Agenda item

Bus Subsidy / Demand Responsive Transport Review and Introduction of Integrated Transport Unit


As detailed in the recommendations.


The Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Environment provided details of the review of the County’s subsidised bus service to enable discussions with local communities to deliver local community based transport arrangements.


            Approval was sought for the removal of the Council’s subsidy for the bookable Demand Responsive Travel (DRT) service, known locally as the Deeside Shuttle, and to develop options for the introduction of a non-subsidised commercial bus service to replace it.  Approval was also sought for the introduction of an Integrated Transport Unit within the Streetscene and Transportation portfolio.


            The Council subsidised thirty bus routes through either standalone contracts or agreements with public transport operators to provide subsidies for services that would not be commercially viable.  A summary of all of the subsidised services and other types of bus services was appended to the report.


            A number of bus services in Flintshire were profitable and were operated on a commercial basis by private bus companies.  Those services provided strategic links between key towns and settlements and were well used and unlikely to change in the future.


            The Council intended to engage with commercial operators to further encourage growth on those core routes which in turn would benefit service users and provide increased travel choices.  Those routes would predominantly operate on a commercial basis, however some support may be provided to ensure a regular and high quality service linked the key end destinations with various collections points along the route.


            Once the core routes had been identified the Council would engage with the community to develop links with community transport arrangements and the local hub, which would include bus and railway stations, large shopping centres or simply well maintained shelters.


            The current level of subsidy for the Deeside Shuttle Service was high and not sustainable in the long term.  Passenger journeys had increased significantly over the last three years to 78,000+ which meant the service could be formalised into a scheduled service operating commercially.  The first stage of the subsidised service review would see the withdrawal of the Shuttle Booking Service, formalising the times of the buses and changing the Deeside Shuttle to a fixed scheduled bus service.  Engagement would take place with commercial bus operators with a view to introducing and developing new commercial bus services into the Deeside Industrial Park before the cessation of the current demand responsive service.


            Following a diagnostic review carried out by Northgate Public Services consultants, the Council had identified the benefits from the creation of an Integrated Transport Unit (ITU) that brought together all fleet and transport provision into one centre of excellence. 


            The ITU would be established as a “one-stop shop” and deliver all of the Council’s transport needs including reviewing policy and service delivery standards at regular intervals.  In order to deliver the savings, it was proposed that a suitably experienced business partner be engaged on a risk and reward basis to assist staff from the new service.


            Subject to Cabinet approval, it was proposed that the responsive element of the Deeside Shuttle Service would cease on 31 August 2015.  An all Member Workshop would assist in identifying the core routes across the County and the required frequency and standard of service each route should provide.  This would allow the Bus Subsidy policy to be reviewed and presented to Overview and Scrutiny for comment before Cabinet approval in July 2015.




(a)       That the proposed review of the Subsidised Bus Service be approved and the proposed development of community transport services be supported;


(b)       That proposals for the Deeside Shuttle Service be approved;


(c)        That the realignment of all operational service delivery areas be supported in order to establish the Integrated Transport Unit (ITU) within the Streetscene and Transportation portfolio; and


(d)       That the engagement of a suitably qualified business partner on a gain share basis be approved to assist with the assessment and delivery of the financial benefit that will be derived from the new ITU.

Supporting documents: