Monday, November 26, 2007

Buses!

Jon Hunt writes:
I'm doing a couple of launches of the new or revamped bus services in my role as bus lead member with the Passenger Transport Authority.

It's timely as for 20 years or so bus use has been declining. I think this may change, automatically, in the near future because rising fuel prices and pinches on household budgets will make people seek out public transport and cut down on vehicle use. I've certainly resolved to use the bus and foot more than in the past. Running round all over the place, I'd got out of the habit of organising to use buses, which can be pretty convenient.

Today, aided by some Latin dancers, was the launch of number 1 service, which doesn't affect Perry Barr but now provides a frequent shopping service to the Town Hall through Moseley and Acocks Green.

Tomorrow Tuesday is the revamped 451 running on the Queslett Road to West Bromwich and Sutton Coldfield and the launch is to be at Asda Queslett at 10am . The key feature here is the revamped buses which, I understand, includes improved CCTV with screens which demonstrate it is really working!

At the same time we launched a big document on buses today at a PTA meeting. Nothing's set in stone but we're working to a new era where all routes are covered by agreements between the passenger authority and the bus companies. We're also working to create a more efficient network, which allows more people to go swiftly to wherever they want to go - not just the end point of some existing bus service.

The key to this is electronic signage and the smartcards that will surface next year for the first time and soon will enable new fare structures - allowing passengers to purchase a single "ticket" to go from one place to the next and also to change buses easily if necessary.

This is important because there's a lot of "turbulence" around at the moment and that's upsetting some existing bus users. For a number of reasons the companies are cutting back some of the smaller services, forcing the PTA to run round and assess the impact and if necessary to purchase subsidised services. In the Queslett Road area one or two passengers have been distressed through the loss of the 655 that ran from Booths Lane to Aldridge. This was carrying an average of two passengers a journey. Now, the Booths Lane estate is right off the Queslett Road and most people will benefit from better 451 services. It is steep and some people may struggle to make the walk and one of the challenges for the future is to ensure we identify these little estates and ensure that there are services to collect such people and get them safely to the main bus network - enabling them to go to all sorts of places.

In the near future, as I stated, the public authorities will get new powers. The bus companies know this and are keen to demonstrate they can provide better services. Hence the Latin dancers - "It Takes Two to Tango!". We're doing what we can to ensure this turns into instant benefits for travellers.

1 comment:

Margaret Macklin said...

CCTV on buses-making the same mistake as police?.A camera may be a useful tool in identifying criminals but certainly dont make the rest of us feel safe. When a bus is comfortable,safe and runs on renewable fuel is when I will use them again.There comes atime in development when the old is no longer changeable.Buses should be put away with airships.