Our overarching strategy for transport is set out in our Local Transport Plan ‘Somerset’s Future Transport Plan’ (FTP).

Somerset’s Future Transport Plan sets out a long-term strategy for helping to get the best from transport. The plan explains how we will make the most of what we have now and prepares us for new opportunities in the long term. You can find more information about the Future Transport Plan and links to its supporting evidence on our Future Transport Plan page.

We often need to develop more detailed strategies, policies or plans for specific issues. This helps us to understand the issue in more detail, take a strategic approach and outline guidance to other stakeholders, and put plans into action.

Somerset’s transport strategies, policies and plans are overseen by the Transport Policy Team. For more information about what the Transport Policy Team does and projects still in development, please see our Transport Policy page.

The National Bus Strategy 2021

Bus Back Better

In March 2021, the government announced the new National Bus Strategy – ‘Bus Back Better’ with the overall aim of transforming local bus services and increasing bus patronage. Under this new strategy the expectation is that Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) will enter Enhanced Partnership (EP) Agreements with local bus operators across the LTA to develop and deliver improvements across local bus services and enhance the experience for passengers. Alternatively, where deemed appropriate LTAs can seek to pursue the ‘Franchising’ route but would be required to commit to an Enhanced Partnership in the meantime.

Somerset Council Executive agreed at its Cabinet meeting on 21 June 2021 the proposal to proceed with the development of an Enhanced Partnership.

Statutory Notice of Intent to Prepare an Enhanced Partnership Plan and Schemes 

The next stage was to create a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) in partnership with local bus operators for submission to the Department for Transport (DfT) by 31 October 2021.

Following stakeholder engagement and a public survey, which enabled us to identify the key themes and priorities for public transport provision, the BSIP was created which sets out proposals that include decarbonising transport, improving frequency and coverage across the network, lowering fares, improving ticketing options, making information easier to understand and more accessible and improving facilities across the network.

This is a high level, ambitious plan which seeks to bid for additional funding from government to achieve these proposals. Somerset Council Executive agreed the BSIP at its Cabinet meeting on 20 October 2021. It is important to note that all the proposals set out within the Plan are subject to additional funding being allocated from government.

The full Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP)

Following successful submission of the Somerset Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) to the Department for Transport (DfT), we then began the process to create an Enhanced Partnership (EP) which includes a Plan (The Plan) and Scheme (The Scheme) to provide a robust framework in which to deliver the BSIP in accordance with requirements set out by the DfT and in line with the Transport Act 2000 and any subsequent amendments.

The delivery of proposals set out in the BSIP are subject to the required funding being made available by the DfT through the BSIP. As such The Plan and The Scheme have been set out as a ‘shell agreement’ and will be varied to include more detail as any funding becomes clear.

A period of operator consultation was undertaken, and all qualifying local bus service operators had the right to object to The Plan and/or The Scheme being proposed. The objection period ran from Monday 29 November 2021 until and including Tuesday 4 January 2022, during which time no formal objections were received.

Consultation with statutory stakeholders (as described in Sections 5.1 to 5.5 of Bus Services Act 2017 Enhanced Partnerships Guidance) was undertaken. The formal stakeholder engagement period ran from Monday 10 January 2022 until Tuesday 8 February 2022 (5pm). Feedback was largely positive, with no issues arising to prevent the process continuing. There were some helpful comments received, which will be taken on board once funding is announced.

The final version of the EP was approved by Somerset Council’s Executive at its Cabinet meeting on 16 March 2022.

You can read the full documentation for The Plan and The Scheme

When the EP Process started, the deadline for making and submitting the EP Plan and Scheme was 31 March 2022. An announcement was made by the DfT on 11 January 2022, which extended the deadline and then required submission of a draft EP Plan and Scheme by the end of April 2022. As Somerset was already quite far along in the process, we continued with the original timeline to make the Plan and Scheme by 31 March 2022.

The announcement also set out the requirement for all EPs to include a commitment to maintain existing bus priority measures, implement low or no cost improvements (such as a Bus Passenger Charter or high-quality information for passengers) and be flexible to incorporate further enhancements through variation if funding becomes available. Somerset’s EP does not make any changes to existing bus priority measures and will incorporate any new measures to be implemented once funding is confirmed.

