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National Bus Strategy - Bus Back Better

Enhanced Partnership Plan and Schemes

3 November 2022

Government's National Bus Strategy (Bus Back Better) was published in March 2021. To deliver Government's aspirations, and to be eligible for any future Government funding, all Local Transport Authorities (LTA) in England need to enter into an Enhanced Partnership (EP) or a Franchise arrangement and develop a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).

In responding to this challenge, on 29 June 2021 the Council stated its intent to proceed with the development of an EP, which has two parts: the EP Plan and the Scheme.

  • The EP Plan sets out a summarised version of the BSIP, providing the background for the proposed local bus service improvements and high-level vision and objectives for bus services in the local area. It also sets out governance structures and decision-making processes.
  • The EP Scheme sets out the detail of how the plan, vision and objectives will be achieved, including any commitments made by the LTA or responsibilities to be met by bus operators. It also outlines the possible interventions and investment options to be agreed by the EP Board, part of the governance arrangements for the EP, for implementation and when.

The Council's draft EP Plan and Scheme were developed in consultation with bus operators in Surrey. Following a review of the drafts by the Department for Transport, followed by a consultation with statutory consultees and a wider number of stakeholders, the final version of the EP Plan and Scheme were drafted and approved by the Council's Cabinet on 25 October 2022.

Together the EP Plan and the Scheme articulate the Council's commitment to improving and investing in public transport with a clear ambition to shift journeys from the private car to other more sustainable modes.

The EP went live on 3 November 2022.

Bus Service Improvement Plan for Surrey

As required by the National Bus Strategy, the Council and Surrey bus operators, have developed the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) for the county. The updated BSIP outlines what we want to achieve through a Surrey Enhanced Partnership between the Council and the bus operators to improve services in Surrey, with the ultimate aim of increasing bus use.

The BSIP was submitted to the Department for Transport for their consideration and potential funding. Although to date Government has decided not to award the Council any BSIP funding, the Council has its own ambitious agenda and remains committed to investing in and improving local bus services to grow bus use.

This supports our Climate Change Delivery Plan objectives and the aims and ambitions set out in Local Transport Plan 4. The Council's own investment in buses, alongside other complementary areas of work will help us move toward the targets set out in the BSIP.

Supporting the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) with Government BSIP Phase 2 funding

In October 2023, the Government announced new funding for those authorities who did not receive any funding from the the BSIP Phase 1 process.

Surrey County Council was allocated £7.8 million of revenue funding, split over two years.

At the Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport Economic Growth Meeting on 28 November 2023, what proportion of the funding was allocated against the aspirations of our BSIP was agreed.

Bus Service Support – £1.35 million allocated

This is providing funding to bus services that are working towards restoring passenger numbers back to pre-pandemic levels.

This funding gives those operators the chance to get to a point where additional funding is not needed once the funding ends.

Service Enhancements – £2.4 million allocated

This followed input from operators on where enhancing bus services may become commercially viable when the the BSIP Phase 2 funding ends.

This is focused on increasing service frequencies and having new or extended operating hours, rather than entirely new routes.

OperatorRoute Service enhancement
Falcon 436 New evening and Sunday service
Falcon 456 Increase frequency to 30 minutes
Falcon 461 Increase frequency to 20 minutes
Falcon 479 Extended evenings and extra Sunday services
Metrobus 20 Extend the overnight bus to Langshott
Metrobus 32 Sundays - add two return trips to and from Redhill
Metrobus 100 Return to pre-Covid hourly overnight service
Metrobus 100 From spring 2025, increase main service to every 15 minutes, Monday to Saturday
Metrobus 400 From spring 2024, extended operating hours and Sunday service to increase to hourly
Metrobus 400 From spring 2024, 5th bus included to improve reliability and provide later evening services to Caterham, Monday to Saturday
Metrobus 460 3 new hourly round trips Monday to Saturday replacing the 480 so that Preston and Tattenham Corner would gain new evening links to Reigate, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick and Crawley
Metrobus 460 1 later return journey to add additional late night return trip
Metrobus 460 From spring 2025, 3 new later round trips on Sundays
Safeguard 4/5 Additional evening journeys and enhanced bus services on Sundays and Public Holidays
Stagecoach 2 Increase frequency to 20 minutes
Stagecoach 6 Increase frequency to 20 minutes
Stagecoach 7 Increase frequency to 20 minutes
Stagecoach 65 Enhance to create an hourly service and introduce a new Sunday service. Cost shared with Hampshire County Council.

