Loading...

Follow Passenger Transport | News, Views & Analysis on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid
Issue 209 of Passenger Transport is published on May 17. Contents include:

LEAD STORY

‘We can get you there’
The Committee on Climate Change’s new advice for government is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. As the largest source of UK GHG emissions (23% of the total), transport will need to see major changes – and modal shift towards public transport must be part of the solution

NEWS

Groups launch legal action over DfT row
Catriona Henderson, the DfT’s head of buses and taxis, offered helpful insights to bus operators at last week’s ALBUM Conference in Cardiff

‘You need to think about what you want’
Airline-style model proposed for long distance routes that would see the government abandon monopoly franchising for a free market model

First takes battle with Lothian to Edinburgh
Group is advertising for drivers and on-street sales advisors for a new tour bus venture, which would compete with rival’s highly profitable operation

HS2 will soon ‘cross the Rubicon’ says NAO boss
Sir Amyas Morse says HS2 almost at the point it can’t be axed

NIC urges devolved transport investment
Graham calls for move away from short term funding pots

East Yorkshire revamps Scarborough network
Improvements also see new through ticketing partnership

NatEx growth driven bySpain and America
Group reports Spanish operation’s revenues growing by 11.8%

Bus budgets raided for rail infrastructure
The Welsh Government admits that it chose to invest in rail infrastructure projects at the expense of bus services. Rhodri Clark reports

Stagecoach and NatEx win at Coach Awards
Perth-based group on top as it wins five Gold Awards in Blackpool

ENVIRONMENT

‘We don’t make enough of green credentials’
Ticketer and Transport Focus bosses consider bus industry’s message

Wales probes funding for greener vehicles
The Welsh Government says it is seeking support from Development Bank of Wales to deliver plans for public transport to be zero emission by 2028

TfL orders world’s first hydrogen double decks
Wrightbus lands order to supply Metroline with fuel cell vehicles

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY
In association with Transdev

Uber to sell bus and rail tickets in Denver
Ride-hailing app wants to become ‘one-stop shop’ for transport

Trent leads way on contactless
Deal with Ticketer will see company invest £2.5m in around 350 tap-on, tap-off terminals

TRAVEL TEST: British Rail

It really wasn’t so great in the ‘good old days’
Depressed about the current state of our railway, I undertook a ‘customer journey mapping exercise’ on the railway of my youth – and I feel better

COMMENT

Jonathan Bray: Northern Ireland is getting ahead
You may not have yet noticed, but it’s become the place to watch, with growing bus and rail demand and plans for unified ticketing

Claire Haigh: We need bold and ambitious solutions
Climate change is back on the political agenda and government must respond with radical new policies that achieve modal shift

Nick Richardson: Will electrification keep us on track?
Talk of electrifying road and rail raises some big questions about the approach that is being taken at present in the UK

Great Minster Grumbles: ‘Uneasy’ Jones faces committee
Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT

CAREERS

Arriva appoints new boss for bus division
As Iain Jago moves to a group role, Paul O’Neill takes the top job

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Welcome to the Global Public Transport Review 2019, a publication devoted to this vital sector.

This publication from Passenger Transport, based in London, has been produced to co-incide with UITP’s Global Public Transport Summit in Stockholm on June 9-12 – the world’s biggest public transport event. It features contributions from a variety of organisations involved in public transport around the world, highlighting some of the latest innovations and achievements.


Click on the image above to view the supplement.

If you are viewing the site on a mobile or tablet device, tap here to read the supplement.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Rail Delivery Group chief Paul Plummer said the proposals to the Williams rail review are intended as ‘building blocks’ for fundamental reform

 
The Committee on Climate Change’s new advice for government is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. As the largest source of UK GHG emissions (23% of the total), transport will need to see major changes – and modal shift towards public transport must be part of the solution

If the destination is net zero carbon emissions by 2050, then public transport is the way to get there. That is the message from voices within the UK’s passenger transport sector.

