Funding from Central Government to councils has decreased by 27%, in real terms, since 2010/11 and council supported local bus services across the country have been increasingly at risk. East Sussex County Council recognised it needed to make significant budget savings, but wanted to retain a core network of services to enable access to work, education and healthcare.
PBA was commissioned to prepare a strategy for the East Sussex supported bus network, setting out how the County Council would secure the best possible bus services it could afford. Our evidence-based approach involved research to identify and quantify residents’ needs for bus services, the prioritisation of objectives by journey purpose and the full re-design and tendering of the supported bus network across the county.
By focussing on outcomes, not just buying back a smaller number of the existing bus and community transport services, the County Council was able to make the best possible use of resources, manage markets and configure a public bus network to ensure a balance of cost, health, social, economic and environmental benefits for East Sussex.
The re-designed network was implemented in April 2015 with annual savings estimated at £1.88 million on a budget of £2.73 million. Despite the scale of saving, it was estimated that 95% of existing bus users would continue to have access to a bus service operating daily on Monday to Saturday.