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Bus Infrastructure and Information in Staffordshire - A Design Guide



The Design Guide is primarily intended to assist those directly or indirectly involved with the planning, provision and design of all future public transport related infrastructure, specifically in relation to new developments and associated with new bus infrastructure only. 

Public transport is essential to meet government targets on accessibility and tackling congestion through providing an alternative travel choice to the car. The provision of an efficient, well connected and viable public transport system requires a partnership approach between bus operators and the local highway authority. It is envisaged that if this can be achieved, it will encourage more people to choose to travel by public transport and it will improve the ability of users to plan their journeys making them feel more confident in their choice.

The guide seeks to ensure that the resultant design of mainstream highways’ infrastructure in the county is constructed to a consistently high quality, is operationally efficient from a public transport perspective and facilitates its integration within the local environment and highway network. Further, it strives to ensure that sustainable transport generally, and public transport more specifically, is increasingly considered as an attractive alternative to other motorised transport modes.

In this regard it is preferable for public transport to be granted early access particularly where large developments are being constructed and, ideally, before the whole site is completed. In this way it can be easier to encourage early residents to consider the sustainable transport options from day one. Therefore, it will be important for the developer to plan a suitably staged construction and release of facilities. For example, thoughtful provision of bus turning facilities or roundabouts would enable buses to gradually penetrate a site as the development progresses.

The designs and recommendations in the guide were derived from best practice examples tailored to suit the local circumstances, policies and strategies within Staffordshire. .

It is recommended that expert advice from the Staffordshire County Council (SCC) Local Bus and Community Transport Team of specialists is sought at suitable points throughout the development of project plans, in order to ensure that optimum benefit can be gained for all users of the site and in order to avoid potentially costly redesign work being required.

The early involvement of the Local Bus and Community Transport Team through the planning stage will also mean that the likely Section 106 expectations can be discussed, at least in outline, at project commencement; in this way SCC can guard against the potential public transport requirements of a development being seen as an add-on, as this can be unhelpful and cause friction between the developer and the County Council. Further, the developer is afforded the opportunity at the earliest stage to calculate the potential true cost of the development with the knowledge of what the expectation will be. It is clearly better for all parties that such discussions are held and understood in the first instance.

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The document covers essential design, style and location elements for a number of specific public transport infrastructure items, as well as offering advice on how other mainstream highway design aspects can be made more bus friendly.

In most situations, it will be normal to see a combination of these elements, dependent on the extant circumstances at each location. The core items are described in outline alongside more specific construction/positioning guidance in section 2.

Through the guide, SCC is committed to the continual improvement of passenger transport throughout the county. In its joint roles as the Highway and Local Transport Authority, it is able to make a significant difference to the efficiency and accessibility of the county’s public transport network through the effective co-ordinated provision of suitable infrastructure.

The county is working towards obtaining funding through the appropriate channeling of funds from third parties, which could be in the form of secured government grants or developer contributions. Collectively this programme of works will potentially result in an overall improvement to countywide accessibility.

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 Enabling Acts

  • Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953 – section 4
  • Highways Act 1980 (as amended by the Transport Act 1981)
  • Road Traffic Regulation Act (RTRA) 1984
  • Transport Act 1985 (as amended in 2000 and Local Transport Act 2008)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) (as amended in 2001 and 2005
  • Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997

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SCC Duties

The aforementioned Acts place a number of duties on Local Authorities which, in summary, include:

  • The development of policies and strategies to promote and encourage safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities and services to, from and within its area. These are largely contained within the Local Transport Plan (LTP) and its daughter documents.
  • Provision of a bus strategy, within the umbrella of the LTP, which should provide a framework for improvements to bus services. This must have regard to the needs of the whole community, including the county’s elderly, and residents and visitors with disabilities.
  • To assess current, and predict future, increases to traffic levels and report these to the Secretary of State. The report must specify targets for reducing traffic levels or rates of growth.
  • To make reasonable adjustments to premises and equipment to ensure that disabled persons are not unreasonably discriminated against with regard to access to premises and services.
  • To consider any gaps in the transportation network provided by commercial operators and determine what action, if any, needs to be taken in order to ensure appropriate levels of accessibility are offered to the various communities which will necessarily vary from one to another.
  • To ensure that the goods and services that it provides represents optimum value for money.

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Policy setting that affects the environment in which we live is determined at various levels. Some particularly relevant summary comments are below:

Government Policy

Over recent years there has been a growing recognition that shortfalls in the transportation network can form significant barriers to social inclusion. In the report ‘Making the Connections’, the Social Exclusion Unit advised that the mutually reinforcing trends of increased car usage, as well as the decline in local services and growth of ‘out of town’ facilities, have exacerbated the problem of exclusion.

Whilst there has been a rise in mobility for persons with access to a car, those who rely on alternative modes of transport have been increasingly marginalised. It was further identified that difficulties in accessing employment and key services were as much due to the location of the facilities as with the quality of the transport links to them.

The report called for greater weight to be given to accessibility in the formation of planning decisions. This resulted in the new requirement for Transport Authorities to produce Accessibility Planning Strategies as part of the Local Transport Plan.

The DfT’s Guidance on Accessibility Planning in Local Transport Plans recommends a partnership approach, emphasising the need to give greater consideration to the location of facilities in accessible areas and to consider more fully the range of options in considering the overall acceptability of proposed development layout design, especially sustainable transport. 

In 2021, the Government introduced its ‘Bus, Back, Better’ National Bus Strategy for England outside of London. This strategy set out the Government’s vision to deliver better bus services through ambitious and far-reaching reform of how services are planned and delivered.

Under the strategy, LTAs should have in place either an Enhanced Partnership (EP) with local operators or be following the statutory process to implement bus franchising, or both; SCC has worked with local bus operators to form an EP and this has been brought to fruition.

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SCC Policy 

SCC Policy supports the need to promote the use of sustainable transportation modes. It considers that all significant new developments should be accessible by public transport which will ensure the potential for social inclusion for all.

In this regard, it will also seek to encourage the more accessible development areas to be reserved for uses that are likely to generate higher trip levels.

Through appropriate levels of developer funding such as Sections 106 and 278, the County will continue to seek the provision of improved infrastructure and services in areas which are perceived to be detrimentally affected by new developments, or which create a new ‘need’.

It will also require travel plans to be submitted by developers of significant sites at the time of planning application in order to be able to satisfy itself that promotion of the sustainable transport agenda is intrinsically linked to the ethos of the development.

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SCC Information and Infrastructure Guide 2022

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