Bus services in Cornwall are set to further improve from April 2020 when a new package of supported services is introduced with improved frequencies and routes, reduced fares for passengers, better links with rail, integrated school transport services and more environmentally friendly buses.
|Go-Ahead run Plymouth City Bus Services in the neighbouring county of Devon|
A new eight year contract has been awarded to Go Cornwall Bus, a subsidiary of national company Go-Ahead, to deliver a network of Council subsided local bus routes which are essential to local residents but are not commercially viable. There will be new services and improvements to existing routes including:
Direct links to Derriford Hospital
Launceston to Bodmin Town Centre and Parkway station
Newquay to Redruth direct
St Austell to Lostwithiel via Tywardreath Highway
Truro to Bodmin via Summercourt and Indian Queens
Increased number of journeys between Hartland, Bude and Marhamchurch
Additional journeys on services between Bude and Launceston and Bude to Truro
Truro to St Mawes to operate hourly on Mondays to Saturdays connecting at Tregony with two hourly Veryan to St Austell services
Cornwall Airport Newquay to Truro Railway Station
| Go-Ahead will need to source staff & vehicles|
quickly in order to meet the April start date.
Shown here is one of the Go-Ahead Citybus
vehicles that operate in neighbouring Devon.
Improvements to public transport in Cornwall over the past 3 years has seen passenger satisfaction increase from 85% to 95% and passenger numbers increase by 5% year on year, bucking the national trend which has seen a reduction in bus travel.
Rail passenger numbers continue to grow with regular half-hourly local stopping trains, doubling the frequency of off-peak services in each direction between Penzance and Plymouth, providing over 7,000 extra seats each weekday.
Infrastructure improvements already in place include -
New rail signalling allowing more trains to run supported by the recently expanded depot at Penzance
Upgraded bus stops and shelters including real time digital information
New buses and trains
Bus station improvements at Truro, Newquay and Penzance
Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport, Geoff Brown said:
“Improving Cornwall’s public transport system is one of the key priorities for the Council because we know it is important to our residents.”
“We are concentrating on making public transport easier to use and good value so that residents move away from using the car. This new contract will deliver wider network coverage and more frequent buses with timetables that will dovetail with half hourly train services.”
“These improvements will ensure the trend of increased use continues as we build a completely integrated public transport system which is focussed on the needs of the passenger.”
The Council subsidises over 50% of bus routes across Cornwall to connect communities and offer a viable alternative to the car. These routes would otherwise not be provided by bus operators as they are not commercially viable but are a lifeline for our residents to access employment and education as well as shopping and leisure.
Awarding the contract is the next stage in the One Public Transport System for Cornwall project which is delivering upon its objectives to improve public transport and provide a seamless integrated public transport network.
Geoff Brown continued: “We know that good public transport is important to our residents. Our priority is to make sure that these routes are safeguarded and that passengers who use the bus routes subsidised by the Council get the best possible service. Many people rely on these bus routes for work, for getting to hospital appointments and to go out to see friends and family. Rest assured that they will continue and improve under this new contract.”
“When awarding the new contract we took into account how we can increase the use of lower emission vehicles and encourage more people to use public transport in line with our commitment to tackle the climate emergency. We also looked at ticket pricing, the possibilities around increasing the frequency of buses and the quality of the vehicles – all of which will play a part in encouraging residents to use public transport and move away from using cars.”
Richard Stevens, Managing Director of Go Cornwall Bus said "We are delighted and privileged to be awarded this significant contract by Cornwall Council. We believe that working in partnership we will enhance customer experience, improve opportunity to travel and improve air quality across the Duchy.
Go Cornwall Bus prides itself on being a good community partner, through this expansion we are looking forward to working with people across the length and breadth of Cornwall".
Geoff adds: “We’re also planning to introduce a 4 year pilot scheme to reduce fares to encourage more people to use buses.
Last year, the government awarded Cornwall a £23.5m funding package for a “Reduced Bus Fares” pilot to support the Council’s ongoing commitment to improving bus travel for residents. We’re planning to introduce a scheme in May 2020 which will significantly reduce the cost of bus travel by establishing town zones and capping the cost for making multiple journeys within these zones. Ultimately, we want to deliver an integrated SMART ticketing system for bus, rail and ferry to make it as easy and convenient as possible for residents and visitors to use all forms of public transport.”
|First Kernow will operate the Truro Park & Ride|
The contract to operate the Truro Park and Ride for the next eight years from April 2020 has been awarded to First Kernow who are the established operator in Cornwall. The new contract will see the Truro Park and Ride running later into the evenings from Monday to Saturday which will benefit residents working in or visiting Truro, especially those who work at or visit Treliske Hospital.
The award of the forthcoming contract to Go-Ahead could inevitably affect the viability of First’s commercial network in Cornwall.
A further tender exercise will take place to determine the contracts for the delivery of School Bus Services – these awards will be made at the end of January 2020.