BUS services are set to be improved in Thurrock as the council sets out a plan to work closer with bus companies.
The councils Bus Service Improvement Plan includes improving timetabling on existing routes and to offer bus services over a larger part of the day, more days a week. There are unlikely to be any additional routes, however.
The vast majority of buses in Thurrock are commercially run services, with the exception of three routes funded by the council. Funding and subsidies for buses has been cut by half over the last ten years, reducing provision for smaller and more rural communities
On routes where there is less demand the council will explore using smaller and more cost effective vehicles.
This plan includes a proposal to fit separate tap-off smartcard or contactless readers on all buses. It also includes introducing “multi-modal” fares which can be used on bus, ferry and rail services.
Bus and rail interchanges will be improved particularly around Ockendon station which will be targeted as an area in need of better bus-rail compatibility.
Cheaper and simpler fairs are being looked at under the scheme but that is not without difficulties.
Operators within the borough include Ensign Bus and First which offer their own commercially based fares. Nibs Buses and Stephenson’s charge fares in accordance with their Thurrock and Essex contracts and TfL services charge standard Oyster fares in line with the rest of Greater London.
Despite this, the council hopes to work with companies to introduce flat fares in the evenings and weekends.
Services to Stansted are also set to be improved. A report to cabinet said: “First has recently divided the 100 service into two sections removing a direct link between Chelmsford and Thurrock. After discussions with First,
Thurrock proposes to reinstate and improve this connection by extending the existing X10 service.
“Currently this links Stansted and Basildon hourly seven days a week. It is proposed to extend this to serve Grays and Lakeside on a limited stop basis using main roads without serving other communities off the A13. All trips would be extended, seven days a week.”
The council will seek £100,000 for its bus promotion scheme out of a £3billion Department for Transport fund.
Thurrock’s cabinet will discuss the plan on Wednesday.