Investment is part of the One Public Transport element of Cornwall’s Devolution Deal which will see £130m used to develop an integrated rail, bus and ferry transport network across Cornwall.
A fleet of 37 brand new double decker buses will be operating on routes across Cornwall from January 2017 under an innovative partnership between First Kernow, Go Cornwall and Cornwall Council as part of the Devolution Deal.
The upgrade is part of a wider major project to improve Cornwall’s (in)famous public transport system and join up bus routes, improve bus shelters and bus stops, integrate ticketing and timetabling for bus with local rail services, and to provide new and improved vehicles.
First Kernow has invested £7.4m in buying 30 new double decker buses to use on routes in Cornwall, building on Go-Ahead’s Go Cornwall (Plymouth City Bus) bus operation which has seen seven new vehicles already brought into service. This latest investment means that Cornwall’s two largest operators have contributed £10.5m in providing new vehicles and upgrading existing buses in Cornwall over the past 12 months.
As well as providing a number of additional features, including internet access and USB charging to enable passengers to browse the web or take advantage of a mobile office option during longer journeys, the new vehicles have also been built to the latest low emission European standards. This means 12% of the 335 buses currently being used in Cornwall will have been upgraded, producing an 84% reduction in emissions which will significantly improve air quality along these routes.
Following a consultation with Truro Park and Ride users, the driver protective screens have been removed from the new fleet of buses. Audible stop announcements are also going to be introduced in the near future as the wider One Public Transport elements are developed and delivered.
The new fleet will be operating in West Cornwall on the U1/U2/U3 (Falmouth, Penryn Truro), routes and the 14/18 (Penzance, St Ives, Hayle, Camborne, Redruth, Truro) routes and in South East Cornwall on the 70/71 (Liskeard, Cremyll, Torpoint, Plymouth) routes.
Welcoming the introduction of the new buses, Bert Biscoe, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, said
“Many people want to contribute to managing climate change, others find motoring increasingly expensive and stressful, and, whilst lifestyles are changing, so too are our transport needs.
“The provision of a major fleet of new (yes NEW!) buses by First Kernow is a significant investment in this major project, and a strong endorsement of Cornwall Council’s approach to ensuring that our public transport system will, in a relatively short time, be comparable with that of many major British cities. Other investments will follow.”
Over the past few months council officers have carried out an extensive survey, finding out what existing passengers like and don’t like about bus and train services in Cornwall and what improvements they would like to see. Non-public transport users have also been asked why they do not currently use services and what would encourage them to leave their car at home and take the bus or train.
This information is being used to develop a new network and integrated services which it is hoped will make public transport the first travel choice for people in Cornwall, increase the number of passengers on bus and rail services and generate more income to make the system more financially viable.
The development of a new network will join up bus and rail services. Services will connect towns across Cornwall, with a network of feeder services supporting outlying areas. Bus services will be designed to connect with rail, ferry and air services to avoid waiting times for ongoing travel.
A single timetable containing information for all public transport services across Cornwall is in development. Bus stops will show “real time” arrivals and digital timetable information will make it easier for passengers to find out which bus or train they need to catch and when the next one is due to arrive. Also under development is a brand new transport information app which residents and visitors will be able to access on their phones or tablets and use on the go!
There will also be a new single ticketing system which can be used across all bus, rail and ferry services, with passengers able to buy tickets on buses, whether by phone, app or using a debit card. Ticket prices will be capped at a maximum daily fare level to ensure that they are affordable and offer value for money.