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Memorandum of Understanding with First

The council’s Core Strategy includes objectives to improve public transport, particularly with the aim of reducing congestion and enhancing accessibility. ​Partnership working between the council and the bus operator, First, has led to development of a Memorandum of Understanding. This sets out the objectives and roles of both parties to achieve the goal of an attractive and sustainable bus network across the district.


To set out the shared objectives of the Authority and the operators (referred to as “the Parties”) and the actions that each will take in good faith towards those objectives whilst recognising that there are constraints on each other’s actions.

Shared objectives

  • The Parties will work towards the following objectives:
  • To increase the use of local bus services
  • To ensure that all buses are fully accessible
  • To ensure that bus services are punctual and reliable
  • To ensure that a stable, comprehensive network is provided
  • To ensure that capacity meets demand
  • To ensure that the waiting and travelling environment is safe, clean and welcoming with adequate weather protection
  • To offer value for money to bus users
  • To ensure that bus journey times offer an attractive alternative to the car
  • To ensure that bus stops are situated in convenient locations
  • To ensure that up-to-date timetable and fares information is readily available
  • To integrate bus services with other modes of transport where practical

Joint actions

The Parties will:

  • Work in partnership to develop bus services
  • Co-operate on the development of single- and multi-operator smart ticket applications and other off-bus ticketing arrangements
  • Work together within the terms of the Bus Punctuality Improvement Partnership to improve punctuality
  • Comply with the Code of Conduct on Bus Service Stability
  • Bid jointly for national funds when opportunities are presented
  • Extend the provision of real-time information
  • Share information within the terms of the Data Sharing Agreement
  • Consult each other on proposals that may have implications for either party

Actions on the part of South Gloucestershire Council

The council will:

  • Implement appropriate traffic and parking improvements to prioritise buses
  • Use its planning powers to ensure good access for bus services to new developments
  • Improve on-street facilities for bus passengers
  • Produce and display comprehensive roadside timetable information
  • Encourage co-operation between operators within the constraints of competition law

Actions on the part of the First operator

First will:

  • Maintain a stable network
  • Match service frequencies and capacity with demand
  • Offer value-for-money fares and ticket products
  • Employ professional staff trained to a recognised accreditation
  • Invest in new high-quality buses to achieve a fully accessible fleet by 2015
  • Improve exhaust emission standards to conform to at least Euro 3
  • Offer a safe and clean travelling environment
  • Maintain good waiting and information facilities at Bristol Bus Station
  • Promote and market widely individual services, the network and ticket products

Constraints on South Gloucestershire Council

First recognises that the Council’s actions are constrained by:

  • The reduction in public sector resources
  • The need for democratic accountability
  • The need for fair and open procurement
  • The need to bid to the government for capital funds
  • The impact of policies of neighbouring authorities
  • The proximity of parts of the district to two motorways and the limitations of the local road network

Constraints on the First operator

The council recognises that First’s actions are constrained by:

  • The need to return an adequate profit on its investment
  • The need to make a business case for capital investment
  • Operation in a competitive commercial market in compliance with the relevant legislation
  • Reliability issues associated with congestion in neighbouring areas
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