Key local stakeholders will discuss what the priorities should be for the future of bus services in the city in the Southend Local Bus Forum, which will hold its inaugural meeting in early September.
The Forum was set up as part of the Southend-on-Sea Enhanced Partnership, following on from the council's Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), which has been in place since October 2021.
The BSIP was produced in response to the Government's ‘Bus Back Better’ National Bus Strategy to put bus services across England on a sustainable long-term footing following the global pandemic.
The Local Bus Forum includes representatives from Southend-on-Sea City Council, adjoining councils, the three local bus operators (Arriva, First and Stephensons), Southend Area Bus User Group, Bus Users UK, Southend BID, Essex Police, and Transport Focus.
It is a meeting in public and members of the public are being invited to ask questions or make comments to the Forum.
Cllr Kevin Buck, cabinet member for highways, transport and parking, said: “There is no denying that improvements can be made to local bus services and while we have everyone around the one table, it would be great to get questions and input from stakeholders.
“For some people, especially older generations, public transport is a lifeline because they have no other means to get to the shops or medical appointments or social clubs. We have a duty to make sure it is safe, affordable and fit for purpose.
“Most of our existing bus services are cross-boundary, so we've always worked closely with Essex County Council and local bus services, but now we want to bring extra focus and make buses a realistic and reliable alternative to driving in our lovely City.”
Following the Bus Service Improvement Plan, the Enhanced Partnership came into effect from 1 April 2023 and the first order of business is the annual meeting of the Southend Local Bus Forum.
The first meeting of the Southend Local Bus Forum will take place on Monday, 4 September 2023, at 5pm in the Jubilee Room at Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, SS2 6ER, and online.
Find out more about the Bus Service Improvement Plan, the Enhanced Partnership and the Local Bus Forum.