Council forms working group amid calls for better bus services across Warwickshire

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Councillors want to get the bus services in the county back to the point where someone can turn up at any time knowing they'll catch a bus

Calls for improved bus services across Warwickshire have led to the creation of a cross-party working group.

The introduction of electric and hydrogen buses will be investigated and an improvement plan will be presented to Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet by the end of October.

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Cllr Sarah Boad (Lib Dem, Leamington North) put forward the motion at this week’s July 1 full council meeting where it was given unanimous support.

The motion read: “It is noted that the provision of local bus services in the county have suffered during the pandemic with a reduced frequency of the service and a large drop in the number of passengers.

“It is also noted that a good and regular service is essential to achieve the modal shift required to reduce the number of car journeys.

“This council resolves to set up a cross-party working group to work with officers to draw up a fully costed Bus Service Improvement Plan for approval by cabinet by the end of October 2021.”

It went on to explain that the plan should:

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Include an aim to deliver a comprehensive service for Warwickshire;

Encourage greater use of buses;

Encourage greater uptake and use of bus passes;

Investigate the use of electric and hydrogen buses.

Cllr Boad told councillors: “A good, reliable and reasonably priced bus service is the way that people should be travelling to work, into town or the hospital, but at the moment it just doesn’t work like that.

“We want to see a comprehensive service and see the villages served by buses just as much as the towns. We want to see more people encouraged to use the bus and see more hydrogen and electric buses being used.

“We want to see a service that is so good that people can just turn up and get on a bus, which is what we had a few years ago.”

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Cllr Bill Gifford (Lib Dem, Leamington Milverton) added: “We need to develop a public transport ethos in Warwickshire. One does not exist at the moment.”

A friendly amendment from the Greens was accepted which incorporated the bus services enhancement schedule previously approved by communities overview and scrutiny committee.

Cllr Jonathan Chilvers (Green, Leamington Brunswick) explained: “This is a list of very specific costed projects. I want to make sure that we see those through to delivery.”