Posts Tagged ‘public transport’
London has its own TfL to manage all things train-shaped in the capital, but a think tank has said that the Government should thrown £15bn at a similar transport body for the North of England in a bid to get everything ship-shape.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said this idea would only serve to help George Osborne’s vision of a “northern powerhouse” and they prodded the chancellor to include such a thing in his budget, which is happening on 18th March (so they’ve invariably left it a bit late, as he’s no doubt got the main meat of the budget sorted by now).
The IPPR would call this thing Transport for the North (TfN), although we’d prefer Tremendous Transport for the North so you could have TTFN as the acronym. This body would be responsible for rail, road, sea and air and determine what infrastructure investments should take priority and the like and could be made up of the existing Transport for the North alliance, which the government set up in 2014.
The IPPR plan also includes the need for a transport commissioner for the North, as well as a move toward a contactless, cross-boundary ticketing system.
Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North, said: “Northern transport infrastructure is dated, poorly integrated and lacking the large-scale investment it needs, but Transport for the North could be at the vanguard of a coherent economic plan that will fire up the northern powerhouse.”
“Devolving transport powers and budget to the North will help transform the region’s growth prospects and rebalance the economy.”
Travelling on a bus can be a miserable affair at the best of times and, as we know, there’s too many buses that are in a bit of a state when you get on them.
One bus in Yorkshire had a problem with the buttons that you press, which ring the bell to signal to the bus driver that you want to get off at the next stop. Well, Barnsley folk won’t let a little thing like that get in the way of anything. Forget getting maintenance teams out and all that faff – just write a note like this.
As you can see, the sign says “Bells not working. If you want bus to stop, shout ‘Ding Ding’.” It is impossible to read that without doing it in a Yorkshire accent.
Of course, this sign is bad news for those who too shy to shout or, indeed, can’t read. Either way, we like this system of fixing menial problems. More of it please!
Britain’s bus services are in a bad way. No, we’re not talking about people moaning about the body odour of others or youths listening to music too loudly on their bright red headphones, but rather, the services themselves.
Councils have been cutting the budgets to our bus services, which weren’t great to begin with and a report by the Campaign for Better Transport reckons we’re at crisis point. They say that half the councils in England and Wales have cut funding for buses in 2014/15, which the Department for Transport batted away, saying that these decisions were best made locally, so go and tut at them,
The report also says that rural areas have been worst hit by cuts and that, nationally, in 2014/15, almost 500 bus services were cut, altered or withdrawn. It added that 22 councils cut bus funding by more than 10% in 2014/15 and that the overall reduction in Wales in 2014/15 is more than £900,000, with 86 bus services having been cut, altered or withdrawn.
CBT’s Martin Abrams said the government needed to “wake up to the crisis facing buses”. He continued: ”Across the country, bus services are being lost at an alarming rate. Year-on-year cuts to budgets mean entire networks have now disappeared, leaving many communities with little public transport and in some cases none at all.”
“It’s very worrying that further steep cuts in budgets are threatened next year and beyond. The government must introduce new initiatives which recognise the vital social, economic and environmental role buses play.”
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT transport union, wasn’t best pleased either, saying: “This shocking new report lifts the lid on the trail of misery left strewn across the country as multimillion-pound cuts to bus services condemn hundreds of thousands of people to lives of isolation and imprisonment in their own homes. The poisonous cocktail of cuts and privatisation reinforces our call for bus services to be taken back into public ownership with the resources required to run as a comprehensive public service.”
In addition to that, thousands of drivers are preparing to strike tomorrow as part of a campaign for a single agreement covering pay and working conditions, with around 27,000 Unite members from 18 companies protesting. One of the main sticking points is that there’s no collective pay rate for bus drivers, which means wages differentiate greatly. Some drivers are paid £3 an hour more than others, among the 80-odd pay rates in the industry.
And when passengers were polled, two thirds backed the drivers’ campaign. Transport for London says that the strike will begin at 4am tomorrow and then hit the night bus service on Tuesday evening.
TfL issued the guidance below on their website.
There is a considerable disparity between the fares on the privatised networks in the UK compared with the publicly owned railways in France, Germany and Italy.
The TUC’s and rail union’s Action for Rail (AfR) campaign has compared average earnings with monthly season tickets covering similar commuter routes across Europe, and has found the UK is charging way more than any of the other European countries.
And the average UK citizen is having to use around 17% of their monthly wage on season tickets, whereas European types such as the Germans are only spending 9%, France are spending 12% and Italians get away with just 6% of their wages on travel.
