New bus website to be developed for county council

A new dedicated website to increase the number of people using buses in across the county is being developed by Essex County Council.

Essex County Council says its aim is to increase the number of people travelling by bus but acknowledges for many people the effort it takes to remember and work out timetables stops them.

The website – which the council is currently in the process of procuring a designer for – will be developed to provide “seamless access” to all bus information and to include journey planning tools, maps, bus stop information, school transport provision, English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) passes and ticket information.

The contract for developing the bus website is worth £220,000, and the website support would last until 2026.

The website will also have a secure area which will improve how education transport, adult social care transport, children social care transport and local bus information is shared between Essex County Council and bus and taxi operators. Transport contractors will be able to update information relevant only to them.

A description for the job procurement said: “Essex County Council’s aim is to increase the number of people travelling by bus. Our research shows that the cognitive load required to switch from car to bus is high in Essex. This procurement is part of a wider project to improve access to information so bus and non-bus users can easily make sustainable choices, as outlined in Essex County Council’s Bus Strategy, the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) and Enhanced Partnership Scheme.”

It comes after Essex County Council announced its new bus identity, TravelEssex, launched in June to help the transport network build back from COVID 19 and encourage people to swap from car to bus.

Even before the pandemic bus usage had been falling – from 46.7 million journeys in 2009/2010 to 40.1 in 2019/2020. In 2020/21 – the most set of data – there were just 12.6 million bus journeys made across the part of Essex administered by the county council.

Councillor Lee Scott, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Sustainable Transport and Highways maintenance, said: “We want people to use buses and we want the bus network to grow. This will be better for our roads, better for all travellers and better for the environment.

“We’ve got to make travelling by bus easier and to begin that process, we have pulled all bus services in Essex together under the TravelEssex identity. This is just the start, now we can work together with our partners to develop a website which will make it easier for residents to find information about Essex’s bus services and plan their journey.

“This partnership work contributes to Essex County Council’s ‘Everyone’s Essex’ plan to tackle climate change, with sustainability sitting at the heart of our approach to safer, greener, healthier travel.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter