National Highways Bus and Coach Plan

National Highways Bus and Coach Plan

Why do we need a Bus and Coach Plan

The strategic road network (SRN) – the 4,500 miles of England’s motorways and major A-roads managed by National Highways – is vital for people using the UK’s many bus and coach operations.

Operators and passengers need a safe, efficient, integrated and accessible road network so that services can run effectively and passengers can reach their destinations on time.

During this second road period (2020-2025), we are improving our understanding of the needs of the bus and coach sector by:

  • engaging with operators
  • delivering improvements that make a difference for drivers, operators and passengers

Our activities form the basis of this Bus and Coach Plan. They contribute to the Department for Transport’s Road investment strategy 2 (RIS2) and our Strategic business plan ambition to provide seamless and integrated journeys for all users of the network.

A long-term view

This plan focuses on activities in this road period but also supports our Connecting the Country long term strategy and its recognition for us to deliver clear and accurate journey information to our customers to help bus and coach operators schedule their services.

By supporting a high-quality low carbon bus and coach offer, customers will have clean, quiet and sustainable travel choices for part or all of their journey, helping deliver our:

Listening to the sector

This plan uses evidence from the regular Transport Focus Logistics and Coach Surveys that ask operators about their satisfaction with motorways and major A-roads.

The plan’s activities are themed around key findings from these surveys, relating to:

  • strategic operational planning
  • advanced planning and closures
  • engagement
  • customer experience.

Next steps

An initial and positive step in delivering this plan is the creation of the National Highways Bus and Coach Forum, established to support improved communication and collaboration with the bus and coach sector. The meetings will continue regularly to discuss strategic and operational matters for the network.

The Bus and Coach Plan is a live document which captures activities across National Highways. It will be periodically reviewed and updated as projects progress and new opportunities are found.

Bus and Coach Plan

Last updated: 29 November 2023.

Longer term strategic planning

Activity Description Timescale
Bus and Coach Plan Develop a plan to improve bus and coach operators', and passengers' experience on the Strategic Road Network (SRN). Launch Q3 2023-24
Bus stop facilities prioritisation tool Audit all 1,422 bus stops on the SRN and categorise in terms of accessibility, physical condition and bus frequency Completed Q4 2022-23
Route Strategies evidence Review Route Strategies evidence to identify issues and opportunities to support the bus and coach sector Completion Q1 2024-25
Critical success factors for re-moding journeys Identify the customers most receptive to travel choice for their journeys and locations for mobility hubs. Completion Q4 2023/-24
Bus and coach journey maps Develop maps to understand the bus and coach interactions with National Highways/SRN and identify areas for further research and improvement. Completion Q1 2024-25
Strategic bus and coach corridor studies Pilot studies to identify opportunities for improved integration. Completion Q3 2024-5
Access and inclusion approach Review all bus stops on the SRN with facilities to board buses with the access and inclusion approach. Review bus stop accessibility using the bus stop facility tool. Launch Access and inclusion plan Q3 2024. Review bus stop accessibility Q4 2023-24.

Engagement and information

Activity Description Timescale
Bus and Coach Forum Launch a forum to bring together National Highways with bus and coach operators. Launched Q4 2022-23. Three meetings per year
Professional driver online community Organise a community to engage professional drivers on key themes. Continues throughout second road period (2020-25).
Net Zero Highways Plan Engage with operators to understand how National Highways could support the industry move towards net-zero. To be developed through the Bus and Coach Forum during second road period (2020-2025).
Clear communication channels Maintain clear channels with National Highways at national and regional level through the forum, with identified leads in each region. To be developed through the Bus and Coach Forum during second road period (2020-2025).
Variable messaging signs (VMS) Explore the use of VMS on the network to raise awareness of travel choice options for accessing major events likely to impact SRN performance or location of Park and Ride sites near to SRN to support a reduction in urban SRN congestion Completion Q4 2023-24.
Portable VMS Install portable VMS on the A30 and A38 in Devon and Cornwall to support customer information on network performance during summer tourist season. Completion Q4 2024-25

Advance planning and diversion routes

Activity Description Timescale
Diversion routes Make diversion routes easier to use through improved standards and appropriateness of diversion routes. Completion Q4 2023-24.
Customer focussed digital diversion routes Trial working with local authorities to use digital technology to improve diversion route signage, improving customer information with opportunity to engage bus and coach sector specifically. Completion by Q4 2024-25.

Passenger experience improvements

Activity Description Timescale
All Purpose Trunk Road (APTR) rest area provision Review APTR rest area provision - to benefit professional drivers and passenger experience on the SRN. Completion Q4 2024-25.
Improvements to bus stops on the SRN

Work with Operations colleagues to develop and deliver targeted improvements to bus stops on the SRN identified as priorities on the bus stop facilities dashboard.

Bus stops currently identified in the programme are:

A47 bus stop accessibility improvements – new laybys, shelters and pedestrian crossing facilities to access stops.

A52 Nottingham – improved bus waiting facilities and real time information screens.

A69 Low Row – bus shelters to replace existing flag and pole stops to improve customer waiting experience..

Completion of schemes during Roads Period 2 (2020-2025)