OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
SCRUTINY WORKING GROUP
WAITING FOR A BUS?
AN INVESTIGATION INTO SUBSIDISED BUS
SERVICES IN COUNTY DURHAM
SECTION HEADING CONTENT PAGE
1 Introduction 4
Terms of Reference 4
Statutory Responsibilities 5
2 Background 5
Position Statement 5
The Strategic Vision 7
User Satisfaction 7
Northumbria University Mobility Survey 7
Role of Head of Transport Services 8
3 Discussion with 9
Bus Operators Go North East 9
Jayline Travel 11
Stanley Buses 12
4. Views from Bus 14
Users County Council staff 15
Survey forms 20
5. Analysis of Best 21
Practice Report from Northumbria University 21
6. Proposals for 24
Improvement Value for Money 25
Relevant Policies 25
Communication and Consultation 25
Disabled and Elderly
7. Summary and 26
8. Appendices 32
Draft Bus Service Level Guidelines 32
Draft County Durham Information 35
Draft Outline Monitoring Policy
This investigation by our Scrutiny Group has taken us on a
journey to seek to have a better understanding of bus
services in County Durham. We have concentrated
particularly on those services funded by the County
Council. We spend approximately £3.5 million of public
money every year funding public transport which the
private sector does not provide on a commercial basis.
Councillor Tom Forster
Some members of the Working Group are regular bus users but others were not
and we specifically asked members to use public transport particularly
subsidised services so that they experienced at first hand being a bus user. We
also spoke directly to bus users and took evidence from bus operators. We also
had the benefit of good practice nationally provided by Northumbria University.
We have suggested a number of areas for improvement. This investigation has
been a catalyst to expedite a review of policies in this area. Perhaps the most
important element is the recommendation that the users of bus services should
have much more influence over the provision of services.
The Council’s Strategic Vision looks forward to increased use of public
transport. We hope that the suggestions in this report will encourage a more
focused approach to achieving this aim.
I am very grateful to all members of the Working Group who were involved in
this project. I would also like to thank the officers and, in particular, the
members of the public and staff who contributed to the evidence. We will be
reviewing progress to ensure that the improvements that we seek are delivered.
Councillor Tom Forster
Chairman of the Working Group
MEMBERS OF THE WORKING GROUP
Councillors: Armstrong, Barker, Carroll, Coates, Dormer, Douthwaite,
Hogan, Ord, Pye, Stradling, Tennant.
Co-opted: J. Crosby, D. Easton and D.M. Jones.
1.1 The public’s view of bus services in County Durham is not as positive as
we would like. Local County Council Members regularly receive
complaints and representations from their constituents about the late or
non-arrival of bus services.
1.2 In 1986, bus services were deregulated. The integration and control
which formerly applied was largely replaced by market forces.
Nevertheless, the County Council still has a number of roles in relation to
bus services. One key role is to fund services which would not be
provided without a subsidy. The County Council currently provides a
sum of approximately £3.5 million annually to bus operators to provide
services which would not be operated on a commercial basis.
1.3 As a result of concern over bus services generally, the Scrutiny Members
decided to investigate this area. Because the Council provides
significant funding to bus operators, it was decided that the priority
should be to consider subsidised bus services. Inevitably, it was not
possible to separate views about commercial services. This became
clear at an early stage in the study. In particular, the public were
generally unaware which services were provided by the County Council
using the subsidy.
1.4 The Strategic Vision encourages much greater public transport use in the
future. This topic, therefore, is important in achieving the Council’s
TERMS OF REFERENCE
1.5 The following terms of reference were agreed for this investigation.
To review the Council’s current policies to subsidise public
transport in the County to ensure that
value for money is being achieved.
the policies are relevant.
communication and consultation is appropriate.
that the policies are monitored regularly to make the best use of
the resources available.
1.6 The County Council is a Local Transport Authority. One of its statutory
duties under the Transport Act 2000 is to prepare a bus strategy
containing their general policies as to how best to carry out their
functions in order to secure that:-
a. Bus services meet such of the transport requirements of persons
within the authority’s area as the authority consider should be met
by such services.
b. Bus services meeting such requirements are provided to the
standards to which the authority consider they should be provided.
1.7 The bus strategy is to form part of the authority’s local transport plan. In
developing the bus strategy, the authority must have regard to any
measures they are required to take for meeting transport requirements as
a Local Education Authority or a Social Services Authority.
1.8 The County Council also has a duty to determine having regard to their
local transport plan:-
a. What local bus information should be made available to the public.
(Local bus information means information about routes,
timetabling, fares and information about facilities for disabled
persons, travel concessions and connections with other public
passenger transport services).
b. The way in which it should be made available.
Before making such a determination, the authority must consult
such organisations which appear to them to be representative of
users of local services and the Traffic Commissioners. In
considering how to carry out this function, the authority must have
regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness
and must not discriminate against any operator. They also must
have regard to the desirability to consider joint actions with other
2.1 The project started with a position statement from the Environment
Service. Adrian White, Business Manager - Public Transport, explained
the recent history of bus services in County Durham and outlined the
2.2 In 1986, bus services were ‘deregulated’. The market now determined
which services were to be provided. The County Council had a role to
consider what additional services it wished, or was able, to fund. To an
extent, the Council’s policies in relation to provision of additional services
had been shaped by the structure before ‘deregulation’. In general, 95%
of services were commercial from Monday to Saturday during the day-
time. The subsidised services were provided in the evenings and
Sundays. Bus users, however, would not be aware of which services
2.3 Adrian White explained that the pressure on the budget for subsidising
bus services was significant. The budget was always over subscribed
and inflation increases in transport costs added to the pressures. The
current annual spend per head of population in Durham was £5.06.
Derbyshire County Council spent £6.38 per head and Northamptonshire
£2.19 per head. The cost per hour of operation was approximately £18
in County Durham and about £35 per hour in southern counties. The
difference in cost was accounted by lower wages and competition in
tendering. The difficulties of the lack of co-ordination of private services
was recognised. The Council had a role to provide information to the
public about services but it was always difficult to provide up to date
information for bus users. It was also recognised that monitoring
arrangements relating to subsidised bus services could be improved.
2.4 The Audit Commission had carried out a Best Value Review of transport
in County Durham in 2002. The overall assessment by the Audit
Commission (which included transport generally and not simply public
transport) was that the service at that time was good and had promising
prospects for improvement.
2.5 This report pointed out that car ownership within the County, at about
60%, was lower than the national average. One of the recommendations
from the Audit Commission pointed to the need for more active
participation by bus users and other stakeholders in policy setting.
Attention was also drawn to the importance of information and facilities at
bus stops and shelters.
2.6 As part of its statutory role, the Council currently provided approximately
£3.5 million annual subsidy to support bus services in addition to the
commercial network. These bus services were commissioned by tender
process which applied to the whole of the County every four years.
2.7 To complete the picture, District and Borough Councils in the County also
provided funding to support concessionary fares for older people. There
were also community transport initiatives supported by various subsidies.
THE STRATEGIC VISION FOR COUNTY DURHAM
2,8 The County Durham Strategic Vision is the central planning document for
the Council. It is also the statutory community strategy under the Local
Government Act 2000. The aim of this document is to influence and co-
ordinate the work of partner organisations working in the County to
ensure that community needs and aspirations are met to achieve by
2023 the provision of dynamic Durham.
