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news: Innovative Partnership Enhances Public Transport

ITP is thrilled that the partnership between Nottinghamshire County Council, bus operators and Vision West Nottinghamshire College has won Bus Centre of Excellence Bus Initiative of the Year award at the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) awards 2024.

ITP supported this project by exploring the capacity issues of migrating over 1,800 students onto the public bus network from private services and developed solutions to accommodate this, which included route changes, services enhancements, and interchange options.

This collaboration between Nottinghamshire County Council, local bus operators, and West Nottinghamshire College is a joint effort which aims to:

  • Reduce public sector duplication of transport,
  • Strengthen public transport networks,
  • Increase travel choice,
  • Change travel behaviour,
  • Grow patronage.
Student on a bus

This scheme is ambitious and innovative and places the long-term sustainability of the bus market at its core. Enabling students affordable travel by bus for all their journeys embeds sustainable travel behaviour, whilst increasing frequency and services also benefits the wider community.

Transition from Private to Public Transport:

The aspiration was to migrate students onto the public bus network to achieve:-

  • Long-term sustainability to the public bus network, the commercial viability of which is being increasingly challenged with increasing operating costs, congestion and changing travel habits post-Covid.
  • Increased flexibility and value for money through a ticket that can be used at all times, not just for commuting, to influence long-term behaviour.
  • Increased flexibility for the college to alter start/finish times and better utilise college buildings.
  • Removal of network duplication and carbon emissions reduction.
  • Strengthen the local economy.
  • Cost not significantly more than the existing private network.

It also aimed to address concerns raised by Nottingham Trent University, relating to capacity and reliability of the public bus network for students travelling between Mansfield and the main Nottingham campuses.

How has this work been delivered?

Collaboration was key to this scheme’s success, with the public and private sector working closely to deliver this project. The primary milestone was achieving a functional solution for the September 2023 term. By August, a ticketing system was necessary to facilitate pre-term ticket purchases, while service adjustments were registered by July. Effective marketing strategies which targeted students were adopted, which resulted in a high take-up of the scheme.

Preparation commenced in Summer 2022, with initial options to address service capacity and connectivity issues were developed in early 2023. Devising a fair, equitable solution for revenue apportionment was challenging but operators’ positive relationships resulted in a solution-based electronic recording of trips, considering service, direction, and fare stage of each journey.

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Whilst significant testing was undertaken pre-launch, some initial teething issues were encountered, as is common with such projects. Colleges collaborated with operators and the Council’s front-line teams at bus stations to ensure students could purchase tickets, whilst sharing issues to enable quick resolutions.

What impact did the scheme have?

During the first three months approximately 185,000 journeys were made. Over 2,150 students purchased a product to get to college compared to the 1,000 students who accessed college by bus in 2022-23. It is projected that 0.7m journeys will be made by the end of the academic year, a huge increase against the 0.1m journeys undertaken on the private network.

There has been a 30% increase in footfall through Mansfield Bus Station with large numbers accessing the town. This has boosted the local economy, and retailers in Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield have reported an increase in footfall and sales resulting from more students being in the centre. Educational institutions have noted that, as a result of the scheme, they have implemented more flexible start/finish times, benefitting both students and staff.

Evidence shows around 5% of journeys made using the ticket are on weekends, and c.22% of journeys that would be made during term time were made during half-term. This highlights the scheme has been successful in promoting bus travel more generally, not just for commuting.

Overall, the feedback from operators, colleges & students shows the scheme is an overwhelming success, smashing the targets set, and redefining how students travel in the region.

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For more information, contact Denise Faber at


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