- Durham forced to reveal 70% rise. Durham County Council undertook a 'pilot project' in 2004 when it replaced an operator's contract to provide four vehicles for home-to-school transport with three brand new Irisbus Scolar (yellow buses) that it purchased and operated wholly in-house. The cost was partially revealed this week for the first time since 2005, when DCC claimed it need not make the cost available as it formed an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act, as being £104,335. The contract with the bus operator it ended in 2004 is understood to have cost the council £61,000 a year and that included 1 additional vehicle!
- TM Travel provide free Sheffield bus. TM Travel of Staveley, Derbys, have won a contract with SYPTE to provide a free circular bus service within Sheffield city centre, commencing 29 October 2007. SYPTE projected figures claim around 125,000 passengers will be carried in its first year, costing the PTE £265,000 per year in subsidy (equating to a rather impressive £1.06 per passenger!). Three new Optare Solos will be purchased by TM Travel to operate the service, operating every 7 minutes Mon-Fri between 0700-1900 and 0800-1900 on Saturdays. 11 bus stops will be called at within the city centre and it mirrors similar free bus services in Manchester, Leeds, Wakefield and Huddersfield centres.
- Hull Paragon Interchange opens. 16 September saw the eagerly awaited Hull Paragon Interchange open, following over 2 years of redevelopment. This will be partially covered in the forthcoming LEYTR, though we plan to visit the city over the coming weeks for a full report and possible photo feature. What I wasn't aware of is that Hull boasts one of the biggest percentage rises in passenger usage outside London, with 8.5% up to 2004/5.
- Fuel cell minibus. A hydrogen fuel cell-powered 16-seater Irisbus Iveco long wheelbase Daily minibus at the Grove Fuel Cell Symposium, London, this week. It is to be trialed with the University of Glamorgan.
- Edinburgh's tram final business plan approved. City councillors have voted to approve the draft final Business Case for Edinburgh's fledgling tram network. A total 56 out of 58 councillors voted in favour of the recommendations laid out in a report produced by the City of Edinburgh Council. The report, authored by the director of city development, Andrew Holmes, and director of finance, Donald McGougan, considered a phased tram network for Edinburgh to be affordable, viable, necessary for the city and for the benefits to significantly outweigh the costs. The draft final Business was prepared by Transport Initiatives Edinburgh Ltd, the organisation delivering the project.
- Cambridge's own Low Emission Zone? The city and county councils are proposing consultation on the possibility of a Low Emission Zone to start in 2009. This would affect all 11 local bus operators as well as coach firms entering the city on schedules services and private hires. The city centre is currently accessed through 'bus gates' seeing transponders fitted to the front of buses, coaches, taxis and emergency vehicles; one proposal is for this gated area to be extended. I'm not a big lover of bus gates and clicking HERE shows how, after the initial humour has worn off, the city centre then becomes paralysed until they are rectified.
- New Metroline depot. Metroline London, owned by ComfortDelGro, has opened a new Central Engineering and Logistics facility in Perivale.
- Appeals due soon. The outcome of 96 appeals from bus operators against the 2007/8 local authority reimbursement rates for free concessionary travel is expected this autumn. Here in the LEYTR region, operator Stagecoach says that when concessions received half-fare travel the half they didn't pay was reimbursed 70% by the local authority; now concessions receive free travel they're only being reimbursed 49% of the entire fare, causing them to reassess their non-profit making routes with a view to withdrawing them in lieu of a £1million shortfall. Louth town service 41 (Bus Station-St. Bernard's Ave) is once such candidate.
- Bus Rapid Transit for South Yorkshire? SYPTE have asked for a £44million grant for a Bus Rapid Transit scheme linking Sheffield with Rotherham via Waverley. The Yorkshire & Humber Regional Transport Board is considering the proposal. The government vetoed a Supertam extension to Rotherham and this proposal comes as a direct alternative. No doubt local operator First, who have been the sole operators of similar cases in York and recently Leeds will offer the immediate knowledge to assist any such scheme once approved, though will no doubt need to bid to operate the service.
- First Euro 5s delivered. As mentioned in last week's Weekly Transport Update 8, operators choosing to purchase Euro 5 spec vehicles will pay a mere £165 Vehicle Excise Duty irrespective of size, as a way of encouraging more operators to consider purchasing vehicles with these new engines. The first examples have been delivered to Suffolk County Council and are 9 Irisbus Iveco coaches with Marcopolo Viaggio bodies. Many were at last week's Showbus Rally at Duxford and photos will be uploaded to my fotopic as time permits.
