25 August 2007

Weekly Transport Update 5

  • First tickets for Chester. From 27 August the city of Chester will be incorporated into First's full range of fare options covering the entire city and the Wirral area. The move is the first step to integrate the ChesterBus operation it so publicly acquired from Chester City Council in June 2007.
  • NEG acquisition referred to OFT. The Office of Fair Trading is to investigate the government's awarding of the East Coast Main Line rail franchise to National Express Group. The OFT played down the significance of the referral claiming the deal was of sufficient size to prompt a 'fairly routine' investigation.
  • York bus partnership re-launched. 20 August saw the York Quality Bus Partnership re-launched as part of a joint commitment to develop the partnerships between the city's bus operators and the council.
  • Leeds ftr live. Following two months of service familiarisation, the UK's second 'ftr' scheme was launched on 15 August 2007 in Leeds by the UK's largest transport operator, First. One ftr 'streetcar' was named "Spirit of Leeds" at the ceremony. The first ftr (text-speak for 'future') was launched 2 years ago in York and First's Chief Executive Moir Lockhead said the company had learned from its ftr pilot in York. Swansea is next to receive ftr vehicle, which already in Leeds has seen a 10% increase in patronage.
  • Denis Wormwell returns. The Chief Executive of the National Express Coach division from 2002-2006, Denis Wormwell, returned to the coaching industry five days ago with the announcement from WA Shearings that he has been appointed as their CE from 3 September 2007. Denis is the person credited for National Express' re-branding, resulting in a 18% increase in patronage and profit increases of 77%.
  • Stagecoach's South Yorkshire deadlock. Stagecoach Yorkshire is increasing its fares as a direct result of increased departure charges imposed by SYPTE for all services using the PTE's award-winning Interchanges throughout the county. SYPTE's level of concessionary reimbursement fell at the start of the 'free local bus travel' scheme that commenced in April 2006 and Stagecoach successfully won in court when it appealed against this. A SYPTE spokesperson stated, "This year we have not been able to reach agreement with Stagecoach [over concessionary fare reimbursement rates] and therefore, have decided to impose departure charges on them. Stagecoach claim the additional charges will be around £500,000 a year and plan to add at least 10p per adult single fare for services using SYPTE Interchange facilities. Where journeys use more than one Interchange the increase will be higher.
  • PlusBus doubles. Sales of PlusBus tickets (as mentioned in last week's Weekly Transport Update 4) have seen a 100% increase year-on-year. Almost 10,000 tickets were sold and more than 65,000 train journeys were made by people with PlusBus add-ons.
  • Cardiff Car Ban works. A controversial car ban on St Mary Street in Cardiff City Centre has cut bus journey times by 80%.
  • Three Yorkshire operators banned. The three in question had links to banned operator Gurpal Singh, who had run Easi Rider Bus Co based in Huddersfield, following complaints from the head teacher of Savile Park Primary School about a journey undertaken by Paul's Travel (owned by one of the banned three).
  • Reading's first MAN/East Lancs Kinetic Plus enters service. The only one to be built so far, as shown at the 2006 Euro Bus Expo, was purchased by Reading Buses and only entered service last week and is allocated to Service 9 to Caversham Heights.