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Author Topic: Providing public transport as soon as people move in to new houses  (Read 3199 times)
grahame
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« on: July 05, 2019, 05:17:39 am »

Buses should start service new areas of housing from the day the first family moves in, even if they're carrying fresh air at first. That way, new housing becomes a part of the network from the beginning, attracting new residents who make good use of public transport.  It saves new residents the need to go out and buy second cars.  It allows education, jobs and leisure to be reached over a wide(r) area by those who can't afford a car - leaving them with more income to give them a better quality of other aspects of life.  By running the buses early through new streets, it avoids the development of a culture of street parking that later prevents regular bus services getting through.

So - I am delighted to see new bus stops appearing on Pathfinder Way in Melksham, even as the construction of the first houses proceeds.  And there are already 3 buses an hour to Melksham Town Centre and 1 bus an hour to Devizes from those bus stops.  There may be elements of an accident in things working out this way as the services are already running to serve the Bowerhill area, but this is a happy accident.

The planning application for these houses mentioned the provision of bus services as a positive point, so the developers are fully aware of the buses, and their presence on the road passing the estate can be nothing but a positive as they come to sell the properties.  Mum and Dad may each have a car, but son and daughter will want to go out to meet their friends, and even Mum and Dad will find it far less hassle to leave the car at home when they want to go shopping in Bath.

As a local community and with the local councils and bus companies, what can we do to encourage the early adoption of bus travel from these new stops?





Specific questions in this case to make it even better.  All the pieces might be available ...
1. Can we advertise local Melksham fares into the town available on either operator's service
2. Can the buses be included in a welcome pack?  Would either / both companies care to help with a promotion
3. Can Melksham Without Council help oil the wheels to
4. Can the town bus (15, Berryfield services) also come around here and serve the station too.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 05:23:11 am by grahame » Logged

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broadgage
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2019, 03:10:24 pm »

Perhaps a free annual bus pass, for the first year only, could be supplied as a free gift with each new house ?

It would IMHO be acceptable to fund this partly out of public money in order to encourage greater use of public transport.
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2019, 04:02:23 pm »

Perhaps a free annual bus pass, for the first year only, could be supplied as a free gift with each new house ?

It would IMHO be acceptable to fund this partly out of public money in order to encourage greater use of public transport.
Odd you say that.
When the 'new' estate was being built (and more properties being constructed) near the Tregurra Park and Ride in Truro, each property came with a year free travel pass on the P&R.  Part of the deal between Duchy Estates, the builders and the Council we believe.
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Reading General
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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2019, 07:06:29 pm »

There are quite a few deals done with developers and councils with new builds nowadays. A developer might subsidise a service for a year or two. An estate was built in Spencer's Wood south of Reading and the developer made up the difference, for the first year I believe, to a new bus service there. Sadly the estate wasn't quite built with bus use in mind with a meandering road through and a reverse turn required and , at the time I last drove it at the end of last year, no way out the other end for the route to continue to the village of Spencer's Wood. Nobody likes a doubling back bus service. A nice try but token and poor planning all round.

With modern commercial public transport you can end up with a subsidised bus running to somewhere with low use, at the same time as a poor service in a busy area with a traditional non subsidised long established route. All bus companies, Reading Buses included nowadays, would rather run bus routes that are subsidised or paid up front regardless of who travels, than run standard commercial routes. RB have even reduced frequencies on established routes to cover contract type routes, you can't blame them, it's a profit making business not a transport service.

It is quite right to plan and begin transport before development is finished to break the habit of the motor car being the convenient option from the beginning. However, attention must be paid to how it will work from the start. It is time to take public transport route planning out of bus operators hands and put it at the top of the list, rather than the developer contribution to something token, the developer must include it.

Services to new areas can be successful from the start before development is finished if the service is an extension of an already established one or a reasonably quick diversion
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2019, 09:52:24 pm »

The trouble is there are all manner of conflicting problems that have built up over the last 60-odd years, and even some of the older ones that still haven't gone away.

When I read Graham's initial post I started by looking at the bus services available in Melksham, and was not really surprised to find that the pattern is mirrored elsewhere in small and middle-sized market towns. The town bus services generally only operate between the school contract runs (Melksham is in fact slightly better off in this respect than Chippenham because they do have some town services until 1800 - ours stop between 1600 and 1700. These buses generally run at a lower frequency on Saturdays and finish earlier. As in Chippenham, you will not find a town service bus on the road on Sundays or Bank holidays.

