1. That the proposed changes to local bus services in Surrey, as detailed in Annex 2 of the submitted report be approved, and that delegated authority be given to the Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning and the Strategic Director for Environment and Infrastructure to agree any adjustments before these changes take effect from the start of the 2016/17 academic year.
2. That the award of the nine local bus tenders, as detailed in the Part 2 report (item 17) be approved.
Reasons for Decisions:
These recommendations will enable Surrey County Council to achieve the required savings needed from the review and are based on:
· Responses to the public consultation on proposed changes.
· Full understanding of the impact on the recommended changes to the public (including those with protected characteristics) and the environment.
· Maintaining as many of the services that residents rely on as possible that get them to employment, healthcare, school and essential shopping.
· Funding arrangement with service operators that is sustainable in the long term.
· Ensuring the Council complies with Procurement Standing Orders, requiring Cabinet approval for those contracts that reach a specified value.
[The decision on this item may be called in by the Economic Prosperity, Environment and Highways Scrutiny Board]
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning said that this was the second year in a three year programme to review bus provision in Surrey. He said that the County Council currently spent £7.3m on supporting local bus services.
During the first year of the review savings of £1.043m over a full year were made and this year, if Cabinet agreed to the recommended changes, full annual savings of £723k would be achieved. However, 72 bus users will potentially be affected by the changes but this was set against over 40,000 passenger journeys per day.
He thanked officers for their excellent work saying that, negotiating with suppliers to improve contracts had led to a third of the savings coming from reduced contract costs.
He accepted that providing bus services, particularly in the rural areas was important, together with services to schools, medical appointments, shopping and meeting friends and said that the changes proposed would maintain these links.
The consultation had received over 2,600 responses from residents and stakeholders and four petitions had also been received and responded to. He said that presenters on Surrey Radio considered that the County Council had conducted a good review and had listened to the public. He highlighted the questions and results which were compiled in the Public Consultation Summary Report, (Annex A to the submitted report) and said that the key findings were set out in paragraph 6 of the main report.
He was pleased to report that, after considering the views of residents, plus discussions with suppliers, a number of routes that were at risk have been saved, including routes 46, 72, several 500 routes in Guildford and others.
There was a list of ten commercial services that suppliers were considering changing and he was reported that none of these had been amended, including Metrobus 281. There would also be improved links to Dorking and Crawley from Mole Valley, including a service to Gatwick. Details of each of the original routes proposed and the subsequent changes were set out in Annex 2 to the submitted report.
He stressed the importance of encouraging more people to use bus services and said that the Council had established the Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Surrey with the aim of stimulating patronage on bus services, with the first pilot anticipated in the Autumn 2016.
Finally, he drew Cabinet’s attention to Annex 3, to the submitted report – the Equality Impact Assessment, which had been completed for Year 1 of the Bus Review and updated this year.
The Chairman of the Economic Prosperity, Environment and Highways Board was invited to address Cabinet and confirmed that the Local Transport Review, year 2, had been discussed in detail at his Scrutiny Board. He praised the public consultation process and said that the Board had supported the recommendations. However, he did stress the importance of accurate timetable information, if the Council wished to increase bus usage.
Cabinet Members highlighted particular routes in their areas, which they were pleased to ... view the full minutes text for item 99
Purpose of the report: To enable scrutiny of the proposed changes to local bus services in Surrey to meet the required savings target. These proposals are due to be presented to Cabinet on 24 May 2016.
Paul Millin, Travel and Transport Group Manager
Laurie James, Bus Service Planning Team Manager
Valerie Sexton, Senior Transport Officer Planning
Mike Goodman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning
Key points raised during the discussions:
1. The Chairman explained that Annex B, provided to Members for the duration of the item, was confidential as it related to commercial contracts and that any discussion of its contents would require the meeting to be placed into part 2 conditions (by virtue of paragraph(s) 3 of Part 1 of schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972)..
2. The Travel and Transport Group Manager provided an introduction to the report outlining the £2m savings target the service had to achieve. A consultation had been held with residents between January and March which received 2,677 responses to shape the options for future provision. The Local Transport Review MRG had also given valuable feedback during this process.
3. The Board sought reassurances that there would be sufficient capacity to cope with growing numbers of children and young people using buses to travel to school. The Board also enquired how officers managed the issue of bus connections. The Travel and Transport Group Manager confirmed that peak movements were considered and they work with schools directly where possible but that September would be the real test. The Bus Service Planning Team Manager acknowledged the difficulty of managing connections but was clear that parents do take this into consideration when sending their children to school.
4. Officers were asked about the nature of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project and whether they had factored in increased use of bus services in their proposals for Cabinet. Members were informed that the first year of the three year project had been about understanding why people don’t use buses before the development of options for change in the second year. The Travel and Transport Group Manager agreed to bring the outcomes of the project to the Board for review at a future meeting.
5. The Board asked whether officers had expectations of future patronage of bus services. Members were informed that through negotiations with service providers the council hoped to keep subsidised routes near to current levels and would seek to encourage growth in commercial routes and in areas of demographic growth.
6. The Board highlighted the survey results and in particular the importance of accessing medical appointments to residents. Officers explained that this was mostly due to the high proportion of older respondents and that the council listened to these views and this was reflected in the revised options post-consultation and now 72 people would be adversely affected rather than 160.
7. Members asked officers about sanctions when services were not reliable and the availability of real time information. The Bus Service Planning Team Manager advised that on commercial routes reliability was the responsibility of other national statutory bodies although the council could offer support to alleviate issues. On council contracted routes penalties were available but it was ... view the full minutes text for item 8