UP to a quarter of Devon’s buses run late, making punctuality the ‘biggest challenge’ for the bus provider Stagecoach.

Simon Ford, head of commercial at Stagecoach South West, told Devon County Council’s cabinet meeting that about 75 to 80 per cent of its buses were on time, meaning up to a quarter fail to keep to schedule.

Stagecoach runs 80 per cent of Devon’s buses.

Mr Ford was speaking as Devon cabinet members were discussing a report aimed at improving the timeliness of buses in Exeter, Newton Abbot and Barnstaple.

The meeting discussed proposals which will include measures to improve bus priority, such as better traffic light efficiency and monitoring, and the coordination of signalled crossings and junctions.

The Newton Abbot scheme will focus on a route through the town centre, from Penn Inn roundabout on the A381, along Torquay Road, to Halcyon Road / Kingsteignton Road towards Balls Corner roundabout.

The corridor services 28 different bus services, totalling over 200 buses a day on Kingsteignton Road and approximately 40 buses a day across Torquay Road.

Proposals include changes at existing signalised junctions and crossings to improve bus priority, including measures that would extend the green traffic signal when a bus is detected. This would reduce the waiting time of a queuing bus.

Mr Ford welcomed the measures which could improve journeys for ‘hundreds of thousands of passengers’.

He said: ‘I fully support the proposals as they are key to allowing us to be reliable and punctual, the benefits of which will mean we grow passenger numbers and improve journey times.’

Funding for the schemes which is set to cost a combined £2.8 million has come from Devon’s £14 million grant from the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2022.

The cabinet approved the plans but each one will now have a traffic regulation order published, and funding for the schemes will also need to be confirmed.

It was acknowledged that ‘substantial objection’ to any of the schemes could see them re-sent to each area’s highways and traffic orders committees.