Sunday 9 February 2014

Council check: Lancashire County Council

Each Sunday, we look at how one local council promotes the bus services in its area. Today, it's the turn of Lancashire County Council.

Is this Britain's most carved-up county? Manchester and Liverpool left in the 1970s, then in the 1990s, Blackburn with Darwen and the zero-rated shame hole of Blackpool broke away.

Where do the buses go?

Lancashire used to produce a comprehensive bus map for each borough in the county. Not any more. This is what welcomes you on their website when you try to get an overview of where you can go by bus in Lancashire:

Traveline is a feasible alternative in the South and the Midlands, where it lets you search for all bus routes serving a particular area, but the woefully inadequate Traveline North West does not let you do this. If you don't already know which operator runs the route you need to use, you have no way of finding out. Unacceptable: 0 out of 5.


This page has links to timetables of all bus routes in the county. So far so good, but the order in which the links appear is in no way logical. If you don't already know the route number of or the end destination of your route, you'll struggle to find it in amongst the clutter. The information is there though, if you look hard enough. 4 out of 5.


No information on single or return fares. In fact, no indication about how much it costs to use the buses at all. There are links to all bus operators in the county here, but each will only tell you about its own tickets. There is no multi-operator ticket available in the entire county, meaning you'll pay over the odds if you need to use more than one bus company. Plusbus is completely ignored, even though it offers tickets in Accrington, Burnley, Chorley, Lancaster & Morecambe and Preston & Leyland. Maybe Lancs County Council is run by pensioners who don't need to worry about how much a journey will cost and want to keep the buses all to themselves. 0 out of 5.


If you're unfamiliar with Lancashire's bus network, you can't easily find out which bus goes where. You can find a timetable, but only if you already know what you're looking for. There's no information on fares or tickets at all. For such a large county that could attract a lot of extra tourism if it made it easy to find out how to get around, this is really quite disgraceful. Lancashire County Council scores a paltry total of 4 out of 15.


  1. Welcome to Lancashire-Me thinks not

  2. But is it the council's fault about Traveline? I thought it was operated by a separate body from LCC... Well it is in Wales at least!

  3. Traveline wouldn't be a consideration if the council provided the relevant basic information itself, as many others in the country manage to do. Some link to Traveline rather than provide the information directly, which is fine in the regions where Traveline is user-friendly and suitable for people who don't already know which bus goes where. In the North, Traveline does not fulfil those functions, so any council that neglects to provide the basics while directing people to Traveline really is underperforming. Do councils not have a say over how their regional Traveline does things? If they don't, then councils in the North seriously need to lobby to gain such powers.

  4. I can only speak from my experiences at Traveline Cymru but I would hope that the councils up north had the same investment in Traveline as their Welsh counterparts do. Even if they are supposed to either council or Traveline NW might not always cooperate depending on internal politics etc. In my time at TC, I improved relationships with as many councils as I could but there were still some that contributed as little as possible for example. At least LCC provide timetables on their own website. Many still don't. A second possible reason for the poor functionality of the site is the data provider which developed the site. A large multinational company provided this for us in Wales and any enhancements came with a nice big price tag. With public money in dwindling amounts in recent years, Traveline NW might not have the cash to have an all singing and dancing website.

  5. As a relatively new Lancashire resident I was shocked when I arrived here as to how poor the public transport information was compared to by previous home in Herefordshire. I hope when you get round to looking at that county you'll agree it's so much better. The lack of a system-wide bus map is a serious omission and I still use those of the previous set that I managed to aquire when I first got here, although they are becoming increasingly out of date.
    One aspect you don't (and can't) cover in these reviews is the provision of bus stop information. Ironically Lancs scores very well here with most stops having up to date displays. I believe that operators contribute towards the cost.
    But really, for a county of its size and with its resources Lancashire could do a lot better.


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