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1  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / First Group Annual Results on: July 08, 2020, 11:26:03 am
First Group annual results have bee published today with the announcement of a £300 million loss...the losses are staggering...and this is even before the start of the financial implications of Coronavirus really kicks in!

However, the good news is that UK Bus made £45m in pre-tax profits!

What will the future hold now for First Group? Do you think the UK bus division will be up for sale again? Will more less profitable bus routes go to other bus operators.... What may change for the First train network? Any update on the America Greyhound services being sold off? What do you think the future holds for First Group?

A couple of news articles on the topic.

FirstGroup suffers £300m loss on Covid-19 and Greyhound business  https://www.ft.com/content/c794895b-afc8-4bc7-ba62-59049926a617

FirstGroup could cease trading as coronavirus hits passenger levels
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jul/08/firstgroup-could-cease-trading-as-coronavirus-hits-passenger-levels

First Bus losses treble before impact of coronavirus kicks in. https://www.insider.co.uk/company-results-forecasts/first-bus-losses-treble-before-22319348
https://www.insider.co.uk/company-results-forecasts/first-bus-losses-treble-before-22319348
2  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: Buses - passenger demand and social distancing on: June 30, 2020, 04:17:37 am
What happens when the last bus of the day is full as happened last weekend? I don't think it was full leaving Bath bus station but became full on the route back... worried when bars and restaurants open this weekend it will be carnage on the buses...coming out of Bath. I doubt First Bus don't normally have any buses / drivers spare at that time of night I doubt... Only saving grace is there appears currently to be low rates of transmission currently in the area....
3  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: Buses - what would put you off using them soon? on: June 29, 2020, 09:41:08 pm
Graham for me the barrier to catching a bus is the threat of catching Coronavirus..I have heard of examples of Coronavirus that have spread through the transport system of people catching it in clusters though this was at the height of the virus / early days of lockdown I believe....I know I have relatively low risk of catching it in my part of the world now. However, I have watched buses go by and see the number of people not wearing face coverings. It doesn't do anything to restore my confidence...and want to get on a bus. I am lucky at the moment that I don't have to catch the bus in some respects but would like to support it again...
4  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Buses - passenger demand and social distancing on: June 27, 2020, 08:26:38 am
So as number of Coronavirus cases continues to decrease, and already this week I am noticing bus passenger numbers are increasing (especially among the teenagers / early 20’s) on my local buses. Though the government’s message continues to be to use other forms of transport rather than public transport if you can …

So I have been thinking of the future…. more shops are opening…and soon pubs and restaurants will be opening. This will mean not just more workers will need to catch the bus but also leisure passengers will begin to use them again.

What can be done to promote buses while social distancing is in place, even if it’s only 1+m, given that buses can only carry around 1/5 of their capacity.

First Bus have developed an app to show if their bus is full. Also First Bus will display a “bus is full” sign on their destination screen if it has reached capacity given social distancing.

Is it time to introduce Uber type bookings given as lockdown is eased buses will soon be full (especially at peak hours) and people try to board mid route probably won’t be able to get on? What will their employers say if they turn up very ;late for work saying their bus was full.

So an Uber-style system could help but then what about those who haven’t got access to online booking systems? Telephone booking?
5  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Social Distancing On Buses - 2m to 1m on: June 22, 2020, 09:27:15 am
One thing I thought that would be worth highlighting regarding social distancing on buses that I read....

As you may know, bus passenger numbers are limited on buses due to the 2 metre social distancing rule. This means on double decker buses that would normally carry 75 people now only carry 20 people. Single deckers that would normally carry I think around 50 now only carry 10 people.

I was shocked when I heard Tim Bowles, Metro Mayor of WECA say, changing the two-metre social distancing rule to 1 metre would only boost bus capacity by 1 passenger per vehicleMetrhttps://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/uk/relaxing-two-metre-rule-would-boost-bus-capacity-by-one-passenger-metro-mayor/

I know via the Travelwatch SouthWest Zoom fireside chats, Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users UK had been pushing for a relaxation of the rules for buses to 1 metre. But from what Tim Bowles was saying it doesn't seem it would have much effect...
6  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: UK incoming passenger quarantine on: May 09, 2020, 02:22:26 pm
Did you see The Telegraph article saying 20, 000 people who were infected with Coronavirus flew into the UK?
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/05/least-20000-people-infected-coronavirus-arrived-uk-lockdown/

So it's prudent to implement a 14 day travel ban to limit the continued spread of Coronavirus into the UK once it is under control. The aviation sector has already suffered alot due to Coronavirus, and when the quarantine rules come into effect (which I am in favour of) there will be an further consequences to the aviation industry (and industries that support the aviation industry). This will effect both trade, business and leisure passengers.

However, the government should have put various measures in place at airports from early March (like Italy and Spain were doing) such as notifying people of Coronavirus symptoms, testing people's temperatures, quarantining people etc. I can see from my social media history and have re-read the conversations I was having then about how the government was failing to act on many issues compared to it's European neighbours...

