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Author Topic: Buses to the station - aspiration for Westbury  (Read 299 times)
grahame
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« on: May 12, 2020, 07:34:28 am »

"How many people use [Westbury] Station each day?" - a question to me a few days back by the team looking at their next neighbourhood plan, investigating the possibility / practicality of a bus service to the station, where a bus (at present normal) only calls four time per a day, and that's on a rural route rather than anything the serves the town and its residential areas.

My questioner tells of asking the major train operator at the station ... who referred him to National Rail ... who referred him to Network Rail ... who referred him back to the major train operator at the station.  "Surely someone has this data" muses my questioner. And adds "and which of them is responsible for buses to the station", where questions to various organisations have been met by "not us, Guv" answers.  Excellent questions, though.

The correct start for looking at the aspiration of "bus to the station" includes, but is not limited to studying "what is there now and how is it used" ... and I have started by playing with data and personal knowledge to estimate numbers.  My data is mostly from rail sources - other data from town sources would be welcome

Passengers using Westbury Station

Source of numbers

- try the Office of Rail and Road which is an offshoot of the Department for Transport who publish annual ticketed journey estimates for every station. Data at https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/statistics/usage/estimates-of-station-usage .  I have formatted data for Westbury and the next station in each direction at http://www.passenger.chat/WSBTROPEWDMHFRO.html from the ORR data. You can see the time series including past years at http://www.passenger.chat/smr/WSB.html (which also gives fare lookup and real time train running links.  Note that the ORR is based on ticket sales and will not include staff travel or ticketless travel which (in patches) is a significant problem.

- Also ask about Lennon, Moira and Orcats data from industry sources. These may well be commercial in confidence and on restricted circulation - however data is there about the most sold journeys if you want to know where people go.   Time of day data may be present in some but not all of these stats.

- Also ask your local transport authority (Wiltshire Council) and Community Rail Partnerships (Severnside, Heart of Wessex and TransWilts) if they have any survey data.  This may provide other vital data such as how people got to the station and where their "final mile" origin is, time of day travelled, purpose of journey, etc, which will help inform your analysis of potential bus rides, but based on present journeys and NOT potential ones by people who whom getting to the station is so difficult they don't do it.

OK - so you have the raw annual numbers. 

How are the journeys spread out through the day and week

A corollary question ... 548720 ticketed passengers in a year is not 1500 every day, and certainly not 62 every hour of whom 31 arrive and 31 leave.

Splitting this down with the data I have at hand comes with a strong element of educated guesses based on other data, bearing in mind that Westbury, while it is (of course) unique has similar lifestyle patterns to other towns. To inform my understanding:

i.  Westbury has some tourist draws which may be seasonal. I believe there's a White Horse, a Victorian Swimming Pool, listed buildings, a priory, a country park and it's a trainspotter's Mecca. However, personal observation suggest that such seasonal traffic is only a tiny proportion of the traffic and if we work out our numbers based on splitting 550,000 into 50 weeks - 11,000 journeys per week, we won't be far out.  The two extra weeks allow for lower numbers from 21st December to 7th January / the Christmas fortnight and also Easter and other Bank Holiday traffic drops.  11,000 ain't going to be far out for a typical week.

ii. Most traffic is commuter, but there is substantial weekend leisure traffic. Fridays and (to a lesser extent) Mondays are a bit quieter than middle of the week days now - so let's divide the 11,000 into 15% on Monday, 16% on each of Tuesday to Thursday, 14% on Friday, 12% on Saturday and 11% on Sunday. Even if I'm a bit out with those numbers , they're unlikely to be more than 1% out.   This is certainly not like the 23:20 Bath to Melksham bus with less than 10 people on a Tuesday and 60 on a Summer Friday or Saturday.  So that gives us 1760 ticketed journeys on a typical midweek day

iii. Under normal circumstances, I would expect arriving numbers and departing numbers in a day to be roughly the same - especially during the week. So that's 880 arrivals and 880 departures.

iv. How are passengers spread through the day.   Two graphics to help us:

