Buses in Wales 2018

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BUSES IN WALES bysus yng nghymru 2018

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BYSUS YNG NGHYMRU

2018

BUSES IN WAL ES

CROESO

WELCOME

Croeso i bysus yng nghymru 2018, cyhoeddiad am y prif ddull o drafnidiaeth gyhoeddus yng Nghymru. Cynhyrchwyd y cyhoeddiad hwn gan passenger transport i gyd-fynd ag Uwchgynhadledd Fysiau Llywodraeth Cymru yn Abertawe ar Mai 3. Mae'r cyhoeddiad hwn yn cynnwys cyfraniadau gan amrywiaeth o sefydliadau sydd â diddordeb mewn gwasanaethau bysus yng Nghymru, gan ddathlu llwyddiannau ac ystyried yr heriau sydd yn ein gwynebu

Welcome to buses in wales 2018, a publication dedicated to the main mode of public transport in Wales. This publication from passenger transport has been produced to coincide with the Welsh Government’s Bus Summit in Swansea on May 3. It features contributions from a variety of organisations with an interest in bus services in Wales, celebrating achievements and considering the challenges that lie ahead

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FO R EWO R D

B EV FOWL ES

Ken Skates AM, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport

Rhodri Clark speaks to the chair of CPT Cymru’s bus commission

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N I C K JO N ES

BUS I NESS WA LES

Traffic Commissioner for Wales on supporting the bus industry

A programme of support for the Welsh bus sector has been developed

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BUS US E RS CY MRU

TRA N S PORT FO CUS

CARDIF F BUS

F I RST CYMRU

Margaret Everson on how her organisation is working to improve buses

David Beer outlines the findings of the annual Bus Passenger Survey

Cynthia Ogbonna and her team are working to keep the Welsh capital moving

New boss Andrew Sherrington inherits a legacy of growth initiatives

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STAG ECOAC H

OMNIBUS

T I C K E T ER

Nigel Winter urges the Welsh Government to ‘get on board’

Working with Traveline Cymru to bring fares information to bus users

Working with Welsh bus operators to introduce contactless payments

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BUSES IN WAL ES

2018

BYSUS YNG NGH YMRU

RHAGAIR ~ FOREWORD n 2017, cynheliais Uwchgynhadledd Fysiau gyntaf Cymru, a oedd yn un o’r ymrwymiadau yn fy Nghynllun Pum Pwynt er mwyn darparu rhwydwaith bysiau mwy cynaliadwy. Nod y Cynllun yw sicrhau bod rhagor o bobl yn gallu manteisio ar rwydwaith bysiau cyflym, effeithlon a chynhwysol. Mae hynny’n cefnogi’n dyheadau cyffredin am boblogaeth iach, amgylchedd glân ac economi gystadleuol. Mae’n Cynllun Gweithredu ar yr Economi, a gyhoeddwyd ym mis Rhagfyr, yn gwneud cyfraniad allweddol i’r Strategaeth Genedlaethol. Hwn yw’r cynllun a fydd yn cael blaenoriaeth gennyf er mwyn gwireddu’r dyheadau a’r uchelgais a amlinellir yn Symud Cymru Ymlaen, ein Rhaglen Lywodraethu. Mae gan fysiau rôl allweddol i’w chwarae o ran cyflawni’r Cynllun Gweithredu. Er mwyn meithrin gwell dealltwriaeth o’r heriau sy’n wynebu’r diwydiant bysiau yng Nghymru, rydym wedi cynnal gweithdai gyda’n partneriaid ac wedi cynnal seminarau cymorth busnes ar gyfer cwmnïau bysiau. Rydym wedi cyllido gwasanaethau yn lle rhai a gafodd eu cwtogi neu eu dileu gan weithredwyr, gan gynnwys £300,000 i Gynghorau Wrecsam, Sir Ddinbych a Sir y Fflint. Rwyf wedi cymeradwyo swm pellach o £3 miliwn i roi hwb i fysiau lleol a thrafnidiaeth gymunedol yn 2017-18, gan gynnwys gwell gwybodaeth glyweledol. Hefyd, dyrennais £25 miliwn o gymhorthdal yn ddiweddar ar gyfer bysiau a thrafnidiaeth gymunedol yn 2018-19, a chyllid ar gyfer dau gydgysylltydd bysiau. Cafodd Trafnidiaeth Cymru ei sefydlu i lywio’r gwaith ar Wasanaethau Rheilffyrdd Cymru a’r Gororau. Bydd y contract yn cael ei ddyfarnu yn nes ymlaen eleni, a dyma’r tro cyntaf i hynny ddigwydd yng Nghymru. Os ydym am greu rhwydwaith trafnidiaeth integredig, bydd yn rhaid wrth gysylltiadau da rhwng bysiau a’r rheilffyrdd, a chyfnewidfeydd deniadol, o ansawdd uchel. Bydd gofyn sicrhau hefyd fod yr wybodaeth ddiweddaraf ar gael i deithwyr. Rhaid inni gofio cerdded a beicio gan eu bod hwythau hefyd yn bwysig iawn, nid dim ond i iechyd a’r amgylchedd,

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ond o ran cynllunio siwrneiau hefyd. Yn 2018, byddaf yn cyflwyno cynigion i wella’r modd y caiff gwasanaethau bysiau lleol eu cynllunio a’u darparu. Byddaf yn cyhoeddi ymgynghoriad cyhoeddus arall yn y man ar fy nghynigion manwl ar gyfer diwygio gwasanaethau. Mae’r cynigion hynny’n seiliedig ar y gwaith a wnaed dros y ddwy flynedd diwethaf. Bydd ein cynigion yn nodi’r trefniadau ar gyfer cyflwyno modelau gweithredol i ddiwallu anghenion o ran trafnidiaeth leol. Mae angen inni ddefnyddio’r cyllid prin sydd ar gael yn well a’i wario mewn ffordd fwy creadigol er mwyn mynd i’r afael â’r heriau sy›n wynebu›r diwydiant. Er enghraifft, er mwyn mynd i›r afael â thagfeydd, prydlondeb, ansawdd aer a chostau gweithredu. Gwasanaethau bysiau lleol yw conglfaen ein rhwydwaith trafnidiaeth gyhoeddus ac ni fydd hynny’n newid. Rwyf yn edrych ymlaen at wynebu’r heriau a manteisio ar y cyfleoedd sydd o’n blaenau, gan gydweithio â phartneriaid ar draws y sector bysiau a’r sector llywodraeth leol. Bydd yr ail Uwchgynhadledd Fysiau hon yn atgyfnerthu’r gwaith i wrthdroi dirywiad ein rhwydwaith bysiau gan greu sector bysiau cynaliadwy ar gyfer y dyfodol. Ken Skates AC Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros yr Economi a Thrafnidiaeth n 2017 I hosted Wales’s first Bus Summit, a commitment in my Five Point Plan to improve the bus network’s sustainability. The Plan aims to ensure that more people have access to a fast, efficient and inclusive bus network which supports our shared aspirations for a healthy population, a clean environment and a competitive economy. Our Economic Action Plan published in December is a key contributor to the National Strategy. This is my priority plan for delivering the ambitions set out in Taking Wales Forward, our Programme for Government. Buses have a key part to play in delivering the Action Plan. To gain a better understanding of the

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Welsh Bus industry’s challenges we have held workshops with our partners and held business support seminars for operators. We have funded replacements where operators have reduced or withdrawn services, including £300,000 to Wrexham, Denbighshire and Flintshire Councils. I have approved a further £3m to boost local bus and community transport in 2017-18, including enhanced audio-visual information. I also recently allocated £25m to subsidise bus and community transport in 2018-19, and funding for two bus co-ordinator posts.

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FO R EWO R D

Uwchgynhadledd Bysiau Cymru 2017 / Wales Bus Summit 2017

Transport for Wales was established to deliver the Wales and Borders rail services. The contract will be awarded later this year, a first for Wales. An integrated transport network will require good connections between bus and rail, and high-quality, attractive interchanges and up-to-date information. We must also include walking and cycling as those are really important, too, not only to health and the environment, but in journey planning. In 2018, I will bring forward proposals to improve the planning and delivery of local bus

services. I will shortly be publishing a further public consultation into my detailed proposals for reform based on the work undertaken over the past two years. Our proposals will set out arrangements to introduce operational models to deliver local transport needs. We need to utilise limited funding better and spend it more imaginatively to address the industry’s challenges. For example, to tackle congestion, punctuality, air quality and operating costs. Local bus services are, and will continue to be, the cornerstone of our public transport

network. I look forward to embracing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, working with partners across the bus and local government sectors. This second Bus Summit will consolidate work to help reverse our bus network’s decline, creating a sustainable bus sector for all our futures.