Responding to the Committee on Climate Change’s new advice for the government to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, Jonathan Bray, director of the Urban Transport Group, said: “This advice is unequivocal: achieving net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century is possible and affordable, but national policies must be ramped up to make this target credible.

The committee has set out a clear route map for how to tackle transport emissions, from stronger ambition on electric cars and vans, further encouragement of walking, cycling and public transport to avoid car dependency, and a rolling programme of rail electrification – measures we support

“Nowhere is this more apparent than in the transport sector… The committee has set out a clear route map for how to tackle transport emissions, from stronger ambition on electric cars and vans, further encouragement of walking, cycling and public transport to avoid car dependency, and a rolling programme of rail electrification – measures we support.”

Greener Journeys chief executive Claire Haigh has meanwhile called for “bold and ambitious solutions”. In an article in this edition of Passenger Transport, she writes: “If ever there was a moment to put modal switch from car to sustainable mass transit at the heart of government policy it is now.”.

 
Further coverage appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Ride-hailing app wants to become ‘one-stop shop’ for transport

 
Uber has added public transport routes, times and costs into its app

“Taking an Uber” could soon mean travelling by bus or train. The ride-hailing company has added public transport routes to its app, starting with Denver’s Regional Transportation District.

Following a staggered roll out over the next few weeks, all Uber riders in the Denver metro region will be the first in the world to seamlessly buy RTD tickets through the Uber app and then use their phone to ride bus and rail services.

This collaboration aligns with RTD’s plan to provide more integrated mobility options by working with leaders in the public and private sectors. The transit agency is reviewing its entire service network – including new and emerging mobility options – to determine the future transport needs of the growing region.

This project broadens our reach and stays at pace with the public’s needs, allowing people to plan and pay for trips from start to finish

“This exciting next phase of RTD’s collaboration with Uber is yet another way our transit agency is leading the dialogue about mobility strategy, not just for the Denver metro region but for cities across the globe,” said RTD CEO and general manager Dave Genova. “This project broadens our reach and stays at pace with the public’s needs, allowing people to plan and pay for trips from start to finish.”

Purchasing public transport tickets via Uber will cost the same amount as through existing options. Transit ticketing has been enabled using Masabi’s Justride SDK, creating a seamless passenger experience combining transit and new mobility.

Buying a transit ticket in the Uber app is easy: After riders enter a destination, they will see ‘Transit’ as an option in the ‘choose a ride’ selector. Upon selecting the ‘Transit’ option, riders will be able to purchase tickets on all available transit options while also having access to real-time schedules and walking directions to and from transit stations. Uber’s menu bar will let users purchase and redeem a range of tickets available on RTD services, including three-hour, day and monthly passes. Users activate tickets, which are stored in the ‘Transit tickets’ section of the Uber app, when boarding transit services. Once purchased, tickets are available even when riders are offline.

With this step, we are moving closer to making Uber’s platform a one-stop shop for transportation access, from shared rides to buses and bikes

“For the first time ever, taking an Uber trip can mean taking public transit,” said David Reich, Uber’s head of transit. “We are excited to expand our collaboration with RTD and Masabi to make Denver the first city in the world where riders can purchase transit tickets and ride public transit seamlessly through the Uber app. With this step, we are moving closer to making Uber’s platform a one-stop shop for transportation access, from shared rides to buses and bikes.”

Masabi first launched mobile ticketing services for RTD in 2017 with the RTD Mobile Tickets app. The Justride SDK allows Uber to integrate mobile ticketing into their applications.

This announcement follows the launch in January of Uber Transit journey planning, which allows Denver riders to use Uber to plan their transit trips with real-time information and end-to-end directions.

 
Further coverage appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

You may not have yet noticed, but it’s become the place to watch, with growing bus and rail demand and plans for unified ticketing

 
Glider: As a visitor to Belfast you can’t miss this striking new addition to Belfast’s city centre

Of the four main constituent parts of the UK, only one of them saw bus use grow last year. It is the same one on track to having a smart and fully unified ticketing system across all forms of public transport, and which has also seen the use of its rail network double in 10 years. That’s Northern Ireland, where after decades of being sidelined as car dependency took hold, public transport is back.

