Cornwall Council has awarded a new package of supported services to Go Cornwall Bus, a subsidiary of Plymouth City Bus which in turn is owned by the Go-Ahead Group
A new eight-year contract has been awarded to Go Cornwall Bus, as first reported in CBW 1426, to deliver a network of Council- subsided local bus routes that are essential to local residents but are not commercially viable.
The Council subsidises over 50% of bus routes across Cornwall to connect communities and offer a viable alternative to the car. These routes would otherwise not be provided by bus operators as they are not commercially viable, but are a lifeline for residents to access employment and education as well as shopping and leisure.
Awarding the contract is the next stage in the One Public Transport System for Cornwall project which is delivering its objectives to improve public transport and provide a seamless integrated public transport network.
Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport Geoff Brown said: “We know that good public transport is important to our residents. Our priority is to make sure that these routes are safeguarded and that passengers who use the bus routes subsidised by the Council get the best possible service. Many people rely on these bus routes for work, for getting to hospital appointments and to go out to see friends and family. Rest assured that they will continue and improve under this new contract.
“When awarding the new contract we took into account how we can increase the use of lower-emission vehicles and encourage more people to use public transport in line with our commitment to tackle the climate emergency.
We also looked at ticket pricing, the possibilities around increasing the frequency of buses and the quality of the vehicles – all of which will play a part in encouraging residents to use public transport and move away from using cars.”
Richard Stevens, Managing Director of Go Cornwall Bus said “We are delighted and privileged to be awarded this significant contract by Cornwall Council. We believe that working in partnership we will enhance customer experience, improve opportunity to travel and improve air quality across the Duchy.
“Go Cornwall Bus prides itself on being a good community partner, through this expansion we are looking forward to working with people across the length and breadth of Cornwall”.
The new contract will also introduce new services and improvements to existing routes including:
- Direct links to Derriford Hospital
- Launceston to Bodmin Town Centre and Parkway station
- Newquay to Redruth direct
- St Austell to Lostwithiel via Tywardreath Highway
- Truro to Bodmin via Summercourt and Indian Queens
- Increased number of journeys between Hartland, Bude, and Marhamchurch
- Additional journeys on services between Bude and Launceston and Bude to Truro
- Truro to St Mawes to operate hourly on Mondays to Saturdays connecting at Tregony with two hourly Veryan to St Austell services
- Cornwall Airport Newquay to Truro Railway Station
These are the latest in a series of improvements to bus services in Cornwall. Geoff continued: “Last year, the government awarded Cornwall a £23.5m funding package for a ‘Reduced Bus Fares’ pilot to support the Council’s ongoing commitment to improving bus travel for residents. We’re planning to introduce a scheme in May 2020 which will significantly reduce the cost of bus travel by establishing town zones and capping the cost for making multiple journeys within these zones. Ultimately, we want to deliver an integrated smart ticketing system for bus, rail and ferry to make it as easy and convenient as possible for residents and visitors to use all forms of public transport.”
Meanwhile, the following infrastructure improvements are already in place
- Upgraded bus stops and shelters including real-time digital information
- New buses and trains
- Bus station improvements at Truro, Newquay, and Penzance
Improvements to public transport in Cornwall over the past 3 years have seen passenger satisfaction increase from 85% to 95% and passenger numbers increase by 5% year on year, bucking the national trend which has seen a reduction in bus travel.
The contract to operate the Truro Park and Ride for the next eight years from April 2020 has been awarded to First Kernow. The new contract will see the Park and Ride running later into the evenings from Monday to Saturday which will benefit residents working in or visiting Truro, especially those who work at or visit Treliske Hospital.
Details of First Kernow’s 20:20 Vision programme are expected in the coming weeks, and will look at how the business plans to move forward following the contract gain by Go Cornwall Bus.
A further tender exercise will take place to determine the contracts for the delivery of Cornwall Council’s School Bus Services – these awards will be made at the end of January 2020.