Passenger Voice April 2016: Anthony Smith’s editorial

04 April 2016

It was fantastic to see so many people at our events in Manchester. Our panel event on the role of bus in delivering a northern powerhouse proved to be an engaging discussion recognising bus as the true workhorse of the north. Whether it be getting people to work, school or meeting friends and family, bus plays a crucial role in people’s lives.

The most recent Budget saw further investment in roads and rail but there was a stark lack of mention of buses. This can also be said for Transport for the North’s recently-published strategy. We can expect more on buses in the forthcoming Buses Bill but it is vitally important now more than ever that passengers are at the heart of decisions. With pressure to local authority spending it is vital that passengers’ priorities are taken on board and authorities don’t take a ‘salami slicing’ approach. Easier said than done I know!

In our latest research on bus passengers’ priorities, value for money came top once again. A key area of development with the potential to deliver better value is smart. I was pleased to recently attend the Smart Cities & Communities: Shaping the Future conference on the latest innovation in smart technology up and down the country. It is evident that smart on buses has the potential to transform journeys. Wi-Fi on buses is already making passengers’ bus journeys a more efficient use of time. Smart could really make bus travel a more attractive option to existing and non-users by making journeys more affordable.

The key is to now get smart spread among more operators in an area, as has just happened in Brighton. We have researched the passenger reaction (to be published soon) and it is positive – value-for-money ratings up. Let’s see if we can make it happen.

Meanwhile down south, the public consultation period for Govia Thameslink Railway’s (GTR) proposed changes to station staffing has now ended. We have received a strong public response, which has helped to inform our reply. Due to a number of concerns we have decided to oppose the proposal. Our response has now been sent to GTR, and we will be talking to them about how they can address our concerns. Click here to see our response.


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