Operator support for Catch the Bus Week

first_imgWith Catch the Bus Week beginning on Monday (28 April), Greener Journeys and operators have revealed more plans for the Week, which aims to encourage more people to use the bus and promote bus travel’s benefits. .In common with some operators who have already made their plans public, free and discounted travel continues to be popular bait to tempt non-users and irregular passengers.Greener Journeys has also majored on the health benefits of walking to and from bus stops compared to driving, and Minister of State for Transport Baroness Kramer will take part in a photo call on Tuesday (29 April) on one of Transport for London’s silver New Routemasters, promoting the Week in partnership with TfL.Among operators, Crawley-based Metrobus is offering two days’ extra travel free to passengers buying a weekly ticket via its mobile app, while fellow Go-Ahead subsidiary Brighton and Hove is staging a number of competitions to win free travel.Oxford Bus Company has announced that a giveaway at its city centre travel shop will include 50 one-day city zone day tickets, and return journeys on its X90 to London.In Essex and East Anglia, First is offering 20% off a number of weekly tickets, and people in Grimsby will have the chance to win a week’s free travel with Stagecoach by filling in a passenger survey at either of two ‘bus events’ in the town. Pictured is Minister of State for Transport Baroness Kramer – a keen supporter of CTBW.last_img read more

Hazel Grove Park & Ride: A risk worth taking?