Ken Skates AM Cabinet Secretary for Economy

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CPT CYMRU

Bev Fowles' day job is running Swansea-based South Wales Transport with his son David

UNIFIED CPT VOICE HAS ‘STO OD THE TEST OF TIME’ bev fowles helped to create a unified CPT Cymru. Now, as chair of its bus commission, he speaks about the range of challenges facing the Welsh bus industry. rhodri clark reports hairing CPT Wales’ bus commission is not a new experience for Bev Fowles as he takes over from Justin Davies, who left the bus industry at the end of March to become a vicar. Fowles took the chair at CPT South Wales in 1994 and set himself the goal of creating a unified CPT Wales. At the time, the CPT had a North West (England) and North Wales

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section. “I felt that Wales needed to have its own voice,” he recalls. “It took a lot of work and effort. We had to change the articles of CPT. “CPT Scotland was already in place. We felt that devolution would happen, which was why it was so important for us to become CPT Wales. We would then be the voice for the bus and coach operators within a devolved nation.” Wales subsequently voted for devolution in 1997. Fowles says

the unified CPT Wales has stood the test of time, with the Welsh Government implementing increasingly distinct bus policies of its own, such as Britain’s first nationwide concessionary travel scheme in 2002. “CPT Wales is probably stronger today than it has ever been,” says Fowles, who now runs Swanseabased South Wales Transport with his son David. In the mid-1990s he was managing director of the former Brewers business, which

First had acquired. He recalls that he had a hard job persuading large and small operators alike that CPT was for them. The big groups had little involvement in CPT, and there was suspicion between the smaller and larger operators. “They didn’t mix, socially or business-wise. Neither wanted to trust the other and there was no appreciation that the greater proportion of CPT funding came from the large groups. The larger groups had ➢

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BUSES IN WAL ES

to come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t going to be a big groups’ association but was going to take in everybody. I had to be quite persuasive.” He was probably helped by his experience of working both in small companies, such as D Coaches, and for First and its Badgerline predecessor. Wales still has an unusually large number of bus operators, reflecting the rural nature of most of its landmass. However, that number has diminished significantly since Fowles’ previous period in the CPT chair. Only two municipal operators remain. In recent years, several independents have ceased trading or left the bus market, with large operators such as Arriva taking on many of the replacement services. New Adventure Travel carved a niche in South Wales and was recently acquired by ComfortDelGro. Fowles comments that large companies used to buy small companies, but now they’re tending to expand because independents have disappeared. NAT bucked the trend. Surviving as a small operator in Wales is becoming difficult, but large operators will not fill all the gaps. The closure of long-established Silcox Motors sent shockwaves through Pembrokeshire’s bus network, with the county council now operating some local services after receiving no responses to tender invitations. Fowles says compliance is a major issue for small companies because it’s expensive. “That’s not just in the bus industry it’s throughout industry in total. When the Health and Safety at Work Act came in, everybody thought it was a nit-picking exercise. It’s proven to make companies safer and create safer environments for employees at work, and now it’s generally accepted that you have to conform and be compliant. “Bus and coach companies used to think all they needed to do was listen to the traffic commissioner and meet his targets, but it’s a lot

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deeper than that. It’s about systems and procedures and working practices, things which you have to have if you want to get to sleep at night or don’t want to be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter. The penalties are huge. “If you don’t take on board the whole compliance issue - not just the traffic commissioner’s compliance - then you go through.” He argues that all operators, even those with one or two buses, should be compliant. “If you’re a small operator, you know what’s right and what’s wrong. There are manuals. There are agencies you can buy into. I don’t have a lot of sympathy with anyone who says they can’t afford it. If you can’t afford to be compliant, then you shouldn’t be in the industry.” This leads him on to a longrunning complaint in the Welsh bus industry - the way local

BYSUS YNG NGH YMRU

authorities assess tenders and award contracts. Managers in North Wales say the rise and fall of GHA Coaches illustrates the problems which can follow if councils award contracts to lowcost operators. One manager who took on a former GHA Coaches route at a wafer thin margin recently lost the bus contract to a taxi company which, he says, undercut his offer by about 50%. Fowles says: “Local authorities have a responsibility to procure properly, and not just go for the cheapest. They should go to compliant firms. That compliance has to be proven prior to putting a price in. “There are local authority officers who know that the price they’ve been offered is impossible but they accept it. It’s because they’re under pressure to hit their budget targets. We’ve been in a period of austerity for the best part of a decade, but you can’t operate something that you know is going to make you a loss the day that you start it. “There are operators out there who know that they’re not going to make a profit when they begin a five-year contract. I find that disappointing but also very difficult to understand. Why put

“Local authorities have a responsibility to procure properly, and not just go for the cheapest. They should go to compliant firms”

Traffic congestion hampers buses across South Wales, including in Cardiff, pictured

that price in? The answer you get is: I wouldn’t have a business. But the cruel reality is, you haven’t got a business now if your only reason to get up in the morning is to lose more money. “The traffic commissioner recognises it. He’s the first one to do so. He doesn’t just blame the operators. He blames local authorities for taking the price.” That commissioner is Nick Jones, who became Wales’ first dedicated traffic commissioner in 2016. Previously Wales was an adjunct to the West Midlands traffic area. Fowles regards this as one of the biggest changes since his previous stint in the CPT Wales chair, when Mervyn Pugh was commissioner for the West Midlands and South Wales. “He desperately wanted to be the first traffic commissioner for Wales,” recalls Fowles. “He thought that power would be devolved to a Welsh government. When he found out that my job was to unite CPT in Wales, he tried to involve our thought processes to drive his ambition forward.” CPT also lobbied the UK Government to separate the Welsh traffic area but only recently has this come about. In his first annual report to the Welsh Government, Jones outlined many options which the government might wish to take up. Fowles says the report strayed outside the previously accepted remit of a traffic commissioner. “There were probably a few more positives than negatives in the report, but at least he went for it. He’s coming to the end of his tenure. He’s laying excellent foundations for the new person and he’s also advising the Welsh Government on the way forward. That’s not easy.” When Fowles was in the chair of CPT in the 1990s, Wales was governed by the Welsh Office, a UK Government department. Now it is governed from Cardiff, where Ken Skates is cabinet secretary for transport and has initiated a series of bus summits and workshops as part of his

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CPT CYMRU

Bus user satisfaction in Wales is 90%, higher than in England or Scotland. Pictured above: a new Cardiff Bus Citaro by Cardiff Castle

agenda to reform bus services. “He’s the first in a line of transport ministers that we’ve been able to speak to, person to person,” says Fowles. “He seems prepared to listen. He’s got his officers listening as well, although they’re not all listening with the same pair of ears.” Skates says that governmentowned Transport for Wales will evolve to resemble Transport for London. In a recent statement he even said TfW would increasingly directly own or operate Welsh public transport. “I don’t think he chose his words carefully enough in that statement,” says Fowles. “I read the whole statement. It looked a bit hurried. “The TfL model is probably completely inappropriate in Wales, but I can see where a coordinated approach to transport is important to people and politically.” TfL’s budgets bear no relation to those for buses in Wales, he argues, and transport issues are consistent across London whereas the problems in a rural county like Ceredigion are completely different from those in Cardiff, which are different again from

Rural counties like Ceredigion, pictured, have different problems to Cardiff or Wrexham

“I read the whole statement. It looked a bit hurried... The TfL model is probably completely inappropriate in Wales”

those in Skates’ home county of Wrexham. While the continuing decline in Welsh passenger numbers appears to signal that something is amiss, Fowles takes heart from the most recent Transport Focus survey which found that 90% of Welsh passengers were satisfied with their bus service, a higher proportion than in England and Scotland. “That’s a win-win for us. It’s a statistic that we can be proud of as operators. It reflects the hard work of the industry. It sends a bit of a message to those people who think it’s broken. Customers are

saying that it’s not broken.” However, he says that satisfaction with value for money is “not great”. He also says the survey was limited to current bus users, without capturing opinions from people who have stopped using buses. “It would have been better had they gone to people who have used the bus in the last five years. We would have had a separate set of statistics.” Although congestion may not be significant in many areas of Wales, Fowles says it is a “massive problem” right across South Wales, from Llanelli to Newport. Air quality is also poor in much of that region, but the Welsh Government has yet to award a penny of grant funding to help bus operators buy electric, hydrogen or hybrid buses. Fowles says there’s no doubt that it will have to do so. “It’s the only way we’re going to bring in alternative power. The big groups and Cardiff Bus will take the lion’s share of the funding.” Last year the UK Government awarded the first such funding for a Welsh project, a £500,000 grant for four electric buses in rural Denbighshire. Fowles is unimpressed. “If you’re going to bring in green bus funding, it has to influence people and have impact. Putting it into Denbighshire is almost silly. That’s not taking away from their bid, but it will have zero impact on people. If you put it into Cardiff, Swansea or Port Talbot, it will have an impact and you can roll it out after that. We’ve got to have an annual round of green tenders. It’s essential.” Fowles is not sure whether app-based ride hailing services have made in-roads into bus passenger usage yet, although recent Welsh statistics show a 15% increase in the number of private hire vehicles (PHVs) licensed over two years. Skates has consulted on changes to taxi and PHV regulation, and Fowles urges him to take the opportunity to forestall a major shift from buses to hired vehicles, which he says would make urban congestion even worse.

