BUS passengers in Uttoxeter are set to benefit from a ‘better and more consistent’ service which council chiefs insist will provide better value for money.
Staffordshire County Council has revealed that 11 routes in total – including one which covers Uttoxeter – have been looked at to ensure they can provide an efficient service and still offer value to council taxpayers.
The authority consulted on proposed changes to the bus routes in the area last year. Although the council does not offer bus services directly, it does work closely with bus companies and other partners to provide supported services that complement the commercially provided network.
More than 600 people responded to the consultation with the majority saying they wanted to see current services retained.
New contracts have been awarded to various travel companies who will aim to ensure local people feel the benefits of better connectivity and a more consistent service.
Passengers started to see the benefits of this work from Monday.
Uttoxeter residents are said to benefit from double the number of buses on the 841 service from Stafford which will travel via Great Haywood and Hixon.
Simon Tagg, the authority’s cabinet support member for transport and the connected county, said: “These changes are based on how well the services are currently being used and we have maintained the routes that local people use the most.
“When planning services that are sustainable for the future, we aim to ensure that communities have suitable links to at least one main centre with shops and services.
“After announcing the initial changes, we have listened to feedback from local people and made further improvements to ensure we are offering a consistent service that represents good value for money.
“By joining up budgets, conducting a thorough tendering process and proactively working with operators, the companies that have been awarded a contract were the ones that could offer the services required, represented the best value for money and could guarantee a consistent service for local people.”
Two websites, www.staffordshire.gov.uk.bustimes and www.staffordshire.gov.uk/busmaps have been set up has been set up with access to new route maps and bus timetables.
Deputy leader Ian Parry said: “By going through this consultation and retendering exercise, we have made sure we continue to offer the services that local people want, but at the same time offer value for money.
“Around 80 per cent of the bus network in the county operates on a commercial basis with no public support. The council steps in to provide services to supplement the commercial network to meet local needs. These are normally rural services, or those that operate early morning, late evenings, or Sundays where passenger numbers are less.”