The posterchild for the new found assertiveness and visibility of public transport in Northern Ireland is Belfast’s new Glider BRT system which spans the city east to west with a branch into the Titantic quarter of the city’s docklands. As a visitor to Belfast you can’t miss this striking new addition to Belfast city centre’s imposing street grid. Residents have taken to it too – it’s winning over passengers and raising the wider status of public transport in the process.

Glider works because it’s been thought through. It’s on-street and unguided but this format for BRT works in Belfast because of the specifics of the road network and the geographies served. These artics don’t get to give their rubbery midriffs much of a work out because the roads they serve are mostly straight, which makes the experience of using Glider feel more rapid transit. Some of Belfast’s roads are not just straight they are also wide enough to slot bus priority in without too much fuss (the city centre’s streets are also, helpfully, on a grid pattern). Where the roads narrow as they pass through inner city communities, getting bus priority in was trickier – however, rather than attempt to barrel bus lanes through for the benefit of suburbanites, the opportunity was taken to renew local streetscapes, giving local high streets a boost in the process.

If the overall concept has been thought through then so have the details. Stops were reduced and standardised to be more like tram stops. All ticketing is off-board. The vehicles themselves are no nonsense Belgian Van Hools which iron out the bumps in the road for passengers. The smoother ride gives more of a rapid transit feel. They also have air con. Because having big windows to gaze out of is lovely, but being trapped inside a rattly greenhouse – not so much.

The off-board ticketing also has some interesting beneficial side effects. Firstly, it makes dwell times shorter and more regular in duration, removing the background annoyance of the stop-start nature of conventional bus travel – making the experience more like rapid transit. It also means that passengers who don’t like that kind of thing can avoid the interaction anxiety which comes from having to negotiate with a driver in front of an audience. Yet, at the same time human interaction, in less theatrical form (unless you are fare dodging), is retained in the form of roving teams of jovial inspectors.

This isn’t plonking fancy new bendy buses on the streets, and walking away – it’s a whole new Belfast thing. People say they are getting the Glider rather than saying they are getting the bus

The well thought through concept and the well thought through details mean the whole adds up to a lot more than the sum of the parts. It’s what FirstGroup’s FTR should have been and wasn’t – despite the hype and sycophancy from the trade press, Department for Transport and so on that greeted its launch at the time. This isn’t plonking fancy new bendy buses on the streets, and walking away – it’s a whole new Belfast thing. People say they are getting the Glider rather than saying they are getting the bus. Suburban shopping centres are giving Glider the credit for higher footfall. Before it was implemented the media said all that bus priority would lead to is the shuttering up of local traders. Yet now look at Ballyhackamore – on a Glider route and voted one of the best places to live in the UK. And it’s also doing its bit for bringing communities together as some people from nationalist communities have been travelling on it across to unionist parts of town, and vice versa. Some of them for the first time in their lives.

If Glider stands out in the city centre, there’s something else that’s striking to those used to the messy, shouty state of play in many GB city centres (with all those different buses in different colour schemes proclaiming the merits of tickets you can only use on their services). It’s the calm and order in Belfast of the interlocking network of bus services which serve the city and Northern Ireland more widely. Metro for frequent urban Belfast services, a new high spec ‘Urby’ network for longer distance commuters, Ulsterbus for local services across Northern Ireland and then the Goldline coach network for fast services between towns and cities. It’s an easy to understand network which experienced overall growth in patronage last year.

All of this is possible because, firstly, the vast majority of public transport services in Northern Ireland are provided by Translink (a state-owned corporation). And, secondly, Translink is carrying out its remit, which is not to use a monopoly position to manage decline but to get out there and ensure that public transport plays its part in delivering the wider objectives Northern Ireland has for a thriving green economy based on healthy communities.