Very old, but gives an idea

Current, but Transport for London rather than Network Rail
Both graphics are showing passenger numbers during peak times at about three times the level of passenger numbers between the peaks. How wide the peaks are, and how long the evening "tail" is, will make a significant difference to the answer to the ultimate questions of "how many people enter Westbury station each hour" and "how many people exit Westbury station each hour".   Here is my guess from the graphic and observation (hourly, starting 06:00 to 07:00):
8x + 15x + 12x + 8x + 6x + 4x + 4x + 4x + 4x + 7x + 8x + 12x + 15x + 8x + 4x + 3x + 4x
(where x takes the value 14).  Now guestimating those into departing and arriving passengers
7x + 13x + 11x + 6x + 4x + 3x + 3x + 2x + 2x + 2x + 2x +  2x +  2x + 2x + 1x + 0x + 1x - station entrances
1x +  2x +  1x + 2x + 2x + 1x + 1x + 2x + 2x + 5x + 6x + 10x  +13x + 6x + 3x + 3x + 3x - station exits
which works out at 182 passengers in each direction in the busiest hour; do note that with many hours there will be changes across the hour - for example fewer returnees between 17:00 and 17:30 than 17:30 to 18:00

How are those people getting to the station?

Westbury Station Car Park has 420 spaces; expanded recently and said to be full already after the morning peak.  It is, however, very sparse overnight.  Of the 518 people entering the station before 10 a.m. on my estimate, it would be not unreasonable to suggest that two thirds (342) might be car divers parking for the day.  Which leaves 176 (of whom 61 are in the busiest hour NOT driving themselves to the station.  Lets play a bit more with that.

In the busiest hour (7 to 8 a.m.), perhaps
120 drive themselves to the station
20 walk
15 get a lift to the station (2nd person in parking car)
8 are dropped off
7 arrive at the station on a bicycle
4 arrive at the station by taxi
2 arrive at the road end by bus

APCOA may well have data on the pattern of cars arriving at and leaving the car park

Where are they coming from

This is where you really need a survey to find out. Impractical at the moment - not only with distancing rules, but also with changed travel patterns.

There are general catchment rules - walking within x kms and cycling with y kms - or something more sophisticated as you'll see at https://www.witpress.com/Secure/elibrary/papers/UT08/UT08017FU1.pdf .  Where circles from two stations overlap, you may have an extra complication - and Dilton Marsh and Westbury stations have overlapping catchments.  Because services at Dilton Marsh are awful compared to those at Westbury and all Dilton Marsh services also call at Westbury, the effect of the overlap on Westbury is minimal.

Data may be available from Wiltshire Council (sustainable transport) and the Community Rail Partnerships from their surveys if any, but may be not down to the last two letters of the postcode.   I would be pretty sure that work was done before the recent extension or car parking at Westbury station to find out where people were driving from and where they might want to drive from.   The White Horse News on 9th April last year carried a picture of the extension being opened - "Back row l-r: Robert Brown Friends of Westbury Station, James Wilcox GWR, Byrony Chetwode TravelWatch SouthWest, Dan Okey GWR, Ian Awcock Awcock Ward Partnership, Simon Gledhill GWR, Tom Vaughan-Jones Square Bay, Stephen Shaw from Alium Group. Front row l-r: Rosemary Buchan Friends of Westbury Station, Matthew Golton GWR, Cllr Horace Prickett Wiltshire Council, Paul Johnson TransWilts Community Rail Partnership, Andrew Payne Allium Group." and there are some of that group who's teams / staff will have known a lot more about the effect of extending the car park before they signed off on it.

Who is responsible for buses?

Businesses ("Bus Companies") can run bus services where and when they wish, registered / changed with the Transport Commissioner at 70 days notice. Lots of rules and regulations on safety. Although described as commercial, services can claim support through BSOG - https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bus-services-grants-and-funding , and are required to accept ENCTS cards if their services carry local passengers for which they get payments designed to cover costs through the local transport authority - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_National_Concessionary_Travel_Scheme .

Once commercial services are 'set', the LTA works out what else they feel is socially necessary in addition, and can buy in additional services. Rules are that they must not compete with commercial services.

There is a recent requirement to provide open bus data. No requirement on common timetables or ticketing - in fact commercial competition is encouraged. Personal view is that competition often works against a planned, stable network, especially away from major urban flows.

There is no primary business requirement on anyone to provide buses to stations, though there are schemes to encourage it.

Separate study / writeup on "buses to stations - the metrics" to follow?

What for the future

Growth of Westbury
- more houses
- more businesses
- more leisure attractions

Changes in train services / Aspirations
- London every hour rather than every 2 hour
- MetroWest from Bristol - up to 2 per hour
- Much improved to Frome, Yeovil and Weymouth
- Hourly to Swindon
- Hourly local to Southampton

Wider changes
- movement towards working from home
- current movement from public to private transport
- future movement to public not private transport
- movement to shift work and staggered travel
- switch from franchise to other model
- how will buses be specified  / financed

What do you want a bus to the station to do, and how do you think it should be achieved??