The Think Travel portal, providing a single source for all local bus and journey planning information launched in early 2022. The draft Bus Passenger Charter submitted in the BSIP will be reviewed and updated. Somerset’s EP Scheme sets out under section 5, details of the bespoke variation mechanism, which provides the flexibility to incorporate further enhancements if funding becomes available.

Strategies, policies and plans

The most recent strategies, policies and plans are summarised below (in alphabetical order).  You can find copies in Downloads.

You can contact us for general enquiries and copies of documents. General enquiries and electronic copies of documents are free. We will charge for printed copies of documents where they are available. Please contact us for more information.

Active Travel Strategy 2012

Note – We are currently updating our Active Travel Strategy and will replace the documents below.

Somerset’s Active Travel Strategy has been written to inform the Future Transport Plan and brings together the individual modal strategies for cycling, walking, information and communication with a shared vision for Somerset residents to cycle and walk more often and more safely.

The aim for the strategy is to enable the population of Somerset to make active travel choices by making these options easier to access and more attractive to use.

Active Travel Strategy August 2012

Active Travel Strategy – Walking Strategy August 2012

Active Travel Strategy – Cycling Strategy August 2012

Active Travel Strategy – School Travel Strategy August 2012

Active Travel Strategy – Information and Communication Strategy August 2012

Bridgwater, Taunton and Wellington: Future Transport Strategy 2011-2026

The Bridgwater, Taunton and Wellington Future Transport Strategy acknowledges that good transport links to, in and around this area are fundamental to its economic and social vitality.  The need to provide better transport options has been recognised for a number of years and has resulted in a long-term action plan which will address issues until 2026.

Bridgwater, Taunton and Wellington: Future Transport Strategy 2011-2026

Bus Strategy 2018-2026

Note – Bus strategy is changing nationally with the publication of ‘Bus Back Better: National Bus Strategy for England’ by the Department for Transport. View a copy of this document. 

We will update the bus strategies, policies and plans on this page as we continue to shape our public transport policy within a national and local context.

Somerset strives to deliver an integrated quality bus, community transport and rail network, while acknowledging the challenges we face in achieving viable and sustainable passenger transport services.

The Bus Strategy forms part of the Local Transport Plan which we call the ‘Future Transport Plan’. The principle underpinning this strategy is to provide services and develop infrastructure that meets the needs of our customers: the residents of, employees based within, and visitors to Somerset.

Somerset Bus Strategy 2018-2026

Freight Strategy 2011

The Freight Strategy has been written to help support the development of Somerset’s Future Transport Plan. It sets out how we want to improve the way freight is moved around Somerset and how we hope to achieve this.

Freight Strategy December 2011

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs)

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) are focused, 10-year plans for developing a cycle and walking network within a local area. We have currently developed three LCWIPs: one each for Bridgwater, Taunton and Yeovil and further LCWIPs are being planned.

Motorcycling Strategy 2011

With the national increase in use of motorcycles, Somerset recognises the risk of a motorcyclist being killed or seriously injured is at least 50 times higher than that of a car driver. We are therefore fully aware of the need to improve the safety record of motorcycle riders.

The Motorcycling Strategy aims to support safe and responsible motorcycling but not at the expense of more sustainable modes of transport.

Motorcycling Strategy December 2011

Parking Strategy 2013

Note – Somerset’s Parking Strategy will be informed by the Countywide Electric Vehicle Strategy, which is currently in development.

The Parking Strategy supports the development of the Future Transport Plan, setting out policies for parking throughout Somerset. It explains how much parking new developments need to provide and how this should be designed and managed. This includes parking for bicycles, motorcycles, cars, blue badge holders and other vehicles which have special requirements.

Parking Strategy 2013

Rights of Way Improvement Plan 2 (2015)

The Rights of Way Improvement Plan (RoWIP) identifies how we propose to improve the provision of public rights of way and service delivery in Somerset for walkers, cyclists, equestrians and those with visual or mobility impairments. It contains policy statements and an action plan.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 placed a duty on all Highway Authorities to produce a RoWIP by November 2007. The first Somerset RoWIP was adopted in 2006 and has since been revised with RoWIP2 adopted in 2015.