- VW, MAN & Scania merger. Volkwagen says that 'discussions with MAN and Scania about a merger are ongoing and have not collapsed'. VW's Chief Financial Officer, Martin Winterkorn said there was no rush to combine companies since all three were posting record orders.
- Free concession fares beats target. The introduction of free local travel for concessionary fares throughout England and Wales from April 2008 will allow the DfT to meet its public transport target 4 years early. It aimed to increase bus and light rail patronage by 4% by 2010, compared to figures at 2000. Up to 2007 usage had grown by 15%.
- Bomb squat attend NX coach. Following a suspicious package being found on a National Express coach service on the M62 in Merseyside, the motorway was closed while the Bomb Squad attended the Liverpool-Newcastle service to safeguard it. A male passenger was arrested and detained under the mental health act as a result.
- Universal SmartCard for free concessionary travel next year launched. Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has unveiled the new pass that will give older and disabled people free off-peak bus travel across England from 1 April 2008. Currently, people aged 60 and over and eligible disabled people are entitled to free off-peak bus travel within their own local authority area. But from April 2008 the government will spend up to an extra £250m each year to extend the scheme to include off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England. The new passes will also incorporate ITSO smartcard technology to allow the roll out of 'smart ticketing'. This will help minimise fraud and ensure that the number of journeys made by pass-holders are accurately recorded for reimbursement purposes between local authorities and bus operators. In areas where buses are not yet fitted with smartcard readers the cards can still be shown to the driver as a traditional 'flash' card upon boarding.
- X78 patronage up 9%. A route in South Yorkshire I know well links Sheffield with Doncaster via Rotherham and numbered X78, operated by First. The company has recorded a 9% passenger increase in the service and in June introduced 20 Volvo B7TL/Wrighbus Eclipse Gemini vehicles to meet the increased demand.
- Lack of coach parking at St. Pancras highlighted. 14 November sees the official start date of through trains to Paris from London St. Pancras station; however the provision of adequate coach parking at the UK terminal has been highlighted. 5 set-down bays will be available from the start date, coaches picking passengers up will not be allowed onto the site more than 20 minutes before the train they are awaiting is due.
- Stagecoach invest more in Manchester. A £15million order by Stagecooach will see 108 Alexander-Dennis Trident 2s with ADL Enviro400 bodies enter service in the city. The order is seen as the company's endorsement of the Greater Manchester's bid for government Transport Initiative Fund money to support and realise the local transport strategy. All 108 buses will run on biodiesel and will enter service later this month on key routes to/from Manchester city centre, with the delivery completing in February 2008.
- Transport 2000 name change. The campaign group Transport 2000 has re-named itself to Campaign for Better Transport.
- Red Route report out. Fewer motorists are committing offences such as driving in bus lanes and stopping on box junctions, according to a new report by Transport for London. TfL's second annual report on the impact of parking and traffic enforcement on the capital's Red Route network says that better driving in London has seen the observance of parking and traffic regulations improve by up to 35%. In 2006, there were 14.3 parking contraventions; 13.6 moving vehicle contraventions and 8.8 bus lane contraventions per hour, where CCTV enforcement was monitored. In March 2007, this has reduced to 11.6, 11.7 and 6.1 contraventions per hour respectively. The number of observed contraventions per mile of Red Route also went down to the lowest numbers on record from 0.74 to 0.57 between March 2006 and March 2007. Similarly, the enforcement of bus lanes has been successful with the number of contraventions from bus mounted cameras between July 2000 and July 2005 per hour of viewed footage reduced from 12 to 0.1. Between the end of 2004 and the end of 2005, bus speeds in bus lanes increased by 5% - and buses now travel 12.6% faster in bus lanes than between bus lanes.
- EST Bus fined £6,650 & 2 services cancelled. Roger Seymour, Deputy Traffic Commissioner for Wales, has banned EST Bus, Cowbridge, Wales, from registering any new bus services for a 12 month period, ordered the firm to pay £6,650 in fines and cancelled two registered bus services following, over a 16 day period in May 2006, 159 journeys were monitored, of which 9 failed to operate, 12 departed early, 21 departed late and a number of incorrect destinations were shown. 166 journeys were monitored in January and February 2007, of which 14 failed to operate, 15 ran early, 10 ran late and 6 had incorrect destinations. The company failed to respond on both occasions to letters they received.
23 September 2007
Weekly Transport Update 9
Posted by LEYTR