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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Outside London, public transport is becoming unfit for purpose with the most complex/unfair ticketing and services being cut.

Passengers are at best struggling to use the buses, trains & trams that are left and at worst, patronage is falling and people are either turning to cars or not making journeys at all (which is being used as a justification to further reduce services).

Even as new trains are being built, new timetables are being introduced, new wifi enabled buses are arriving, new tram-tracks are being laid...operators and politicians are claiming that they're investing vast sums...but down here on the ground, people are genuinely struggling and being left late, isolated or in 'transport poverty'.

Two important documentaries on Radio 4 have examined just how far behind the North and other parts of UK are to London and the south east.

Bus:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b86z4s
Rail:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b91w17

We touched on it in this video made by Geoff Marshall (the guy who's visited every UK station) too:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7ljRzN3yKk
(from about 8 minutes in)

So we are examining the idea of launching a new umbrella campaign open to everyone from passengers to transport anoraks, unions and professional organisations to operators and official bodies. Just anyone who really cares about improving the situation...fast.

The core concept is that Britain desperately needs:
* Frequent
* Integrated
* Transport


And:
fairer fares (ticketing should be daily-capped across all modes, UK wide, as in the London Oyster/contactless situation or the Dutch OV Chipkaart).

We simply cannot keep waiting and waiting and waiting for promised improvements that never seem to arrive.

The working title of the campaign is currently
FIT & Fare

Not precious about the title, just need a punchy name, happy to have suggestions.

* Would you support such a campaign?
* Could a louder voice for transport users result in any real, fast changes?
* Are we barking up the wrong tree?
* Give examples of transport in your locality that's unfit for purpose?


PS: This not an anti-London thing. If anything its in praise of the generally great services there and a desire for the rest of the UK to be served as well as the capital.
 

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* Would you support such a campaign?
YES!
* Could a louder voice for transport users result in any real, fast changes?
It can't hurt.
* Are we barking up the wrong tree?
No, this is the right tree. It's desperately needed.
* Give examples of transport in your locality that's unfit for purpose?
£3 for a single 10-minute bus ride into town (a distance that would be easily bikeable if the roads weren't so dangerous). Fairly frequent service during the day but goes down to an hourly service in the evening, meaning days out that start car-free usually end with a lift.
Also, lack of integration between buses and trains.
And PACERS
 

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Yes, I would totally support a campaign.

Give examples of transport in your locality that's unfit for purpose?

I haven't got all day!

Buses are an obvious target as they can be improved quicker and cheaper than rail-based solutions.

Ludicrous bus fares as mentioned above.
Councils cutting back bus services that people rely on to do things like going to the doctor/hospital appointments. Then the NHS has to provide transport at a vastly higher cost. Joined up thinking would be a really good idea.
Nationwide real time tracking/timetable information.
 

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Fully support your goals MarkO

But I am not sure that your prescription - effectively a UK-wide bus service - is the way forward.

Key points;

- there are places where stopping bus services are thriving (outside London), such as Reading, Nottingham, Bristol, Birmingham.

- there are also models of highly successful enhanced longer distance bus services - Cambridgeshire Busway, Leigh busway, Cityzap services in Yorkshire. These may be classed under a general heading of 'Bus Rapid Transit' with a specific UK/European twist that differentiates them from classic BRT in Latin America etc.

- The recent Bus Services Act is being implemented in Greater Manchester; who appear hopeful that it represents a viable way forward.

- there is a need for heavy investment in improving bus infrastructure, so as to reduce the impact of congestion on bus services.

- there is a need for heavy investment in new vehicles, so as to move away from diesel power,

- there is a need for heavy associated investment in walking and bike infrastructure - the clear message from both the Cambridgeshire and Leigh busways is that bike use and bus use are strongly mutually reinforcing.

The problem underlying all this, is that it the 'new' opportunities do nothing for rural and small town bus services. Effectively we seem to have an emerging model of a future dynamic for buses in cities, but not outside them.

But until we have a viable model for how bus services might develop dynamically across both urban and suburban/rural contexts, I fear a national defined bus service would tend simply to freeze current service levels, rather than accommodate the necessary changes needed.

And in simple terms; Bristol, Manchester, Reading, Brighton, Nottingham, Harrogate should continue to have the capability of doing their own thing in their own way.
 

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I think one of the biggest problems is lack of fare/timetable integration between modes outside of London. There are a few relative quick wins that don’t require infrastructure investment simply by integrating modes and facilitating connections that has a wider effect on increasing the appeal of public transport.

I also think whatever system is designed should prioritise contactless cards, with smartcards retained for legacy users, as opposed to paying cash on the bus.

When I used to live in Bristol, it was quicker to walk 30 min then take the bus due to the amount of people paying cash (and receiving change!) at every stop. Huge inefficiencies.
 

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Barking up the wrong tree? Definitely, 30 years too late, automated on-demand pods are around the corner, far more useful for sparse and low density areas like villages. Surely a fully automated light rail system is better for linking rural towns and inter-city travel in the provincial cities? Slight-outlay but cheap to run. I've always thought this would make more sense for rural areas of the UK that rely on tourism, instead of ruining the thing they are famous for by building road by-passes and suffer from damaging seasonal traffic jams why not build an automated light rail network!
 

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And:
fairer fares (ticketing should be daily-capped across all modes, UK wide, as in the London Oyster/contactless situation or the Dutch OV Chipkaart).

I absolutely loved the OV ChipKaart when I was in Amsterdam.


Metro from near my flat to the station. Train to The Hague, and travel around The Hague on bus and tram all using the same prepayment smartcard. In Manchester, there are half a dozen bus and rail companies, each with their own payment and fare system. If I want to go to another city I need yet another ticket type.
 

