Local Bus Services in Leicestershire - Frequently Asked Questions
Introduction - How does it all work?
The 1985 & 2000 Government Transport Acts define how bus services must be operated.
These Acts are supplemented by regulations and policies drawn up by national bodies such as the Department for Transport, the Traffic Commissioners, and the Vehicle Inspectorate.
Most bus services are operated on a commercial basis by private bus companies for profit. Where there are no commercial services the Local Authority has the power to provide local bus services, according to its own policy.
All public transport services need to comply with the Acts and all the regulations, whether they are commercially operated or contracted by the County Council.
For commercial services aspects of the day to day running, like routes, fares, times and vehicle types are decided by the individual operators, while on contract services these are set by the County Council.
Frequently asked Questions:-
In brief the policy means that we ensure the provision of a day time (Mondays to Saturdays) service of hourly frequency or better within 800 metres walk for 95% of Leicestershire residents. These services are run to local towns and centres where essential facilities are available.
Less frequent bus services or demand responsive taxi / minibus services are provided for the 5% of Leicestershire residents not on the hourly network. The focus here is on asking the community to identify priority needs for access and being innovative in providing appropriate public transport to meet these priorities.
Community Transport is available for people who find it difficult or are unable to use public transport because they are elderly or mobility impaired/disabled and for those who are rurally isolated. Community transport can be used for getting to doctors appointments, visiting friends and relatives, shopping and social activities
Bus routes for commercial services are decided by the bus company, using commercial criteria, for example, which routes provide maximum passenger usage or are most profitable.
Routes on contract services are determined by the County Council, we include as many villages as possible with a local centre at either end, whilst keeping the route reasonably direct and fast and therefore attractive to passengers.
Service frequency on commercial services are determined by the bus company who will balance how often they run a bus against the number of passengers who use them and how long it takes to run the whole route.
Service frequency on contract services are determined by the County Council within its policy, in most cases this is an hourly frequency but a small number of bus services are run less frequently.
The County Council receives funding from Central Government (according to Government policy) and through the local council tax. Out of this funding the County Council provides all its services, including public transport.
We need to ensure that we make the best and most efficient use of these finite resources and obtain best value for the Authority, Leicestershire residents, tax payers and bus users.
The County Council reviews the contract bus services regularly but we are not always able to provide all the services people would like.
The majority of congestion on our roads happens at peak times on well travelled routes to major centres. Most of these routes are already well served by commercial bus operators. The County Council’s contracted services mainly exist to facilitate travel by the general public that falls outside of these times or areas where congestion is unlikely to be an issue.
Providing additional services at peak times on already busy and well served routes would not be an efficient use of our resources or budget.
The Disability Discrimination Act (public service vehicles regulations 2000) requires all service buses to be low floor by 2016 (single deck); and 2017 (double deck) and any buses constructed since 2000 meet this requirement.
In order to meet these deadlines, all operators have a programme of renewal to replace their existing vehicles. This means that an increasing number of routes are being operated by low floor or easy access buses and by the above dates all routes will be low floor, including contract services. Until those dates however, value for money and commercial considerations will still be applied which means that not all services run with low floor vehicles at the moment.
Traveline have details of which routes operate with accessible buses and which operator runs them, contact details are shown below. Whether a particular type of wheelchair can be accommodated mainly depends on its size and manoeuvrability, and also on the type of the bus, you should check with the operator before travelling.
Bus companies have control over ticketing on their commercial services as does the County Council on contract services. At the present time bus companies are not equipped to offer inter company tickets due to commercial constraints. However, the County Council, the City Council and bus companies are looking at ways to improve this situation.
There are currently three options that provide some ticket flexibility:
- Flexi day ticket – unlimited travel within central Leicestershire
- Plus Bus ticket – an add-on to train tickets to allow travel on buses.
- Concessionary Travel Scheme - from April 2008 people over 60 and disabled people can get free off-peak travel on local bus services any where in England.
Most bus shelters are owned and maintained by the Borough, District or Parish Councils. The County Council installs and maintains shelters through our ongoing programme of route improvements, in the Local Transport Plan (LTP2). The procedure for positioning shelters includes consultation with affected residents or landowners, and priority is given to high use locations or those used mostly by elderly and disabled people or children.
Timetables are normally displayed at busy stops and interchanges (bus stations, train stations, or places where several public transport services meet). We have to prioritise which other stops we can display timetables at, in order to make the best use of staff and financial resources as there are approximately 3000 bus stops on the hourly network.
Operators’ primary needs are to ensure the safety and comfort of their passengers. Because of this and due to limited space many operators have specific policies on what they agree to carry; this applies to commercial and contract services. It is always best to check with the individual operator before travelling. Cycles that are designed to fold may be carried on Leicestershire County Council supported bus services - provided they are in the folded position.
Disabled people are generally allowed to travel with their guide, assistance or hearing dog. The passenger must comply with any instructions given by the driver. Bus companies have different policies on the carriage and cost of transporting pets; please check with the individual operator before travelling.
There are several places where you can get more travel information:
- Traveline on 0871 200 22 33 or www.traveline.info
- Transport Direct on www.transportdirect.info
- The County Council on 0116 305 0001 or www.leics.gov.uk
Community Transport www.leicestershirevillages.com/communitytransport - The web-site provides general information about community transport across Leicestershire with further links to providers.
Page Last Updated: 9 May 2012