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Model of how councils can survive budget cuts

24 November 2010
Clear public transport information, more reliable journeys and new fares offers with discounts for commuters are some of the products emerging from a ground-breaking transport partnership in St Albans, Hertfordshire. “Network St Albans”, launched today with the blessing of Transport Minister Norman Baker, brings together the county and city councils, four bus operators, two train operators and the University of Hertfordshire to plan public transport across the whole city, with working groups focusing on different aspects of public transport. 

The partnership was promoted by the charity Campaign for Better Transport. Chief Executive Stephen Joseph, who has been chairing the meetings, said:

"We were successful in getting the law changed two years ago so it is legal for transport operators to work together, as long as the local councils say that it’s in the public interest. We wanted a pathfinder to show the potential of approaches like this and were pleased to help create this partnership.

We hope that other councils will follow this pilot and, especially with spending cuts, councils and operators will see this as a positive way to make best use of limited resources.” 

He added: “The implications of this partnership are broader than just transport. The partnership has been able to tap into other funding sources (Growth Area Funding and European Funds) which are not normally available for buses, and the councils involved are now using it to join up transport with other services and planning.”

Further innovation includes a marketing campaign, Fresh Ways to Work, which aims to help small and medium businesses with travel plans that give their employees commuting alternatives to driving, including cycling, car sharing and public transport e-tickets on mobiles.

The partnership is now looking at further developments including mini park and ride and bus priority in the city centre.