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BUSES IN WAL ES

2018

BYSUS YNG NGH YMRU

A substantial proportion of bus operators in Wales are SMEs. Pictured above: Welsh rural bus operator Llew Jones

SUPPORTING THE BUS INDUSTRY Traffic Commissioner for Wales nick jones says the bus industry needs a ‘wide range of support’ - and explains what is now available rior to the Bus Services Summit held in January 2017 I wrote an article for Buses in Wales 2017 explaining changes that might be expected if further powers were devolved to the Welsh Government. This included a response to an invitation to comment in relation to: bus registrations; bus regulation; taxi and private hire law reform; special restricted PSVs; professional driver conduct; DBS checks; bus service support grant; local authority tendering; and community transport. The principal outcome of the Bus Services Summit resulted in a series of workshops organised

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by the Welsh Government in partnership with others with a variety of stakeholders invited to contribute. They were very much listening exercises with participants from a wide range of public and private bodies and special-interest groups, including ones representing perhaps the most important category, namely bus passengers. The exercises included diverse groups representing those who promote cycling to those who manufacture PSVs. A key feature of the January 2017 summit was the reference to potential financial support and guidance for family businesses, this a recognition that in Wales a substantial proportion of bus operators are SMEs. The support

from Business Wales was an essential feature of the workshops and seminars that followed the 2017 bus summit. Eight separate workshops were held in various locations across Wales, each had a slightly different nuance, reflecting the make-up of those attending individual sessions. However it is clear that there were consistent themes that came out of the eight workshops (or listening exercises). Four categories were discussed with both issues and potential solutions identified: Information including 1 customer relations, marketing, fares, integration and technology: Discussions revealed that information provision is patchy and not always accurate,

there is a lack of clarity as to who is supposed to provide information. Also, information is often inconsistent across many websites. Whilst it was generally thought that Traveline Cymru provides a better service (and has a different role) to its counterparts in the rest of Great Britain, its responsibilities are limited. The 22 local authorities often liaise with neighbouring areas, but this is not always the case. Where local authorities work within a regional consortia they are usually more effective and often provide a more professional service. Accessibility, safety and 2 infrastructure, delivery, reliability and congestion: Numerous constructive suggestions were made relating to improving safety and recognising the needs of vulnerable bus users. Similarly, helpful comments related to addressing congestion, including recognising the needs of all users, especially the more vulnerable, with potential solutions to prioritise buses. Environmental, planning 3 regulations and land-use planning: It was recognised that transport officers in local authorities ought to be included as statutory consultees within planning processes. Amongst the many constructive suggestions there was a recognition that technology in 2018 will not support electric buses on long routes or in most rural areas, moreover an electric bus is exponentially more expensive than its diesel equivalent. There was strong support for recognition that in the short and medium term greener buses were the solution with suggestions for clear financial incentives for those who operated Euro 5 or, better still Euro 6 diesel engines. Funding: This discussion 4 raised a substantial number of criticisms of the current arrangements, it is clear that BSSG (Bus Services Support Grant) is not sufficiently targeted, there were particular criticisms of the approach to allocation of contracts to operators by local authorities, a feature which I touch upon later.

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TRAF F IC CO MMISSIO NER FO R WAL ES

There was also a recognition of the need for longer term stability of funding. The comments above represent a mere selection of issues raised, together with potential solutions. The very detailed notes taken should be invaluable to whoever is to lead on transport issues within Wales, presumably that will be Transport for Wales. Traffic commissioners used to run formal seminars by way of training sessions for both the haulage and PSV industries, but this ceased on cost grounds about a decade ago. Support from the Welsh Government and Business Wales enabled me to be involved in six separate all-day sessions. Invitations were issued to operators identified by the 22 local authorities who either had registered services in their area or had school contracts. As the industry regulator it is a mixed blessing that most of those who attended were those who were largely compliant, or at least seeking to be compliant. Those operators who decided that they were too busy to attend are likely to be the ones that most needed the training. Aside from a full morning dealing with compliance issues led by myself and senior DVSA staff, afternoon sessions involved excellent presentations facilitated by Business Wales. I took great interest in watching the interaction between a professional bid writer whose ordinary day job includes writing bids or training others to do so. At one session he commented that the PSV industry appeared to be treated differently to other industries and that led to some contracting organisations funding on the basis of 100% price. As I have spelt out on various occasions over the past year or so, the award of contracts based on price only can only exacerbate a race to the bottom. It will lead to passengers, including vulnerable children, being carried in unsafe vehicles and it will help those who seek to cut corners, with good compliant operators deciding to leave the industry. Ultimately

“A huge deal of support is needed for the bus industry if there is to be high quality transportation of passengers�

of the smaller family businesses. Business Wales is currently considering how it can best assist. It was clear from the seminars that many operators do not have safeguarding policies, a feature that ought to be a cause for concern if they are to be entrusted to carry children and other vulnerable people. Again, helpful guidance was provided by Business Wales who have offered a suite of potential policies for consideration, with additional targeted support being planned. Reflecting on both the eight workshops which were listening exercises and the six specialist seminars held for PSV operators, it is helpful that Transport for Wales will be in a position to provide clarity and direction. It is appreciated that rail issues over have been a priority for Transport for Wales, however I hope that it will soon be in position to take a leadership role in relation to the PSV industry. I suggest that there are at least two areas that need urgent attention. First, it is clear that the current arrangement whereby 22 local authorities issue contracts or tender for services leads to considerable difficulties. Whilst there are many good practices, there are other occasions when arrangements are unacceptable. At one seminar it was suggested that a local authority would assist in drawing up a tender, presumably on the basis that it

it does not save money to issue contracts solely on the basis of cost as the contingency plan is invariably one whereby the local authority goes cap in hand to the Welsh Government asking for additional monies. A huge deal of support is needed for the bus industry if there is to be high quality transportation of passengers. If there isn’t a successful bus industry people will not be able to get to work and it is naive to think that use of a car is an acceptable alternative. Business Wales has begun providing invaluable expertise with training from tendering experts and specialist HR advisers. The offer of one-to-one support from specialist advisers was a feature that was welcomed by most who attended the six seminars. The range of support needed for the bus industry is wide. Within the next few years all interactions with the traffic commissioner operator licensing office will need to be online, and it is clear that IT training would assist a number of operators, especially those in some

Concessionary travel: reimbursement to bus operators must be handled properly

did not believe that an operator had the necessary formal skills. I recommend consideration be given to arrangements whereby procurement and allocation of contracts is undertaken on a regional consortia basis, it is appreciated that sometimes this happens in any event. Formalising this with clear guidance from Transport for Wales would assist in providing both better value for money and improvements in services. It would also allow monies to be targeted at those who most need it. Secondly, I refer to previous comments in relation to the relatively high ratio of income received from the state for operators in Wales. The figure is far higher in Wales than in other parts of Great Britain, largely this is due to the very generous arrangements for concessionary passes. I acknowledge that different mechanics apply between rural and urban services by way of patronage; income generated; concessionary fare pass usage; and, market share split between fare paying and pass holders. Notwithstanding these nuances, comments were made to me by both operators and others to the effect that there is a potential lack of control. Regrettably there have been instances of miscalculations of reimbursement claims and worse. I am unclear as to the checking processes, but if Transport for Wales were to take a strategic role in relation to transport on a pan-Wales basis, consideration might be given to there being an audit and/or quality assurance remit in relation to monies being paid via the Welsh Government or local authorities to operators. Any new team could include the three specialist bus compliance officers currently employed by Bus Users Cymru, but funded by the Welsh Government. They have considerable expertise developed over the years and they are one of the key reasons why timetable compliance within Wales is generally far better than in most of England.

