A unique partnership has been launched bringing together Leicester City Council and all local bus operators in the city to focus on meeting the city’s current and future travel needs.
The Leicester Buses Partnership, the first of its kind for Leicester, sets out a detailed eight-year plan, including a three-year programme of fully-funded transport improvement projects. They include the electrification of key bus routes, new bus lanes, coordinated timetables and significantly improved passenger information, ticketing and waiting facilities.
The new partnership was launched yesterday (Thursday, April 21), in Jubilee Square, with new ‘Leicester Buses’ branded electric buses, complementing the partnership brand which already appears on bus stops and vehicles across the city.
It also sees the launch of one of the first Leicester Buses Partnership projects – its innovative “Tap On Tap Off” digital fare system, which automatically enables passengers to get the best fare for the journey they have made, even if they’ve used more than one operator. The scheme is flexible, easy to use and speeds up payment for travel.
Arriva, First Bus, Centrebus, Kinchbus, Stagecoach and Roberts Travel Group have agreed to work alongside the council over the next eight years with the aim of transforming the bus network with the aim of making it fully electric, frequent, reliable, easy to use and good value.
The partnership will focus on investing in electric or zero-emission buses, measures to beat congestion, offering better value tickets and providing better facilities for bus travellers.
Commitments due to be delivered over the next 18 months include: a third of the city’s bus network – around 130 vehicles – to be electric by 2024, six significant bus priority schemes covering a fifth of the main bus routes, two additional park and ride sites, and new ticket discount schemes.
It will also see ‘Tap and Cap’ technology across the main operators, creating the first area outside London operating a ‘best fare’ guarantee for journeys involving more than one operator, 650 new real-time displays and 500 new bus shelters, including the UK’s first net-zero bus station at St Margaret’s.
Leicester deputy city mayor for transport and the environment, Cllr Adam Clarke, told the Leicester Times that this has been something which had been “years in the making”.
“it will also us to bring together a clean green fleet, which will allow us to combat the climate emergency, to combat congestion, and improve air quality in the city as well, and let people get to where they need to be in a really sustainable way”, he explained.
Significant investment has already been made, including the soon to be completed multimillion pound new St Margaret’s Bus Station, electric buses operating from the city’s three Park and Ride sites, and technology allowing all customers to make ‘Tap On Tap Off’ contactless payments with individual operators.
Longer term goals of the Leicester Bus Partnership include: further investment in bus priority schemes on the remaining radial bus corridors, significant investment in express cross-city routes by 2025, to enable people to get to workplaces in more outlying areas, ensuring half the bus network – around 270 buses – are electric by 2025, and all electric or zero emission by 2030, and making buses more frequent on important routes for employment for exampleTrialling fare discounts for younger passengers.
Rob Hughes, Operations Director at First Leicester, said that he was looking forward to seeing the “many inspiring projects, campaigns and initiatives come to fruition that are destined to improve bus provision in the city”.
“With brand new electric buses heading our way, along with the latest introduction of digital contactless ticketing technology and further plans for bus priority and improved bus stop infrastructure, the city is on track to promote bus travel as a seamless, fully accessible, environmentally friendly mode of travel that can appeal to both local residents and visitors to Leicester”, he added.
Kinchbus operates services in Loughborough and the Skylink service linking Leicester to East Midlands Airport. The company’s general manager Christian Allen-Clay also welcomed the new partnership.
“We are excited to be part of this partnership, which has clear aims and a vision to put buses at the heart of an efficient, clean, accessible and environmentally sustainable transport network in Leicester”, he said.
“Kinchbus and other bus operators have worked with Leicester City Council for years and formalising this partnership will allow us to do even more to improve the offering to our customers and encourage non users to choose the bus, and in doing so make a more sustainable transport choice.”
Details of the new Leicester Buses partnership are available at: www.leicesterbuses.co.uk