The Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme (SQPS) is a formal partnership between the City Council, Traffic Commissioner and local bus operators that came into effect from May 2010. The scheme brings benefits to passengers by improving the quality of bus services and facilities within the city centre area.
Introduction to SQPS
The Nottingham city centre SQPS, brought in from May 2010, introduced a framework to ensure that increased demand to access the city centre was provided for by an expanding high quality public transport network.
A key objective of the SQPS was to ensure that bus reliability was maintained through the managed and efficient use of bus stops and kerb space. The Council introduced and continues to manage a Slot Booking System to facilitate this, with operators expected to formally apply for the use of 97 regulated bus stops around the city centre each time they wish to change timetables or introduce new services. The flow of bus movements has improved as a result, allowing services to keep to time. Passenger safety has also improved as buses are now able to more consistently access the well-used city centre bus stops.
A second objective was to set minimum accessibility, quality and emission standards for buses. The standards of service include:-
- All services to be operated by low floor vehicles to improve accessibility, although exemptions do apply for high quality coaches used as complementary express services to local services.
- Minimum engine emissions standards for all vehicles, with higher standards for the more frequent services, whilst engines should be switched off for terminating services. This should help improve air quality.
- Improvements to customer care and driver training to improve the image of bus services for passengers.
Since the scheme was introduced, the Council has continued to improve existing facilities and provide new additional facilities within the scheme area. This includes:-
- Replacing old facilities with new modern shelters, CCTV, lighting and electronic “Real-Time” displays.
- Extensive refurbishment improvements at the two city centre bus stations, improving the environment for users.
- Providing additional electronic displays and bus shelters at other key stops.
- The well-used “Centrelink” bus service that connects between the two bus stations via the city centre.
- Securing funding from central government to purchase new electric buses for “Centrelink” that came into service in late 2016.
- Raised bus stop kerbs to improve accessibility for passengers.
- Continuous enforcement 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, of the Carlton Street Bus Gate.
- Installing additional CCTV cameras at bus stops, where there are particular problems with anti-social behaviour or other enforcement issues.
- Deployment of Zebra Crossing Marshalls to regulate the flow of pedestrians using a busy City Centre crossing, which helps a high volume of passing bus services keep to time.
The SQPS was first reviewed after one year of operation and consultation with stakeholders concluded that no changes to the scheme were necessary at that point. Local operators and passenger representatives placed on record how satisfied overall they were with the scheme. Several factors led to the Public Transport Team at the City Council reviewing the SQPS again during late 2015. The Council identified several changes were required to further improve the scheme and correct some out of date information. After a period of consultation, the proposed changes were made and took effect from 27 March 2016.
Nottingham is a designated Clean Air City and has Go Ultra Low City and Company status. As such, it is one of five UK cities with a commitment to introduce a Clean Air Zone within the city centre. One objective would be to set new minimum engine emissions standards for local bus services. It is yet to be confirmed whether local buses would need to have at least a minimum of Euro 5 or Euro 6 engine standards by 2020. The SQPS will likely require further amendment once the Clean Air Zone objectives and timescales are finalised and consultation on changes to the scheme will likely occur during 2017.
Slot Booking System
Bus operators can view the available slots for each SQPS City Centre bus stand and register their booking request for departure slots by logging into our slot booking system.
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