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BUSINESS WALES

SUPPORTING THE WELSH BUS SECTOR The Welsh Government’s business wales service, in partnership with key stakeholders, has developed a programme of support for the Welsh bus sector ollowing the announcement by the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates, of a fivepoint plan to support the public bus sector in Wales, a Bus Summit, held in January 2017 in Wrexham, brought together key stakeholders from the sector, including local authorities and bus operators, who identified the need for delivering a comprehensive programme of support to the sector. The purpose of the project was to address the specific issues arising from consultations at the Summit, a wider public consultation and a sample diagnostic intervention carried out by Business Wales. This diagnostic exercise involved one-to-one meetings with a selection of bus operators, and identified common issues which will help Business Wales deliver meaningful support to the sector in a timely manner. These included recruitment and retention of staff, financial sustainability, ability to tender, succession, good governance and management capability. Clive Barnard, a Relationship Manager at Business Wales, explains: “As we looked at the narrative in more detail, we began to see some common issues. Some operators found it difficult to recruit or retain drivers as they are operating a school service, a public scheduled service and sometimes even offer a private hire. “Old assets leading to higher maintenance costs, overall lack of investment, lack of suitable depot

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78 independent bus operators have attended the free Business Wales workshops

space and variable operating costs often lead to cashflow difficulties and reduced overall profits for the operators.” Business Wales also identified a lack of understanding of the tendering process and robust management capabilities in family-run businesses, the impact on innovation and efficient management procedures, as well as issues with medium-term succession planning and the ability to prepare for change. As a result, all stakeholders, including Transport for Wales, Traveline Cymru, passenger groups, local authorities and industry representatives, agreed to collaborate and deliver a project, chaired jointly by Nick Jones, the Traffic Commissioner for Wales,

Welsh Government and Business Wales, encouraging Welsh bus operators to prosper by offering relevant and targeted support. As part of the project, a series of in-depth workshops for PSV operators were held in Llandudno Junction, Aberystwyth, Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff. The workshops were a collaboration between the Traffic Commissioner for Wales, Development Bank of Wales, DVSA, Welsh Government and Business Wales. Senior representatives from the DVSA discussed the practical issues identified during their interactions with bus operators, highlighted the importance of education and showed examples of bad practice. The Traffic Commissioner

shared his concerns about driving standards up, emphasising his vision that the industry and stakeholders work closer together to help the sector prosper. Business Wales delivered a workshop on how to tender for public sector contracts, focusing on the importance of highlighting the quality of the bidder over the price of the service. The final part of the workshops addressed the difficulties in recruitment and retention of staff. It tackled the need for having a robust equality and diversity policy in the workplace and explored how this has impacted on real life cases in the industry. The feedback from these activities has been very encouraging - 78 independent bus operators have attended the free workshops and 17 have received bespoke support from Business Wales. Four bus operators have successfully applied for funding through the Development Bank of Wales and Business Wales’ HR Advisers are supporting over 30 operators with their recruitment and employment policies. The next phase of support will be announced shortly but it is expected that further workshops will focus on succession planning. In the meantime, the sector could benefit from a series of other business courses, available to any SME in Wales, on topics such as tax and bookkeeping, marketing, GDPR, tendering and bid-writing. Business Wales, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, supports the sustainable growth of small and medium size enterprises across the country by offering access to information, guidance and business support. n To find out how Business Wales can help start or develop your business, call 03000 6 03000, follow @_businesswales or @_busnescymru or visit www.businesswales.gov.wales/ or www.busnescymru.llyw.cymru/ for further information.

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BUSES IN WAL ES

2018

BYSUS YNG NGH YMRU

WE KNOW WHAT BUS USERS WANT margaret everson mbe, Director of bus users cymru, explains how the organisation is working to help improve bus services and identifies the challenges that need to be overcome ince 2001, Bus Users Cymru has received funding from the Welsh Government and our structure is aimed at delivering agreed outcomes. The staff team in Wales comprises one part-time director, one full-time deputy director and two part-time Complaint Handlers/Office Administrators. In addition we employ and facilitate three full-time Welsh Government-funded Bus Compliance Officers who have specific roles and there are eight part time Local Representatives, who live across Wales providing local knowledge and feedback.

S

what d o we d o? Bus Users Cymru is funded by the Welsh Government to: n handle complaints; n facilitate ‘Your Bus Matters’ events where the public can meet face-to-face the local authorities and operators that provide the services; n carry out monitoring and mystery travelling; n employ, direct and lead three Bus Compliance Officers. These combine to deliver our core activities: n to improve bus services across Wales by monitoring and reporting on bus operations; n to gather the views of users and accurately reflect them to the industry and legislators; n to provide guidance and support for bus users; n to input into proposed transport policy. Our complaints figures for the

Bus Users Cymru would like to see a much wider roll out of orange wallets

financial year 2017/18 are not yet available but to the end of February the largest percentage of complaints was service reliability, followed by bus fails to stop and driver/staff attitude. None of these issues is unsurmountable so why are we reporting these top three nearly every year? Transport Focus carried out a Bus Passenger Survey in 2017, the first in Wales since 2010 and Bus Users Cymru was part of the research team. Some of the figures from the Transport Focus survey are mirrored in the Bus Users Cymru

mystery travelling survey which covers a number of the topics to be found in the Transport Focus survey but on a much smaller scale. We survey infrastructure, vehicles and drivers and use a small sample size of at least 10 surveys in each local authority for comparison with the figures from the previous year. We would like to see a much wider roll out of orange wallets for people who don’t have enough confidence to travel on their own. These wallets, produced by First Cymru, Arriva Trains Wales and the Older People’s Commissioner

for example, carry succinct messages for the passenger to show to the driver and there is the capacity to write your own card with your own message. Awareness is patchy and we need to publicise their existence. Alongside the re-letting of the rail franchise and the development of the South East Wales Metro, much has happened in the bus industry in Wales. Regrettably, in recent times, six bus operators have ceased trading for a number of reasons, leaving gaps in service which cannot always be filled by existing commercial operators and local authorities are coming under increased pressure to replace services. Bus passenger numbers are dropping in Wales, as in other parts of Great Britain. It is essential to get public transport moving faster because we cannot expect potential passengers to transfer from their private cars to a bus when that bus is stuck in the same traffic. The questions to answer are “what can we do about cars?” and “why don’t we open another park and ride to reduce the car traffic and aid a free flow around the city?” but all I hear is “what can we do about buses?” There is a suggestion being mooted that HGVs might share bus lanes at designated times. Reaction suggests that this would have the effect of slowing down both the bus and the HGV as well as posing a significant risk to the pedestrian. Bus engines are cleaner now than ever but they are still grinding to a halt in city centres

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BUS USERS CYMRU

and the bus is still perceived as being the “enemy” in transport management especially when discussing pollution. Provision of information continues to be a problem. There are still too many bus stops with out-of-date, inaccurate information and where there is no timetable on display nor Traveline Cymru’s 0800 phone number or text details. Disability issues continue to be important to our passengers. We have been asked to facilitate notices on bus interiors to increase awareness of bullying of disabled passengers. Doug Paulley won a Supreme Court case after a dispute with a woman with a buggy over wheelchair space on a bus. It means bus drivers will have to do more to accommodate wheelchair users. We have identified a need for personalised travel plans for people who cannot, for a number of reasons, read or understand timetables. These may exist but there is no awareness in the disabled persons groups we talk to. It’s not all bad news though as bus operators are spending record amounts on new vehicles with comfortable seats, Wi-Fi and charging points. Passenger boarding is being speeded up by the use of mobile ticketing and contactless payments, some operators are running night buses and it is beginning to be understood that buses are clean and can help in achieving air quality targets. More strategically, a discussion has commenced surrounding franchising versus regulation versus quality partnerships, and that activities need to be aligned to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. Late-running buses in Swansea will be able to make up time because they have been fixed with trackers which will tell traffic lights to turn green. GPS tracks where the buses are against what time they should be at each bus stop and if they are running on time, the lights will operate in their usual sequence but that will change for a late bus. The system

has started operating in the city centre and will be expanded to other key routes. Wales has its own Traffic Commissioner after a gap of many years and there is a compelling argument to devolve the registration of bus services to a suitable organisation based in Wales.

they meet bus operators in order to understand punctuality and reliability concerns. They support complaints activity and they monitor areas where clusters of complaints indicate that a problem may exist. The main task of the BCO is monitoring and education but they will report adverse findings to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner and give evidence in Traffic Court if required.

bus compliance officers The Welsh Government funds Bus Users Cymru to employ and direct three Bus Compliance Officers (BCOs) who cover the whole of Wales. The BCOs’ activities support the work of Bus Users Cymru in improving bus travel for passengers. Their work has a direct bearing on the punctuality and reliability of bus services in Wales and

challenges n Congestion; n Pollution; n Declining passenger numbers; n Attracting new fare-paying passengers; n Creating the wish to travel by bus; n Making bus travel more attractive?;