The end of decline management is also exemplified by the transformation of Northern Ireland’s rail network. In the sixties Northern Ireland was no more immune to the brutalising of its railway system than the rest of the UK – leaving some districts without any rail service at all. Until the early 2000s this residual rail service was the domain of veteran English Electric ‘thumper’ units which dolefully and noisily trundled their way around a bare minimum of trackwork. When, finally, approval was given for new trains it unleashed an astonishing growth in passengers – a doubling in 10 years.

Meanwhile, bringing the whole rail and bus shebang together are two major projects. The first is a rebuild of the current hub of both Northern Ireland’s rail and bus network at Great Victoria Street. It’s starting to feel its age and both the bus and rail terminals are struggling to cope with surging demand; so much so that some rail services can’t be squeezed into it – such as the Enterprise rail service to Dublin. Everything is going to change, including the name (it will be rebranded within a broader regeneration site known as Weavers Cross), when it becomes a new, more spacious interchange topped off with a significant commercial development.

Northern Ireland is one of the frontrunner territories in Europe for achieving smart, simple and fully integrated ticketing across its entire public transport network

The second major project is the modernisation of transport ticketing. There are already 28 million smartcard journeys annually and nearly half a million active smartcards. As the modernisation project is rolled out across more types of services and ticketing projects, Northern Ireland is one of the frontrunner territories in Europe for achieving smart, simple and fully integrated ticketing across its entire public transport network.

Finally, layered on top of everything is a marketing campaign that stresses the intrinsic advantages of public transport for both the individual traveller and Northern Ireland as a whole. The predominance of the car culture in Northern Ireland (and the consequent tendency of Belfast to gridlock) can be an advantage here – as you are starting from a clean slate with a fresh proposition. The aim is to make public transport a credible answer for policy makers looking at where best to invest in tackling wider social, environmental and economic goals and for individuals’ travel needs. ‘Get on board’ as the strapline has it.

Northern Ireland really isn’t so different from the rest of the UK to make it an invalid comparator or to make lessons untransferable and the rest of the UK really needs to start looking at what Northern Ireland is doing on public transport. Because whilst you weren’t looking – they got ahead of you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Jonathan Bray is the director of the Urban Transport Group. Throughout his career in policy and lobbying roles he has been at the frontline in bringing about more effective, sustainable and equitable transport policies.

 
This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Welcome to the ALBUM Report 2019, a publication from Passenger Transport devoted to Britain’s independent and municipal bus companies.

Returning for a fifth consecutive year, this year’s report also incorporates the official Conference Workbook for the 2019 ALBUM Conference, hosted by Cardiff Bus at Cardiff City Hall on May 7-9.

We hope you find it an interesting read and we welcome all feedback.

Click on the image above to view the supplement.

If you are viewing the site on a mobile or tablet device, tap here to read the supplement.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Issue 208 of Passenger Transport is published on May 3. Contents include:

LEAD STORY

RDG sets out vision to end failed ‘quick fixes’
Rail Delivery Group chief Paul Plummer said the proposals to the Williams rail review are intended as ‘building blocks’ for fundamental reform

NEWS

Labour plans bus boost with VED funding
Party would allocate £1.3bn a year to restore cut bus services

Virgin: Rail should be a ‘normal business’
Airline-style model proposed for long distance routes that would see the government abandon monopoly franchising for a free market model

New organising body would take charge
Rail authority would be ‘the glue that binds the industry together’

London-Bordeaux link promoted by HS1 Ltd
Journey time of under five hours could tempt travellers

Glasgow Metro among commission’s remedies
Package of radical interventions would cost £500m a year

TfWM revises plans for Sprint bus corridor
Sutton Coldfield service to miss 2022 deadline

Brown says he will not quit over Crossrail
London transport commissioner refuses to resign after London Assembly publishes scathing report as opening pushed back to late 2020/early 2021

U-turn on Overground ticket office closures
TfL withdraws plans to close ticket offices at 51 stations