2.9 Challenge 11 in the Strategic Vision is “to develop an integrated
transport system to enable County Durham residents to access
jobs, leisure and services throughout the County and beyond”. The
vision indicates that there is a need to shift reliance on the private car
towards using public transport, walking and cycling. Over the next five
years, one of the aims is to increase the number of users that are
satisfied with public transport.
2.10 All local authorities are required to carry out best value user satisfaction
surveys on a three yearly basis. The most recent round of surveys were
carried out in 2003. The results are included in the Best Value
Performance Indicators which are published in the County Council’s
Corporate and Best Value Performance Plan.
2.11 Best Value Performance Indicator 103 is the satisfaction with public
transport information. The national target is 53% satisfaction. Durham
County Council’s percentage was 45%. The County Council average
was 45% and the north east average was 51%. This places the Council
in the “third quartile”.
2.12 Best Value Performance Indicator 104 is satisfaction with local bus
services. The national target is 57% satisfaction. Durham County
Council’s percentage was 53%. The County Council average was 49%
and the north east average 58%. This also places the Council in the
‘third quartile’ but above the County Council average.
PRESENTATION FROM NORTHUMBRIA UNIVERSITY –
2.13 Craig Moore from Northumbria University gave a presentation to the
working group to try to put Durham’s approach into a national context.
2.14 He indicated that the cost per passenger of subsidised public transport in
County Durham appears to be low compared to other counties although it
was recognized that like for like comparison was very difficult. It had
been suggested that Durham benefited from a relatively higher level of
commercial service provision due to the impact of the Tyne and Wear
2.15 A report from the Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers in 2002
had indicated that budget increases of nearly 11% per annum are
needed to retain existing service levels and 36% of County Councils
have made reductions in subsidised bus services.
2.16 In terms of criteria, Northumbria University suggest that very few
Councils explicitly link subsidised services with Local Transport Plans. In
Durham, consultation with bus users was limited.
2.17 In the summer of 2003, the University had carried out a mobility survey of
approximately 4,000 women in County Durham. Approximately 58% of
those surveyed felt there was a good public transport system in the
County. Nearly 20%, however, felt that public transport was not good.
Only about 19% indicated that they use public transport regularly.
2.18 The survey suggested that there were a number of barriers to mobility
which were listed as:-
Psychological/Cultural/Space – basically, concern about personal
2.19 In Durham, as far as women were concerned, there was:-
A dependence on private transport
Many journeys were made for multiple reasons rather than simply
Current provision can prevent women being employed
Current provision does not assist in balancing work and home
2.20 The working group discussed this information. As far as members were
concerned, the majority of the issues related to the unreliability of
services. There was a need to consider the interests of the disabled and
2,21 It was clear that the public were not aware which services were
subsidised by the County Council and which were commercial services.
THE ROLE OF THE HEAD OF TRANSPORT SERVICES
2.22 Richard Startup, the Head of Transport Services in Corporate Services
within the Council explained his role. His post was a new initiative to
ensure effective co-ordination, integration and future development of the
Council’s transport services. He had a remit to ensure that the Council
was being cost-effective with its transport functions and secured
economies where appropriate.
2.23 Richard’s background was in the private bus sector in County Durham.
He had detailed knowledge of the industry and had lived and worked in
County Durham for over twenty-five years.
3. DISCUSSION WITH BUS OPERATORS
3.1 A discussion with bus operators was an important part of this
investigation. Any improvement in services is dependent upon
partnership approach. It was very important, therefore, to have a first-
hand discussion with representatives from bus operators in the County.
The working group was grateful for the positive contribution made by the
bus operators in seeking to increase understanding about their
perception of transport issues in County Durham.
GO NORTH EAST – DISCUSSION WITH PAUL MATTHEWS
3.2 Paul Matthews, on behalf of Go North East, explained that his company
was a major provider of bus services to communities in County Durham
and Tyne and Wear and also served Darlington, Northumberland,
Cleveland and Teesside. They had 730 buses and 2,100 employees.
Approximately 600 of the employees were employed in County Durham
and there were three depots in County Durham – Chester-le-Street,
Stanley and Bishop Auckland.
3.3 The company’s buses carried out services amounting to 36,000,000
miles per year and dealt with 75 million passenger journeys. They
invested in about 50 new vehicles per year which amounted to £6 million
per annum. The average fleet age was 6.6 years and 45% of the fleet in
County Durham had easy access. In terms of environmental issues, all
new vehicles since the mid-1990s were fitted with particulate traps. 40%
of the fleet is equipped with CCTV.
3.4 The firm monitored reliability and their evidence indicated that 90% of
surveyed journeys operate within one minute before and five minutes
after of the schedule.
3.5 75% of bus mileage was operated commercially in County Durham. In
terms of subsidised services, the firm had 140 tenders currently
amounting to some £1.4 million. The firm also is a major provider of
3.6 Paul explained the cost pressures on the bus industry. Labour was
approximately 60% of total costs. Pensions and national insurance costs
were rising steeply. This had cost an extra £1 million last financial year.
Insurance was also a major increasing factor. The premium for Go North
East was over £2 million for this financial year. Fuel prices were rising
recently. This was likely to add £0.75 million to the annual costs.
Journey times were becoming slower which increased costs and reduced
revenue. Depreciation was another increasing factor which the firm
hopes to offset by revenue increases.
3.7 The impact of the cost pressures in the industry had an impact on
Durham County in terms of fare levels, reduction in commercial services
and increased tender prices.
3.8 There were other impacts of cost pressures related to increased staff
turnover and recruitment difficulties which then led to service unreliability
and/or service withdrawals producing passenger loss and pressure on
Durham County Council budgets.
3.9 In terms of the tendering process, Mr. Matthews emphasised that there
was a need to minimise change and disruption to the public. He was of
the firm view that the current tendering arrangements on a countywide
basis was too large. The present arrangement produces huge workload
peaks. It would be far better to have tendering for different areas in
3.10 For tendering, the industry needed time for adequate planning,
integration of commercial changes, resource planning and the inevitable
‘hand-back’ of routes which could not be provided. It was recognised
that the County Council had budget pressures which made the process
3.11 Paul offered a number of ways in which Durham County Council could
make life better for bus passengers.
Speedier progress on priorities for vehicles to improve reliability.
Speedier progress on bus stop information.
To be aware of changes in District Council concessionary schemes
and bus station departure charges.
Encourage neighbouring authorities to be radical on bus priority
thinking on current common corridors with Durham.
Encourage neighbouring authorities to be bold in common parking
standards and travel demand management.
To be cautious about national calls by Passenger Transport
Executives for re-regulation.
Support calls for common, free concessionary fare policy.
ARRIVA – DISCUSSION WITH TONY BATTY
3.12 Tony Batty gave a short explanation about Arriva in County Durham.
They had 83 contracts with Durham County Council amounting to £1.2
3.13 Tony agreed with the view that it would be better to phase tendering.
There were many practical difficulties caused by the current tendering
approach. He drew attention to the practice in Northumberland and
North Yorkshire which suggested that splitting the County into areas
would be more appropriate.
3.14 Tony explained that Arriva did not have staff shortages in County
Durham but there were practical difficulties in providing staff to cover the
award of tenders for extra contracts. It was very difficult to engage large
numbers of new drivers in a short period of time.
3.15 The Council was encouraged to adopt the Code of Conduct on service
stability. Many authorities regionally had adopted fixed dates for
changes and this would provide benefits within County Durham.
