Arup with the Department for Transport

Change and Transformation in the Public Sector

MCA Awards Finalist 2024Understanding that buses are at the very centre of the public transport network, often making more than twice as many journeys as the railways, the UK Government’s vision for the future of buses was clear: improve bus services across England.

After the launch of the ‘Bus Back Better’ strategy in 2021, the Department for Transport (DfT) realised that it needed dedicated support and resource to deliver a programme of this scale.

The objectives were clear. Effectively manage the process of deploying billions of pounds worth of funding to deliver on the National Bus Strategy; raise skills and increase capabilities within the bus sector and ultimately improve the overall experience of the customer through creating a service that caters to the average users 24-hour life, which in turn, would lead to increased patronage across buses in the UK.

With specific expertise within the bus sector and a deep domain knowledge of the built environment and combined skills in Management Consulting and Transport Planning, a consortium led by Arup supported the assessment of 76 Bus Service Improvement Plans in tight timeframes. 32 LTAs initially received £1.08B in funding, to which the skills, experience and capabilities of the Arup Relationship Managers and the wider team are continuing to assure the successful delivery of the programme.

We continued to support those authorities that missed out on initial funding. By providing dedicated, proactive and independent advice to LTAs with any queries, we offered necessary support to help them strengthen their Bus Service Improvement Plans and scheme proposals, which in turn directly supported the unlocking of an additional £160m in funding for all authorities.

A truly multi-disciplinary project management role, Arup were tasked with the tough task of addressing and subsequently putting measures into place to address the long-term decline in bus patronage. This directly led to the development and implementation of a ‘Bus Centre of Excellence, (BCoE)’ a dedicated hub of resource and shared best practice designed to address one of the major challenges in revolutionising this particular industry – the decline in skills as experienced personnel leave the industry and capability needed to continue to innovate.

Following initial creation of the BCoE, Arup continues to be a trusted advisor using our multidisciplinary expertise to guide progress alongside other capability building initiatives for maximal utility. We have used the advantage of the insights we get from the Relationship Managers on our programme to understand more about capability in the sector and to develop bespoke support packages and toolkits aimed at boosting capability and ultimately increasing patronage.

With sight of wider programmes in play in the external market through Arup’s vast experience and expertise in buses held by its Management Consultant and Transport Planning professionals, we are using our experience on similar programmes including our role as the Towns Fund Delivery Partner to draw upon lessons learnt to deliver successful outcomes for the Department for Transport in delivering a revolutionised bus service.

View the Arup profile in the MCA Members Directory.