The RoWIP is a requirement and part of the Future Transport Plan. RoWIP is to be reviewed at least every 10 years.

You can find more information on our Rights of Way pages 

Safe Roads in Somerset: Road Safety Strategy 2017 – 2026

The Road Safety Strategy supports the overall vision of Somerset Council to increase prosperity and ensure that we continue to care for and protect the people of Somerset and its visitors.  We will adopt a Safe System approach to road safety, seeking to ensure that no human is killed or seriously injured as a result of a road crash.

Safe Roads in Somerset: Road Safety Strategy 2017 – 2026

Travel Planning Guidance 2011

The Travel Planning Guidance document is a set of standards that is tied into local development plans and the Future Transport Plan to aid the delivery of travel plans through the planning process in Somerset.

This policy aims to ensure that proposed developments contribute to modal shift; defines the expected content of travel plans; aims to ensure that good quality cycle parking and other on-site physical facilities effectively support new development; sets a consistent process for the delivery of promised travel plan outcomes; and describes the overall process for efficient and predictable decisions for the development industry.

Travel Planning Guidance November 2011

Strategies currently in development or under review

  • Somerset Rail Strategy (to replace the Rail section of the Passenger Transport Strategy)

Trains - Local Community Rail Partnerships

South Wessex Community Rail Partnership

The Heart of Wessex Community Rail Partnership is a 20 year old joint venture between seven local authorities (including Somerset Council) and the train operator, currently Great Western Railway.

The core objective of the partnership is to increase awareness and use of the Bristol to Weymouth services, in turn contributing to economic growth, carbon reduction and other key priorities for local authority partners.

From 2003, the partnership gradually transformed into a wider community venture, encouraging participation from local groups, organisations and businesses

For more information, visit the South Wessex Community Rail Partnership website.

Blackmore Vale Line Community Rail Partnership

The Blackmore Vale Line Community Rail Partnership is a DFT Accredited rail partnership covering the stations and 53km route from Tisbury to Crewkerne, on the West of England Line between London Waterloo and Exeter St. David. The area of benefit extends to more than 160 predominately rural settlements served by 11 major regional towns and villages of:

  • Tisbury
  • Gillingham
  • Shaftesbury
  • Mere
  • Wincanton
  • Stalbridge
  • Marnhull
  • Sturminster Newton
  • Sherborne
  • Yeovil
  • Crewkerne
  • Chard.

Tisbury is the only ’dark skies’ friendly railway station in the UK and is the gateway to Cranborne Chase AONB international dark sky reserve. Sherborne is the ‘jewel in the crown’ the most popular visitor destination. Blackmore Vale Community Rail Partnership is a partnership made up of local people, station groups, statutory and voluntary groups, and businesses who together promote the area to prospective rail passengers stimulating tourism and the local economy. Blackmore Vale Community Rail Partnership also works to increase community involvement in its award-winning stations and encourages residents and visitors to use the stations for a wide range of journeys. As a keen advocate of “green travel,” Blackmore Vale Community Rail Partnership also encourages onward connectivity by promoting local bus services, and electric car, scooter and bike hire.

Projects range from marketing campaigns and events encouraging potential rail-users to visit the beautiful Blackmore Vale through to publications, Line Guides and a First World War book commemorating the fallen from the towns and villages along the line. Volunteering is at the heart of the rail partnership and celebrating this gives rise to the annual favourites “Community Rail at Christmas” and “Stations in Bloom,” campaigns brimming with friendly inter-station rivalry and fun. This year extended to stations from Salisbury to Exeter, Westbury to Weymouth and those around the Romsey area, Blackmore Vale Community Rail Partnership working in partnership with Devon and Cornwall CRP, East Hampshire CRP and the new South Wessex CRP.

How to influence transport policies in Somerset

Contact us providing the following information

  • Your name, email address and telephone number
  • The policy or principle that you wish to comment on
  • Any suggestions you have for improving our approach to transport policy

We will evaluate whether your suggestions can be taken forward in future policy work and explain any relevant context that is informing our work.

We work to understand what people in Somerset require from transport. We develop plans to meet the current need and to manage future transport demand.

Last reviewed: April 4, 2023 by Qi

Next review due: October 4, 2023

Back to top