first_imgDeveloped in association with Manchester-based transport consultants SCP, the Park & Ride facility has been built on former wasteland at the junction of Buxton Road and Macclesfield Road. The supervised facility includes toilets and a covered waiting area. Safe storage for up to 30 bicycles is part-funded by TfGM.The strategic position of the site adjacent to the existing southern terminus of route 192 is hoped to attracted car drivers and cyclists heading for either Stepping Hill or Stockport town centre… or even Manchester, sparing them the need to negotiate the heavily-congested A6.Chris Bowles says: “This substantial investment by Stagecoach in Greater Manchester’s first bus Park & Ride facility demonstrates our commitment to provide affordable and accessible transport for the region.“The 12m fleet of hybrid electric vehicles (part funded by the DfT in 2013) which will serve the Hazel Grove Park & Ride, will enable our customers to benefit from the latest green technology while they travel to and from one of the most exciting cities in the UK.“In the long term, this Park & Ride will also relieve the region’s roads of an estimated 6,000 cars per month, helping us to significantly reduce the level of carbon emissions in the local area.”However, Mr Bowles is cautious when predicting the speed with which the scheme will generate customers. He says: “We’re realistic. We know it will take time to build up.”A link from Hazel Grove to Manchester Airport is in the pipeline, offering scope for future expansion.Meanwhile Martin Griffith put the initiative firmly within the context of the key role the private sector plays in maximising the transport and economic benefits for Greater Manchester ahead of devolution, adding that the region is also to benefit from smart multi-operator bus ticketing in months as part of a pledge by the country’s major public transport groups.He says: “We are fully behind plans to make Greater Manchester a real economic powerhouse of the north. Transport is central to making that happen and the bus is the most important and accessible form of public transport.“This ground-breaking investment in the country’s first privately-funded bus park-and-ride initiative demonstrates the importance of the private sector in making the government’s devolution plans and Greater Manchester’s aspirations a reality.“We have a shared responsibility to get the most from the nation’s bus network. It connects people with work, health and education, and is crucial to the economic health of the high street. With continued austerity and stretched public funding, the private sector more than ever has to be part of the solution.”Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, says: “I congratulate Stagecoach Manchester on the completion of its long-term aspiration to open a park-and-ride at Hazel Grove. It will complement the previous investment we have made to improve passenger journeys along the A6.“I’m particularly pleased to see the new cycle parking facilities incorporated and hope that it will encourage more people to consider cycling for part of their journey.Linking different modes of travel together like this helps to build an integrated transport network which will make it easier for people to travel into and around Greater Manchester.”Although not present at the official opening, Buses Minister Andrew Jones endorsed the initiative, saying: “I applaud Stagecoach Manchester for investing in this bus park-and-ride scheme, which will make it easier for people travelling to Manchester to get to work, do their shopping and visit friends and family.“This facility will link communities and the cleaner, greener buses will also help improve air quality by reducing traffic congestion in surrounding areas, and encouraging people to take public transport rather than driving their cars into town centres.”Since 1996, the number of high frequency bus services operated by Stagecoach Manchester has doubled, with the company investing an average of 5m a year in new buses alone for the region. Manchester has the greenest bus fleet of any major city in the UK outside London, with Stagecoach Manchester alone operating 128 hybrid electric vehicles.Stagecoach Manchester provides weekly unlimited bus travel for 13.50. It also offers the UK’s first nationwide discounted bus travel initiative for jobseekers, providing half-price travel to help them find employment. The scheme is funded commercially without any public sector support.Alongside the Park & Ride launch, Stagecoach Manchester also joined forces with sustainable transport group Greener Journeys to promote the benefits of bus use through the third annual ‘Catch the Bus Week’.The campaign, which took place from 29 June – 5 July, aimed to drive awareness of the benefits of taking the bus and encourage local people to make the switch from the car that week. As of last Thursday (2 July) Stagecoach Manchester became the first UK bus operator to open a commercial park-and-ride site.Located on the A6 on the southern edge of Greater Manchester, Hazel Grove Park & Ride is also the first to serve the conurbation, and its significance was underlined by the guest list at the official launch.In addition to Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Martin Griffith, Managing Director Bob Montgomery and Stagecoach Manchester Managing Director Chris Bowles, there was also a strong representation of local dignitaries from Stockport Council and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).As such it attracted widespread local and national media interest. And, Stagecoach used an unlikely ally to remind the guests that here was a bus operator prepared to take the financial risk in the shape of a 3m investment in the new facility and 13m worth of ADL Enviro400 hybrid buses equipped with free Wi-Fi.The obligatory speeches and plaque unveiling were followed by Chris Bowles and Stockport Deputy Mayor June Somekh burying a time capsule filled with Stockport memorabilia from local schools and community groups.Next the guests boarded one of the Enviro400 hybrids (E400H). However, there was an additional passenger in the shape of top-ranking locally-based comedian Justin Moorhouse.As the tour of the A6 between Hazel Grove and Stockport began, it soon became clear that Mr Moorhouse had been hired to not only add his own distinctive brand of humour to an otherwise serious event, but to also reinforce the importance of Stagecoach Manchester’s initiative.Even before the E400H’s driver engaged drive Mr Moorhouse was definitely on-message, noting with some authority that the Park & Ride is served by high-profile route 192, which is the most intensive bus service outside London, linking Hazel Grove with Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport and Manchester.With microphone in hand he acted as guide, blending local knowledge with gags such as “to your right you will see Stockport Cemetery where the inventor of the crossword is buried… five down, two across”, adding at appropriate points along the route the following facts about the new Park & Ride facility:It is a 3m investmentThere are 455 spaces for carsIt is served by a 12m fleet of hybrid electric busesThe aim is to remove 6,000 car journeys a month from the region’s roads.last_img read more

Long live The Queens Ferry…

first_imgThe Kings Ferry becomes The Queens Ferry for one week onlyKent operator marks HM The Queen’s 90th birthday with temporary rebrandingGillingham-based The Kings Ferry is changing its name to The Queens Ferry, for this week only, in honour of HM The Queen’s 90th birthday on Sunday (12 June).The operator’s 40-strong fleet of coaches used on commuter work into London will bear the new name on their destination blinds, and one Irizar i6 integral has received new vinyl fleetnames. The company’s website will also be changed to recognise the temporary rebranding.Managing Director Ian Fraser says: “All our drivers and staff join the nation in expressing our very warmest wishes for The Queen’s 90th birthday. June 12 is a monumental milestone in Her Majesty’s reign and we are thrilled to play our part in marking it.”last_img read more