On the inter-town services, the X34 towards Trowbridge and Chippenham gives up the ghost at about 1800, and the Bath - Melksham - Devizes service runs increasingly less frequently as the evening progresses. The Saturday services tend to be less frequent than on weekdays and, just like Chippenham again, the Sunday service could best be described as a joke. Once again Melksham is a little better off than Chippenham in this respect because all we have is Stagecoach running a half-hourly service to Calne, Wootton Bassett and Swindon, and First providing a subsidised two-hourly service to Corsham and Bath. If you want to go anywhere else on a Sunday from Chippenham then start walking, oil up the bike or get the car out.

Places like Chippenham and Melksham will never have a bus service to match those available in large urban areas like London, Bristol or even Reading, no matter how much you tinker around the edges getting developers to subsidise travel for the first year or whatever. There are simply not enough bums to go on enough seats to make services commercial viable, and local authorities are not going to increase their subsidies any time soon, even though the tory party leadership candidates seem to have finally found the magic money tree forest that labour have been basing their manifesto plans on since Corbyn were a lad...

Now don't get me wrong - I support initiatives to improve and expand public transport provision, but we must be realistic. The public travel much more in 2019 than they did 50 or 60 years ago, but the sort of travelling that they do is often not the sort of thing that public transport can provide for. All those years go every area in cities and small towns had their own independent shops - most of those have gone. The move from weekly cash wages payments to monthly bank transfer ones has also had an affect - although we read that this trend is now in reverse, many people still do a month's shopping in one go, and its not easy carting that lot home on the bus, especially if you are stocking up the freezer from Iceland!

Outside of the home counties, most people lived close to their place of work, and commuting more than a few miles was almost unheard of. I'd hazard a guess that there are people living in Melksham who are commuting to places like Reading, Swindon, Salisbury and Bristol and, depending on exactly where they have to go, station locations may not be particularly convenient. I also suspect that many commuters may be living in Melksham not through choice in the accepted sense of the word, but because they can't afford a property in the area where they do work (I have a direct example of this - my eldest son worked in Eastleigh for some years, then got a new job in Reading. He couldn't afford the house prices in Reading so he commuted from Eastleigh to Reading for a few more years until he got a job in Stockton-on-Tees, where house prices were definitely not a problem). I suspect that many people who work in Bath may fall into this category.

As I said earlier, I support initiatives to improve and expand public transport provision, but we must be realistic.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2019, 11:29:14 pm »

Many appropriate measures are already in place. Some authorities require "transport packs" or similar to be provided to all first occupants. Essex County Council is an example - the packs typically should comprise timetables, information on "non-private car" modes of transport, walking routes etc and if available bus tickets. This has been standard there for over a decade.

Other authorities ask for transport plans to be submitted, with transport plan coordinators appointed to monitor effectiveness, and a review and revision mechanism. Funds are often paid to highway and transport authorities to subsidise existing or new bus services or their enhancement.

I am not sure how effective all this is though, but it would be interesting to see if anyone has assessed what the long term (5 years plus) results of this initial investment are. I think there is some suspicion that there is an element of transport consultants making work from themselves rather than really achieving the "modal shift" in transport use habits. 

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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2019, 06:08:31 am »

As I said earlier, I support initiatives to improve and expand public transport provision, but we must be realistic.

I totally agree, Robin.   There's very long answer to follow.  The TransWilts constitution when I was involved was written to cover "public transport from to and within Wiltshire" and indeed that was rather more than just words.  There is plenty of scope for initiatives - new ones and re-started ones - that are realistic. But there is also plenty of scope too for the unsustainable, the unaffordable and the fanciful.  The "trick" is to find the wood for the trees, and to convert theory on what should be done into the practise of actually doing it.
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2019, 09:52:18 am »

The obvious case to my mind is Reading Buses who have kept the bus service going to what was Arborfield Garrison after the Army left and while the new "village" is being built. I presume this is being supported in some way by a local council, because RB are very much a commercial organisation.

Another example that interests me is the Isle of Wight. I was there yesterday on the bike. Got to the point where my knees had had enough folded the bike up and get an every 15 minute service from Sandown to Ryde, bit round the houses and a detour via the local superstore but excellent service. (I am always amazed how the haul the double deckers round some of roads and streets.) Now I can't imagine they get too much subsidy from IoW council, don't look for a .gov.uk web site probably gives you a flavour of local government on the island.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2019, 11:11:24 am »

The public travel much more in 2019 than they did 50 or 60 years ago, but the sort of travelling that they do is often not the sort of thing that public transport can provide for. All those years go every area in cities and small towns had their own independent shops - most of those have gone. 

So what determines the sort of travelling that people do?

