Working in partnership with London TravelWatch

Transport User Voice – February 2021 – Around Great Britain

28 January 2021

Taking a look at Scotland, London and Wales

Scotland

This month we had the opportunity to speak at Scotland’s Annual Transport Conference where we talked about our travel during Covid-19 survey. The findings indicate a gap between experience and perception as one of the more significant trends being picked up. Safety seems to be at the heart of this. We asked people who’d made a journey whether they felt safe and most do. But, when asking those who hadn’t made a journey most people have concerns. There is a big gap between those travelling and those not.

We also looked at how passengers can get the best deal in the future as well as how the industry can deliver a sustainable recovery for public transport as we emerge from this crisis.

Public transport must have an attractive offer to commuters to ensure any increase in car use doesn’t become a longstanding habit that’s hard to break. Loyal ‘card carrying’ season ticket holders may not return if the rail industry doesn’t catch-up with the real-world changes in how people will live and work from now on.

We responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation ‘Free bus travel for people resident in Scotland aged under 19’. We used our research with young people to understand the experiences and views of young bus passengers and how the industry could attract and retain them as bus users of the future. We are pleased that, following the consultation, the Scottish Government is making preparations to extend free bus travel to all young people under the age of 19 who live in Scotland. If all goes to plan the scheme could start being rolled out within the next financial year.

 

London

It’s been a busy start to the year for the London TravelWatch team. Although there was the inevitable fare rise announcement on Friday 15 January it was good to see that Transport for London (TfL) had listened to London TravelWatch and kept the rise of bus travel cost as low as possible.

London TravelWatch has also written to TfL’s transport commissioner, Andy Byford, asking that the minimum Oyster card auto-top up be reduced from £20 to £5. The current limit is too high, especially for lower income Londoners. This was supported by the organisation Just Fair and Virendra Sharma MP both of whom have now also written a letter to Andy pushing for this change.

Another issue that London TravelWatch has been pursuing over the past few months is Eurostar’s lack of transparency on refunds. London TravelWatch noticed that the information from Eurostar in emails and on its website deliberately excluded the fact people were legally entitled to a cash refund if they preferred that over a voucher. London TravelWatch raised this with Eurostar’s senior team as this was not acceptable and needed to be changed. While the information has now been changed to provide clarity it does not go far enough and London TravelWatch will keep pushing the matter until it does.

London TravelWatch has also been reminding passengers their rights on refunds due to the late restriction changes over the Christmas period. Passengers are entitled to a full refund if they purchased an Advance rail ticket between 24 November and 19 December for travel between 23 and 27 December which they could no longer use.

 

Wales

We talked about our work in Wales at our recent Board meeting which featured a keynote speech from Ken Skates MS. You can watch the recording of the event here.

Transport Focus is currently putting together our response to Llwybr Newydd: a new Wales transport strategy. This is a great opportunity to use our research base to ensure passengers’ views in Wales are part of public transport planning processes.

We have been speaking to thousands of passengers in Wales through our travel during Covid-19 surveys and online transport user communities. We’ll use this evidence to make sure there is focus on the issues that matter to passengers most. We will publish our full response on our website in once it’s available.

We are still working closely with Transport for Wales pressing for clear information for those who need to use public transport for essential journeys. This is particularly important with changes to services due to lockdown restrictions as well as the disruption caused by recent severe weather.

 

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