Bus users: ‘We know what they want because we know what they complain about’

Personal injury and accident 2%

EPRR 1%

Vehicle condition 2% Infrastructure 4% Service reliability 24%

Level of service 7%

Other 8%

Ticketing 9% Bus failed to stop or show 23% Driver/staff attitude 20% Top ten complaints 2017/18 (as at the end of February)

n Connect communities when bus companies stop operating. Passengers are not able to access healthcare, work and leisure activities because some of the operations were not commercial and the local authority doesn’t have the funds available to plug the gap; n Bus priority measures, but why does this attract such hostility from other road users; n Get media support for travel by public transport. what passengers want We know what they want because we know what they complain about. They complain that a driver’s poor attitude can make an adverse difference to their journey, that buses which fail to arrive or stop can ruin their whole day and that they can be isolated in their own homes if a bus service is cut. So it’s not difficult to establish that buses must serve their local community as well as linking key towns and cities, they must be reliable, punctual and clean with an approachable driver. The Wales Bus Summit in Swansea on May 3 will bring the various strands of the industry together again to consider these issues. Turning to roads more generally, the Severn Bridge tolls will end during 2018 following the return of the bridges to public ownership. This has prompted a wider debate about how the South Wales and Bristol regions can work together across a range of policy areas to improve economic competitiveness. Ending the tolls will of course inevitably lead to more cars on the roads as will any move that makes car travel easier. Finally, to emphasise the growing internationalisation of the Welsh transport scene, May will see Qatar Airways introduce direct flights from Cardiff to Doha, the first regular scheduled long haul flight from the South West. This may be particularly handy for the Singapore-based transport operator ComfortDelGro, which has just bought the South Walesbased New Adventure Travel!

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TF Bus cos ride future A4 AD Oct17.qxp_Layout 1 09/04/2018 12:12 Page 1

Bus companies ride into the future... Let passengers tell you how to grow your business

The Bus Passenger Survey (BPS) gives companies detailed comparable, benchmarked passenger feedback. Our expert advisors can help you understand and apply this valuable insight across your business. David Beer, Transport Focus Stakeholder Manager: “Operators tell us the survey is an important tool for identifying improvements, setting objectives and delivering better service for passengers.� By participating in the 2017 BPS, organisations such as the Welsh Government and national and local bus operators are using the results to better understand the factors that matter most to their passengers to help further improve satisfaction with bus journeys in Wales.

This year, almost

910 in

passengers in Wales said they were satisfied with their bus service overall (88 per cent across the English areas covered)

If you want more information about how an authority or operator can get involved in the BPS in 2019 contact our senior insight advisor, Robert Pain, at Robert.Pain@transportfocus.org.uk or on 0300 123 0835

TF Bus cos Ad.indd 16 ride future A4 AD April18.indd 1

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TRANSPO RT FO CUS

NINE OUT OF TEN ‘SATISFIED’ transport focus Stakeholder Manager david beer outlines the findings of the eighth annual Bus Passenger Survey and new research into what young people want from bus services early 5,000 passengers in Wales took part in Transport Focus’ eighth annual Bus Passenger Survey which shows overall passenger satisfaction at 90% - a better result than in England and Scotland. The independent watchdog gathered the views of almost 48,000 passengers in the first GB-wide survey, allowing benchmarking and comparability across operators, regions and nations. Wales took part thanks to funding from the Welsh Government and bus operators, and the support of Bus Users Cymru. The results show that three quarters of passengers (76%) are happy with punctuality, 86% are happy with journey time and 81% are satisfied with the helpfulness of the driver. The long-distance TrawsCymru services showed even stronger overall satisfaction at 94%. 91% are happy with journey time and satisfaction with bus driver helpfulness is at 87%. The survey results enable us to build a picture of passenger journeys, providing valuable insight and research that we can use to influence decision-makers and help focus business decisions on delivering improvements for

N

94% of TrawsCymru users are ‘satisfied’

passengers. Looking at the results in more detail shows there is room for improvement. National satisfaction with value for money was 64%, but even lower in South West Wales (52%) and among commuters (61%). Satisfaction with punctuality also falls to 64% during the afternoon peak when it comes under pressure from congestion, particularly in South East Wales. Just two thirds of passengers (66%) are happy with bus stop information, and it is only 60% in North Wales. The key driver for delivering a satisfactory journey is timeliness (punctuality and waiting time); while key factors for a great

Young passengers boarding at Brecon

journey are the friendliness of the bus driver, followed by the on-bus environment. Good information is also an important link in the chain for supporting passengers both before and during the journey. Results for these factors are not the same across Wales and value

Key results: % passengers ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ satisfied

Factor

Wales North Mid South South Traws England overall Wales Wales West East Cymru overall

Overall journey

90%

89%

92%

93%

89%

94%

88%

Overall: commuting

84%

80%

90%

91%

84%

91%

83%

Overall: has disability

90%

88%

94%

93%

89%

96%

87%

Value for money

64%

62%

69%

52%

67%

71%

65%

Value for money: commuting

61%

59%

66%

44%

66%

67%

63%

Punctuality

76%

69%

85%

85%

76%

88%

73%

Journey time

86%

86%

88%

88%

85%

91%

84%

Waiting time

76%

70%

84%

81%

76%

86%

74%

Bus stop: overall

76%

72%

77%

75%

77%

79%

80%

Bus stop: information

66%

60%

64%

69%

67%

67%

73%

Bus driver: helpfulness

81%

78%

84%

85%

81%

87%

75%

Driving safety

90%

90%

91%

94%

89%

93%

89%

Bus: cleanliness and condition

84%

84%

88%

87%

82%

87%

80%

Bus: information on board

71%

68%

71%

71%

72%

72%

68%

Buses in general: connections

70%

72%

72%

69%

69%

72%

77%

Buses in general: frequency

73%

67%

67%

72%

76%

69%

71%

for money is particularly patchy, as the table of results shows. Passengers also gave their views on buses in general, highlighting the need for better connections in South Wales and better frequency in North and Mid Wales and also on Traws Cymru services. We also know from our evidence that more young people use the bus than any other group of passengers. Yet despite this the Bus Passenger Survey shows they are the least satisfied group of passengers. Our 2018 research Using the bus: what young people think set out five clear actions for the industry to improve services for this important audience and, in turn, convince them to be the longterm, loyal passengers of the future: they don’t feel services are 1 designed with them in mind, or that enough is being done to encourage them and make them feel valued; not knowing how the 2 system works or what to do is a barrier and a source of anxiety about ‘getting it right’; improving the journey 3 experience is important young people notice poor quality provision; there is a need to design 4 systems better, learning from other industries in the way they appeal to young people; fares for young people are 5 confusing and inconsistent. Transport Focus’ mission is to get the best deal for transport users. We will continue to work with the Welsh Government, local authorities and operators, alongside Bus Users Cymru, to make sure they clearly understand these results and act on what passengers are saying.

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BUSES IN WAL ES

2018

BYSUS YNG NGH YMRU

FOUNDATIONS FOR SUCCESS Despite rising traffic congestion, cardiff bus MD cynthia ogbonna and her team are working to keep the Welsh capital moving ynthia Ogbonna, the Managing Director of Cardiff Bus, expresses exasperation at the state of the Welsh capital’s roads. As the city’s energetic economy and population grows, Ogbonna and her team find themselves being squeezed by an ever-rising tide of congestion. She talks passionately about her desire to see fewer people in cars and more of them on Cardiff ’s buses. However, that vision is being stymied by the inexorable rise in traffic. “We are finding ourselves channelling more and more resources into keeping our network running,” she says. “There are obvious cost and environmental implications from that. We need the political will to find an alternative path for the future if we are to succeed in keeping the city moving.” However, Ogbonna at times wishes that policy makers would grasp the initiative and reallocate road space in favour of buses and other sustainable means of travel. She continues: “The problem is that this is an extremely controversial point of view; people in their cars don’t like the idea of losing their road space to buses, but it’s clear that we need to do something.” Ogbonna says that in a perfect world her fleet would have greater priority, allowing more buses to carry more people with predictable journey times. She adds: “The quicker the journey time, the more attractive it is. Put simply, that means more people will use the bus.”