Three quarters of rail franchises in the UK are now owned by foreign state-owned or backed rail companies. High fares in the UK are in effect subsidising rail investment and lower fares in other countries.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This year’s fare hike will hit passengers particularly hard because wages are rising so slowly. Rail fares are now consuming a huge proportion of people’s wages, leaving precious little for other bread and butter expenses. On average passengers are now paying £600 more for a season ticket and yet seeing no change in their pay packets.”
“The cost to passengers of the failed privatisation of our railways cannot be ignored. We’ve ended up with slower trains and higher fares than countries who have kept their trains in public hands.”
ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan chipped in and said: “We cannot continue to damage the economic future of this country by pricing people out of travel and not competing with Europe – where they know the value of encouraging travel for work and leisure. It comes as no surprise that the bulk of our railways are now run by European operators.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “The scandal of Britain’s great rail fares rip off continues with today’s hike far outstripping average pay increases, and it will once again hit those at the sharp end of the austerity clampdown the hardest. After two decades of privatisation the British people pay the highest fares in Europe to travel on clapped out, understaffed and overcrowded services while the private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank. Today’s fares jump just fuels that scandal.”
“RMT says we should cut fares and not staff and public ownership would allow us to do just that.”
TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Allowing German, French and Dutch rail firms to run our rail franchises means that UK passengers pay the highest fares in Europe while at the same time keeping fares down in those countries.
“It is the economics of the madhouse. Labour should promise a one year freeze in rail fares if it wins the General Election in May.”
There are some people who believe that Labour might actually stand a chance in the General Election if they re-nationalised the railways. We’re saying nothing.
Initially, we’re looking at the largest urban areas in the country who will be getting a similar service, and of course, some places already have their own versions.
Greater Manchester passengers will be the first to get the new format, rolled out in 2015. Presumably, it’ll be an extension of the ‘Get Me There’ card which already exists in Manchester, enabling people to get on the trams.
In the West Midlands, a number of public transport operators are already part of the Swift scheme.
These swipey payment cards are going to be implemented in Tyne and Wear, Merseyside, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire too. Nottingham, Leicester and Bristol might be having them as well. Everyone wants to go cashless.
So, if you catch a bus that is owned by Arriva, Stagecoach, First, Go Ahead and National Express, chances are that, soon enough, offering actually money to a driver will be no use to anyone.
In a joint statement, the chief executives of the companies involved said the move would deliver a “wider benefit than the capital’s Oyster system”, adding: ”Millions of people in our biggest city regions will benefit from this transformational initiative to provide London-style smart ticketing. Bus operators share the aspirations of our city regions to become growing economic powerhouses and we know high quality public transport is an important part of making that happen.”
Sadly, these cards can’t do a thing about crazy, ranting bus drivers.
Public transport eh? A wonderful thing and occasionally, hellish beyond belief. Concerning the latter, a survey has been conducted to see what we all hate most about riding the train or sitting on a bus.
With any luck, those dreadful annoying humans that cause such grievances will read this and realise how annoying they are.
It’s not going to happen is it?
Topping the list of annoying habits, people who try and jump on a train before everyone has got off have swatted aside all other bugbears. Other actions which grate us all include the scum who hog seats with their bags, the gits who read over your shoulder and those who sit in a reserved seat without a ticket. That last one doesn’t seem like a big deal if you’ve got the nerve to tell them to sling it. What’s wrong with you soft arses?
Other irritants included those who loudly talk on their mobile, people who get off with each other and those who still have their keypad tones on. The latter, in fairness, should be thrown off the train. While it is moving. Then there’s drunk passengers, children and people who eat smelly food, too.
Gareth Woodhouse from redspottedhanky.com said: ‘’Sometimes we can get a bit wrapped up in our own journeys or have a lot on our minds and it can make us less considerate of those around us. The ability to put up with things that annoy us is quite a British trait but it’s inevitable that certain behaviours test our patience more than others. Clearly those who can’t wait for the train to clear before boarding or people hogging seats can rile us but with a little more consideration and some common sense train travel can be comfortable and efficient for everyone.’’
Here are the top annoying habits:
1) People forcing themselves on when others are still getting off
2) Smelling bad
3) Drunken behaviour
4) People playing ringtones/music through speakers
5) Others kicking the back of your seat constantly
6) Parents not controlling their children, even when they’re grabbing at your face
7) People who don’t give up their seat for others who need it more
8) Playing music too loudly over headphones
9) Eating noisily
10) Putting feet on seats
For the rest of the list, click over the jump
London bus drivers won’t be accepting cash fares from passengers as soon as this summer, according to Transport for London (TfL). This news comes on the back of only one third of people polled being supportive of the idea.
