Recommended viewing; an excellent webinar

Click on these links to see details and a recording of the recent Foundation for Integrated Transport Webinar ‘Secrets of a Successful Bus Operation’. A brilliant exposition of how to do buses!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFL3DelnPp8
https://integratedtransport.org.uk/secrets-of-a-successful-bus-operation-webinar

With Roger French, who was Managing Director Brighton & Hove Buses in some of its most successful years.

Roger says reliability should be a given, and identifies 5 other key areas:
Frequency, reliability, consistency
Price, value, simplicity
Legendary customer service
Information, promotion, publicity
Regular investment in new buses

And 5 key areas for roads authorities:
Roadside furniture
Parking policies
Land use policies
Controlling roadworks
Bus priority

What does this mean in practice? Watch the webinar and find out! (NB a few pop-up adverts)

Bad budget for buses

The Scottish Government has ‘paused’ the Bus Partnership Fund. The Fund is ‘a long-term investment of over £500m to deliver targeted bus priority measures…to reduce the negative impacts of congestion on bus services and address the decline in bus patronage’ https://www.transport.gov.scot/public-transport/buses/bus-partnership-fund/

When it was launched in 2019, it was the biggest investment in buses for years. Edinburgh and surrounding Councils planned to use it to finance major bus priority programmes, including on nine of Edinburgh’s busiest road corridors.

It was paused once before, at the height of the Covid pandemic. Now the Scottish Government intends to make no funds available in 2024-25; citing ‘difficult choices’ it faces due to the settlement received from the UK Treasury. The scale of this challenge has been widely covered; but the Scottish Government still has choices within the overall budget it receives. Indeed spending in some other parts of the transport budget will INCREASE in 2024-25.

With two ‘pauses’ in less than four years, it seems to EBUG that buses are the default option to drop whenever things get difficult.

How does fit with the Scottish Governments’ climate objectives? or to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030?

To date, around £28 million of the Fund, out of £500m, has been spent; equivalent to less than £6m per year. Most if not all of this has been on developing the projects. Little if anything has been built on the ground.
There are nearly 20 priority projects ready to start across Scotland; Councils and operators have spent money and time on the process, with work about to accelerate. Apart from anything else, this kind of stop-start process is bad management, incurring additional delays and costs.

To quote Transform Scotland: ‘The Scottish Government’s decision to cancel its £500 million commitment to bus priority undermines efforts to improve bus service reliability and speed, which are the top barriers to bus use…This lack of progress will likely have further exacerbated fare increases and service cuts.’
Paul White of the Confederation of Passenger Transport: ‘FirstAberdeen is reporting a 20% increase in weekend patronage due to (lower) fares offer made possible by the new bus priority measures’.
Letter from the CPT to the Transport Minister: https://cpt-uk.org/media/uuvpg5la/cpt-scotland-to-transport-minister-bpf-jan-2024.pdf

Updated Bus Lanes and Patronage Graph

We’ve updated one of our key graphs. It now shows:

  • The impact of the Covid19 pandemic
  • The reallocation of bus lane space during the pandemic, now largely reinstated
  • The reduction in bus lane hours in 2015

Update – comments on the Edinburgh Tram extension and buses

In December 2022, EBUG published an initial commentary on the Tram extension to Newhaven and buses https://edinburghbususers.group/ebug-comments-on-the-edinburgh-tram-extension-and-buses. At the time, construction was not complete, particularly at bus stops.

The Tram route has now been operating since June, so we revisited the sites previously inspected for an update. To recap, we had surveyed only the most southerly bus stops on Leith Walk, and the updated survey covered the same ground.

NB as previously, we did not carry out a full bus stop audit.

At Elm Row northbound, the bus stop appears acceptable. The shelter is long, and therefore spacious. It is perhaps disappointing that the opportunity was not taken to install wider end panels for better weather protection; this would have required moving the shelter onto the cycle path.

Continue reading “Update – comments on the Edinburgh Tram extension and buses”

Guest Contribution No 1

EBUG is now occasionally posting contributions by ‘guest writers’ on our website. EBUG may, or may not, agree in full with their content, but believes they are interesting contributions to discussions on the future of buses in and around Edinburgh.

In the first post, Stacey O’Flaherty of the Ratho Bus Working Group reflects on a year of campaigning for better bus services for Ratho.

As well as leading the Working Group, Stacey led the ‘lovemybus’ youth programme, engaging with over 10,000 young people across Scotland in 22 Council areas, working with nine bus operators visiting nurseries, Outdoor Forest Schools, Primary and High and ASN Schools, Scouting and GirlGuiding groups.

Continue reading “Guest Contribution No 1”

No. 11 – Edinburgh Bus Users’ Group: Members’ Bulletin June 2023

Dear EBUG member,

This is the eleventh of our occasional updates for members. While the previous edition also served as the official notification for our upcoming AGM, we now provide our members with the agenda and associated documents.

To remind you: the AGM is on Wednesday June 21, at 18:00 in the Augustine United Church, George IV Bridge. Our Guest Speaker is Councillor Scott Arthur, Convener of Transport and Environment at the City of Edinburgh Council.

Agenda
1. Welcome, Apologies
2. Approve minutes of 2022 AGM
3. Committee report and accounts 2023
4. Elections to the committee
5. Councillor Scott Arthur: “Integrating walking, bus and tram in the transport hierarchy”
6. Q&A

Continue reading “No. 11 – Edinburgh Bus Users’ Group: Members’ Bulletin June 2023”

EBUG comments on the Edinburgh Tram extension and buses

As Trams to Newhaven nears completion, there’s been much discussion in print and social media about the design/implementation of streetscape features, particularly on Leith Walk. The City of Edinburgh Council’s present and previous transport convenors made it clear that there will be a thorough review and rectification process, consistent with the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance.

Continue reading “EBUG comments on the Edinburgh Tram extension and buses”

Written deputation by six local groups to the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee, 8 December

Joint statement

A Working Group formed in summer 2022, partly following the removal of a bus lane on the A8 which provoked wider concern over the future of Edinburgh bus lanes. Members include Edinburgh Bus Users Group, Spokes, Living Streets Edinburgh Group, BEST, SW20 and CRAG. The members continue to be independent organisations, but all recognise that bus lanes are important because they reduce bus journey times. They also reduce bus operator costs, and provide a degree of priority and protection for cyclists and emergency vehicles among others.

Continue reading “Written deputation by six local groups to the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee, 8 December”