C

However, until that nirvana is reached, Ogbonna and her team do everything they possibly can to keep Cardiff moving. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk. Every day brings unpredictable levels of traffic, hindered by unexpected road works and closures. “We all love online shopping,” she says. “It’s a quick and easy way to shop for people with busy lives, but there’s a cost to it. As a society we need to realise every single online delivery adds to congestion. In response to that we are doing all we can to work closely with stakeholders to try to mitigate the problems by, for example, rephasing traffic lights, coming up with new ideas for bus priority, but it’s not an ideal solution.” Ogbonna expresses a wish for clear political leadership that allows the bus to be a thoroughbred performer, in her own words that means “giving the bus a clear run”. She describes this as a vision for improving bus journey times, reliability and frequency. To her mind it is part of a virtuous circle. “It means giving genuine priority,” she adds. “We want people to consider the bus as a realistic alternative to the private car. Frequency and reliability are critical to that, but if we don’t encourage more people to use the bus, that service frequency will be lost. We are a company that

Cardiff Bus has invested £4.4m in 30 new buses since the last Welsh Bus Summit

is owned by the local council; we are not one of the big PLC operators. We are effectively a local bus company owned by the local community. All profits are either reinvested on new buses or paid to the city council as a dividend. Equally, we do not receive any financial support from the council.” As well as the financial dividend, Cardiff Bus also returns a social dividend to the council through operating marginal corridors over extended hours. Ogbonna says this approach aims to diffuse problems of “transport poverty”. In other words, Cardiff Bus seeks to provide a bus service to ensure every part of the city has access to public transport. “We are the glue that holds the city together,” she says. “We do play a big part in keeping Cardiff on the move.” However, despite the strife caused by the ever-growing levels of congestion, Ogbonna pays tribute to the skills and abilities of her team, in particular those

“We are a people business and people are the focus of everything we do”

behind the wheel of Cardiff Bus’s 220 vehicles. “Our business is all about people,” she says. “We are a people business and people are the focus of everything we do. We do a lot to ensure that our staff have the training and support they need to do the very best job. They are the ambassadors of our company.” Ogbonna feels their warmth, friendliness and commitment to customer care have been rewarded by the latest results from the Transport Focus Bus Passenger Survey. The councilowned company scored highly: overall 89% of those customers questioned said they were ‘satisfied’ with the operator, 53% of them expressing they were ‘very satisfied’. Despite those congestion woes, a respectable 84% were also satisfied with the operator’s ontime performance. “The Transport Focus results have focused minds,” she says. “When you have reached the stage where nine out of 10 people are

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CARDIF F BUS

happy with your performance, just where do you go? Do you aim for 100%? There’s not many more things you can do to improve things, but we’re really focussed and looking closely at how we can work smarter and more efficiently to improve customer service.” Ogbonna reveals that particular attention is being paid to the way in which the operator’s customers are kept informed. “We’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes on that,” she says. “We are really focussing on those issues where we think that small improvements can pay great dividends in the way in which we are perceived.” She has a vision for the operator to emulate the very best retailers, John Lewis comes to mind, by benchmarking the way in which they approach customer service and staff training. That benchmarking also extends to other bus operators, in particular the council-owned companies that form part of the ALBUM group of non-aligned bus

operators. Ogbonna highlights her colleagues at the awardwinning municipal operators of Nottingham and Reading for particular praise in this respect. The company was a pioneer when it comes ticketing, and was among the first operators to launch a commercial smartcard scheme and introduce smart phone-based mobile ticketing. Customers can also pay for their travel using a Direct Debit scheme too, and in recent weeks Cardiff Bus has introduced contactless debit and credit card payments across its network. “We are already one of the quickest for bus boarding times,” says Ogbonna. “Around 30% of our customers are travelling with a mobile ticket or smartcard and a further 30% pay with cash. The remainder are using some form of concessionary travel pass. Of course, our cash fares are exact fare too, so we’ve never really had an issue with boarding times.” That being said Ogbonna feels that the introduction of contactless payment will add a level of flexibility for the operator’s customers. The payment option has been trialled for the last year on the Baycar-branded routes that service Cardiff Bay and during the trial a large number of tourists were found to have appreciated the contactless option. Now it has been rolled out to the entire network and already around 8% of customers are choosing to pay with credit or debit card.

“We are glue that holds the city together. We do play a big part of keeping Cardiff, the powerhouse of the Welsh economy, on the move”

Cardiff Bus Chairman Ed Stubbs launches the latest new buses with Cynthia Ogbonna

“We may see the mix of tickets purchased by customers changing, so some people who previously used mobile ticket or smart card may switch to contactless as it’s just more convenient for customers,” she adds. “I suspect we’ll also see the number of them paying cash also reduce, but we will wait and see.” Ogbonna does feel that further work can be undertaken in the ticketing arena. The operator’s ticket machines have been upgraded to accept not only those contactless transactions, but also to accept QR coded ticketing, and she feels this also gives scope for further innovation. Meanwhile, Cardiff Bus is also working towards introducing fare-capping for those paying by contactless within the next 12 months of so. “That will require a lot of work to make it work,” she adds. The bus industry is not without its challenges and Cardiff Bus remains one of a small number of bus operators that are councilowned. Last year Lancashirebased municipal operator Rosso was acquired by French group Transdev. What of the future for Cardiff Bus? “We’ve been here for 118 years,” says Ogbonna, contrasting the operator with its peers owned by larger multi-national and PLC groups. “Our ownership model is very different and we have a vision that is very different too. Our shareholder wants us to be part of the city; profit maximisation is not the objective here and we have that social dividend that I mentioned earlier, but we have to make a return in order to allow us to invest. There’s no other funding other than the customer. “In essence, we have the best of both worlds and it is up to our shareholder to make decisions about the future. But we offer value for money to the city, we are an iconic brand and we have been part of Cardiff for over 100 years. I see myself as the custodian of the company and I’m confident it will still be here long after I have gone. What we have though are the foundations for success.”

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F IRST CYMRU

First Cymru’s incoming MD, Andrew Sherrington (above left), has “ambitious plans” for growing Swansea's Unibus (above right)

GOING FOR GROW TH andrew sherrington, the new Managing Director at Swansea-based first cymru, inherits a legacy of initiatives for further potential growth ndrew Sherrington takes up his post as First Cymru’s new Managing Director at an exciting time for the Swansea-based operator. His predecessor Justin Davies, who has become a full-time vicar, left a legacy of initiatives which have further potential for growth, and developments driven by local authorities and Swansea University will bear fruit over the coming months and years. First Cymru’s operations spread much wider than Swansea, encompassing rural and inter-urban routes. In this respect it mirrors Sherrington’s previous role, as First’s operations director for a swathe of England from Westbury and Bath to Wells and Weston-super-Mare. Sherrington - who grew up in what is now the constituency of transport secretary Ken Skates - is delighted that First Cymru is investing in improvements to its Ammanford depot, the kind of location which is important to bus operators but often overlooked, he says. The X13 Ammanford-Swansea service operates half-hourly

A

during daytime and is a star of the Cymru Clipper inter-urban brand, introduced by Davies in 2014. Sherrington sees scope for more growth from the brand, particularly the X10 express service between Swansea and Cardiff, which was once a Greyhound-branded service. Buses and coaches cannot compete with the train between the city centres, but the X10 serves important additional markets including the McArthurGlen shopping outlet beside the M4. Sherrington has plans to exploit modern technology to reach out to new X10 customers and to sidestep some of the traffic congestion which plagues Cardiff and Swansea. First Cymru’s most conspicuous success of recent years is Unibus, introduced to support the opening of Swansea University’s Bay Campus in September 2015. The campus has minimal car parking for students but is beyond walking distance from the city centre and most student accommodation. Consequently, the campus’s success rests on the quality of bus services. Unibus-branded services connect the new campus, east of the city centre, with the long-

established Singleton campus, out to the west. One route runs along the coast via the bus station. Growth was so rapid that First introduced double deckers in 2017 for additional capacity - the first double deckers on routine services in Swansea for decades. This route is supplemented by an express inter-campus service which omits the bus station - and the forest of traffic lights in the vicinity. The other Unibus service takes a more northerly route between the campuses, serving areas where many students live in private accommodation. These frequent new services increase the bus network’s attractiveness for non-students, improving access to Singleton Hospital, for example. This is familiar territory for Sherrington, who reports a doubling of passenger numbers on Bath’s university-based bus services

“Swansea University has ambitious plans... and therefore we have ambitious plans”

following rebranding and other improvements in partnership with the University of Bath. “Swansea University has ambitious plans for growth up to 2025, and therefore we have ambitious plans for growth,” he says. A high proportion of Unibus passengers use mobile tickets. The challenge is to encourage more to follow suit or take advantage of First Cymru’s new contactless card payment technology. Some of the journey time benefits of the articulated buses - which had three doors and a conductor to sell tickets - were lost when the MorristonSingleton Metro 4 service reverted to ordinary buses, but widespread take-up of electronic payment systems would reduce dwell times at bus stops. This service operates every 10 minutes on weekdays. Traffic lights and congestion will continue to slow down bus journeys. Swansea has some useful bus lanes, including westbound on Fabian Way. There are signs that the city council is starting to understand how buses are the principal solution for congestion and air quality problems. It is installing a system which detects late-running buses and adjusts traffic light timings to help them regain their schedules. Neighbouring Neath Port Talbot council has developed a £5.6m bus hub outside Port Talbot Parkway railway station, improving interchange with First Cymru routes in the town and along the Afan Valley. Port Talbot and Swansea have significant air quality problems. Bath has also been highlighted as having an air quality issue which has benefited from an award from the Department for Transport to help tackle the issues, Sherrington is surprised that the Welsh Government has still not awarded any capital grants for green bus technology, given its obligations to improve air quality. He is pleased, however, that the government is funding the roll-out of audio-visual next-stop information to more buses in the east of First Cymru’s region (Bridgend and Maesteg).

