On the Buses! Again!

Night time bus at night cathedral photo

More people are using more buses as Lincolnshire gets back onboard with LCC’s big bus plan

With the schools beginning their six-week-long holiday, it’s a great time to take a look at how recent improvements to routes, timetables and prices have been taken up so far.

It looks like being a bumper year for bus use this summer – and the season has only just properly got underway.

There has been some huge gains in the sector following LCC’s Transport team working closely with bus companies across the county, in an effort to improve many current services.

The increased amount of ‘bus’ available has come about due to extra funding from the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), which has been made available by the county council.

And so far, in five key areas in particular, it’s clear that the plan is working.

On the Gainsborough Town service run by Stagecoach, bus usage is up by an average increase of 63% when compared to the same period last year. That means an average 900 additional passengers getting onboard every week, which equates to more than 16,000 users since the service enhancement started here in March.

On the coast, the Skegness town service from Stagecoach has seen an average increase of 36% when compared to the same time period a year ago. That’s another 600 passengers a week for a running total of over 7000 extra passengers, so far.

It’s a current running total of more than 11,500 passengers on Stagecoach’s Grantham town service since the improvement started - a 23% uplift versus the figures for the same period in 2023. Per week, it’s a huge 675 people who are now using the bus service here again.

More than twice the amount of users on Saturdays are getting from Boston to Lincoln than were taking the trip before the enhanced PC Coaches service was live, with more people travelling on the route in the first couple of months of it being active than did across the entire previous 17 weeks of 2024.

The BSIP money was also used to help relaunch the Lincoln evening services to give those working late, or socialising in the city, a secure and reliable service late into the night. It has been the first time in over five years that such a service has been available.

It has been the first time in over five years that such a service has been available with around 900 passengers a week using the later timetable to get about instead of relying on other forms of transport.

Cllr Richard Davies, executive member for Transport at LCC said: “These figures from the services that have had enough time to bed in and draw some comparisons from are extremely encouraging.

“We have carried out a lot of enhancements with bus providers right across the county that mostly means more buses running earlier and later plus some extra pick-up and drop-off points too. Now we’re monitoring the progress of the changes happening as a result and we expect to get more comparison figures for other bus providers in late autumn.

“And by late autumn, we are planning to have even more improvements in place for Lincolnshire bus users with some real time digital displays and some new infrastructure happening, too.

“So far, the work we’ve all been doing has proved to be very popular and we’re off to a great start. Our hope is that, as we progress the BSIP vision further, even more people will get back on the buses, or perhaps give them a try for the first time and see how attractive bus services are in Lincolnshire once again.”

And the £2 fare cap on Callconnect is also riding high!

Another big part of the LCC bus service boost that BSIP funding has delivered has been the £2 single fare cap price.

Whilst the national £2 fare cap provides low fares for conventional bus services up and down the country, on-demand bus services such as Lincolnshire’s Callconnect were only eligible for the national scheme if funded through the Government’s Rural Mobility fund.

As Callconnect is a long-standing investment in public transport by LCC, it was unfortunately not eligible. Step forward LCC to make sure that this low fare benefit could be delivered to our rural communities by using the BSIP funding.

The Callconnect service is an on-demand transport where seats can be booked in advance and there is usually less of a wait, or distance to travel than there would be with a conventional bus stop set-up.

Cllr Davies added: “We have, so far, sold more than 51,000 £2 fare tickets on Callconnect which is a lot of travel happening without having to rely on cars or other vehicles.

“We implemented this scheme to help our rural residents with the cost of travel. Our on-demand service Callconnect was deemed exempt from the national £2 fare cap scheme, but we knew that a lot of people would want this pricing brought in, so we got it moving.

“The results speak for themselves so far and we’re already looking at what more we can do across the future Callconnect service for Lincolnshire residents.”

Published: 10th July 2024