28 February 2011

Taking the initiative

(Back to normal after the half term break)
Plymouth City Council and local bus operators are working together to improve the reliability and punctuality of bus services throughout the city.
The new Bus Punctuality Improvement Partnership will bring together representatives from Plymouth Transport and Highways (the partnership between the Council and Amey) and Plymouth Citybus, First Devon and Cornwall, Target Travel and Western Greyhound. All of the partners have signed an agreement setting out shared targets for ensuring that bus services are reliable and on time. They will work together to promote sustainable travel and develop a high quality public transport network that is an attractive and viable alternative to the private car. Members will identify areas where timekeeping and reliability are causing concern, gather appropriate data and information, develop potential solutions and monitor progress.
Plymouth’s partnership will be the first in the country to include a representative from Passenger Focus, the Government body responsible for championing bus passengers. This will ensure that the passenger’s voice is represented in any decision making.


Examples of recent improvements delivered by working in partnership with bus operators are:

  • Improvements to the road layout on Charles Street
  • An additional bus lane on Exeter Street
  • Ongoing liaison and joint working on the East End Transport Scheme
  • Bus priority measures along Mutley Plain during last year’s major gas mains replacement works
  • The introduction of the road safety camera car, which continues to target vehicles blocking bus stops and impacting on services

Future improvements could include:
  • Tackling congestion hotspots and providing more bus priority measures where appropriate
  • Improvements to bus scheduling and ongoing investment in staff and maintenance facilities
  • Efforts to minimise the impact of roadworks on bus services
  • Further use of the road safety camera car to maintain the free flow of bus services

Councillor Kevin Wigens, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, said: "This partnership is a really positive move for the city and a step further in enhancing the offer of the bus service for both existing and new users.”
Andrew Wickham, Managing Director of Plymouth Citybus, said: "We already work closely with the City Council and the BPIP cements this relationship with clear targets for punctuality improvement, which will make our services more reliable and attractive to passengers.”

Marc Reddy, Managing Director of First Devon and Cornwall, said: "We completely support the development of this bus punctuality improvement partnership. It will have a positive impact on the city, requiring bus operators such as ourselves as well as the Council to work together to address the issues that cause congestion and delay services. This is a real step forward for bus operations in Plymouth and the significance of this agreement should not be underestimated."

Mark Howarth, Managing Director of Western Greyhound, said: "This is positive news for our bus passengers, who have identified that reliability is most important to them. If the partnership can deliver improved reliability through various improvement measures, our passengers will be delighted!”

Joe Lynch, Passenger Focus executive, said: "Passengers have told us that their number one priority for improvement is bus punctuality, so we’re pleased to be involved in an initiative aimed at helping to achieve this.” Plymouth City Council 24 Feb 2011

I do hope that this is something more useful than just a talking shop and that we will see results. It seems that the main weapon the council are using is the new camera car which is proving deeply unpopular with taxi drivers especially.
If the council really wanted to help the buses run on time then they need to sort out the main areas where congestion is at its worst. Derriford Hospital, Manadon Roundabout, Drakes Circus, being just three areas which regularly hold everything up. A couple of camera cars and improved scheduling is not going to make a lot of difference to buses running on time when it takes a bus up to half an hour to get in and out of Derriford Hospital!

Related Links

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  • With the majority of First Somerset & Avon services in Yeovil passing over to First Hants & Dorset in April, I decided to visit Yeovil on Tuesday. Southern England Bus Scene
  • Thanks again to everyone who completed the 2011 Omnibuses survey. Now’s the time to go all quantitative, with the survey’s main results. Omnibuses
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