3.16 In general, there was satisfaction with the level of consultation on issues
such as the Local Transport Plan and local traffic schemes. There was
general agreement with Go North East’s analysis of the difficult financial
situation for bus operators.
JAYLINE TRAVEL – DISCUSSION WITH JASON ROGERS
3.17 Jason Rogers explained that Jayline Travel had been established in
1996. He was the sole owner and had set up the company from the start
without outside investment. This was a local company seeking to
3.18 They had 12 midi buses with a seating capacity of between 16 and 33
seats. Low floor accessible buses made up 25% of the fleet.
3.19 Almost all of the company’s services were either fully or partially
subsidised by Durham County Council. In 2003, they operated over 1
million kilometres of services. The firm prided itself on reliability. It had
backup arrangements in place to ensure that services were maintained.
Jason, himself, was part of the backup arrangements. The firm had 22
drivers, two administrative staff including Jason, two cleaners and two
3.20 Jason explained how tight the finances in the bus industry were currently.
A large proportion of the hourly rate charged for service was taken by
direct costs. Insurance premiums were a particular difficulty. The claims
culture from firms offering to pursue claims for no fee had increased the
number of claims against firms. For a relatively small firm like Jayline, a
significant amount of time was ‘wasted’ by inappropriate claims. There
was also a particular difficulty to maintain bus drivers who could often
obtain better rates of pay in other industries. Jason explained, very
honestly, the difficulties faced by small operators for a relatively modest
STANLEY BUSES – DISCUSSION WITH ANDREW GOODCHILD
3.21 Andrew Goodchild explained some facts about Stanley Buses. This was
a subsidiary of Stanley Taxis which was Derwentside’s largest
independently owned public transport operator. It employed over 100 full
and part time staff and was established in 1961 and operated Durham
County Council subsidised contracts since 1986.
3.22 33% of the firm’s service buses were wheelchair accessible. They
operated over half a million kilometres of services on behalf of Durham
County Council last year. Only a very small proportion of this mileage
was lost. They carried over 400,000 passengers last year. Their
services were concentrated around the Stanley and Lanchester areas.
Andrew echoed a number of issues raised by the bus operators
particularly the very small margins in which the industry had to work and
the difficulties they faced.
3.23 In relation to what the County Council could do to assist, there was a
view that real time services at bus stops would be very useful together
with priority for easy access buses and services to inter-connect. This
raised discussion about the Nexus ticketing system in Tyne and Wear
which provided benefits for bus users.
3.24 Andrew also suggested that better and friendlier bus stops would be a
step forward. He also agreed that phased tendering would be more
3.25 In terms of consulting users, Stanley Buses had a direct dialogue with
their users and they also consulted users on an ad hoc basis. In relation
to the tendering process, Andrew explained the practical difficulties of
tendering for services which, at the end of the day, were not awarded.
He also raised the issue of the complications of the tendering process
and that sometimes operators were not tendering like for like. Local
timetables would also be useful for bus users and better information for
the public. On some bus stops, there was no information. There was
also a need for speed to introduce new bus stops. The issue of penalty
clauses in the tender contract was also raised.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE WORKING GROUP
3.26 Members asked whether there was an indexation formula in relation to
increases on the subsidised contracts. There was a feeling from the bus
operators that the indexation applied in Durham was, perhaps, fairer than
in some other areas.
3.27 There was also a question about training for bus drivers. The operators
indicated that the process was a long one. It could take up to five weeks
to train a new member of staff. If this could be fast tracked, this would be
3.28 Operators were also asked whether subsidised services suffered first if
there were difficulties in relation to providing services. There was a
general discussion with the operators about this issue. In general,
priority was given to school contracts and then subsidised services and
then private services. There was also a desire to look at the higher
frequency services first.
3.29 There was a discussion about the insurance arrangements and it
became clear that there were very high excesses on the bus operators’
insurance contracts. This clearly had an impact on the returns available.
3.30 A co-opted member raised the issue of what bus operators could do to
cater for shoppers with lots of bags. If we were to encourage more
people to use public transport, we needed to cater for those people who
wanted to carry out a weekly shop. The bus operators indicated that
there was a need for wider doors and, if possible, to replicate the sort of
facilities available to car users, ie adequate space for bags and a fast,
clean, modern service. This might require redesign of buses.
3.31 Arriva indicated that they had carried out a study of priorities of bus
users. This suggested that reliability was a high priority together with
high frequency, price, information on bus stops and comfort.
3.32 There was also a discussion about the difficulty of ‘interchanges’ which
were not liked by bus users.
ISSUES ARISING FROM THE SESSION
3.33 There may be a need for comparison with other Counties re the
proportion of commercial services.
The four bus operators who gave evidence supported phased
tendering for services.
There is a need to consider the practicalities of tendering
arrangements from the point of view of the operators.
There was support for introducing the Code of Conduct re service
Concessionary fares – there is a need to understand what
districts are doing – (in Wales and Scotland, there are national
Services do not stop at boundaries and the Council was
encouraged to co-ordinate with neighbouring authorities.
The Nexus Ticketing system in Tyne and Wear has benefits in
terms of bus users.
Penalty clauses were raised in relation to County contracts.
Information on bus stops needed to be present and up-to-date.
Network maps (local timetables) would be beneficial for the
Bus lanes and traffic management measures to assist bus
movements were encouraged.
The possibility of considering the future design of buses to make
them more attractive particularly for shoppers was raised.
Training of bus drivers was problematical. The issue was raised
of providing a faster track for training because of the shortage of
drivers but without compromising safety.
4 VIEWS FROM BUS USERS
4.1 Following the discussion with the bus operators, it was, perhaps, even
more important to have a clear view from the users of these services.
Currently, there are no bus user groups in County Durham which could
provide input to drive improvements in bus services.
4.2 To seek to have a better understanding of the views of bus users, a
group of County Council employees were brought together on the 1 st
September and Members of the working group heard their views at first
hand. The comments from staff almost all relate to services which are
not subsidised by the County Council. Nevertheless, these views do
have relevance for this project in terms of the perception and, indeed,
performance of bus operators in the County. A summary of the main
points which members of staff put forward appears at the end of this
section. This summary has been shared with the employees who
attended the meeting and has been agreed with them.
4.3 It should be mentioned that the employees who attended to give
evidence were volunteers. One employee had changed her transport
arrangements as a direct result of encouragement from the County
Council. She still had concerns about a number of issues but was
prepared to continue.
4.4 The remaining employees all had particular complaints to put forward
and, whilst, because they were volunteers, there may be a risk that the
working group has been receiving a ‘one sided’ view of the perception of
users, there are other supporting pieces of evidence which suggest that
the experience of these users is not isolated.
4.5 The supporting evidence comes from the survey forms filled in by
Members to date, survey forms from staff, a number of survey forms
submitted by members of the public about services in the Dipton area
and also the performance indicators for public transport services.
4.6 The evidence so far from bus users strongly suggests that to achieve the
aspirations in the Strategic Vision, significant improvements will be
required. This can only be achieved in partnership with bus operators.
Members will need to decide how they wish to raise with the appropriate
bus operators the views from bus users which they have received.
EVIDENCE FROM COUNTY COUNCIL STAFF
WHO ARE REGULAR BUS USERS
4.7 a. Corporate Policy – Travelling from Newton Hall – Arriva Service.