TrawsCymru vehicles and free travel reviewed
The Welsh Government has launched a review of the TrawsCymru free travel scheme that could lead to improvements. Rhodri Clark reports

Lords committee calls for free travel reforms
Reforming ENCTS entitlement would deliver a ‘fairer society’

ENVIRONMENT

Lothian wins funding for emissions retrofits
BEAR scheme funds will allow 36 buses to meet Euro 6 standards

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY
In association with Transdev

‘Why can’t buses be as easy as ordering pizza?’
Transport Focus research about young people and their experience of using buses reveals their frustration at ‘outdated and antiquated’ experience

Blazefield launches contactles ticket trial
Operator probes account-based ticketing options

TRAVEL TEST: Steve Butcher

‘The UK isn’t the panacea for everything’
Former Northern Rail COO Steve Butcher is among those UK rail professionals who have developed their skills in Australia, and elsewhere

COMMENT

Norman Baker: We need to wake up to climate change
Our politicial leaders are under pressure to take action on climate change – and the public transport sector could also do much more

Jo Kaye: Grab your watering cans and join us!
Often overlooked and undervalued, community rail industry initiatives are making stations better across Britain’s rail network

Nick Richardson: If franchising doesn’t work, what next?
Rail franchising is broken according to many both inside and outside the rail industry. A credible alternative is needed

Great Minster Grumbles: Wholesale change at the top of CPT
Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT

CAREERS

Ministers call for action on gender
Transport leaders urged to strive towards female participation

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Rail Delivery Group chief Paul Plummer said the proposals to the Williams rail review are intended as ‘building blocks’ for fundamental reform

 
RDG chief executive Paul Plummer

The Rail Delivery Group has set out proposals for a new rail industry structure which would remove central government from day to day decision making, integrate track and train more closely, and create train operating contracts appropriate for different areas of the railway.

RDG chief executive Paul Plummer said the proposals to the Williams rail review were intended as “building blocks” for fundamental reform to replace tinkering round the edges that had characterised the government’s half-hearted implementation of numerous rail reviews in the past 10 years.

These proposals call time on short term fixes and set out the once-in-a-generation system upgrade the railway needs if it is to help the country prosper over the next 25 years

“These proposals call time on short term fixes and set out the once-in-a-generation system upgrade the railway needs if it is to help the country prosper over the next 25 years,” Plummer said. “We want to move forward with a rail system that is more focused on customers, more responsive to local communities and more accountable, letting rail companies deliver what people want in each area of the country and rebuilding trust between the industry and passengers.”

Core changes in the proposed reorganisation would see the current rail franchising system scrapped in favour of new “public service contracts”. In city regions, the RDG envisages that where the government agrees appropriate devolution settlements, democratically accountable integrated local transport authorities could specify and let contracts for mass transit commuter routes similar to Transport for London’s London Overground concession.

In the rest of the country, a new-style of train operating contracts would be let by a new strategic rail industry organising body, at arms length from government, rather than by the Department for Transport.

Key changes from the current franchising system would involve agreeing high level targets train operators should deliver, such as improvements to passenger satisfaction, and then giving operators the freedom to determine how that should be achieved. The RDG said the DfT’s current highly-specified and intrusive franchise contracts, which set detailed requirements down to the type of catering trolleys that should be used in some cases, were stifling innovation and the ability to respond to passengers’ needs. A system of clearly understood fines and bonuses would mean operators would “only be rewarded for good performance”.

In addition, the RDG said these contracts should cover smaller geographical areas and be longer term than at present to enable operators to focus on specific markets and to attract a wider range of bidders and investors to the industry. New ways of sharing risks more appropriately between the public and private sector are also proposed including the possibility of resetting contracts’ financial terms periodically to take account of, and enable the industry to respond effectively to, significant external changes such as economic downturns and changes in demand for travel. The RDG pointed out that many of these principles had been recommended in the Brown review of franchising in 2013 but the government had failed to implement them.