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Key T. Raynor, Arriva Key speakers speakers include include • Simon Jones, Director of Transport, Welsh Government speakers include ••Key Simon Jones, Director ofDirector Transport, Margaret Everson MBE, for Welsh Wales, Government Bus Users Cymru •• •• •• • • •

Margaret Everson MBE, Director for Wales, Bus Users Cymru Mark Barry, Professor of Practice in Connectivity, Cardiff University Simon Jones, Director of Transport, Welsh Government Mark Barry, Professor of Practice in Connectivity, Cardiff University Professor Stuart Cole CBE, Emeritus Professor of Transport, University of South Wales Margaret Everson MBE, Director for Wales, Bus Users Cymru Professor Stuart Cole CBE, Emeritus Professor of Transport, University of South Wales Mark Barry, Professor of Practice in Connectivity, Cardiff University Professor Stuart Cole CBE, Emeritus Professor of Transport, University of South Wales

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0207 067 1597 @ www.thewaterfront.co.uk 19/04/2018 11:56


STAG ECOACH

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT nigel winter, managing director of stagecoach in south wales, says there is still time for the Welsh Government to ‘get on board’ and help make bus services better for passengers ast year, in this same publication, I wrote that the Welsh bus industry was at a crossroads. I said taking the right road would see effective partnership working to deliver even better services for existing bus passengers across the country as well as putting in place the right measures to attract more customers on to bus travel to help deliver the Welsh Government objective of reduced congestion and pollution in our towns and cities. Taking the wrong road, I said would result in years of further challenges for operators, local authorities and most importantly, passengers, including the growing issue of traffic congestion, reduced public sector investment in buses due to the challenging economy, a lack of effective partnership working and potential service cuts and higher fares.

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so where are we 12 months on? Sadly, probably not quite as far along the right road as we’d like to be. However, bus operators are continuing to make improvements for the many people who rely on bus travel every single day. We desperately need our efforts to be matched by the Welsh Government, particularly on areas like congestion. In my view, it’s important that bus operators are able to operate within the modern retail world that so many people have now become used to. At Stagecoach, we very much recognise that our customers expectations are changing in line with the service and technology they use in other areas of life

The launch of ‘Gold’ buses on Services 120 and 130 last December – a £4m investment

whether its shopping, booking holidays or interacting with large retailers. Over the past year or so, we have worked hard, and invested heavily, in the kind of technology that exists elsewhere. That is why we have invested heavily in the kind of technology and improvements that our customers experience when dealing with other retailers. For example, we now offer contactless payments (as well as Apple Pay and Android Pay) on all of our vehicles in Wales in the same way that people pay for purchases in shops, fast-food chains and on other travel modes, a payment method that is fast becoming the norm. And our Stagecoach Bus smart phone app offers real-time service information, a sophisticated way of making repeat or new purchases and gives people mid-journey guidance to help them get off at the right stop

- in the same way that customers now make other online purchases with ease, and track deliveries to their homes. Part of being a modern retailer is also about delivering the kind of customer service we expect ourselves from the companies we deal with. That’s why, as well as focusing on positive interaction with customers from frontline staff, we now have a strong presence on social media and a greater focus on local customer service personnel to assist with customer queries and issues. In the past 12 months, we have invested around £4m in new vehicles for local communities, including new Gold buses on Services 120 and 130, serving the Rhondda Fawr and Caerphilly. We have also made a number of service improvements including increased frequency on service 122 between Tonypandy and Cardiff, from every 20 mins to

every 15, and service 50 Newport - Caerphilly increased from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes. We have introduced new Sunday journeys in Cwmbran on services 5A and 5C, and from April 2018 new Sunday journeys in Aberdare on services 9, 11 and 13. Despite the above work, we still face many challenges as an industry. Costs continue to rise, and the situation is made worse by the issue of congestion and pollution in our towns and cities. The Welsh Government already has the powers to tackle this growing crisis which is affecting most people, whether they use the roads or not. We await the start of the Metro project, although it will be many years before it is delivered, with no certainty it will significantly reduce road congestion. Meanwhile, road congestion and air pollution continue to worsen with no current policy or strategy in place to counter the adverse affects on the environment and economy in the short or medium term. Local Highway Authorities do not have sufficient funding to support the efficient delivery of bus services. Independent research shows that bus journey speeds in Wales have reduced by 7.5% since 2015 - this must be tackled by our politicians urgently. While we continue to face challenging conditions, operators are taking action for passengers and making the improvements we have responsibility for. There is still time for the Welsh Government to get on board and help us all move down the right path, and we urge them to do so to help bus operators deliver for passengers and for Wales.

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19/04/2018 11:26


BUSES IN WAL ES

2018

BYSUS YNG NGH YMRU

The team at Traveline Cymru has worked closely with Omnibus to make fares information available to bus passengers through its website, smartphone app and Freephone number

MAKING FARES INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO ALL omnibus has been working closely with traveline cymru to bring fares information to the bus users of Wales. It means that Wales is ahead of other parts of the UK in disclosing this vital information n England the Bus Services Act contains regulations made under the new open data provisions and new ticketing powers that aim to make it easier for bus passengers to use buses, move between different modes of transport and access timetables, fares and routes. However, it is perhaps worthwhile noting that Wales is ahead of England when it comes to those elements regarding publicly available information

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about bus fares. Software supplier Omnibus has worked closely with Traveline Cymru and its partners to develop an innovative process for handling fares information, cross-referenced with timetable data. It means that bus users, not to mention potential bus users, can access detailed bilingual bus fares information via the Traveline Cymru service, be that online, through the organisation’s Freephone number, or via its smartphone apps.

The decision to include fares information within Traveline Cymru’s service came about because in the past the organisation’s contact centre agents were frequently asked for fares information. “At that time, they had huge bound files containing printed fare tables,” says Kevin Roderick, Traveline Cymru’s Service Delivery Manager. “This was a long-winded and cumbersome task that added considerable time to the call length.” He adds that it had long been

agreed nationally that including fares alongside journey planning information was a long-term aspiration, “but there was no action being taken so we decided to go our own way and make it happen”. Roderick believes that the full disclosure of fares information was important for the Traveline Cymru service. “With any other mode of transport, you would be able to easily get the information about what your journey was going to cost, even by car,” he says. “With bus a lot of people usually

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O MNIBUS

turn up and trust they can afford it.” There were obstacles to be overcome, in particular that there was no legal requirement to force operators to disclose their fares to Traveline Cymru when registering a bus service. Fares can be changed by operators largely at will and, usually, at short notice. It means that Roderick and his colleagues rely entirely on goodwill from the operators to send Traveline Cymru updates about when fare changes are made. Of course, that seems simple when compared to the task of processing the fares information and then presenting it in a standardised format. Initially Roderick and his colleagues tried to extract the information directly from the back offices of each operator’s Electronic Ticket Machine (ETM) supplier. “However, as we were not direct customers, we had to have individual contracts with each bus operator,” explains Roderick. “The issues arose when back offices were updated or had patches added and we had to return to our system suppliers to make amendments to the software constantly. This became too costly to continue.” It was at this point that Traveline Cymru began to examine a common denominator that had the potential to provide an effective one-size-fits-all solution. Roderick and his colleagues determined that the ETMs of every Welsh bus operator are effectively reading a fare chart in order to calculate a passenger’s fare, so, effectively, the ETM has the ability to print a fare table for each route. “This means that they can supply us in electronic format either a spreadsheet, text file or PDF,” says Roderick. Working with partners that included Omnibus, Traveline Cymru then determined a desired ‘standard’ spreadsheet format from the raw ETM fare table data. From this, software was developed that could ‘read’ Microsoft Excel, text or PDF fare table files and convert them into spreadsheets that would create a standardised