Soon, if you want to ride the bus, you will only be able to do so with an Oyster Card or with contactless debit or credit card payments. With other cities, like Manchester, moving toward similar systems to Oyster Cards, this could be rolling out across the country in the next couple of years.
The TfL say that only 1% of journeys are paid for with cash, so this isn’t going to affect many people and that it will provide millions in savings for the transport service.
Leon Daniels, managing director for TfL’s Surface Transport said: “The decision to stop accepting cash fares on London buses reflects the changing way that people pay for goods and services in our city, including journeys on the bus network.”
The great news for the people of London is that they will now be able to travel in complete silence and avoid talking to anyone at all from now on, which is something they seem to glumly revel in.
So, today, most of you are back at work. What’s worse than going back to work after the Christmas holidays? Public transport in 2012, that’s what. And people catching the train to work this week will be having their patience tested sorely as grim weather, signal failures, delays and fare rises all kick you repeatedly while you’re down.
However, adding small cheer (or large irritation depending on your outlook), the 6% rise in tickets was met with a protest at St Pancras.
While depressed passengers stumbled around in the dark and damp, they were met by a New Orleans-style jazz band dressed as the Thomas the Tank Engine character the Fat Controller while other protesters from the TSSA rail union carried placards slagging Prime Minister David Cameron off.
Members of the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) joined in the protest too, handing out leaflets which invited commuters to speak their brains to the Treasury so Chancellor George Osborne can invariably ignore your gripes.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “This is just the start of three years of real pain for all passengers. The £4,000 annual season ticket is now commonplace in south east England. By 2015, the £5,000 annual season ticket will be commonplace as well, thanks to ministers insisting on (RPI) inflation plus an extra 3% on top of that in 2013 and 2014.
“Mr Cameron talks glibly about everyone sharing the pain. Well, rail passengers are taking the biggest share of the pain while ministers and MPs travel for free on the most expensive network in Europe.”
In addition to that, London Underground and London bus fares also went up from January 2nd, rising by an average of 5.6%. Still, at least loads of your money is being thrown at the Olympic eh? That’s nice isn’t it?
If you bought a 2011 season ticket from Woking to London with tube travel, you’ve paid a handsome £3,268. Now, if you did that same journey from Velletri to Rome on an Italian ticket, you would have paid a measly £336.17, according to figures from the Campaign for Better Transports (CBT).
Isn’t that wonderful? Aren’t you thrilled? The weather is invariably nicer in Italy too and they probably get free wine on-board.
And the CBT have been looking at similar 24 mile journeys around Europe, showing just how much more us saps cough-up compared to everyone else.
And the best bit of course is that our fares are going up from January 2nd by an average of six per cent!
Speaking on Sky News, shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: “UK rail commuters are taking a hit year after year after year, and all they are trying to do is to get to work.”
“It does not have to be like this. We need to look at how the Europeans run their railways.”
‘Til then, everyone buy as many motorcars as humanly possible in a bid to make the Earth die before we’re priced out of living entirely!
mySociety, the good folk behind TheyWorkForYou, the get-in-touch-with-your-MP site, have today launched FixMyTransport, your one-stop solution for having a gripe about a late train or a broken bus.
It couldn’t be simpler – mySociety say that it is…
• Easy You don’t have to know who to contact or even which operator runs the line; all you need to know is where you were travelling to and from. We’ll automatically send your report to the right contact.
• Transparent Transport operators are accountable: your report will also be publicly visible online to anyone, and so will the operators’ replies.
• Social FixMyTransport automatically creates campaigns. When someone makes a report about the same issue as you, you’ll be grouped together on the site, creating more impact than all the complaints individually.
As far as transport providers are concerned, the hope is that complaints to them about certain issues will be grouped together as opposed to being more disparate. Also, the transparency of the system will mean that they’ll be able to show passengers what they’re doing about a problem. Of course, they’ll also feel more obliged to engage with their customers and be seen to come up with solutions and resolutions.
So go on readers – get out there and get yourself embroiled in a crappy piece of public transport action. That way you can try it out and let us know if it works.
The government are spending £32 billion on a high speed rail link, and what with everyone being up a certain creek without a paddle, people are incredibly wary.