A quick Google search pulled up the following statistics which I thought might be of interest:
  • a !/3 of all trade is sent by air
  • Business travelers account for 12% percent of airlines' passengers
  • Business passengers represent 75% of an airline's profits (twice as profitable as leisure passengers)

But on the upside this will have an effect in reducing air pollution!
7  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: Socio-demographics statistics on bus and train travellers in the South West on: May 09, 2020, 08:24:58 am
Eightonedee must say I haven't really spent much time looking at Transport Focus until recently more familiar with Bus Users UK and Campaign for Better Transport but will definitely have a look.

Thanks Grahame, seems like a really interesting seminar will take a listen when I can grab some time, you would have thought I would have had more time during lockdown....
8  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / How Bus Usage Will Change After Lockdown? on: May 09, 2020, 08:03:55 am
I read with interest the recent BBC article: Coronavirus: Transport usage will change after lockdown https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52414376?fbclid=IwAR1Y_fYiDao2STzy3H9niy7YUUZoI7rmsGuH7uxqMIrpIr7M5X-D4bzPD-4

I heard in the Travelwatch South West seminar yesterday (Friday 8 May) about the recent Transport Focus survey (https://d3cez36w5wymxj.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/06224359/Travel-during-Covid-19-survey.pdf ) , respondents said 74% of people in the South West don't want to return to public transport post the lockdown for Cronavirus. However, given this nationwide survey only polls 2000 people I would expect the breakdown of the numbers of the South West (ideally broken down further to WECA, Somerset, Wiltshire) who use public transport as a "commuter" pre 930am  (ie workers, school kids etc) form of transport would be quite small (be interesting to know if the figures would have been statistically significant....). This is when public transport I would envisage would be the most heavily used / most profitable for transport operators. The survey says before the outbreak 43% nationally used any public transport at least a few times per month and 80% used a car. The survey also says only 24% of people outside London used a bus (17% for train) a few times per month before restrictions on lockdown for the Cornavirus.

I understand the importance regarding the bigger picture of combining rail and bus (and other forms of travel) but from my experience of commuting around Wiltshire, Somerset, BANES I have seen the different socio demographics on rail and bus networks. So would argue due to the socio demographics the response to Coronavirus maybe would be different for train and bus commuters (including school kids).  (You may have seen my post asking for socio demographic travel stats for the area to back up my thoughts and experience...am sure the larger transport operators would have their own market research containing information on socio demographics for the South West...) but don't think they would be easily available so have decided to do this post...). So am I right in assuming train travellers would often have access to a car (as more likely to drive to the train station than catch the bus) so would be more likely to drive to work post lockdown (and only catch the train if saves money and time) than people who catch the bus. I am also assuming from my experience bus passengers are often from a poorer socio demographic background which is reflected in the cost of train being a more expensive mode of travel to bus in most cases during peak travel. My comments below specifically focus on bus as that is where my most of my recent experiences are...

My experience of commuting and travelling by bus to BANES, Somerset & Wiltshire suggests most of the commuter bus passengers (including school kids) probably don't have too much option but to use the bus so will continue to use the bus after Coronavirus. Most are lower paid retail / leisure / factory /office workers, school / college / university students, none of whom probably don't have the use of a car (not everyone can afford a car, don’t live in multi car households or their parents can't take them to school / college / university as they work and haven’t the the time). These people because of their occupation or when at school/college are more likely come into contact with a greater pool of people thus avoiding public transport wouldn’t really significantly mitigate the risk of catching the virus.

Other options to bus travel such as cycling or walking for rural villages mean distances are too great for commuting daily by such means e.g from Frome to Bath, Wells to Bristol, Melksham to Bath (or beyond). The local hilly terrain doesn’t make cycling a viable proposition for many.

I would see the biggest “threat” to public transport shift being remote working/home working by office workers. Potentially the greatest behavioural change affecting public transport will be in cities such as Bristol, London and other large cities where home working has been tested and shown to work during the lockdown. Previously many weren’t allowed people to work from home but now it’s been shown to be possible and given high rents for office space companies might opt to move to smaller premises with a high proportion of work being done remotely. This would save significant costs for businesses but mean bus operators would lose a worrying proportion of full fare paying bus passengers.

Maybe the biggest change post Coronavirus could be a decline in car use as more office workers who’ve driven to work switch to working from home more often. Given the option of working from home rather than in an office where you could be potentially exposed to Coronavirus who wouldn't work from home! This would have the benefit of freeing up more of the roads during the rush hour for buses!

