In the House of Commons, James called for Norfolk to receive a fair share of the £3 billion bus boost to benefit passengers in North West Norfolk.
During a statement on the government's new Bus Strategy, James welcomed the plans, backed by £3 billion of investment, that will see passengers benefit from more frequent, more reliable, easier to use and understand, better coordinated and cheaper bus services. Under the plans:
- Passengers will benefit from a new National Bus Strategy, which will deliver the most ambitious reform to the sector in generations.
- Norfolk County Council will work in partnership with operators on ambitious new Bus Service Improvement Plans for the benefit of passengers to be eligible for future funding.
- Plan paves the way for cheaper, quicker and more reliable bus services across England as the government continues its levelling-up agenda.
The strategy will see Norfolk County Council, and other local transport authorities, working in partnership with bus operators to improve services for passengers.
Councils and operators will be expected to provide:
- Simpler single bus fares with daily price caps, so people can use the bus as many times a day as they need without facing mounting costs.
- More services in the evenings and at the weekends.
- Integrated services and ticketing across all transport modes in the area, so people can easily move from bus to train.
- Easy to access information, including online, so that services are simple to use.
- All buses to accept contactless payments.
Councils will also need to franchise services, as is the case in London, or establish statutory partnerships with operators – ensuring that they work in collaboration for the benefit of passengers. They will also be required to publish an improvement plan.
Such improvements will be underpinned by reforms to the sector, and will see operators need to work with their local councils on targets for improving passenger numbers, reliability and passenger satisfaction, to be eligible for future government funding from the £3 billion investment.
James said: “Local buses provide a lifeline for many people in North West Norfolk but rural areas have seen higher reductions in service frequencies so I welcome this new strategy. It is important that Norfolk gets a fair share of this new funding not only to rebuild but also to enhance services with later rural buses and new links, as well as capital for improvements to speed up journeys along the coast. This new strategy is part of levelling up to provide simpler fares, more reliable services, and make it easier to get around.”
In response to James’ comments in the House of Commons highlighting the needs of North West Norfolk and calling for a fair share for Norfolk, the Transport Secretary, the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP said:
“I have no doubt he will fight for his constituents and his area and by hooking up with the local authority and by working with them we’ll have a very good look at the investment strategy that they put together to make sure that he enjoys much better services in the future, than his constituents have in the past.”