The coronavirus Bus Recovery Grant is due to be withdrawn at the end of March, leaving operators and local authorities with decisions to make about to how to support marginal commercial services in the next financial year. With passenger numbers still not back to pre-pandemic levels, further cuts to local services are anticipated, leaving local authorities facing a reduction in the number of services and having to subsidise or commission services to maintain networks.
Optibus is offering to work with up to three English local authorities to help them plan ahead for potential service changes by modelling the impact of service withdrawals, the likely cost of providing alternative services, or ways to optimise the mix of socially necessary services and commercial services in collaboration with operators. Successful applicants will receive support from Optibus’ skilled planners to help develop scenarios based on real-world data, as well as a three-month evaluation licence of the Optibus Planning module.
Local authorities who wish to take up the offer must be have a minimum population of 250,000, have up to date TransXChange or BODS data for the services that are under consideration, and have sufficient resources to support the project, which is expected to require a minimum of five days of officer time between now and the end of March. In addition, the nominated person must to travel to London for at least one full day of workshops at the Optibus office, and the authority must be willing to sign a Project Agreement committing to the project expectations and resource requirements.