Step by step

Step by step

Changing routes and ticketing for the better

Develop feeder and out-of-hour services

Bus and rail networks work best when there is a core network that has feeder services bringing passengers to and from it. This may mean truncating minor, less frequent services so that rather than going the full way into town, they stop at a bus stop on a busier route. Because they will no longer be duplicating other services, these feeder services can then be made to run more regularly, so as to increase the number of journeys that can be made to and from communities.

Similarly although demand tends to be less on busier routes in the evenings and can be at weekends, a lack of service outside core hours means public transport is not viable for many social activities. See the extending types of bus services page for ways to develop bus services at the margins.

Don’t forget to improve access to bus stops and railway stations by other means, such as better walking and cycling routes as well as cycle parking. Outside urban areas, particularly where there is a large catchment area, consider options for car parking. See the improving streets and managing car parking sections.

Multi-operator ticketing

Seek multi-operator ticketing agreements for public transport in your area. This is not just about ensuring there are smartcard readers on buses but about integrated ticketing. In other words securing new ticket types, such as daily or weekly passes that are valid on all operators, or even return tickets that allow you to travel with one operator and back the other way with another one.

See if railways are being refranchised in your area - if so, it might be possible to make it a condition of the franchise that there is rail-bus ticketing. Over 200 towns offer ‘plusbus’ tickets, which allows unlimited use of buses in the departure and arrival points of rail tickets. This is only available as a piggyback ticket on a point-to-point rail journey, however, less flexible than travelcards that exist in London or the continent, which allow the use of any local rail services within zones that have been paid for.

More information:

List of integrated ticketing schemes in UK - Journey Solutions

Building better bus services: multi-operator ticketing - Department for Transport

Create a network map and brand

London’s tube and its map is probably the most well known public transport system in the world. While rather smaller and less famous, Network St Albans is a good example of what can be done in a medium sized town to simplify bus route information and help promote it. See the influencing travel choices and creating travel information sections for more ideas.

Fine-tune timetables

After perfecting watchmaking, it’s no surprise the Swiss have made timetabling into a science. Here are three key principles:

  • turn up and go services on key routes during weekday daytime - if services run at least every ten minutes then people do not need to rely on timetables

  • clockface timetables - on less frequent services, ensure that they depart from stops at the same time each hour, so that the times are easier to remember and connections can be planned more easily

  • pulse timetables - where frequencies are lower, consider timing all services to come to a hub and leave at similar times, allowing people to interchange in different directions.

Recast services

Because services in towns tend to be commercially operated, they can be more difficult to influence unless there is a voluntary or quality partnership in place that brings together operators with the local authority. Ideas to consider for bus routes include:

  • cross-town services - by having what are also known as ‘pendulum’ services, in that they swing across and back again, these help link up different areas

  • speed up main routes - make core, high capacity routes more direct and focus bus priority measures on them

  • differentiate services - just as railways have express services and stopping trains, consider applying similar principles to bus services with feeder and main routes

  • simplify routes - rather than having lots of different route variations, try to have the same route and then add feeder services and interchanges as appropriate


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