According to a poll commissioned by The Taxpayers’ Alliance, it appears that there’s a lot of people in Britain who aren’t particularly thrilled at this new scheme. In fact, 48 per cent of people want to see the scheme scrapped entirely and only 34 per cent are actually supportive of the link that will be capable of carrying trains travelling at 250mph.
If successful, a train journey from London to Manchester will be one hour and 20 minutes long. Imagine how spectacular a crash would be. No-one would survive.
Matthew Sinclair, the director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, says: “The public support alternatives that would blunt the need for some particularly painful measures and make room for lower taxes. There is strong support for cutting expensive projects like high speed rail, which they don’t see as the right use of their cash”
However, the government are looking at the project as if it is some kind of magic cure to close the economic gap splitting Britain. For starters, it might shut the mouths of those whining about the BBC’s decision to ship a load of jobs away from London to Manchester. It takes longer to travel across London than it does to get to the North by train as it is.
The Transport Secretary Philip Hammond says: “I believe that it is not possible for Britain to maintain its prosperity in the 21st century in an increasingly competitive, global economy unless we can close the growth gap between the north and the south.”
That said, the whole thing is a way off yet, with the first phase of HS2 due for completion by 2026, and will benefit people in Leeds and Manchester… but not Scotland who will have to pay for it, but see no tangible benefits at all, which must be nice for them.
Still, it won’t matter much if we’re all crushed into one carriage on a train that arrives late.
The last time more people used the railways was in 1923. Alas, since that time, there’s much less track since the “Beeching Axe” in the 60s which saw huge amounts of rail being tossed aside in favour of… well… nothing.
And so, with demand for train travel clearly on the rise, it is irritating to consider that, on top of less tracks (and thereby, less choice), we’re also going to be hit with a price increase and not see an improvement in service.
“2010 was a year of strong growth in rail journeys, as demand bounced back from the recession and passenger numbers rose to levels not witnessed in peacetime Britain since the 1920s,” says Michael Roberts, ATOC’s chief executive. “With well over a billion journeys made last year, the last time rail travel was this popular train crews were shovelling coal into steam engines and many carriages were still lit by gaslight.”
Alexandra Woodsworth, of the Campaign for Better Transport, is worried: “The rise in passenger numbers on the railway is welcome news but we are very concerned that this trend will be reversed by the hefty fare rises we saw this January, and the worse that is to come next year.”
“Saving a few pence on cheap advance tickets hardly makes up for paying hundreds more for a season ticket each year. The Government has recently admitted that the fare increases won’t even bring relief for overcrowding, which means we are running the very real risk of pushing people off the railway. Instead, we need to support the growth of train travel with cheaper, simpler, fairer fares.”
It’s always galling when The Powers That Be tell you that you should be going green and using public transport, especially in light of the fact that, for the most part, public transport can be a hellish experience.
What’s worse is when you read a report saying it will probably get worse.
And so, in a report from MPs, it’s thought that overcrowding on trains in England and Wales will get substantially worse over the next four years, despite the fact the price of tickets will be going up. Wonderful.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the Department for Transport’s own plans suggested targets for increasing passenger places would be missed. Chairwoman of the PAC Margaret Hodge said MPs were concerned that the “already unacceptable levels of overcrowding will simply get worse and ever more intolerable”.
Her report – Increasing Passenger Rail Capacity – said the main problem was a lack of any incentive for the industry to supply extra capacity without additional taxpayer support. At the moment, train operators are required to use “reasonable endeavours” to give peak passengers “a reasonable expectation of a seat within 20 minutes of boarding”, but alas, there’s no legal obligation to expand the amount of carriages or improve stations.
This means that the taxpayer has to provide funds to Network Rail to carry out any upgrade work, which inevitably never comes.
One of the solutions suggested, apart from longer platforms, is that more operators should employ a smart card service (like the Oyster Card) which would allow train companies the chance to use the information about passenger numbers, which would hopefully help them to tackle the problem of overcrowding.
Hodge told the BBC that rail operating companies in the UK were more inefficient than those in other countries, so any reforms must be properly overseen. “We don’t think the regulator has been doing a particularly good job. We think it’s time to look again at the way that Network Rail and the operating companies are accountable to the public,” she said. “They don’t seem to think about how to use public money more efficiently. They think that the answer always lies in more taxpayers’ money or in commuters paying higher fares.”
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union, described the report as a “shocking indictment of the total failure of rail privatisation”. He added: “Passengers are forced to pay through the nose to travel in obsolete and overcrowded carriages while private train operating companies are laughing all the way to the bank.”
Best start the car up…