Western Gateway STB launches coach strategy

Western Gateway Sub-national Transport Body (STB) has launched its coach strategy, which captures the current state of play for coach services across the Western Gateway region and identifies future priorities for improving services and supporting infrastructure.

Coaches have an important role to play in providing a sustainable and accessible public transport option that can help reduce carbon emissions and congestion. However, as the Western Gateway Coach Strategy highlights, there are challenges facing the region’s coach sector, including connectivity gaps, poor facilities and driver shortages. 

Infrastructure consulting firm AECOM was commissioned by Western Gateway STB to develop the strategy, which identifies the key objectives that will help realise the potential of coaches to improve urban and rural connectivity. Thirty-six interventions are proposed, grouped by six strategic themes of: connectivity; decarbonisation; information and passenger experience; infrastructure and facilities; fleets and operation efficiencies; and strategic policy and coordination. The interventions are recommended to be taken forward by Western Gateway STB in partnership with local authorities, partners and wider industry stakeholders. 

Included among the interventions are the needs for better awareness of coaches and their benefits, the adoption of new technologies for easier ticketing and live route information, improved facilities and interchanges, and the need to address strategic gaps, particularly when it comes to travelling north-south in the region. To this end, three potential new coach routes have been identified for further investigation: Bournemouth/Christchurch/Poole to Bath and Bristol; Cheltenham/Gloucester to Bristol; and Cheltenham to Bournemouth/Christchurch/Poole.

It is proposed a South West Coach Sector Steering Group be established, bringing together public and private stakeholders to take forward the interventions identified in the strategy. 

Councillor Don Alexander, Western Gateway STB Board member, said: “Coaches have the potential to make a huge difference to how we travel through and around our region, particularly when it comes to improving cross-boundary travels, integrating with other public transport modes and ultimately getting people out of their cars to improve pollution and congestion. 

“We want to make coaches a more inclusive and attractive mode of transport, improving services and with better facilities for passengers and drivers. This Western Gateway Coach Strategy, and the setting up of a steering group to see through the interventions identified within it, will support the long-term resilience and vitality of our region’s coach sector.”

For further information and to access the Western Gateway Coach Strategy click here.