A member of staff had been using public transport for
approximately 1 year following an initiative to encourage staff to
use public transport. She suggested that the present service
could be improved by ensuring:
Easier and more accessible information.
More customer care on behalf of bus drivers.
In relation to the standards of bus provided, she confirmed that
they are generally in good condition.
She indicated that other staff from Newton Hall do use the service
but not in the numbers that she had expected.
b. Help Desk – Travelling from Newton Hall – Arriva Service.
Some services on the 62,63 and 64 routes have been
withdrawn this has caused problems for older people living on
the Estate as they have further to walk to a bus stop.
The buses do not keep to the specified times. They are often
between 5 to 20 minutes late.
The services which have been withdrawn were the hail and
ride services which were extremely useful for older people.
The withdrawal of a service is often done without prior
notification to users.
Service provision is less regular at 5.00pm causing difficulty
when returning from Newcastle.
There is a need for more information about services, which are
provided, and those, which are to be withdrawn.
c. Environment Department travelling from Newton Hall by 63 or 64
Has been travelling via bus from Newton Hall for approximately 30
The current service is not reliable, particularly during peak times.
The services provided tend to fill up with children/students
travelling to school and college during term times.
The timings of services change frequently and unless you are a
persistent user of the service you would not be advised of those
Timetables are only available from the bus station or on the
internet, however, they are up-to-date.
The only bus pass available is a monthly one. He asked why can
three monthly or six monthly bus passes not be made available
with a higher level of discount to encourage sustained use of the
The 10% discount to Durham County Council employees can only
be claimed by buying the monthly pass from the bus station which
There is a need to extend the Hopper provision as bus stops tend
to be a good distance apart, provided they are reliable.
d. Corporate Services – Travelling from Belmont – 62 & 66 Arriva.
Travels three times each week in the afternoon after work.
Frequently the buses do not turn up – they are unreliable.
Drivers inform passengers that they do not have the staff.
Some drivers are abrupt.
Bus time information is available, however, the buses do not turn
Nobody else travels at the same time from County Hall on either
the 62 or 66.
No service provided from the ‘back’ of the estate to Durham after
e Education – Travelling from Peterlee – 240, 241 and 243 – Arriva.
Time of last bus from Durham to Peterlee either 9.30pm or
11.30pm which prevents use of facilities within Durham such as
the Gala Theatre.
The standards of the buses used on this route are not acceptable.
They are shabby and old, which results in frequent breakdowns.
[Drivers complain about the standards of the vehicles provided for
The buses provided are not suitable for disabled people (no low
rider buses provided).
The bus stops within Peterlee have no timetables.
Sunday provision does not cater for those travelling to church.
Other operators, i.e. O.K Buses provide a very reliable service
with a good standard of vehicle and ensure that passengers are
Very rarely do you see inspectors on the buses, when you ask
questions they do not seem to know the answer.
By the end of the day the buses are unclean and full of rubbish
(points raised by members concerning these services).
Councillor Tennant confirmed that the standard of the buses used
for the Peterlee route was not acceptable.
Councillor Pye commented that the 242 service travels through
Ludworth and he receives numerous complaints from local
residents that the bus has not turned up and about the standard of
f. Environment Service – Travelling from Belmont – 66 – Arriva.
Buses are stopped without any advance notice to passengers.
The length of routes are extended increasing journey times
Buses are dirty and full of rubbish.
Drivers are not well informed in relation to changes in service.
Drivers sometimes do not know the individual routes and will ask
passengers where they should be going.
g. Environment Service – Travelling from South Hetton – 65 – Arriva.
He uses a weekly ticket - Arriva charges £17.00 per week – Go
Ahead Northern charges £11.00 per week, however, there would
be a problem with the connection if he used Go Ahead Northern,
therefore he pays more per week and travels by Arriva.
At South Hetton there are no bus timetables at the bus stops.
The last bus from Durham which was 5.45pm did frequently not
turn-up [the time has now changed to 6.35pm]
There is a need to re-introduce the bus timetables on the internet
rather than the journey planner.
Buses frequently do not change their destination information or
number, which causes confusion and can lead to the missing of a
There is a need for the integration between services to ensure co-
h. Environment Service – Travelling from Shotley Bridge – 765, 766
and 719 Go Northern.
Current pricing systems do not encourage use. The journey
currently costs him £5.50 return and £3.50 single. He can obtain a
£4.00 day pass but this is not well publicised. There is a need to
use the incentives to encourage more bus use.
The service is reliable.
There was no information on services available at bus stop.
Buses are tidy at the start of the day, however, they deteriorate
during the day.
The service is used by two other members of staff from County
i. Learning Disabilities – Travelling from Consett – 766 Go Ahead
Service had improved until October, 2003.
Service runs once per hour – from Delves Lane to Durham.
The buses tend to get filled by students travelling to Durham 6 th
Form College, however, the service was reliable.
Since October, 2003 – 2 buses have been running on this route
approximately 5 minutes apart, however, the service is now not
reliable, with buses not turning up.
Drivers state that the reason for some buses not turning up is a
shortage of drivers.
No information is provided to users at the bus stop.
When buses do not turn-up you cannot get through to Customer
Services for an explanation.
j. Environment Service – Travelling from Sherburn Hill – 241, 242
(Peterlee), 64, 63 and 60 (a) (Sherburn Hill) – Arriva.
Her service is one bus per hour.
The route has changed and now goes into the bus station and
does not go to Newton Hall. However there was no information
about this change provided to passengers.
In relation to 241 and 242 (Peterlee) the standard of the buses
provided was poor.
The buses are dirty, full of rubbish and the windows are so dirty
you cannot see out of them.
There is no information provided at Sherburn Hill and the bus stop
is in a poor state.
The service is not reliable.
The fares are costly for the level and quality of the service
In order to improve the service there is a need for better reliability
and an improvement in the standards of buses provided.
SUMMARY OF BUS USERS’ VIEWS
4.8 A number of themes arose from the discussion with employees which are
set out below. There were concerns about:-
Unreliability of services provided by Arriva and Go Northern.
Lack of information at bus stops and lack of information generally
about changes to bus services.
The cleanliness of some buses.
The age and condition of some buses, particularly in the East of the
The cost of travel and the lack of incentives for frequent travellers
including the inconsistencies of some current advance purchasing
The inconvenience of the lack of co-ordination between bus
operators, particularly in relation to ticketing arrangements.
The need to consider improvements in information available on the
The possibility of “hail and ride” schemes to improve accessibility.
Customer care training for drivers.
Should a subsidy be provided during peak times?
During the school term, some services are not able to cope with
demand at peak times.
FEEDBACK FROM SURVEY FORMS
4.9 Members of the working group had been encouraged to use their local
subsidised bus services to get first hand knowledge from the point of
view of users. A simple survey form had been devised. Some members
of the working group took the opportunity to provide copies to their
4.10 Councillor Ord made particular reference to bus services in his local area
in particular, the service position in Dipton and Burnopfield. These
services were commercial rather than subsidised by the County Council.
Local people were very concerned that new services which had been
introduced were not reliable and had not been supported by appropriate
information to the public. In particular, petitions had been submitted
about the withdrawal of beneficial services.
The general view taken from this small survey exercise confirmed the
views expressed by bus users directly to the working group.
5 NORTHUMBRIA UNIVERSITY: ANALYSIS OF BEST PRACTICE
5.1 Craig Moore from Northumbria University had been asked to carry out an
analysis of best practice throughout the UK. His analysis is set out
5.2 Some local authorities employ bus quality standards and comprehensive
sets of guidelines to inform the procurement of services. The main
objective of these policies is often the reduction of social inclusion.
County councils, in general, tend to utilise priority ranking rather than
access standards. In general, procurement ranking prioritises:
Journeys used by those going to work, college or school.
Other journeys - to assist in the consideration of these priorities,
services to be supported are ranked in the following order of priority:
o Well-used Monday to Friday peak period services;
o Monday-Friday daytime off peak services;
o Saturday daytime services
o Evening services;
o Sunday services;
o Summer only services.
Other issues considered are:
Costs of service
Accessibility – e.g. are other services available
Safety – e.g. evening services
Integration – calls at interchange points on route
Environmental – High vehicle specs
Economic – Services to employment/service areas
From this analysis it is interesting to note that:
Very few councils explicitly link subsidised services with LTPs.
Consultation with bus users is limited and is often reliant on crude
ticket sales information.
Networking between local authorities occurs in certain regions. This
enables greater co-ordination of services on strategic networks and
can generate more competition for tenders and give joint local
authorities more leverage.
5.3 When a contract is due Angus Council reviews the performance of its
existing contracts. Details such as the number of passengers carried and
revenue levels are considered. In addition ‘on-bus surveys’ are
conducted to ascertain passenger usage, journey purpose, frequency of
travel and requests for changes to existing services. Furthermore
consultations are held with local Councillors, community councils and
other interested parties (e.g. user groups). Based on this information new
timetables are drawn up, on which further consultations are held. Once
the new contract timetable is finalised tenders are sought and contracts
awarded. Contracts are monitored and where necessary they are subject
to further review.
5.4 Lincolnshire County Council applies a number of criteria in order to
determine whether a service should receive a subsidy. Each service is
‘scored’ along the following lines:
Passengers per journey.
Subsidy per passenger.
The main purpose of service, with a higher weighting given to
transport catering for work, education and health.
5.5 Those services that reach a ‘specified threshold’ receive a subsidy. All
contracts are periodically reviewed.
5.6 Gloucestershire County Council sends out tender documentation to all
bus operators on a ‘tender list’. The Transport Co-ordination Office in the
Council’s Contracts Department handles tenders which is responsible for
making recommendations on the available options. Usually contracts are
awarded to the lowest available tender although the award is subject to a
vehicle inspection. Gloucestershire use a ‘fixed price’ or minimum
subsidy’ (i.e. where the operator bears the revenue risk) and ‘revenue
guarantee’ or minimum cost subsidy’ (i.e. where the Council bears
revenue risk). Similar to most other local authorities the network of
subsidised services in Gloucestershire was initially based on ‘buying
back’ to ensure the same level of service prior to deregulation.
5.7 Where possible, Hampshire County Council re-plans bus services in
selected areas on a comprehensive basis in partnership with commercial
operators. Most contracts are reviewed and re-tendered every four
years. A programme of passenger surveys and consultation with parish
and district councils provides opportunities for continual evaluation and
improvement. The County’s Passenger Transport Group’s (PTG) two
inspectors carry out some 10,000 checks on local bus service contracts
each year. Incidents such as early or late running are raised with
operators and penalties are levied where appropriate. A team of
surveyors also monitor usage of contract services through on-board
passenger interviews particularly when contracts are due for renewal.
District and parish transport representatives are notified of service
changes and are consulted prior to area re-tendering exercises.
Members of the public may also raise any difficulties with bus services
with the County Council. The PTG takes positive action on contracted
services and complaints about commercial services are also passed on
5.8 The aim of this policy is not to rank needs in any absolute sense but
rather to enable the Council to express a view on the relative merits of
competing demands for the limited funds. Likewise, Bedfordshire County
Council adopts a multi-stage process when allocating rural bus subsidy.
Consultation with District Councils to ascertain what services have
been requested by the public.
Creation of a list from public requests in the context of the County’s
own public policy criteria.
Consultation with parish councils to gauge levels of support for
Final decisions taken based on results of consultation.
5.9 West Sussex County Council has recently consulted bus operators on
proposals to extend contract duration and rationalise the present
geographical areas. As a result of this consultation, a new contract and
tendering regime will be introduced:
Annual service planning with one single area re-tendering programme
carried out over a twelve-month period.
Programmed consultation with all stakeholders - to include a defined
period in which local bus operators are invited to comment upon how
they might include some of the county council's objectives into their
periodic reviews of commercial services.
A reduction in the number of geographic areas from six to four. This
will enable a service review each year with a ‘fallow’ year set aside for
the development of other related initiatives or schemes. Area
timetable guides will also respect these new boundaries, to provide
more logical coverage and clearer information.
5.10 The increase in contract duration, from three to five years has been well
supported by local bus operators and some of the smaller, independent
companies have commented that this will enable them to make a greater
investment in vehicles and driver training.
5.11 Northumberland County Council reviews and alters those services which
are supported by public subsidy on an area-by-area basis over a four-
year cycle, except where new subsidised services are required as a
response to changes in commercial services, a range of criteria are
employed by the County when considering providing new services or
replacing those that are being withdrawn by commercial operators.
These include geographical factors, travel demand, changes to services,
fares and concessions and quality. In an effort to monitor contracts the
County is recruiting three ‘Passenger Assistants’ who will travel on and
inspect bus services.
6 PROPOSALS FOR IMPROVEMENT
6.1 Adrian White and Richard Startup were invited to consider improvements
to the current arrangements for bus subsidies.
6.2 In the context of the terms of reference of this working group to ensure
value for money was being achieved, that the policies were relevant, that
communication and consultation were appropriate and that monitoring
ensured best use of resources, the officers reviewed the current position.
VALUE FOR MONEY
6.3 It was clear from the evidence taken so far that a higher proportion of
services are run commercially in Durham than in many other authorities.
Approximately 75% of evening and Sunday services in the County are
subsidised with funding of roughly £3.5 million from the County Council.
The cost per passenger journey in Durham was significantly lower than
the average for the United Kingdom. (Durham - £0.72, national average -
£1.20). The cost per hour for the service in County Durham is
approximately half the cost in southern counties for equivalent services.
Bus service costs have risen significantly above the retail price index
6.4 Work is underway to introduce an integrated tendering system which
would remove the current ‘big bang’ tendering which occurred every four
years. This would combine education, public transport and social care
and health requirements into an annual and area co-ordinated tendering
6.5 In addition, contract monitoring software was being introduced to improve
monitoring arrangements and further work was being carried out to
engage operators in relation to examples of poor performance as part of
6.6 It was accepted that the current policies which were based on services in
the 1980s required review. There were also budget problems in seeking
to deliver the current Council’s policies.
6.7 Officers had reviewed the current policies and had developed some draft
bus service level guidelines. These guidelines would need to be subject
to consultation but provide an opportunity for the consideration of policies
more in tune with modern needs.
6.8 In addition, a bus information strategy and a draft monitoring policy had
been developed. The aim was to combine these new policies into a
Public Transport Strategy document which would feed into the new local
COMMUNICATION AND CONSULTATION
6.9 The evidence indicated that user satisfaction is not as high as the
Council would like. There are currently no regular bus user meetings and
not enough consultation with users and stakeholders. The public was
also unaware of the levels of subsidy provided by the Council.