On major longer distance routes, the RDG envisages that greater competition between operators would create a more dynamic focus on meeting customers’ needs and improving service quality. It recommends that competition could be injected by letting a number of different types of franchises on long distance routes building on the current limited application of this approach on the West Coast Main Line. Alternatively, the RDG envisages greater competition could involve the new rail authority parcelling up co-ordinated packages of services for open access operators to bid for. The main principle is that near-monopoly, short-term franchises should be abandoned on long distance routes where competition could benefit consumers.

The RDG acknowledged that implementing the multiple different approaches from regional concessions to open access in different areas of the country would require co-ordination and trade-offs. This would be overseen by the new strategic industry body. Although no comparable international model exists for organising rail services in this way, the RDG said its proposals had been informed by experience in Sweden where open access services exist alongside public service contracts and regional authorities and central government have a ‘balanced’ role.

 
Further coverage appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Our politicial leaders are under pressure to take action on climate change – and the public transport sector could also do much more

 
Greta Thunberg’s recent travels around Europe have been by train

They say that fact is stranger than fiction. Who would have dared write a story in which leading politicians of all parties fall over themselves to be seen hanging on the every word of a 16 year-old Swedish girl? It all
sounds like a really creaky screenplay, in the Love Actually mould, when we were asked to believe that Hugh Grant was somehow behaving as a prime minister might.

Yet young Greta Thunberg has succeeded almost single-handedly in breathing new life into the issue of climate change. Her Friday school protests, which she started solo but last month attracted the support of 1.4 million schoolchildren across the world, have given impetus to the Extinction Rebellion movement that brought much of central London to a standstill.

Climate change is without doubt the greatest existential threat the human race faces. Already we are seeing wild swings in the weather, more forest fires and floods, temperature records being broken on a continual basis – the latest was this Easter Monday – and underlying all that, even more ominous developments. Let me mention just three: the rapid melting of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic that has lain unaltered for thousands of years, the melting of the permafrost in places like Siberia, releasing huge quantities of potent greenhouse gases like methane that will in turn help fuel a vicious cycle, and, most heart-rending, the increasingly rapid extinction of species at a rate way in excess of normal background levels.

Some of us have been ringing the alarm for decades. It gives me no comfort to observe that the recommendations I set out in a 1990 publication called What Price Our Planet? have by and large not been implemented. Even worse over the last 10 years, climate change almost disappeared off the political agenda. Theresa May even abolished the Department of Energy and Climate Change when she became prime minister (and she was the only party leader not to meet Greta Thunberg on her London stop).

The young Swede has decided to practise what she preaches and gave up flying in 2015 (unlike, say, Prince Charles who has used a private jet to take his message on climate change round the world). She refused an award in her home country as it would have meant catching a plane to Stockholm, and her recent travels around Europe, including to London, have been by train.

Has anyone in the sluggish Rail Delivery Group noticed there might be a generic opportunity here to promote rail travel? Or are they content to leave it to a 16 year-old Swede to make the arguments for them?

By train… hello, is there anybody awake in the rail industry? Has anyone in the sluggish Rail Delivery Group noticed there might be a generic opportunity here to promote rail travel? Or are they content to leave it to a 16 year-old Swede to make the arguments for them? If a train organisation can be said to be pedestrian, this is it.

Britain has made good strides in reducing carbon emissions from energy. The amount of renewable energy from offshore wind in particular has increased exponentially this century, and before long the last coal-fired power station will have closed.

But carbon emissions from transport remain stubbornly high. The government has in fact exacerbated matters by continually caving in to the belligerent motoring lobby who argue non-stop for freezes or cuts in fuel duty, by withholding powers from councils to deal with motoring offences, powers that exist in London, by encouraging councils to take a light touch on parking infringements, and by the road tax changes introduced by George Osborne in his last days that effectively gave a boost to those who want to drive Chelsea tractors through our town centres.

The main objection to these approaches has been a climate change one, but when do we ever hear very much from the Rail Delivery Group, or indeed from the bus and coach umbrella body, the Confederation of Passenger Transport, to advance this argument? The latter has rightly honed in on the increased congestion that the government’s flawed policies will generate, but climate change, if mentioned at all, is almost an afterthought.

