Transport User Voice – April 2018 – Chief executive’s editorial

28 March 2018

The snow seems a distant memory (for now) so we can calmly ponder how well our transport networks coped. Clearly the weather was, in places, pretty nasty.

Some things stand out beyond the fact that the transport system seemed to cope well in places, while in others there are lessons to be learned. Information, as ever, is key. Transport users want to know, in plain English, why decisions have been made, what the travel advice is and how disruption will be dealt with.

We must get better at dealing with trapped trains. In urban areas, where a station is in sight, some people will always be tempted to force open the doors on a crowded train. Effective communications, even if there is no news, can probably help delay this, if not prevent it.

We probably need to look again at road travel advice. Even the ‘don’t travel’ advice was either missed or ignored by some. Why?

Meanwhile, the workhorse buses carried on where they could, but Traveline’s telephone enquiry line had to shut because staff needed to get home safely. Just when needed, the system wasn’t resilient enough.

We took part in the reviews back in the last bad snow in 2010 and have just written to the Secretary of State setting out our offer of help.

Last month we held a joint industry workshop with Great Western Railway and Network Rail Western Route to explore how we can keep the disruption to passengers as low as possible during the upgrade works.

Some common themes were developed around the need for engineering plans to be fixed in good time, to support T-12 and mitigation planning, good and timely communication with passengers as well as support on the ground.

Such was the enthusiasm and momentum of the event that a further workshop will be held in September.

Meanwhile how are we going to make a difference for transport users in the next twelve months? We have just brought out our overall work plan for 2018-21 and our one-year work and insight plans. Click here to take a look.

We will use our unique brand of independence, evidence drawn from all the modes of transport we work in, and advocacy in five main areas: journey reliability and disruption, complaints, compensation and redress, fares and ticketing, boosting the user voice in long-term decision-making, and accessibility. We plan to do more work with various devolved administrations including producing multi-modal reports in particular regions or countries.

Some of our key aims are:

  • improving the accuracy and timeliness of roadworks information
  • making sure bus users are at the heart of any new franchising or partnership arrangements
  • boosting trust in the rail industry around timetable accuracy, ‘right time’ measurement of performance and use of the Consumer Price Index in regulated fares setting.

We will keep you updated on how we are doing throughout the year and how we are dealing with the inevitable ‘events’ that will crop up. Safe travels!

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