6.10 The following action was proposed:-
To set up user groups with ‘Bus Users UK’
To implement the Bus Information Strategy.
To introduce a Service Stability Code of Conduct with operators to
agree time tables for service changes by area, dates for consultation
and methods of informing members and passengers.
Provide information about the levels of service subsidy.
To invest over £2 million in Real Time Information to assist users with
up to date information about services.
To continue to invest in the Traveline Information Service.
6.11 The evidence indicated that the current policies were out-dated and were
not monitored. Better use could be made of current resources.
6.12 To address this, the following action was proposed:-
To introduce performance management for contracts.
To review contracts on renewal.
To introduce an annual user satisfaction survey with a view to seeking
To review policies every five years.
To introduce accessibility planning to highlight where resources are
DISABLED AND ELDERLY PASSENGERS
6.12 It was accepted that more needed to be done to assist the disabled and
the elderly to use public transport.
6.13 The following action is being taken:-
All brand new buses entering service are low floor.
The aim is to maintain low floor services for subsidised services
where the commercial service is low floor.
Approximately 40% of bus stops now have raised access and the
target of 50% by 2006 is achievable.
Further support work is being carried out in relation to hospital links,
GP access, access buses and volunteer driving schemes through the
Travel Response Centre.
Ensuring that Traveline and other information systems are
appropriate for the disabled.
7. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
7.1 People in County Durham are not satisfied with the bus services in the
County. They are also not satisfied with the information available to them
about bus services.
7.2 The County Council’s aim in the Strategic Vision is to increase bus usage
and public satisfaction. The evidence from this investigation indicates
how difficult it will be to achieve this Challenge.
7.3 For some time, Central Government has been encouraging improvement
in bus services and better integration. In 1999, the then Department of
the Environment, Transport and the Regions set out its policies for buses
in ‘A Better Role for Bus Travel’. This was taken forward with Transport
2010 – the ten year plan, setting out the future for a modern, safe, high
quality transport network that meets people’s needs and offers more
choice to individuals, families, communities and businesses. The ten
year plan contributed to the targets in the latest Public Service
By 2010, to increase the use of public transport by 12% compared to
2000 with growth in every region.
7.4 In July 2004, the Department of Transport issued a White Paper – ‘The
Future of Transport’. This extended the principles of the Ten Year Plan
to 2015 and beyond. The White Paper emphasised the importance of
more reliable buses and demand responsive services.
7.5 It indicated that
‘We need to make better use of buses to help reduce congestion
and buses need to be attractive enough for motorists to choose
them over the car for some trips.
Our buses must be:-
Frequent and reliable
Clean, comfortable and attractive.”
7.6 These principles need to be considered locally.
This national picture is taken forward in the Strategic Vision for County
Durham. This indicates there is a strong desire to develop a truly
sustainable and integrated transport system for County Durham with the
aim to increase the numbers of people using buses and the users’
satisfaction with public transport. An accessibility planning framework is
to provide the baseline measure of accessibility to plan and measure
7.7 The following recommendations are made to assist the Council in
seeking the improvements which the Council desires for the people of
County Durham. It is hoped that, wherever possible, the issues raised in
these recommendations can be included in the next Local Transport Plan
which needs to be produced this year.
7.8 The focus of this working group has been subsidised bus services but,
just as the public do not distinguish between commercial and subsidised
bus services, in dealing with improvements, it is impossible to divorce the
two sides of this industry. Accordingly, the following recommendations,
whilst directed towards subsidised services, will also have relevance for
7.9 The working group would like to see buses in County Durham meeting
the Department of Transport’s vision of punctual, good value, frequent
and reliable, seamless, safe and clean comfortable and attractive. This
would provide the right environment to seek to deliver the aims of the
7.10 To achieve the aims of increasing the numbers of people using buses
and their satisfaction with the service they receive, we recommend the
i. We should provide a voice for Bus Users and listen to their
The users of bus services are best placed to drive improvement.
Currently in County Durham, there are no bus user groups who
could assist operators and the Council in introducing practical
improvements to encourage more bus use. The working group
A network of ‘bus user groups’ is developed across the County
to enable a dialogue with bus operators and the Council with
the sole aim of seeking to improve bus travel. The views of
these groups should be used to develop the Council’s
approach to subsidised bus services. Using existing
consultative arrangements should be considered. Whilst user
groups would not formally have any ‘teeth’, they would provide
a clear focus for the interests of bus users.
Durham County Council, as a major employer in the County
should set an example. It is suggested that a bus user group
for County Council employees should be formed. This would
also assist with the Council’s sustainability policies in relation
ii. The Current Tendering System should be revised to achieve a
more cost-effective outcome
The current ‘big bang’ tendering process every four years should
be replaced by a phased area based rather than County tendering
process integrating other public transport needs such as
Education and Social Care and Health with the aim of achieving a
more cost-effective outcome.
iii. The ‘guidelines’ for the provision of subsidised services
should be revised
The current ‘guidelines’ need to be reviewed to bring them up to
date with modern needs. A consultation exercise should be
undertaken to seek views about the new guidelines (based on the
draft attached as Appendix 1) with a view to seeking better value
for money from the current budget and improving accessibility.
iv. The quality of bus service provision should be improved to
make the experience more attractive
The Government and local people seem to agree that bus
services (whether subsidised or not) should be punctual, reliable,
safe, clean, comfortable and attractive.
The recent negative publicity in the Easington area and the Dipton
area provides the wrong climate to encourage more bus usage.
County Council officers and bus operators are asked to work
together to improve the reliability and punctuality of services.
Bus operators, quite rightly. Pointed out the role of the County
Council as highway authority in promoting more use of public
transport. In particular, speedier progress on priorities for buses
to improve reliability and the encouragement of neighbouring
authorities to be radical about bus priorities on current common
corridors within Durham are key issues for the County Council to
v. The information provided for bus users needs to be
significantly improved particularly at bus stops and terminals
The proposed Bus Information Strategy and Real Time
Information provides the opportunity for significant improvement in
the provision of information to the public. No service can be
perfect at all times. However, the provision of accurate, up-to-date
information about services can be an important factor in
encouraging more public use. In addition:-
The significant funding provided by the County Council should
be given higher profile so that the public are aware of services
which would not be running without this subsidy.
The Council and bus operators should adopt the Service
Stability Code of Conduct to provide a structure within which
changes to services take place.
The Bus Service Information on the Internet needs to be
reviewed to ensure that it is customer friendly.
The provision of information at bus stops is key. The Council’s
policy is to achieve information at every bus stop in the County
by the end of the next LTP period. This will be addressed on a
phased basis. The working group would like to see this policy
achieved at a much earlier date.
vi. The Council and bus operators should consider what simpler
incentives can be made available to encourage more use of
There are financial incentives currently for regular bus users in
terms of advance purchasing schemes. Their accessibility,
however, for those without their own transport could be improved.
Bus users have indicated that if there were attractive incentives,
they would be likely to increase their use of public transport.
There is a plea for simple, clearly understandable incentives
because of concern over the complexity of some current schemes.
There is also a need to seek to address the lack of co-ordination
between bus operators in relation to ticketing arrangements.
However, the competition restrictions in the bus industry need to
be recognised and taken into account in any initiatives to
encourage incentives. The County Council, however, has a role to
seek to encourage improved integration and co-operation in the
interests of the bus user and to achieve greater bus usage.
vii. The Council should improve its monitoring arrangements
with a view to securing increased use of public transport.