This is "Chapter 2".  All the stuff above is Chapter 1 - setting out the current status and looking forward to changes which are on the horizon and set the environment under which any buses would run
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2020, 07:47:06 am »

Would the DfT Journey Time Statistics be of any use. JTS508 is the journey time from LSOAs to Town Centres, provides times for Public Transport/Walk, Cycle and car.
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2020, 10:55:24 am »

Would the DfT Journey Time Statistics be of any use. JTS508 is the journey time from LSOAs to Town Centres, provides times for Public Transport/Walk, Cycle and car.


Maybe ... huge topic.   I could spend an awful lot of time on this ... I have just written up some notes of things for the people looking at this idea to consider.   I was minded to detail them, but I suspect that a starter overview will suffice to start conversations.  It can be done, but there's a lot to think about!

So you wonder about a bus service to your station ... here are 22 things to consider:
* At what times will it run?
* What will connect and how will you ensure good connections?
* Where will it run to and from?
* Who's going to run it?
* Who's going to pay set up costs (capital)?
* Who's going to pay for it once set up (revenue)?
* Who's going to subsidise it as it builds up and take the financial risk if it fails?
* Who's going to champion it?
* Who's going to market it?
* Who's it aimed at?
* Who's going to use it?
* Are there exiting buses that can be diverted / retimed?
* Will it be guaranteed, or be liable to be withdrawn at short notice?
* Will the street furniture be sufficient?
* Is it going to abstract passengers from other transport / businesses?
* How big a difference is it going to make to people - i.e. would they travel anyway even if not there?
* If subsidised, how do you avoid it competing with commercial services?
* Will it deal with both ends of the day?
* Will trains or buses wait if an incoming service is delayed?
* Who will take responsibility if a connection misses?
* Will there be through ticketing?
* Will it be "turn up and ride", "dial a ride", "prebooked only"?

There are likely to be excellent answers to many of those questions, but I would suggest anyone looking at a bus service to the station considers each of them ... and each of them is worthy of a significant look not just a one-liner.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2020, 11:04:00 am by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2020, 03:41:58 pm »

Whoever originally asked Graham the question really did not expect the answer would be quite so complex. But of course it is - until some realistic form of integrated transport is introduced without the dominant commercial element existing in (ex-London) bus services.

I must say I have never caught a bus to Westbury Station. Mainly because there was never a useful one at the relevant time. If my memory is correct there have been additional services at the station in the past, possibly including a previous version of the First Bus D1 and also Frome Minibuses. These have not survived due to commercial pressures and probable lack of demand with a ?thin service.

The D1 currently serves the end of the entrance road (and Westbury town centre) which would be reasonable for some but not for the infirm of those with heavier luggage. So the simplest quick fix is to divert the D1 which may be easier now with more space. However, one can also hear First say that we have tried it before and it is not viable in the present financial climate.

So the proponents of a "new" service need to answer all Graham's points and determine a route/catchment where this market would be generated. I guess we know the likely answer to all this? 

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rogerw
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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2020, 05:22:03 pm »

The biggest problem with diverting the D1 into the station is the very acute angle of the turn out to the left. Difficult in a car but probably almost impossible with a bus. rail replacement buses always head towards the town centre from the station
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2020, 05:56:20 pm »

Whoever originally asked Graham the question really did not expect the answer would be quite so complex. But of course it is - until some realistic form of integrated transport is introduced without the dominant commercial element existing in (ex-London) bus services.

Indeed.  But there is sufficient weight behind the question for it to be worth investing some time in answering it, specifically for Westbury as well as in the form of a "you always need to ask" case study.

Quote
So the proponents of a "new" service need to answer all Graham's points and determine a route/catchment where this market would be generated. I guess we know the likely answer to all this? 

For all my gallons of what looks like complexity and cold water, there are elements at Westbury where it just might work. I am intentionally leaving off specific suggestions / proposals here - I have just dealt with facts of current setup, and questions that would need to be addressed.



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« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2020, 12:24:19 pm »

Rogers' point about the turning exit is very valid. However, if someone really wanted to make this work, the bus simply turns right on exiting the station and proceeds towards the first suitable roundabout nearer Westbury before returning north. Several suitable examples available but no doubt in the "too difficult" box.
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