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The wheels on the bus

NLPG Exemplar Award Runner Up – Most Effective Data Sharing Partnership 2009: East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

In 2006, over 6,600 pupils received home to school transport in the East Riding of Yorkshire Council area, attending 18 secondary schools at an annual cost of £4.9 million or £750 per pupil. This frontline service required 255 contracts with 275 vehicles travelling between sparse settlements connected by over 4,500km of roads, ranging from major motorways to winding country lanes. Against a backdrop of increasing costs, a project was initiated to review the current level of spending and achieve cost reductions where possible.

The primary objective was to review every route taken by every child, including location of bus stops and their accessibility from the home address. Pupils’ addresses, supplied by schools, matched to the LLPG enabled the UPRN of every eligible pupils’ home address to be mapped. A network analysis exercise was then undertaken using the council’s GIS and another system developed inhouse. This considered home locations in conjunction with existing routes, bus stops, potential hazards etc. This re-routing project has facilitated the retendering of school transport contracts, giving Transport Services confidence in the quality and reliability of the data used to create routes.

Consultation with all stakeholders was key to the delivery and take up of the optimised provision and, again, the LLPG helped to facilitate the process. The early engagement of pupils, parents and schools was achieved through consultation. Pupils and parents also benefitted by receiving route maps and tailored bus stop details. Assignment of pupils to specific bus stops has helped reduce overcrowding, and vacant seats are easily offered to pupils not eligible for the free service, at an agreed cost.

Following a successful pilot project, a programme for implementation across all secondary schools in the East Riding of Yorkshire was drawn up and is now being rolled out. This is on target for completion by 2011.

Outcomes

East Riding of Yorkshire Council has realised substantial year on year cost savings through the introduction and ongoing roll out of an intelligence led allocation of pupils to routes. This has been achieved using existing technology, such as the council’s GIS, and both council and third party data, including the LLPG and Local Street Gazetteer (LSG), to develop an in-house system and workflow. This has the capacity for expansion, thus eliminating the requirement to purchase an off-theshelf solution and thereby maximising investments already made.

In addition to the cost savings achieved through a reduction in the number of vehicles required, the transport service has contributed to national targets and initiatives for reducing the council’s carbon footprint. The national target set for East Riding of Yorkshire Council is 4% by 2010/11. As a result of the re-routing and re-tendering project, to date the 275 bus fleet has been reduced by 11. This is equivalent to a 4% reduction in vehicles and therefore CO2 emissions.

By encouraging greater use of the service, both through the improvements in service delivery and maximisation of capacity, the council also believes that private vehicles are being removed from the school run. As a result, the council estimate that CO2 emissions have been cut by a further 1,800 tonnes.

This project is an example of an effective data sharing partnership with a countywide collaboration between the local authority, schools, parents, pupils and contractors. It clearly demonstrates the value of integrating LLPG data, through the use of GIS. The resulting system and workflow are scalable and are being considered for other projects within the council, including the provision of community transport and social services lifeline units.

Key benefits

  • Use of the latest technology to create an intelligence led public service that is efficient, effective, personalised and supported by all stakeholders.
  • An initial saving of £315,000 per annum; a figure that it is estimated to rise as the remaining schools undergo the re-routing and retendering process.
  • 11 double-decker buses have been removed from service with an average cut in CO2 emissions of 633g/km. This reduces the council’s carbon footprint by 19.4 tonnes per year.
  • In-house development of a replicable system and workflow. This is now proven, can be demonstrated as best practice and deployed to gain benefit across other service delivery areas.
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