The current arrangements for monitoring subsidised services
require improvement. One of the issues for this working group
was to assess whether value for money is being achieved. This is
always difficult. The evidence suggests that the cost per
passenger journey in Durham is significantly lower than the
national average as is the cost per hour. The introduction of
guidelines for subsidised services will, however, provide a better
baseline to monitor those services and assess whether overall
value for money is being achieved. Real Time information
systems will provide a significant improvement in the necessary
data to provide effective monitoring.
Central Government has adopted an overall target for the
increased use of public transport. In County Durham, the aim at
least should be to increase the number of passenger journeys
year on year to contribute towards the national target of a 12%
increase by 2010. This should be reflected in the Annual Progress
Report for the Local Transport Plan which will provide a useful
basis to assess progress.
The outline monitoring policy attached as Appendix 3 should
provide the basis for an annual monitoring report.
Annual satisfaction surveys should be undertaken to drive
viii. This project should be reviewed approximately six months
after the report is considered by Cabinet. The review should
include issues relating to the disabled and the elderly.
There seems to be a number of positives in relation to the way the
Council caters for the disabled and elderly in its subsidised
services. However, a direct debate is required to fully understand
the views of the disabled and the elderly. The recommendations
in this report suggest significant changes in the approach to
subsidised bus services and these changes need to be introduced
as the first step in improvement. The views of the disabled and
elderly will need to be taken into account in any changes but the
working group would like to have the debate with the disabled and
elderly once the changes have been introduced.
Bus Service Level Guidelines
The County Durham Strategic Vision identifies the need to develop an
integrated transport system to enable County Durham residents to access jobs,
services and leisure throughout the County and beyond. The spatial realisation
of this vision is built upon ‘main service centres’ linked by a core transport
network and the concept of sustainable community corridors and clusters linking
other settlements with these main service centres.
These guidelines describe a minimum level of service thought to be necessary to
meet essential social needs. The minimum levels of service are given as guidance to
influence the council’s spending on secured services.
Main Service Centres - (as defined in the County Durham Structure Plan as
the County’s main towns) Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street,
Consett, Crook/Willington, Durham City, Newton Aycliffe, Peterlee, Seaham,
Shildon, Spennymoor and Stanley.
Other Principal Centres – Conurbations of Tyneside and Teesside including
Newcastle, Sunderland, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Darlington.
Inter Urban Network
Working in partnership with the major bus operators to further develop and
promote the strong core bus network between the twelve main service centres,
the County Council will seek to maintain public passenger transport operations
at not less than the following minimum levels of weekday service:
Main Service Centres (with the exception of Barnard Castle)
A direct half hourly service to three other main
service centres inside or outside the County
A direct half hourly service to one other main
The core inter urban network should aim to provide the following:
Run by quality accessible vehicles
Each ‘main service centre’ to have a modern interchange facility with real
time information displays
All bus stops on core routes to be accessible with up to date timetable
Durham County Council will support this core network through proactive
engagement with the core route operators and through the following investment
Capital support on:
Completion of Real Time Information project
Provision of modern interchange facilities
Further bus lanes, bus priority measures and traffic management in
favour of buses
Investment in accessible bus stops and other infrastructure
To maintain this core network outside of commercial core operating times
Integrated and inter operator fares strategy
Provision of high quality information in partnership with the operators.
Local Link Network
Many settlements will lie on a corridor between main service centres and thus
may form part of the inter-urban routes. For other smaller settlements
Accessibility Modelling will be used to measure the relative access to key
services in health, employment, education and food shopping. Most other
settlements will either naturally gravitate towards their nearest main service
centre or form part of a group of settlements sharing services along a
‘sustainable community corridor’. Working with LSPs and other key service
providers we can identify these community clusters and their linked main
The local link network will provide:
Secondary settlements (or clusters of settlements)
A regular service (hourly or better) to their nearest
main service centre or other location dependant on
accessibility modelling of local facilities.
The criteria for accessibility modelling will be as follows:
Access to Health Services
Access to Employment Centres
Access to Food Shopping
Access to Education
Access to Inter Urban Network for wider journeys
Access to Social Facilities
Access to Leisure Facilities
Accessibility modelling will also take into account socio-economic indicators
such as car ownership and index of multiple deprivation when setting levels of
frequency and number of linked settlements.
Financial criteria for support
Under normal circumstances the following financial criteria will apply to these
A maximum cost per head of £3.00 will be set for
the provision of secured services on the inter
urban or local link networks
To meet the needs of individuals or small groups of people who are excluded
from the above networks or are unable to use conventional transport services
we will aim to provide access to key services and facilities through the following
Through the provision of low frequency (less than daily) bus services
Through bookable, demand driven services
Through our Community Transport partners
Through vehicle sharing schemes
Through the ‘Wheels to work’ scheme
Through the volunteer driver and GP access volunteer driver schemes
Through Car Sharing
A maximum cost per head of £15.00 will be set for
the provision of services providing the Access
County Durham Bus Information Strategy
Durham County Council, in partnership with bus operators throughout the
County, is committed to the provision of high quality, effective and accurate
information on public transport.
Furthermore, the Transport Act 2000 now places a duty on the Council, as local
transport authority, to determine through a ‘Bus Information Strategy’ what local
bus information should be made available to the public, and how it should be
The Act also requires that before publishing the strategy the County Council
must consult on its content with representatives of bus users and with the Traffic
Commissioner. Durham County Council will, however, consult with other
interested parties including non-users of public transport where practicable. A
list of those consulted is included at the back of this draft.
In compiling its Bus Information Strategy, Durham County Council
acknowledges the co-operation and support already given by many bus
operators in ensuring that information about services is already available and
correct. The purpose of this strategy is to make clear the respective
responsibilities of the local authorities and the bus operators for the ongoing
delivery of public transport information.
The progress of the Strategy in achieving the information improvements and
delivery will be monitored and the costs and procedures benchmarked against
national and regional best practice through ATCO to ensure that a combination
of economy, efficiency and effectiveness is achieved.
This section sets out the desired outcomes of the County Durham Bus
The Bus Information Strategy aims to,
make improvements to the quality, accessibility, timeliness and
appropriateness of public transport information by,
o delivering impartial public transport information covering routes
and times of local services to/from and within the authority’s area;
information about fares for journeys on such services; information
about facilities for disabled persons, travel concessions;
connections with other passenger transport services and other
matters of value to the public as the Council and its partners
o identifying the required information and the appropriate mix of
methods of delivery to communicate the appropriate information at
the right time and in the right place to allow informed choices to be
in recognising that regular bus users form only a relatively small
proportion of the population of County Durham, ensure that the rest of
the population, who use buses rarely or never, are an equally important
target for information,
in recognising that resources spent on marketing could be virtually
unlimited, establish some measurement of cut off and cost effectiveness,
set out the steps the Council are taking to work with partners to provide
public transport information and what each party is required to produce.
This section sets out the outputs required to meet the desired outcomes of the
County Durham Bus Information Strategy.
It is proposed that a comprehensive ‘single source’ reference document
is required principally for transport professionals (DCC, operators, call
centre, information offices). Production and distribution costs preclude
this as a mass circulation document. Past experience suggests that
demand was often greatest from the “enthusiast” market and while
enthusiasts are bus users too it would not appear to represent good
value for money to widen circulation to that market.
