Transport User Voice – September 2019 – Chief executive’s editorial

02 September 2019

Biblical weather, franchise changes and Give Bus a Go!

It’s been another torrid month for transport users. It all seemed to get a bit biblical in proportions – in Shakespeare the weather often mirrors human events, so maybe…

Any crisis, no matter how rare or unusual as the power cuts were, shows up what works well and what does not work when things go wrong. What seemed clear from recent events is that, despite all the really good work done on passenger information and disruption in the last few years, rail passengers and staff have had a terrible time. We have written to all the train companies and Network Rail offering to help understand the lessons from these weeks.

Meanwhile, passengers now have some certainty on the West Coast as First and Trenitalia have won the franchise. However, the Government review of HS2 has kicked off. All of Transport Focus’s work on rail passengers priorities for improvement show that more reliable, longer and more frequent trains are key. If we want sustainable travel choices in future a step change in rail capacity is needed. Let’s get on with HS2 and more investment in transport schemes all over the country.

Meanwhile, buses – the workhorses of public transport – just carried on. Hot? Yes, but they kept moving people around and can only become more important as the UK begins to drive the pace and scale of action require to meet the targets required to address the climate emergency. With that clearly in mind, a new Transport Focus campaign Give Bus a Go kicks off in the West Midlands later this week – more on this on our website shortly and in next month’s edition of Transport User Voice. This campaign will take one key region, set out to better identify the barriers to bus as a choice for local people, drive effective interventions to lower those barriers, spot other good practice and then spread all this learning to other operators and local authorities across the country.

On the roads, the Governments Road Investment Strategy 2 will soon be published. Transport Focus has put a huge amount of work into this to make sure it reflects drivers’ experiences and needs. It is great that investment is going in to improve the strategic road network, but the consequent roadworks will need to be handled well – and Transport Focus will be working to help Highways England with that too.

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