Europe’s biggest bus and coach show launched

first_imgEstablished as a leading international trade fair for the bus and coach industry in 2018, Euro Bus Expo returns on 30 October – 1 November 2018, at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham.Visitor registration for the free-to-attend event is now open at www.eurobusxpo.comThe three-day biennial free-to-attend bus, coach and minibus trade show is Europe’s biggest in 2018.The show organisers are expecting to welcome over 9,000 industry buyers and decision makers from across Europe.Already, eight months out from the show open date, 91% of exhibition space has been sold, with almost 300 exhibitors booked.Many are planning to use the show to publicly launch their new products.Alongside the exhibition, a full seminar programme in the Master Class Theatre will be a major draw, with top speakers.Major vehicle manufacturers and dealers already booked include: Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), Arriva, BASE, EVM, EvoBus, Irizar, MAN, Minis to Midis, Moseley, Optare, Scania, Unvi, Van Hool, VDL, Volvo, Wrights Group and Yutong.Among the companies exhibiting at Euro Bus Expo for the first time are: Ceramex, Five Bars Mobile, Henkel, Herbert Kneitz/ Boyriven, Reacton Fire Suppression, Streamax Technology, The Tyre Equipment Company, Travel by Knight, Ultrafabrics Europe and Viriciti. Exhibitors in the Technology Zone will showcase the latest software solutions, the latest IT equipment, mobile technology, onboard wi-Fi, ticketing systems, revenue collection services.The Master Class Theatre will return again with seminars and keynotes from leading industry figures where you will gain in-depth knowledge on the latest hot topics.The miniplus Area, hosted by leading trade title miniplus, is dedicated solely to operators of small- and medium-sized passenger carrying vehicles.It will bring together exhibitors in the small vehicle sector to demonstrate the latest equipment and supplies available in this growing sector of the market.Suppliers will display purpose-built vehicles fitted with modern accessible aids including step-free design, wheelchair lifts, seats and other safety items, along with showcasing conversion services for those buyers with bespoke requirements.Britain’s coach and bus trade body, the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) is once again the show partner.Says Event Director Helen Conway: “Euro Bus Expo 2018 is off to a flying start and the show is on track to sell-out well before the autumn.“We’ve received tremendous support from across the industry and it’s clear that Euro Bus Expo is seen as a key event for 2018.“Along with CPT we remain committed to delivering a quality show over three days which our audience can be proud of.” The show is co-located alongside the UK’s largest coach, bus, and minibus operator excellence awards.The prestigious black-tie routeone Awards takes place, welcoming 800 guests, in the evening of 31 October at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole’s banqueting suite, on the NEC site.Further information:Visit: Show website – www.eurobusxpo.comrouteone Awards website – www.routeoneawards.comlast_img read more

Reading Buses partners with tech firm CitySwifter

first_imgReading Buses has announced its partnership with CitySwifter – an award-winning data analytics company.The project will focus on using advanced business intelligence to improve demand forecasting and schedule optimisation, giving Reading Buses the tools and insights to deliver more reliable and efficient bus networks for their passengers.Reading Buses CEO Martijn Gilbert says: “We’re moving into an exciting new world where the public transport profession is really starting to understand the power of its data, something we’re collecting more and more of.“Alongside this we’re seeing a notable increase in both computer processing capability and a growing enthusiasm of the startup and developer community to work in the transport and wider mobility space.“The work of CitySwifter is right at the heart of this and is, in my opinion, one of the first credible signs of us being able to do something that will truly help revolutionise bus networks in a digital world.”Adds CitySwifter CEO, Brian O’Rourke (pictured, right): “We are delighted to have Reading Buses on board. The team is a great example of innovative leadership within the UK bus industry.“It is essential for bus operators to begin embracing the technology necessary to ensure they can provide passengers with the best public transport system possible. We are passionate that the bus is key in solving the smart cities and urban transport puzzle.“This partnership with Reading Buses is an exciting step toward empowering the traditional bus to thrive in a data driven world.”www.cityswifter.comlast_img read more