Evidence suggests there is still a strong market for ‘traditional’ forms of
printed bus information. High volume printed timetables and maps should
be produced for distribution through travel shops, libraries and other
outlets. These assist in the journey planning phase of travel as well as
inspiring user confidence at the point of travel.
Bus information is to be provided at bus stops. There is evidence to
suggest that this is a popular method of information dissemination and
that roadside displays advertise as well as inform. Good bus stop
publicity inspires user (and non user) confidence and is proven in other
areas to expand the customer base.
Electronic media should be used to address changing trends and to
access potential new markets especially the young. Websites and
interactive journey planners assist in the planning stage of the journey
and real time and SMS messaging provide additional information at the
point of travel.
To ensure that information on buses is available to all particular attention
needs to be paid to those with visual, hearing or learning difficulties as
well as those for whom English is not the first language.
Information should also be provided to help those with mobility problems
use bus and train services and to offer those who cannot use them some
useful information and guidance on the available alternatives
The traveline callcentre should continue to be supported through the
provision of data and journey planner. Implementation of fares and
mapping functions will add value at the journey planning stage and links
with real time will assist at the point of travel.
Delivering Bus Information in County Durham:
This section sets out the proposed bus information activities, timescales and
who is responsible for delivery. The Bus Information Family Tree can be found
at the back of this document and shows the relationship between the various
resources and types of information.
Public Transport Information Survey
DCC to gather all appropriate existing material and to undertake further
survey work, if necessary, to establish public transport user and non-user
information needs. This work will not delay the publication of the initial
BIS but will be used to inform future editions
Action - DCC
DCC to continue to support the traveline initiative by supplying data for
bus services in County Durham for North East Transport Information
Service (NETIS) with minimum 2 week ‘look ahead’ for service changes
ie all service changes to be included in Planner supplied to Call Centre at
least 2 weeks in advance of change.
Action - DCC
DCC to continue to offer data consolidation and processing service for
Action - DCC
DCC to continue weekly production of Journey Planner from consolidated
data on behalf of NETIS authorities.
Action - DCC
DCC and NETIS partners to continue to develop traveline journey
planners (Call centre and internet) through addition of functions such as
mapping and fares.
Action – DCC/NETIS partners
All bus operators to be required to be members of NETIS.
Action – DCC/NETIS partners
DCC to continue to support Transport Direct portal through maintenance
of NaPTAN (National Public Transport Access Nodes) and NatGaz
(National Gazetteer) records together with, on behalf of NETIS, supply of
regional consolidated data.
Action – DCC/NETIS partners
Roadside Information Displays
50% of bus stops to have printed timetable information display by
xx/xx/xx. Action - DCC
DCC to specify and commission from supplier update of bus stop
information display software (NodeInfo) to show route information and
Action – DCC
xx% stops with information displays to be designated Priority 1. All
Priority 1 locations to be updated in advance of timetable changes.
Priority 2 locations to be updated no more than 2 working days after
change date. Action – DCC
Service numbers to be shown on bus stop flags at locations where there
is more than one stop in given direction.
Action – DCC
Electronic displays of scheduled departure information
Electronic display to be maintained at Durham Bus Station to supplement
real time information. Timetable changes to be implemented on the
display no more than 24hrs after service change.
Action – DCC/ArrivaNE
Further appropriate locations for electronic scheduled departure
information displays to be identified (5 available on existing licence).
Action – DCC/Ops
County Bus & Train Timetable (CBTT)
DCC to maintain County Bus & Train Timetable reference ringbinder at
all DCC libraries, Tourist Information Centres, all operators of local bus
services and other outlets as deemed appropriate by DCC.
Action – DCC
CBTT updates to be circulated at least bi-monthly. Whole CBTT to be
Action - DCC
County Network map and frequency guide to be reprinted annually. The
style of map will be determined by consultation.
Action - DCC
Town plans to be produced for Newton Aycliffe, Bishop Auckland,
Peterlee, Durham, Stanley Consett, Chester-le-Street and Seaham. The
style of map will be determined by consultation.
Action – DCC/operators
Special purpose maps eg Across the Roof of England to be
produced annually. Consideration is to be given to bringing
production forward to include Easter holiday period.
Action - DCC
Printed Leaflets & Books
Operators to produce individual service or groups of service
leaflets/booklets for all commercial services and to include journeys
operated under contract to DCC.
Action - DCC
Operators to produce leaflets for services operated under contract on a
cost-base basis (ie revenue belongs to operator). DCC will offer to
produce leaflets as a service to operators for a charge yet to be
Action – DCC/Operators
DCC to produce leaflets for services operated under contract on a
minimum subsidy basis (ie revenue belongs to DCC).
Action - DCC
Leaflets should be available to the public no less than 7 days before the
service change date.
Action – DCC/Operators
Integrated Information showing linkages between services, operators and
modes should be developed.
Action – DCC/Operators
Information For People With Special Needs
To achieve this the strategy seeks to provide information in a variety of
media and DCC and operators will provide large print versions of their
leaflets on request. Otherwise all reasonable steps will be taken to
ensure that bus information is available to all.
Action – DCC/Operators
DCC to continue to produce the Access Directory as a general guide for
people with disabilities to transport services in County Durham.
Action - DCC
DCC to maintain and continue to improve the public transport elements
of the DCC website. Developments to include; timetables and maps in
PDF format, improved news pages giving details of service changes and
disruption to services and better links to other appropriate sites
Action – DCC.
DCC to implement, with regional partners, mobile ‘phone SMS
messaging as a means of disseminating transport information.
Action – DCC/NETIS partners
Real Time Information
DCC and operators to continue roll out of the Real Time Information
Action – DCC/Operators
Information for leisure activities and visitors
DCC to continue to promote use of public transport through publications
produced by other departments eg Holiday Guide, Guided Walks etc.
Action - DCC
Partnerships are to be developed with other organisations and agencies
eg North Pennines AONB and English Heritage.
Action – DCC/Operators
DCC and operators to examine opportunities for marketing initiatives and
destination based publicity.
Action – DCC/Operators
Distribution of printed material
Operators to have available in their Travel Shops all appropriate high
volume publications listed above.
Action – Operators
DCC to distribute through Libraries all appropriate high volume
publications listed above.
Action – DCC
The responsibility for distribution of leaflets to outlets to lie with the
Action – DCC/Operators
DCC to continue to maintain the NaPTAN database as the definitive
record of bus stop names and locations. Processes to be established to
ensure appropriate flows of information between DCC and operators.
Action – DCC
Other resources and information to be shared as appropriate.
Action – All
Travel Response Centre
Green Transport and Travel Awareness
North East Traffic Area – Traffic Commissioner
Councillors of the County Council
User groups when formed.
Arriva North East
Go North East
Hunter Bros (Tantobie)
Bob Smith Travel
Sherburn Village Coaches
Scarlet Band Coaches
Weardale Motor Services
North East Travel information Service (NETIS)
Local Transport Plan Forum
LA21 Transport & Planning Roundtable
Outline Monitoring Policy
Revenue Protection Electronic Ticket Machine (ETM)
Punctuality Real Time Information (RTI)
User Feedback Bus User Forum
Contract Compliance Bus User Forum
Vehicle type Survey
We can provide this information in
different formats and languages on request.
Please contact: The Scrutiny Team
0191 383 3506