Pennine Reach monitoring and evaluation plan

The Council is publishing the One Year Pennine Reach Monitoring and Evaluation Plan following discussions with the Department for Transport.

The scheme has delivered the following high level objectives, including:

  • A fleet of high quality modern buses, which have been introduced on the “Hyndburn Circular” 6/7 bus route and the “Number 1” Blackburn – Darwen – Bolton Route by local bus operator, Transdev
  • Dedicated bus priority in the most congested areas: at Ewood, Earcroft, and Furthergate
  • Improvements to traffic signals to give bus priority and shorten journey times across the highway network which has reduced delays to buses and improved reliability on key sections of the route
  • Improved walking and cycling facilities, including greatly improved pedestrian facilities at new junctions and shared bus, taxi and cycle lanes
  • Improved passenger waiting facilities with brand new bus stops, shelters and bus stations on the routes
  • Upgraded ticketing and innovative ticketing solutions via NoWCARD smartcard and mobile ticketing which has made travel simpler and speeded boarding
  • Increased passenger numbers on public transport on the 6/7 “Hyndburn Circular” part of the Pennine Reach route
  • Increased overall reliability of local bus services
  • Reduced congestion at key points on the network
  • Improved air quality on a number of designated Air Quality Management Areas
  • Facilitated economic growth across East Lancashire

The following key outcomes have been identified one year after scheme opening:

  • The increase in bus services running on time has improved significantly within the Pennine Reach route, with bus service punctuality within the local authority areas of BwDBC and LCC increasing by 12% and 2% respectively from 2015/16 to 2016/17
  • Improved bus journey times along the Rishton Northbound and Southbound route, Church Gateway route, Darwen Northbound route, and the Futhergate Eanam – Red Lion Southbound route of the Pennine Reach scheme when comparing 2008 with 2018
  • Improvements to the on-time compliance of the number 6 & 7 bus service, with an increase of 4% from 2016 to 2018
  • A 12% increase for the year to date passenger growth for the number 6 & 7 bus service which is concluded is the result of more effective priority bus lanes, newer buses and added marketing which have been possible due to the Pennine Reach Scheme
  • The new Blackburn and Accrington bus stations have received significant positive feedback, with 87% of customers preferring the improved bus stations which in turn has encouraged 38% of customers to utilise the bus stations more frequently
  • Customer satisfaction surveys have revealed that 10% of current customers did not utilise local bus services prior to the Pennine Reach scheme, 73% of bus passengers think services are more punctual, 60% think journeys are quicker, and 90% saying that public transport facilities and services have markedly improved
  • Improvements in the annual mean Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels across the Pennine Reach route within the Blackburn with Darwen Local Authority area, with three of the four sites identified as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) set to be revoked in the near future at Burnley Road / Accrington Road, Darwen Town Centre and Earcroft
  • Increased delivery of employment land and new housing across Blackburn with Darwen and Hyndburn, facilitated by better core public transport services
  • An improvement in road safety across the Pennine Reach route from 2015 to 2016
  • The scheme’s benefit cost ratio, although falling from the initial BCR of 2.73 to 1.63 has still delivered significant positive outputs and outcomes for the taxpayer and local residents, but has been reduced due to the increase in overall scheme costs which have risen from £39.9m to £43.5m
  • The cost increases were attributable to:
    • Additional Statutory Undertakers diversions (unchartered) at Ewood Gyratory and Furthergate which had significant impacts on the phasing of these project packages
    • Cost increases associated with the original Blackburn Bus Station contractor, Thomas Barnes and Sons going into receivership and following appointment of a replacement contractor, leading to significant additional costs being borne by the project.