But currently no one can be sure how this is going to pan out once the lockdown is eased …

Wonder what everyone’s thought on this?
9  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Socio-demographics statistics on bus and train travellers in the South West on: May 08, 2020, 07:42:13 pm
Does anyone know of any sources / have any information on socio demographic statistics on bus and train travellers (ideally commuters or people who use services to 930am) in the South West? I want to look at social demographic differences between bus and train commuters in the South West (or a smaller geographical area) as I wonder if this will effect their response to travelling on public transport post the lockdown when restrictions are lifted...

10  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Somerset Transport Campaigners - help needed on: February 24, 2020, 07:14:13 pm
SURVEY NEEDS TO BE SUBMITTED THIS TUESDAY / TOMORROW!!!

Surprising how little focus is given to public transport in the Somerset CLIMATE EMERGENCY questionnaire.
Especially so as even Somerset in their briefing admits:

"The majority of emissions in Somerset derive from the transport sector – 46.7%, compared to 29.5% from industry and 23.8% from the domestic sector."

Bus usage has fallen dramatically in Somerset over the past 10 years as bus services have been starved of funding.

When completing the Somerset CLIMATE EMERGENCY survey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Somerset-Climate-Change-Survey-2019?fbclid=IwAR3kgARBnc8SEfQ8CaUnGN-Tv1ck1V2GUXY_FMKaiiEhxGYi3RFMoS6pQr8

We need to stress how far greater use of public transport and the requisite financial support from SCC for public transport (especially buses) would make a huge contribution in reducing Somerset's carbon footprint.

Survey needs completing before Feb 25
11  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Somerset Climate Emergency - info on transport ideas needed on: February 14, 2020, 06:53:55 am
Are you aware of the Somerset Climate Emergency and consultation?

They have produced a framework document (see below on this).

Given that transport is the biggest polluter of Co2 and Greenhouse gases,Somerset County Council is doing very little to focus it's efforts to tackle transport. The section on public transport is very poor. Has anyone get any ideas to put forward? Appreciate your thoughts.

More information about the climate emergency consultation and event.

Mendip District Council has organised a Climate Emergency drop-in event (10:00-16:00) on Saturday 15 February at Mendip District Council.

The address is : the Council Chamber, Mendip District Council Offices, Cannards Grave Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BT.

For more information: https://www.somerset.gov.uk/waste-planning-and-land/climate-emergency/

Read the framework document: https://wwwmedia.somerset.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Somerset-Climate-Emergency-Framework-Final.pdf

A few of us are going to the event tomorrow / Saturday. If you have any suggestions on this please let me know and I can add them to the list of things to put forward.
12  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Buses v car and CO2 emissions on: January 12, 2020, 09:35:46 am
I recently revived the below message from a former First Bus driver. Can I have your thoughts on the validity of it? I was wondering if we could use it as part of a article in a local newspaper / on social media but need to be sure it is correct.

Also any advice on what the arguments against it would be (e.g buses often run empty one way after the bus is full going the other way etc)....

Here is some number crunching to show how much of a positive impact to air pollution that could be achieved if more people traveled to Bath by bus.

Most cars travelling to Bath only contains 1 person the driver

The average emissions produced by each car based on new cars produced in 2015 is 122.1g/km of CO2 (the real figure would be much higher if you include Baths bumper to bumper traffic)

A single deck Volvo B7 bus like the ones used on the D2 produces an average of 1406g/km of CO2

Now if you filled that Volvo B7 bus with all them car drivers including standing, the bus will carry over 70 people meaning per person the bus would only produce 20g/km 1/6th of the emissions compared to a car and that 1 bus would remove 7.1kg/km of CO2 which also takes into account the buses emissions too.

Now stick with me here 😂

Just 4 single deck Volvo B7 buses full of single passenger car drivers would remove 280 single passenger cars which if lined up and being generous here and giving them a 2mtr gap between them would fill the London Road from the Batheaston Bypass roundabout to the traffic lights onto Bathwick St that's 1 mile of cars!

It would also remove a total of 24.4kg/km of CO2 which includes taking into account the 4 buses would produce 5.6kg/km.

Now imagine what the figure would be if every car was removed from city centres around the country and everyone used public transport to travel into the centre instead whether from home or using a P&R

Cleaner air, cheaper fares and a more reliable service due to less traffic on the roads into the city!
13  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / How to encourage people to ditch the car for other methods of transport on: January 01, 2020, 10:27:26 am
Natural England & the Environment Agency have warned 2020 will be "the last chance" to tackle climate change.

Zero progress has been made in reducing climate-harming emissions from the UK’s most polluting sector, according to new government figures. In 2017 levels of greenhouse gases from cars and other forms of transport did not fall at all. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/transport-pollution-greenhouse-gas-emissions-cars-climate-change-global-warming-a8763961.html

How can we encourage and get people to use non car transport more such as trains, buses, bikes or walk thus reducing their carbon footprint?

I was thinking how we can specifically target commuters as many of them near me over 95% of them travel to work with only 1 person in the car. Plus the pollution is always worse at rush hour. I am hoping to do some surveys this year to monitor this and get a percentage....
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