Expanding Digital Demand Responsive Transport (DDRT) – £2.4 million allocated

Supporting the expansion of the Surrey Connect DDRT schemes.

This allows more people to have access to this flexible form of public transport, alongside our investment in zero emission vehicles.

Surrey LINK Card – £1.27 million allocated

The Surrey LINK Card gives people aged 20 and under access to half the standard adult bus fare on single and return journeys.

This BSIP Phase 2 funding supports giving £1 half fare where the £2 National Bus Fare Cap is offered by operators.

Contingency funding – £0.33 million allocated

A small amount of budget to be held in case the popularity of the LINK Card grows enough where more funding is needed to reimburse the bus operators.

Promotion of the initiatives – £0.05 million allocated

A small amount of money to use to promote the BSIP Phase 2 funded initiatives

Bid for Zero Emissions Buses (ZEBRA)

ZEBRA is the Government's bidding programme for zero emission buses. This document is an extract of the bid for Surrey from the document produced by the Department for Transport that was submitted on 15 December 2023.

The announcement of funding will be made towards the end of March 2024.

Types of bus service

Certain bus services are run commercially by bus operators without financial support from local or national government. We have no powers to influence the routing, timetables, frequencies or day to day operational quality of these services.

Current national legislation places a duty on us to plan and administer bus services which cannot be run at a profit by bus operators. However, there is local discretion as to the level of service provided and this must be achieved within the funding available. These services are provided under contract to us by various bus operators.

We do not run services ourselves, own the buses or employ the drivers. Services therefore must be sustainable, benefit as many people as possible and offer reasonable value for money for the public purse, when the cost of providing them is equated with patronage they actually receive.

Our expenditure on bus service support is currently in excess of £8m each year. There are approximately 220 bus services in the county, of which approximately 185 receive a degree of financial support from us. Without this support, many towns, villages and schools would have no bus service. Contracted or supported services are generally identified as such on the individual service timetables.

London buses services

In the northern part of Surrey, there are several cross-boundary services running from/to parts of Greater London which are provided by London Buses on behalf of Transport for London.

We are not responsible for the operation of these but we do contribute significantly to the cost of running some of them.

Patronage of bus services

In a normal year before the pandemic, the number of Passenger Journeys made in Surrey is more than 27 million, of which 8 million are on services which we financially support.

Extra bus services provided with the Government's Better Deal for Buses Funding

The Government has allocated £671,945 Better Deal For Buses funding to Surrey County Council to pay for additional bus services. To date, £528,000 has been pledged by the council over two years to provide and support:

  • From July 2021: Extra journeys on Sundays on Southdown 410 and new Sunday services on Southdown 409 and 424
  • From September 2021: New weekday evening and Sunday services on Metrobus E9 and E10; new weekday evening services on Diamond Bus 458 and Stagecoach 715; increased Sunday service on Stagecoach 71 with new Sunday service on Stagecoach 70 (Haslemere-Midhurst) in partnership with West Sussex County Council; new Carlone Buses service 455 on Mondays to Fridays from Addlestone to Woking and Merrist Wood College".

Bus fares

We have no control over fares charged on commercial services or those operated by London Buses. On most contracted services, fares are set by the operator at a level they feel is commercially-justifiable.

Fares have to be within a maximum fare scale depending on the length of journey, as laid down by us.