Entry-spec Daily Start gets ahead with Fishwick

first_imgEntry-level Iveco Daily Start has gone first to dealership David FishwickDealership David Fishwick has become the first supplier in the UK to take delivery of an Iveco Daily Start, the newest addition to the manufacturer’s minibus range, in the form of a demonstrator.The 6m-long Daily Start is an entry-level model. It seats up to 16 passengers, with potential for wheelchair access in some configurations. It is powered by the 3.0-litre F1C engine and the eight-speed Hi-Matic automatic gearbox may be specified.Access is via a manual side-sliding door with a retractable step. To enhance the Daily Start’s versatility, options include CCTV, a reversing camera and USB charging points. Additionally, the side door can be powered.“The Daily Start’s functional configuration offers fleets the opportunity to make their operations even more profitable,” says Iveco Bus UK Product Manager Abdi Ali.“We’ve designed the Daily Start to be highly-competitive within its class, and we are experiencing strong demand – particularly from fleets that carry a lot of passengers over short journeys, where our higher-specification vehicles aren’t necessary.”The standard specification includes a DAB radio, parking sensors and saloon air-conditioning, among other items. Fishwick is offering the Daily Start from £43,350 plus VAT and support is another plus, says Dealer Principal Mark Barlow.“The Daily Start offers excellent value for money, thanks to Iveco’s pedigree in the minicoach and minibus market plus its 24/7 aftersales and maintenance support, which is second to none. With this new vehicle, operators can be confident of a long service life, even for high-mileage applications.”last_img read more

TC cuts ASA Travel O-Licence by a third for 21 days

first_imgASA Travel has had its O-Licence cut after poor MoT record and concerns over drivers’ hoursA failure to improve a poor annual test record has led to the 15-vehicle O-Licence held by Birmingham-based ASA Travel being cut to 10 vehicles for 21 days by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Nick Denton.The company had been called before the TC because of concerns over vehicle maintenance, drivers’ hours offences and the use of an unauthorised operating centre.At the outset the TC said that he felt that there had been insufficient improvement since the company had had a meeting with the Traffic Area’s Senior Team Leader in January 2019. There was a very high MoT failure rate, a number of prohibitions and drivers’ hours offences.Vehicle Examiner (VE) Gary Hollis said that during a maintenance investigation he had concerns about the use of an unauthorised operating centre and the very poor MoT failure rate which had deteriorated since a visit by another VE 12 months previously.Asked about the use of the unauthorised operating centre, Director Arshad Hussain said the company had been asked to move by the landlord of its authorised centre in December 2018. The intention was that it should only be a temporary move. Unfortunately, he had an accident in January 2019. He was hospitalised and it took him six months to recover. The business was subsequently told that it was unable to return to the original centre. He accepted he had made a mistake in not seeking authority for the move sooner.The TC commented that a letter from the landlord of the original site made it plain that it was never meant to be a temporary move. He noticed from photographs produced that the legal lettering on the vehicles was the address of the original site.After Jim Marsh, for the company, had said that that was because the new operating centre had only just been granted, the TC pointed out that the legal lettering ought to be the company’s registered address rather than its operating centre.He said that of the 14 annual tests since January 2019, there had been nine first time passes and four outright failures. There was quite an extensive list of failure items, yet the PMI records did not show many defects.Mr Hussain said that he had done most of the pre-MoT work, but he had been off work for two months. He agreed that he had wrongly been counting the annual test as a PMI.Mr Marsh said that the company was seeking to find a reliable maintenance provider. It was also seeking to find an operating centre where it could have its own workshop as its external Transport Manager (TM) Mohammed Farooq was a qualified mechanic. The drivers’ hours rest offences had occurred with two drivers who had done both school contracts and private hire work.Mr Hussain said that it had been his mistake as he had scheduled them to work at the weekend when they should have been taking a full weekly rest.Undertakings were given that Mr Hussain would attend a one-day PSV O-Licensing course, that Mr Farooq would attend a two-day TM’s refresher course and that a new maintenance provider would be in place by the end of March.Curtailing the O-Licence, the TC said: “I’ve had a groundhog day as the issues pointed out by the Senior Team Leader are still present.” Vehicles were in poor condition carrying schoolchildren and that was still happening. Though Mr Hussain had personal health issues, there was a TM in place and things should have been tackled more dynamically.Issuing the two drivers with a warning, the TC said that drivers had a responsibility as well as the operator to ensure they had the correct amount of rest.last_img read more