The public transport industry should be using the window that has opened up to position itself as part of the answer to the challenge of climate change. By doing so, they can both be seen to adopt an ethically correct position and promote modal switch to their business.

The greatest carbon threat we all face comes from aviation. This is because of the enormous carbon footprint of each flight, because the number of planes in the air is increasing year on year, and because there is no obvious technological alternative to kerosene. This is all compounded by the need to secure international agreement for any changes, an agreement which countries like the United States are sure to want to block.

Yet what we can do here is to bring home to people the environmental cost of flying, and to make passengers think twice about choosing the plane by offering an alternative.

Some years ago I was asked to go to Tasmania to help the campaign against the vandalistic tree felling that was then underway there. Conscious of my own carbon footprint, I asked my office to work out how many trees I needed to plant to offset this. The answer, just for me, was 19. And times that by the number of passengers on the plane, and you have an enormous number, just for that one journey, one of thousands just that one day.

The rail industry in particular needs to be far more aggressive in its marketing. Increased reliability, better services, and quicker journeys have all helped divert traffic from air to rail, particularly on the London-Manchester route, but with rare exceptions, climate change has not been an argument deployed.

Virgin did dip their toe in the water some time ago, but to be honest they are somewhat conflicted as a major air carrier, though as a long haul operator, there is not a public transport alternative to their routes.

And ScotRail, at least on their Edinburgh-Glasgow route, in their onboard announcements mention that passengers have chosen the “environmentally friendly” travel option.

But this is playing at the edges. Quite recently, the last air services between Paris and Brussels were withdrawn. They simply could not compete sensibly with the train. The rail industry here should aim to achieve the same – the forced economic withdrawal of all air routes within Britain where the journey time by rail is four hours or less.

As the government has singularly failed to do so, let the RDG organise a comprehensive campaign to make every potential passenger they can reach aware of the carbon comparison between air and rail for the journey they want to make, by information on the National Rail Enquiries website, on trains, at stations, through media releases, the works.

Let us see the rail industry publish city centre to city centre timings. For too long the airlines have got away with spurious timings, suggesting for example that it is one hour from London to Manchester. No it is not. The flight time may be an hour, to which you have to add the journeys from central London to Heathrow, and from Manchester airport to the city centre, and the interminable delays through security and the need to arrive at the airport way before your flight is due to take off.

It is in fact already, even before HS2, much quicker to go from central London to central Manchester by train than by plane. It is probably quicker even from central London to central Glasgow by train.

If they can factor in price deals on parallel routes, if only for a taster period, so much the better.

In our towns and cities, why are our bus companies not making people feel good about taking the bus as the right environmental choice? Having run The Big Lemon in Brighton for a year with just that message, I can assure you it works in business terms, in terms of securing modal shift and also in positive reputational terms.

A bus carrying 70 passengers will emit far less carbon per person than 70 cars with a solitary driver. Why not make that carbon comparison known, at bus stations, on websites, at bus stops, in and on the vehicles themselves, all locations within the control of operators. Why not work with sympathetic local councils to place some key billboard advertisements highlighting the carbon advantage of the bus, as well as the congestion downside of the private car?

There has been a dangerous complacency in our public transport sector

There has been a dangerous complacency in our public transport sector that recognises the environmental advantage of bus and train over car and plane, dangerous because this has led to an assumption that that knowledge is both shared by the public, and it leads to altered behaviour, and that it therefore does not need to be promoted.

This complacency has also led to a certain amount of resting on laurels. It is taken as read that the train is a cleaner option. But does that apply to the diesel train that sits for ages at a station, engine on, belching out fumes? Will it still apply when electric cars are the norm and diesel trains are seen as the dirty vehicles? Of course battery technology may have evolved to enable trains and coaches to run electric too, but for heavy duty journeys, this is still some way off.

It is not just the politicians who need to wake up to climate change. It is the public transport industry in this country as well.

