The Conservative Group on Essex County Council put forward a motion at May’s Full Council Meeting to improve and enhance the county’s bus services. The ‘Bus Back Better’ Motion which was moved by Cllr Ross Playle recognised the benefits of increasing bus usage across Essex would bring socially, economically and environmentally.
The Conservative motion recognised the strategy set out in the ‘Enhanced Partnership Plan’ which will “level-up” the bus network across the county and make buses more accessible and attractive to residents. It was stressed that bus travel is safer, greener and healthier than travel by car, both for individuals and for communities.
Increasing bus usage in Essex will support local economic growth. An effective bus network can help improve town and centres, making them greener and more attractive, as well as reducing congestion. It also helps connects Essex’s rural settlements.
A strong bus network is crucial to the levelling up agenda, as buses are disproportionately used by those on lower incomes and good connectivity can increase employment and educational opportunities. Whilst access to effective bus services provides independence for all ages and an ability to access healthcare, education, training and services. For many people they are a key part of being able to live independently and successfully in their community.
Better bus usage also decreases carbon emissions, improves air quality and has a positive impact on the local environment. Cllr Playle stressed in his motion that the “the greatest single climate change mitigation measure for the transport sector in Essex is to transfer journeys from car to sustainable methods including the bus.”
Whilst presenting the motion Cllr Ross Playle called on the Cabinet Member for Highways Maintenance and Sustainable Transport, Cllr Lee Scott to write to the Department for Transport, asking them to provide additional support and resources to ensure that the full objectives of the Enhanced Partnership Plan are met.
Cllr Lee Scott stressed the Council’s commitment to enhancing the county’s bus services. He said, “This council is committed to increasing bus usage in Essex. The Enhanced Partnership Plan promotes sustainable travel and sets out an ambitious vision for Essex’s Bus Service. This is important to the County Council’s environmental goals, as well as the county-wide levelling up agenda. Improving connectivity through the public transport network will increase opportunity for all Essex residents. I welcome the Conservative Group’s motion brought forward by Cllr Playle and I will be making representations to the Department for Transport to urge them to provide us with additional support to ensure we can meet our ambitions.”