Call for cash controls at EU borders

first_imgIn a move which will strike many as a step backwards from the relaxation of Union border controls over the last ten years, the group is calling for news laws to make it harder to move cash, cheques, gems, precious metals or other means of payment between member states.The proposals, designed to clamp down on the illegal laundering of the proceeds of crime, were drawn up followinga joint EU surveillance operation – code-named Moneypenny – which monitored the amount of cash being carried across borders, legally or illegally, within the Union. Between September 1999 and February 2000, customs officials discovered 20,710 instances of sums greater than 7,600 euro being taken across borders, with 286 of the finds worth more than 500,000 euro. The total value of the transfers was 1.6 billion euro, of which 1.35 billion euro was carried in cash. Most hauls were not hidden and in only 30 cases were sums found in specially designed devices such as false partitions in the boots of cars.The legal situation on cross-border transfers currently varies widely across the EU. Italy, France, Portugal, Spain and Greece have general requirements to declare money movements, with the threshold ranging from 7,622 euro in France to 12,470 euro in Portugal. But most EU countries do not oblige travellers to declare money and customs officers have no rights to scrutinise cash movements.The report by the influential ‘Article 36 committee’, made up of high-level justice and home affairs officials from member states, warns that this is making life easy for criminals, and says the EU should introduce laws to subject all transfers above a certain value to monitoring and record-keeping requirements.last_img read more

When will the EU show up on India’s radar screens?