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Generally I'm supportive of this, and the integration of all public transport modes in the whole country would clearly be a huge step forward. Competing buses on the same route are a peculiar and inefficient way to satisfy demand. However before you start demanding that all areas of the country receive London levels of service it needs to be understood exactly why the capital gets such good provision.

1) A propensity of users to use public transport rather than cars - the opposite of most other areas of the UK.
2) A critical mass of passengers and jobs - so commuting demand is high.
3) The alternative (private car) would often be a much slower option due to traffic congestion and there is very limited and expensive parking in central London.
4) The added cost of the weekday congestion charge.
5) High fare levels, which in conjunction with existing high demand makes investment cases easier.

There is an element of chicken and egg in the current provision elsewhere in the UK - from the late 1950s the rise of the motor car reduced public transport demand and many services were reduced/cut to reflect that, especially outside of the major conurbations. As a result I suspect in 2018 there is latent demand for good public transport that isn't being satisfied in many parts of the UK due to a) low service frequency and b) poor quality of the vehicles being used.

Away from the large towns and cities we will have to see if autonomous battery-electric pods / taxis will offer increased connectivity.
 

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Lo
I also think whatever system is designed should prioritise contactless cards, with smartcards retained for legacy users, as opposed to paying cash on the bus.

When I used to live in Bristol, it was quicker to walk 30 min then take the bus due to the amount of people paying cash (and receiving change!) at every stop. Huge inefficiencies.
Contactless has helped that hugely on buses I use, including in Bristol.

Provision of information is such a key thing for this. In London bus stops have spider maps showing all the routes from the stop/neighbourhood. When I needed to use the buses in Bristol recently they don't have any maps! And when the destination on the front of the bus is often an outlying suburb/village that you have never heard of then it is very difficult to know which bus to take. I asked the bus company why they didn't put maps up and it's because the council own the stops...

I know mobile apps help, but they just don't have the at-a-glance use of a map. E.g. a map can tell you that a different route stops just around the corner from where you were going, so you can catch that instead and walk two minutes further. Online journey planners don't do that.

Fares are totally opaque generally as well. Why there isn't a need for an advertised structure, e.g. £1 under a mile £2 1-2 miles or whatever so you have an idea when you get on how much it might be. If every taxi in the country has to display that then there is no excuse for buses not doing the same
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Generally I'm supportive of this, and the integration of all public transport modes in the whole country would clearly be a huge step forward. Competing buses on the same route are a peculiar and inefficient way to satisfy demand. However before you start demanding that all areas of the country receive London levels of service it needs to be understood exactly why the capital gets such good provision.

1) A propensity of users to use public transport rather than cars - the opposite of most other areas of the UK.
2) A critical mass of passengers and jobs - so commuting demand is high.
3) The alternative (private car) would often be a much slower option due to traffic congestion and there is very limited and expensive parking in central London.
4) The added cost of the weekday congestion charge.
5) High fare levels, which in conjunction with existing high demand makes investment cases easier.

There is an element of chicken and egg in the current provision elsewhere in the UK - from the late 1950s the rise of the motor car reduced public transport demand and many services were reduced/cut to reflect that, especially outside of the major conurbations. As a result I suspect in 2018 there is latent demand for good public transport that isn't being satisfied in many parts of the UK due to a) low service frequency and b) poor quality of the vehicles being used.

Away from the large towns and cities we will have to see if autonomous battery-electric pods / taxis will offer increased connectivity.
Many good points made here, and the key words are "chicken and egg".

Plenty of examples in London where they provided the service first and people came (Overground, night bus, night tube etc) but also up north you can see that played out too: Bury-Victoria and Altrincham-City Centre train services both shown vast increases in patronage since conversion to light-rail. Metrolink to Chorlton (a Beeching re-opening, effectively) and other lines similar.

By contrast if the service is run down and made less frequent people give up and buy cars (if they can afford them), or get trapped in isolation if they cant and the situation worsens so its used as an excuse to cut back still further.

The big conurbations/big cities and other centres of population definitely require vast improvements to frequency, reliability, inter-modal connectivity and ticketing. Can see one of the other forummers points about new tech for more rural areas maybe. But you couldn't have 20,000 "pods" an hour down somewhere like Oxford Road in Manchester (or any other main arterial route in UK).

Yes the future will be more diverse than before, bring it on, but we need to invest in traditional land transport in our cities outside London to bring as much of them as possible up to that level of quality - and the passengers, environmental benefits and jobs will flow from there.
 

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Many good points made here, and the key words are "chicken and egg".

Plenty of examples in London where they provided the service first and people came (Overground, night bus, night tube etc) but also up north you can see that played out too: Bury-Victoria and Altrincham-City Centre train services both shown vast increases in patronage since conversion to light-rail. Metrolink to Chorlton (a Beeching re-opening, effectively) and other lines similar.

By contrast if the service is run down and made less frequent people give up and buy cars (if they can afford them), or get trapped in isolation if they cant and the situation worsens so its used as an excuse to cut back still further.

The big conurbations/big cities and other centres of population definitely require vast improvements to frequency, reliability, inter-modal connectivity and ticketing. Can see one of the other forummers points about new tech for more rural areas maybe. But you couldn't have 20,000 "pods" an hour down somewhere like Oxford Road in Manchester (or any other main arterial route in UK).

Yes the future will be more diverse than before, bring it on, but we need to invest in traditional land transport in our cities outside London to bring as much of them as possible up to that level of quality - and the passengers, environmental benefits and jobs will flow from there.
I fully agree that we need to invest in bus transport.

However, tying such investment to low fares is a mistake in my view. Stopping bus services need to be affordable; but there is a case that Bus Rapid Transit can be economic with higher fare levels - similar to light rail or metro for similar distances travelled.
 
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