top of page


Jump to section: 

The Transport and Distribution sector is in critical shock, its primary focus is keeping Plymouth moving and enabling the visitor economy.  

FTE jobs
(5% of PLY employment)
Productivity 87%
of city average and 93% of GB average
GVA output of
(4% of Plymouth GVA)
Opportunities/Challenges to address
  • Demand for bus services, 20 months after the introduction of the first lockdown, has only recovered to about 75% of pre-pandemic levels which effects viability of services and transport companies.  Anticipate 2 to 3 more years for patronage to recover to pre-pandemic levels

  • Many workers and school children rely on public transport

  • ‘Do not leave home’ messaging during lockdown is having  lasting damage to perception of safety in using public transport

  • Acceleration of previous long term trends towards on-line retail and working from home is having a profound impact on traditional travel patterns and public transport markets

  • Disadvantaged young people cannot afford travel costs to travel to employment and training venues

  • Lockdown has visibly shown everyone how reduced traffic congestion can improve environment, nature and air quality. However traffic levels are now exceeding pre-COVID traffic levels at certain times of the day, increasing congestion, reducing punctuality and increasing cost of operation

  • Need to change travel behaviour longer term to encourage use of active and public transport modes and reverse the trend of returning to a car based economy

  • Increase walking exercise as part of the bus journey making bus a key part of the network of walking and cycling, thereby improving air quality and putting Plymouth on a trajectory where net zero by 2030 could be achievable

  • Retirements, staff leaving the industry and the backlog of driving tests and granting licences amongst new recruits post covid has led to driver shortages and curtailing some services as a result

  • Covid Bus Service Support Grant created by Government at the start of the first lockdown to support bus operator income ceased in August 2021 and a reduced level of support through Bus Recovery Grant will cease by April 2022

  • Cost increases of wage and fuel and bus parts; resulting in transport inflation significantly higher than RPI or CPI, further exacerbating the financial recovery of operators.

Anchor 1
Identified courses of action
Anchor 2

The Council in line with Government’s National Bus Strategy “Bus Back Better” published in March 2021, submitted to Government on 31st October 2021 its Bus Service Improvement Plan and will implement an Enhanced Partnership by 31st March 2022

Outcome: Access to a share of the Government’s £3bn 3 year fund to improve bus services.  More frequent buses on Plymouth’s six core bus corridors, with significantly better frequencies in the evening and at weekends, enhanced park and ride services, a competitively priced range of ‘Skipper’ tickets covering all bus operators (with the intention of adding ferry and rail services during the plan period), offering great value for commuters and leisure riders, more bus priority, building on the investment being delivered through the Council’s Transforming Cities Fund programme, supporting faster and more reliable journeys, travel planning support to help people gain skills and confidence in choosing their bus routes and finding timetable and ticketing information

Reconfiguration of Royal Parade through Transforming Cities Fund

Outcome: Improve service reliability, improve air quality, improve access to buses for the mobility impaired, improve public realm to support city centre economic recovery

Longer term, develop and deliver Transport Capital Programme (using Transforming Cities Fund and Bus Service Improvement Plan funding) to implement bus priority and create Mobility Hubs that complement public transport

Outcome: Encourage new additional users of public transport especially bus. Reduce traffic congestion and reduce negative environmental impacts. 

Find resource capacity to undertake campaigns and community engagement to support public transport usage and other active travel modes 

Outcome: Change travel behaviours. Reduce emissions and improve air quality

Create joined up evidence based lobbying for sustained Government support beyond the first 3 years of Bus Service Improvement Plan funding

Outcome: Sustain a virtuous cycle of local transport service improvements and passenger growth

A new leasing model is needed to increase the fleet of zero emission buses as part of a green economic recovery. Need to drive passenger growth through bus priority and demand management

Outcome: Avoid clean congestion by increasing bus passengers travelling on zero emission buses instead of clogging our roads with electric cars

Successes/Results to date
Anchor 3
NHS 234.jpeg


Continued to provide a service throughout the lockdown for key workers and those needing to use the bus for essential shopping.

Activities to date have increased commercial passenger numbers from 15% in first lockdown to circa 78% in October 2021.

bottom of page