first_imgIndia has been growing at 8% a year and on current projections it will be the third economic power in the world – after the US and China – by the middle of the century. But it is by no means certain that India can maintain these spectacular growth rates without further painful reforms. According to Indian analysts there is still too much protectionism, corruption, lack of quality education and an outdated infrastructure that puts off many foreign investors. Almost half of India’s one billion plus population live on less than 2 euro a day and have no electricity. Poor education, health care and infrastructure affect all of India but especially the rural population. China has proved much more adept at harnessing rural manpower for industrial development than India.Nevertheless the EU seems to be banking on India’s potential and has signed a strategic partnership with the world’s largest democracy. At the EU-India summit in Delhi last September UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and President José Manuel Barroso praised India’s impressive development and stressed the need for the EU and India to engage more with each other. The EU leaders noted that the relationship with India was far behind those with Japan and China, the EU’s other strategic partners in Asia. The EU is already India’s largest trading partner with two-way trade last year amounting to 40 billion euro – a fifth of EU-China trade. The EU is also the main provider of development aid and foreign direct investment to India. But there is very little appreciation of the EU as a political or security actor. Unlike with China, the EU has found it difficult to engage India in a serious dialogue on strategic issues. A strategic partnership depends on common values and interests, is for the long term and can withstand ups and downs in the relationship. It also implies some co-ordination before major decisions and a high level of interaction. The EU-India relationship has a long way to go before it can properly be termed strategic.Fraser Cameron is senior policy advisor at the European Policy Centre. He writes here in a personal capacity. The EU-India declaration commits both sides to a comprehensive dialogue on issues ranging from terrorism and non-proliferation to human rights and the environment. The accompanying Action Plan notes 35 areas for deepening co-operation including strengthening the multilateral system, satellite navigation (Galileo), scientific research, the environment and educational exchange. But so far the nascent dialogue has exposed as many differences as areas of agreement between the two sides.Security policy is a good example. The continuing emphasis on hard security by India’s elite is explained as being due to India’s problems with its neighbours, notably Pakistan, China, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Delhi planners all agree that, in light of such a troubled neighbourhood, India must continue to maintain a strong military. In terms of the UN, India has pushed hard for a permanent seat on the Security Council but given EU divisions on that subject, it has not been able to support India. Nor has the EU been able to agree that India should join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Unlike the US, some EU member states have not forgiven India for going nuclear. With some misgivings India signed up for the ‘responsibility to protect’ principle and the new human rights council at the UN. But India will always put its national interests first. For example, it needs the co-operation of the military junta in Rangoon to deal with the smuggling of small arms and drugs across the 3,000 kilometre border it shares with Myanmar. Contrary to the EU, Delhi believes that it can best influence the authorities in Rangoon through a policy of engagement rather than isolation.India is suspicious of the EU’s crusade to promote democracy and human rights around the world and resents MEPs poking their noses into Kashmir. India sees no reason to push democracy on unwilling neighbours. Unlike the EU, it has little interest in human or soft security. India has noted increasing EU activity with its neighbours in South Asia and would like to be consulted as a privileged partner before the EU takes any new initiatives. India would also like to be consulted by the EU on the Middle East and Central Asia. It considers that it has some lessons to offer the EU on how to run a peaceful, multicultural society. Migration, terrorism and energy are other themes at the top of India’s wish-list. Indian planners regret the absence in the action plan of any military dialogue (unlike China). On the trade front, India resents the EU’s textile quotas and there are continuing disagreements on how to bring the Doha Round to a successful conclusion. The Indian press has also been critical of what they see as scarcely veiled racist European reactions to an Indian tycoon’s bid for the Arcelor steel company. One of the key problems in the EU-Indian relationship is the lack of knowledge in India about the EU. Europe is still viewed primarily through the prism of the largest member states, especially the UK. At the September summit with Blair and Barroso, newspaper readers could be forgiven for thinking it had been an Anglo-Indian affair. Indians respond that the EU does not appear on their radar screens as a political and security actor. The visit of French President Jacque Chirac this week has scarcely raised a ripple of interest. There are no quick fixes on this front. More visits by European commissioners might help. In 2005, 15 visited China and only two made it to India.last_img read more

EU member states give less to poor countries

first_imgDevelopment aid from the European Union’s main donor countries fell in 2009, according to figures published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) yesterday. Projections for 2010 suggest that the 15 EU member states that are represented in the OECD’s development committee will fall short by 10% of meeting an EU target of 0.56% of gross national income (GNI).  The world’s richest countries pledged at Gleneagles in 2005 to give 0.7% of GNI in aid by 2015 in order to reach the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an aim also shared by the EU. This year marks the halfway point between the Gleneagles commitment and the 2015 target date for the MDGs, and the UN will hold a review conference in New York this autumn to assess progress. Aid officials doubt that the world’s main economies will be able to meet the 2015 target. Out of reach commitments “The slight decrease in 2009 should be quickly reversed if we are to respect the commitments we took to achieve the MDGs,” Andris Piebalgs, the European commissioner for development, said yesterday. According to a Commission statement, the Gleneagles commitments “remain out of reach according to current trends”. The Commission aims to reverse these trends with an action plan scheduled for adoption next Tuesday (20 April), but it has no authority over national development spending. The EU’s worst performers last year were Austria, whose combined net official development assistance fell by 31.2%, Italy by 31.1% and Ireland by 18.9%. Among the EU’s biggest donors, Germany gave just 0.35% of its GNI in aid last year, a drop of 12%. Development aid by the EU institutions increased by 4.4% in 2009, according to the OECD.last_img read more