I have a dream…

04 January 2011

Spent the morning travelling around the Fastrack bus network in North Kent. It is very impressive and the most joined up piece of planning and public transport I have ever seen. High-quality buses, using lots of dedicated bus lanes, traffic lights that change when the bus approaches, some bus lanes with barriers that lift up at the end, good quality bus stops and information well displayed.

The big surprise – passengers seem to like it and use it as the service is fundamentally reliable with lots of buses – just what our research shows passengers want. Government agencies, councils and Arriva, the sole operator of the system, have done well to knit together very disparate agendas, land ownership and commercial interests to make something really work. The information screens put into some of the new housing developments that show real-time bus information are a winner!

The future? Uncertain. The changes to government development agencies and the huge pressures on local authority funding mean future funding will be in doubt. While the system could no doubt be packaged up and let on some form of contract with an operator it would be a real shame if the cohesion of the network was lost. I would love to survey the passengers to see what their levels of satisfaction are.

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