ward:

Activity closed. Results published.

West Berkshire Bus Survey - Photo of Newbury Wharf

Background

The government launched their bus strategy "Bus Back Better" strategy in March 2021 which sets out their vision for delivering better bus services in England. To be eligible for funding linked to this national strategy, we submitted our Icon for pdf Bus Services Improvement Plan 2021 [3MB] to the Department for Transport (DfT) in October 2021, which was developed following public engagement in summer 2021, and established an Enhanced Partnership with local bus operators in April 2022.  

A BSIP sets out a local authority's intentions for:

  • Working closely with local bus operators and communities
  • Bus priority infrastructure and other infrastructure
  • Bus fares
  • Bus service support
  • Marketing
  • Zero emission buses

The DfT assessed the strengths and ambitions of our 2021 BSIP and awarded us funding of £2.6m to use by March 2025. The Year 1 funding was released in December 2022.

We reviewed, updated and Icon for pdf submitted our BSIP [4MB] , following engagement in summer 2022, to the DfT in October 2022. The Year 2 funding has been agreed and will be released to the Council shortly.

To continue to be eligible to receive government funding, we must update our BSIP every year and publish a National Bus Strategy target progress report every six months, which monitors if we're reaching our targets.

You can find our BSIP and progress reports on our dedicated webpage.


Why we want your views

To be able to produce a relevant BSIP, it's important that we and the bus operators understand the needs of our passengers and potential passengers.

We'd like to know how you use the bus service, what your experience of the service has been in recent months, and any suggestions for improvements.

We are also seeking your views on ticketing improvements we have implemented in the last 12 months, including the £2 National Single Fare Cap Scheme, and new services.

As detailed in the Icon for pdf 2022 BSIP [4MB] , the following new services will be introduced in the coming months:

  • A new bus service (X34) will start on 24 July 2023, running between Newbury, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus and Didcot. Connections and through tickets will be available to Oxford and Wantage. It will be an hourly service Mondays to Saturdays. This is referred to in section 7.3. (New Services) within the BSIP.
  • Improvements are also planned for other bus services from September. A late evening service will be introduced between Newbury and Thatcham on Fridays and Saturdays, and a Sunday service will be restored between Mortimer and Reading. This is referred to in section 7.2 (Service Frequency) within the BSIP.

There will also be some changes to existing bus services:

  • North West Downlands Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) will be introduced in the area bounded by the A338 to the west and the A34 to the east in early autumn of 2023. This new service will serve more villages and provide more choice of travel times and destinations, including Newbury bus and rail stations and West Berkshire Community Hospital. You will need to pre-book the bus using an app, website, or call centre. These are currently in development, and we'll let you know once they're ready to use in autumn 2023. It would replace existing bus services 5, 5a and 5c. This is referred to in section 7.4 (Demand Responsive Services) within the BSIP.
  • We are also looking to finalise plans to improve bus services in Pangbourne, which should allow for an hourly bus service between Pangbourne and Reading, as well as a North East Downlands Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) in the area bounded by Compton and Hampstead Norreys to the west and the A340 to the east. The DRT service will provide bus travel to many villages without a current daily bus service and link to bus and rail services in Pangbourne but would need to pre-book the bus using an app, website, or call centre. These are currently in development, and we'll let you know once they're ready to use in 2024. It would replace the existing 143 bus service between Upper Basildon and Pangbourne. This is referred to in section 7.4 (Demand Responsive Services) within the BSIP.

Many of West Berkshire Council funded bus services need to be re-procured to meet legal requirements. To secure operations within available funding streams, we may need to make some adjustments to the bus services. Any changes will occur from September 2024. If any changes are to be made, we aim to make users aware by next April. We will be asking for your views on where our resources should be focused on.  

If you haven't used the bus service recently, your views are just as important, and we'd like to hear from you too.


How to take part

If you'd like to let us know your views and any suggestions for improvements, you can do so by completing our survey by midnight on Sunday 10 September 2023, it should take about ten minutes to complete.

Survey closed.

If you have any questions about the survey, please email transport@westberks.gov.uk


What happens next

Your feedback will help us focus our resources, inform future schemes, and be used to update the BSIP for 2023.  A summary of the results will be published on this page and within the 2023 BSIP.

We'll keep you informed about developments on our Enhanced Partnership (for local bus services) webpage.

What you told us

We received 1,020 validated responses for the West Berkshire Bus Survey 2023.

People seem to be using buses more often, whereas around a third of respondents used the bus at least weekly in 2021 and 2022, that number has now increased to almost 40%. This may be because less non-users have completed the survey this year (only 25% haven’t used a bus in the last three months, down from 38% last year), or it could be that more people are now using the bus, and those that do use it travel more often.

The Department for Transport have been concerned that England National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) passholders have not returned to the bus network following covid. We identified that in West Berkshire, passholders use the bus daily (2%), at least weekly (48%), and at least monthly (77%).

Once again, we asked about satisfaction with bus services. Whilst people are more satisfied with the value of the service since the introduction of the national fare cap and the West Berkshire ‘Free Bus’ days, all other measures have shown a decline in satisfaction from 2021 and 2022. Whilst it is disappointing that satisfaction has dropped since last year, it is still higher than 2021 for value (more than double), time on bus and information. It is worrying that satisfaction with the waiting environment continues to drop, and this needs to be a focus for the future. 

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