 
About the author:
Norman Baker served as transport minister from May 2010 until October 2013. He was Lib Dem MP for Lewes between 1997 and 2015.

 
This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Transport Focus research about young people and their experience of using buses reveals their frustration at ‘outdated and antiquated’ experience

 
‘Why can Domino’s or whoever it is do all of that?’

Young people want the bus user experience to be as easy as ordering pizza or booking cinema tickets on their phones.

Focus group research conducted in England by Transport Focus identified barriers to using buses, and these included poor access to information about services.

Speaking at an event in Glasgow last week, Louise Coward, the passenger watchdog’s acting head of insight, explained: “A fear of getting it wrong and looking silly was enormous among young people. It came out really strongly in the groups.”

The research revealed that young people want an experience that is as easy to navigate as the one provided by other retailers.

“Young people challenged us with things like, ‘if I want to order a pizza or I want to go and see a film, all I need to do is get my phone out go into an app’,” she said. “I can have a gluten-freebase, I can have half vegan topping, I can have half meat feast, I can choose my size,  I can apply my discount code …  I can pay,  I can then monitor the  progress of my pizza, it’s going in the oven,  now it’s on a bike, all I have to do is open the door and take it from a delivery driver.

“Why can Domino’s or whoever it is do all of that and yet I can only find out how much it costs to get the bus if I was going to pick up my pizza myself by getting on board and asking how much is it to the pizza place bus driver? How does that feel right in today’s day and age?”

Coward added: “[Young people] are so used to using technology and to have things designed in ways that feel intuitive to them. When that is their benchmark, some of these challenges that come through you almost can’t argue with them.

[In comparison to] all of these other industries and sectors that they are used to dealing with and interacting with, the bus industry and public transport more generally feels really outdated and antiquated to them

“[In comparison to] all of these other industries and sectors that they are used to dealing with and interacting with, the bus industry and public transport more generally feels really outdated and antiquated to them. 

Representing the bus industry, George Mair, director, Scotland for the Confederation of Passenger Transport, expressed frustration that the industry-funded Traveline Scotland app does not receive greater recognition.

“What fails need a wee bit is the apparent lack of ability to use the technology that is there,” he said. “Traveline Scotland is an app, it is multi-modal, it gives fares – everything is in there. Why for the life of me the young kids can fathom out to get the app to order the pizza but they can’t do the same thing for a bus, I don’t understand that …  I find that really interesting.”

Mair maintained that Traveline Scotland isn’t perfect but it is the best information service of its kind in the UK.

“We don’t shout enough about these things,” he said. “Even within Transport Scotland, the people that I work with there, some of the people don’t understand it.

“We have a communication problem. We just don’t shout about the good things. Maybe it has been because we have been battered down too many times.”

Transport Focus’s research found that the most commonly cited way for young people to find information about journeys was asking friends and family (51%), followed by Google Maps (46%). A smaller percentage (37%) use local transport operator apps or websites.

David Sidebottom, passenger director at Transport Focus, said that young people wanted a one-stop-shop for information.

Recalling the feedback from focus groups, he said: “Why do we need a bus operator app, a train operator app, a Transport Authority app? As a young person with a certain tariff on my mobile device, having three or four apps all churning away in the background is eating my data.

They want one source of truth, one source of information – and for young people it is Google Maps.

“They want one source of truth, one source of information – and for young people it is Google Maps.”

The Transport (Scotland) Bill will improve information provision, according to Pete Grant, interim head of bus and concessionary fares policy at Transport Scotland. He believes that the most exciting aspect of the bill are its open data requirements, which will compel bus service operators to provide information on timetables and fares in a specified format.

Sharon Morrison, commercial manager at West Coast Motors, acknowledged the need for the bus industry to do more.

“I was a bit disappointed hearing the findings regarding young people,” she said. “I think one of the key things is information provision … We need to raise the bar in terms of trying to get information out to younger people by working collectively.”

 
Further coverage appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview