Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence



Examination of Witnesses (Questions 920-936)

MR JOHN HENKEL, COUNCILLOR HELEN HOLLAND, MR RICHARD RAWLINSON, MR TONY CIABURRO AND MS SHEILA HENLEY

WEDNESDAY 20 MARCH 2002

  920. Can I take you on to a different issue. I think it is fair to say that you all operate third world ticketing systems in your area. What are the chances of getting an inter-operable ticket for your areas and perhaps a smart card?
  (Mr Henkel) We have one already, the METRO card I referred to earlier.

  921. How many of the operators accept it?
  (Mr Henkel) 51.

  922. All of them?
  (Mr Henkel) All of them.

  923. Does it mean that no one has to queue up to pay when they get on the bus?
  (Mr Henkel) No it does not.

  924. Why not?
  (Mr Henkel) Two reasons. We had a very successful ticket called a Saver Strip—it was known as "Ker-ching" locally—

Chairman

  925. It was known as what?
  (Mr Henkel) You had to cancel it on a machine on the bus, 12 rides for the price of ten, and it made a "ker-ching" noise with very high levels of pre-payment. The operators then wanted to promote their own single operator tickets rather than multi-modal tickets and they withdrew their support for that ticket and it was withdrawn about five or six years ago. So we do have a ticket but it is not a world-class ticket, although it could be. We also have with the department a major bid for a smart card scheme which would develop in conjunction with South Yorkshire PTE and we are hopeful to secure funding for that later this year.

  926. Presumably one of those operators is going to go their own way anyway?
  (Mr Henkel) We see the smart card as being a more sophisticated platform on which we could have a ticket that would be valid on all services but the operators could put on different incentives for bus miles or train miles within that overall framework. We see the technology in part, but not wholly addressing this problem. We still think there are tensions between the Transport Act and the Competition Act and we are coming up against some of these tensions in trying to develop a ticketing scheme under the provisions of the Transport Act.
  (Councillor Holland) This is something we have been moving towards. It has been a subject of great frustration that we have not been able to introduce the smart card technology, although with First we have a virtual monopoly situation and we are not going to have that problem of a lot of operators buying into the scheme. In our evidence we mentioned the Civitas money that we have had from Europe and one of the projects within that is a smart card. This is moving towards an eventual travel purse when we bring in charging—

Andrew Bennett

  927. Eventually? This year?
  (Councillor Holland) This is going to be this year. First Group are telling us that it is going to happen by the summer. We are also going to be able to link public transport costs and parking on the same card so we are beginning to move towards the idea of a travel purse.

  928. Has traffic calming been done by minimising highway maintenance?
  (Mr Henkel) Madam Chairman, as I work for METRO and I am not a highways engineer, I should defer to my colleagues on this one.

Chairman

  929. That is cunning.
  (Mr Rawlinson) No, we are not doing it through the increase of pot holes or lack of maintenance. We have got some very good traffic calming schemes with some money going to Home Zone initiatives and other initiatives and, indeed, we are putting quite a substantial amount into the traffic management programme which is 2 or 3 million a year for traffic calming. It is not always as easy as you think. The money is there but the community do not want it when they get it. We have lots of discussions, particularly in respect of Home Zones, because it displaces parking outside residents' houses.

  930. Can we not work out a scheme whereby all the locals park their cars outside and insist that nobody else does?
  (Mr Rawlinson) We do have schemes like that.

  Chairman: You are people of great hope; not sense but hope.

Andrew Bennett

  931. How many more people are going to be walking and cycling in your areas over the period of the 10 Year Plan?
  (Mr Henkel) In terms of our local transport plan we have adopted the Government's target for doubling cycle use.

  932. I did not ask you about targets, I asked you how many would be going to do it.
  (Mr Henkel) The early indications are that we are having growth in cycling and we are very pleased about that. Walking is far more difficult to measure. I cannot claim we have robust statistics on the amount of walking that is done. You need to do household surveys and that is a very costly exercise.

Mr O'Brien

  933. As cost-effective as a local consultation exercise?
  (Mr Henkel) To do a structured survey across the whole of West Yorkshire on modes of transport, with a large enough sample size to break it down by categories we would be interested in would be a costly exercise. It is very different to doing local consultation exercises.
  (Mr Rawlinson) Obviously coming from Bristol we have SUSTRANS the transport and environment charity which has the particular responsibility for promoting the National Cycle Network. You will be glad to know that in Bristol we have had a 27 per cent increase in cycling since 1996 and we predict that we will certainly meet the Government's targets.

Andrew Bennett

  934. Is 27 per cent two people?
  (Mr Rawlinson) We have the university too so it is quite a lot, but I have to say it depends on whether it rains or not because if the survey is taken when it rains there are a lot less.

Chris Grayling

  935. Does the university not explain that because there has been a rise in student numbers at the same time, has there not?
  (Mr Rawlinson) There has been a rise in student numbers and we are seeing a substantial increase in cycling now we have segregated cycling facilities.

Andrew Bennett

  936. They are attracting reasonable usage?
  (Mr Rawlinson) As I say, with SUSTRANS on our doorstep—

  Chairman: As long as it does not rain, Mr Rawlinson, it is going to be okay. Gentlemen and madam, you have been extremely tolerant and kind to us and we are grateful. Not everybody survives an encounter with this Committee. You have done magnificently and we are very, very impressed. Thank you very much.


 


 
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