If we plan areas on the assumption that most people will have easy access to a car, then we come up with something exactly like Bowerhill - lots of culs-de-sac leading to circuitous local roads leading to roundabouts on ring or arterial roads. Local centres consist of lock-up units built around car parks. Perhaps the odd cycle path has been squeezed in, but it looks like a box-ticking afterthought.

From Pathfinder Way to Melksham's (as I now know it to be, rather lovely) Market Place is less than 1.5km - an easy walk or cycle ride for most able-bodied people - but the direct route involves negotiating a massive traffic roundabout at Western Way followed by another at Campion Drive. It's a pretty bleak prospect until you reach Longleaze Drive, where at last the houses start to engage with the road rather than barricade themselves off from it.

I'm not picking on Melksham here - the same planning paradigm is being deployed all over the country. It is hugely dispiriting to have to say it, but I fear the bus stops on Pathfinder Way are like porcine cosmetics.
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grahame
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« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2019, 12:43:18 pm »

The public travel much more in 2019 than they did 50 or 60 years ago, but the sort of travelling that they do is often not the sort of thing that public transport can provide for. All those years go every area in cities and small towns had their own independent shops - most of those have gone. 

So what determines the sort of travelling that people do?

If we plan areas on the assumption that most people will have easy access to a car, then we come up with something exactly like Bowerhill - lots of culs-de-sac leading to circuitous local roads leading to roundabouts on ring or arterial roads. Local centres consist of lock-up units built around car parks. Perhaps the odd cycle path has been squeezed in, but it looks like a box-ticking afterthought.

From Pathfinder Way to Melksham's (as I now know it to be, rather lovely) Market Place is less than 1.5km - an easy walk or cycle ride for most able-bodied people - but the direct route involves negotiating a massive traffic roundabout at Western Way followed by another at Campion Drive. It's a pretty bleak prospect until you reach Longleaze Drive, where at last the houses start to engage with the road rather than barricade themselves off from it.

I'm not picking on Melksham here - the same planning paradigm is being deployed all over the country. It is hugely dispiriting to have to say it, but I fear the bus stops on Pathfinder Way are like porcine cosmetics.


I've lived between Pathfinder Way and Melksham Town Centre for 20 years come this December.   And there is a significant foot traffic from Bowerhill (beyond Pathfinder way) past the new stops and up Spa Road into the town.  Some walk a further 15 to 20 minutes to the station too.    I would not expect lots of bus passengers from the new stops into Melksham - walkable as you say, and not actually were people go. One of the biggest flows out from the Melksham area is into other places in our economic area - and that's places like Bath.  And the buses at the new stops will for the most part have a destination of ... Bath.

"... I fear the bus stops on Pathfinder Way are like porcine cosmetics" .... I would rather suspect they're intended as such - more to tick boxes than be used.   However, they have a peculiarly lined up use and someone (but who could or should it be?) could usefully help people realise they've had a happy accident and provided something that could just be useful, and done so at the right time too!
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« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2019, 12:45:18 pm »

Now I can't imagine they get too much subsidy from IoW council, don't look for a .gov.uk web site probably gives you a flavour of local government on the island.

Why shouldn't I look for https://www.iow.gov.uk/?
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2019, 01:56:39 pm »

Only because I am not up to date. It always used to be www.iow.co.uk. Presumably either MHCLG or the LGA have encouraged them to join everyone else.

Bit like rbfrs.co.uk winds me up for some reason. Or are these organisations ashamed of being funded by the tax payer?
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2019, 05:09:35 pm »

Bit like rbfrs.co.uk winds me up for some reason. Or are these organisations ashamed of being funded by the tax payer?

I suspect ignorance or arrogance, or a manifestation of the Dunning - Kruger effect on the part of whoever set up the domain...

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eightonedee
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« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2019, 07:46:17 pm »

Quote
If we plan areas on the assumption that most people will have easy access to a car

But we no longer do RS for new schemes. National and local policy has been to plan any substantial new development with the aim of ensuring that it can served by public transport from the start of the design process. The "spine road and cul-de-sac" model has not been current practice for over a decade, the lead publication being "Manual for Streets" that came out in 2007. There are (in my view) shortcomings in other respects in current policy and design "fads" that I personally don't think work well, and on the way to Manual for Streets there was a period of "worst of both worlds" when there was neither adequate transport provision nor provision for on-site parking.

I can bore for Britain on the subject - so it I ever make it to a Coffee Shop event I recommend you make your excuses and leave if I start to talk about it!
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grahame
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« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2019, 08:15:36 pm »

I can bore for Britain on the subject - so it I ever make it to a Coffee Shop event I recommend you make your excuses and leave if I start to talk about it!

There are so many things I could easily spend an evening listening to - but rarely enough time.  I rather suspect in this case I might miss the last train ...
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