“It has been a lengthy and complex process to reach the stage where the majority of fares information is now freely available to the public”

data set. The software also has the benefit that it can be used to manually create fare tables for the rare file formats that the software cannot automatically ‘read’. Rob West, Solution Architect for Omnibus, explains what the team did to enable the two sets of data, fares and timetables, to work together in the journey planner: “There is no standardised bus stop location code common to both the fare data and the timetables. We therefore developed a GIS-based tool that assists a skilled and knowledgeable user to crossreference the fare stage codes used in the standardised fare data with the NaPTAN codes used in each timetable route variant, to get the two data sets working together.” It has been a lengthy and complex process to reach the stage where the majority of fares information is now freely available to the public. “We started this process as far back as 2014 or 2015,” admits Roderick. “We did not make any real progress until the middle of 2016 when we set up the current system. We initially had good response from the larger

operators and local authorities and were able to create around 65% of available fares quite quickly (beginning of 2017). This slowed somewhat when we went for medium operators and we are currently holding around 90% of all fares.” Traveline Cymru is now actively working with smaller operators in order to include their fares information but Roderick admits that this has its challenges. “This is likely to be slower work as they have numerous other tasks to perform and less knowledge of their ETM back office functions,” he says. “We will, in all likelihood, visit each and offer to extract the information on their behalf.” “This has been an exciting

Traveline Cymru now includes fares information for an increasing number of bus trips

project to have been a part of,” says Michael Meilton, Special Projects Manager for Omnibus. “There is a reason why this hasn’t been done before as it is extremely complicated to do, but Traveline Cymru is streets ahead of its counterparts in England who are faced with the challenge presented by the open data elements of the Bus Services Act, which are still only in the planning stage. Traveline Cymru established a need to provide more comprehensive information to passengers and found a practical way to deliver results in a reasonable period of time.” Despite these challenges, Roderick says the process has been valuable with extremely positive feedback. “All have welcomed the inclusion of this information,” he adds. “We are now in a position where we can look at a new phase of development and look at integration of tickets, rider ticket zones and improvements to how fares are displayed to customers. “We believe that having all the information a customer needs to plan and make a bus journey improves the customer experience and, although it has been a difficult process at times, the outcome is well worth having.” In addition to certain elements in the fares data process, Omnibus also supplies Traveline Cymru with the software to create and export timetable data for the entire country. “The requirements on operators to provide additional data are forever increasing,” Meilton continues. “Omnibus continues to play a significant role in data exchange, by allowing operators to export data electronically (such as Electronic Registrations), and providing data tools for organisations including Traveline Cymru, to process it.” Oldham-based Omnibus supplies scheduling software and management tools to numerous bus operators across Wales, including First, Cardiff Bus, Newport Transport and ComfortDelGro subsidiary New Adventure Travel.

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BUSES IN WAL ES

2018

BYSUS YNG NGH YMRU

ON A CONTACTLESS MISSION ticketer is working closely with a number of bus operators in Wales to introduce contactless payments. john clarfelt also reveals some of the company’s more recent developments aking the switch to contactless may seem a daunting prospect, but Ticketer aims to make this process as smooth as possible. “We are on a mission to make buses in Wales contactless,” says John Clarfelt, Ticketer’s Managing Director. A growing number of Welsh operators are now using the Ticketer system and these include Cardiff Bus, the capital city’s council-owned bus operator, and NAT Group, now part of ComfortDelGro. Ticketer is also working with a number of smaller and medium-sized operators to roll out the latest smart-enabled ticket machines across Wales. More of that later. A significant strength of the Ticketer system is the ability to tailor the equipment and capabilities of the technology to the specific needs of the customer. It means that a variety of ticketing methods – from QR coded tickets to special offer coupons, smart and contactless debit and credit card transactions – can be developed for one Ticketer customer and then, once up and running, offered to all customers as an attractive add on without having to replace their entire Electronic Ticket Machine (ETM). “We enjoy talking to our

customers and discovering their needs,” says Clarfelt. “Ultimately our solution is about trying to get as many people as possible onto the bus and so we have a system that’s very modular and very easy for the operator to use. We can add and take things away according to the needs of the customer. “A couple of years ago we didn’t have things like QR codes and contactless debit and credit card payments but now we do. We can upgrade all of our machines to accept these different payment methods. All of our customers can benefit from these new innovations, so if an operator wants to upgrade to contactless or QR codes, it’s a relatively straightforward process.”

cardiff bus makes the switch A number of operators in Wales have recently made the switch to contactless payments using the Ticketer system. In March Cardiff Bus introduced contactless debit and credit card payments following a successful trial on the operator’s Baycar routes. For Cardiff Bus, contactless payment technology will complement existing payment methods, including mobile and online payment options via the iff smartcard portal. All of these options aim to ensure that the operator’s customers have maximum flexibility and choice in the way they purchase their travel. Meanwhile, Ticketer is also

working with a number of smaller and mid-sized Welsh bus operators to introduce the latest ticketing equipment in a project supported by the Welsh Government. Operators will have ITSO functionality, as well as the option to add both QR and contactless modules. Clarfelt describes this initiative to modernise the ticketing equipment of these operators as “extremely important”. Many would also be daunted by the prospect of introducing contactless credit and debit card transactions. After all it’s an area that has the potential to confuse with questions about how payments will be taken, what back office infrastructure is required and how day-to-day operations will be managed. However, Ticketer aims to steer a steady course through those issues. “We really want to help operators of all sizes to be easily able to introduce contactless,” says Clarfelt. “Just look at how the popularity of contactless has grown in the last couple of years – it’s clear people like to pay with plastic. What we want to do is take out the stress and hassle for bus operators by creating a contactless payment template that can be used by any operator.”

Ticketer system. The growth of the company is such that the one billionth Ticketer bus ticket was recently issued on a Reading Buses vehicle. It’s a significant milestone for a company that was founded only eight years ago, but Ticketer is growing so quickly that it expects to reach its two billionth ticket within the next

12 months. As John Clarfelt, Ticketer’s Managing Director, notes: “We pride ourselves on giving all our clients, from the very smallest local bus services to the national operators, all the benefits of multiple payment options including m-ticketing, delivered for the convenience of passengers and drivers alike.”

Ticketer's system aims to offer flexibility

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G ROW I NG E X P E RT I SE he last couple of years have been extremely busy for ticketing technology company Ticketer with the company more than doubling in size, not only in terms of the Ticketer team, but also in terms of the number of operators switching to the

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Cardiff Bus recently upgraded its Ticketer equipment to introduce contactless payment

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19/04/2018 11:37


Getto toknow knowthe theArriva ArrivaBus BusApp App Get The Arriva Bus App is designed to make it easier for you to get around on the bus. Whether you want to know the The Arriva Bus App is designed to make it easier for you time of the next bus, where the nearest stop is, how long to get around on the bus. Whether you want to know the before you get to your destination or even exactly where time of the next bus, where the nearest stop is, how long your bus is at any given moment, this is the app for you. before you get to your destination or even exactly where your bus is at any given moment, this is the app for you.

Live Map View the buses as they move in real-time

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location. Map now in includes service View the buses Live as they move real-time numbers andwill thearrive abilityattoyour filter services and see when they by Live tapping specific busservice stops. location. Mapon now includes numbers and the ability to filter services by tapping on specific bus stops.

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you can view the buses Selectone, fromand your saved favourite placesdeparting or trips, from that stop, which catch. chooseand busplan stops fromone theto map or search for the nearest one, and you can view the buses departing from that stop, and plan which one to catch.

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your journey. Selectplan where you want to go from and to, or select locations from the map to plan your journey.

Live Departures favourite bus stops are also displayed. Live departure boards for nearby and your favourite bus stops are also displayed.

m-tickets This links though to the Arriva m-ticket app

m-tickets (or your App Store if you’ve not downloaded it

yet)though so you to can buy tickets on your mobile phone. This links the Arriva m-ticket app (or your App Store if you’ve not downloaded it yet) so you can buy tickets on your mobile phone.

Download the FREE Arriva Bus App for real-time updates Download the FREE Arriva Bus App for real-time updates

in SOUTH WALES Ask your driver for a smartcard – register online and load your favourite megarider product. Our Xtra ticket renews automatically every month, one less thing to worry about!

Prefer to tap and go? We now accept contactless on board all our vehicles in South Wales!

Day and Week mobile tickets are available on the Stagecoach APP, download yours today! Plan your journey

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Follow us:Find@Stagecoach_West Plan your journey your stop Track your bus Follow us: Follow us: Follow us:

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