The issue and acceptance of multi-journey or multi-operator tickets is at the discretion of the operator. In the case of most of our contracted services, the bus operator retains the fare money collected.

Types of bus stop

In Surrey, there is no longer a distinction between a "compulsory" bus stop and a "request" bus stop. This also includes stops in Surrey and adjoining areas of Greater London where the signage is owned by Transport for London.

  • At all stops, intending passengers should clearly hail the driver, to advise that they require his/her bus.
  • When getting off the bus, passengers should ring the bell once in advance of their required alighting point.

The Council and Transport for London have advised all bus operators that their drivers should always pull into a stop if they see any passenger waiting there, even if no hand signal has been seen; a passenger may be visually-impaired.

Low-floor accessible vehicles

In general, local bus services are operated with low-floor fully-accessible buses, making travel easier for people in wheelchairs, those with approved mobility scooters, those with buggies, people with mobility impairments and those carrying heavy shopping.

The only exception to this is a very small number of infrequent services which are operated by small vehicles, for which advance contact should be made with the operator before travelling with a wheelchair, to allow arrangements to be made.

These are identified as "not fully-accessible" in the list of services shown under the area timetable pages on this website. However, some small non-low floor buses may have wheelchair loading facilities by means of a lift. These services are identified as "wheelchair-accessible vehicle", for which advance contact should not be necessary prior to travel.

Surrey County Council itself does not operate any services and cannot accept liability for difficulties or inconvenience caused by vehicle accessibility.

Helping Hand Scheme

The Helping Hand Scheme is designed to give customers a helping hand when using bus services; a simple way to help drivers help you.

The credit card sized information card holds a brief written instruction for the driver that can be shown upon boarding the bus. The driver is made aware of the customer's needs or requirements quickly, directly and discreetly without the customer having to verbally communicate it.

The scheme can be very helpful for hidden disabilities and many customers are now using the card off the bus; in taxis, shops and leisure establishments like the cinema.

The Helping Hand Scheme is administered by Brighton and Hove Buses and Metrobus in partnership with: Southdown PSV, Compass Travel, Stagecoach, Big Lemon, Dementia Friendly Crawley, West Sussex County Council, Surrey County Council, East Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove City Council, Streamline Taxis and City Cabs Brighton.

Local bus tender results

Each year the County Council publishes the results of Local Bus contracts that were put out to tender or changed the previous year.

Below you will find a list of the most recent tender results.

Subsidy Control Assessment Form

Under the Subsidy Control Bill 2021 public authorities are required to complete a Subsidy Control Assessment Form (PDF). This records how we have complied with the principles in designing the subsidy. The following subsidies are being considered:

  • Purchasing 34 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses – The County Council will purchase 34 Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) buses which would be leased to local bus operator Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Co. Ltd. (trading as Metrobus in Surrey). The buses would remain the ownership of SCC.

In providing the subsidy we are providing a significant opportunity to work towards Surrey's 2030 and 2050 net zero carbon ambition. Supporting Surrey's carbon neutral pathway requires immediate action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to achieve a 46% reduction against 2019 levels by 2025.

The public policy objective is to support measures that tackle poor air quality and the need to advance the decarbonisation of passenger road transport in Surrey to reduce environmental impacts.

Conditions of eligibility for the subsidy

The public policy objective of the subsidy scheme is to support measures that help tackle poor air quality and contribute to the Council's climate change strategy goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, specifically through forms of passenger transport which offer less harmful emissions.

The subsidy scheme is discretionary and subject to available budget, but may be provided to measures considered to meet the public policy objective, have submitted a satisfactory application and which comply with the relevant Subsidy Control requirements, including demonstrating that the subsidy is limited to the amount necessary to deliver the objective.

Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG)

Following the Government's decision in 2013 to devolve the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) to Local Authorities, we are obliged to publicise how we make use of this funding.

Since this change came into effect we have incorporated the BSOG into our budget for supported services, dividing the funding between the various bus routes proportionately. For more information on the BSOG, visit bus services: grants and funding (

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