Memorandum by the Institution of Highways
& Transportation (Bus 41)
THE BUS INDUSTRY
1.1 In this submission we focus on the importance
of the whole journey, passenger perceptions and quality of service
in tackling exclusion and driving up quality in the bus industry.
We start from the position that even the best bus services are
sub-optimal if access to and from them is not safe, convenient,
reliable and comfortable.
2.1 The overall objective must be to secure
the earliest possible delivery of better and more sustainable
transport infrastructure and services while providing value for
money for the taxpayer. At the heart of this is seeking continuous
improvement, better safety and operational performance, as well
as better customer service, in the bus industry.
3. PUTTING PASSENGERS
3.1 The secret is to put passengers first
and to be customer-driven. It is crucial that the bus industry
understands and delivers what customers want, and that the legislative
regime encourages this.
4.1 What does the bus industry need to do
to offer a more customer-driven service? The travelling public
Better punctuality and reliability, eg tougher
performance targets, extra drivers (a particular constraint in
some areas at present), spare vehicles for emergency use, enhanced
maintenance cover, better arrangements for dealing with disrupted
services and greater priority on the highway network.
Reduced overcrowding, eg extra vehicles and additional
services, particularly in areas of high demand, and modern state
of the art vehicles.
Improved safety and personal security, eg more
CCTV at stations and on vehicles (in some circumstances), secure
parking, more accreditation under the secure stations initiative
and extended staffing hours.
Integrated transport measures, eg integrated
public transport information systems, better and safer interchange
at and access to, stations and Park & Ride by local public
transport, by car, cycle and on foot.
Improved accessibility for disabled people, eg
at stations and on buses. This is absolutely crucial. A transport
system designed to be convenient for disabled people will be more
sustainable and convenient for everybody. This is all part of
putting passengers first and could include providing better compensation
when things go wrong, no-quibble refunds and a greater voice for
passengers in the level and standards of services.
Improved station facilities, eg signage, ticket
offices, passenger information, waiting environments, real time
travel information and internet ticket sales for the seamless
5.1 Air quality on some heavily used bus
priority routes can fall below acceptable levels and be detrimental
to public health. Consequently, the bus industry and government
have an important role to play in increasing the use of modern
vehicles and cleaner technologies and fuels.
6.1 Inclusive bus services must enable universal
use by all potential users. There are four key attributes:
Safety and securitySafety and security
need to be the number one priority of every bus industry employee.
MobilityWe live in a highly mobile society.
The quality of many people's lives is dependent on their mobility.
People travel to take part in activities that are, by and large,
closely associated with land use patterns, ie education, health,
shopping, work and leisure. Consequently, there is a critical
relationship between transport (private and public), land use
and overall quality of life. Despite this, the Planning Green
Paper was considered by many observers to be weak on integrated
land use and transport planning.
Economic ViabilityEfficient transport
is crucial to an efficient economy. Bus services have a key role
to play in the national, regional and local context as an essential
service provider and, often, a major employer.
AccessibilityBus services have an important
role in the overall accessibility that citizens enjoy and their
inclusion in the activities that society offers.
7.1 So how do we deliver this? The answer
lies primarily in service quality. The transport literature identifies
the following key issues.
7.2 Service quality and customer satisfaction
have been discussed for many years within the industry. Customer
satisfaction is important because it translates into retained
markets, increased use of the system, newly attracted customers
and a more positive image. At the heart of customer satisfaction
lies the need to focus on providing for people. Traditionally,
very little attention has been paid to the needs of older travellers.
The industry will have to devote much greater attention to what
older travellers require, how to meet their demands and serve
their travel needs. Demographic trends suggest that populations
are ageing dramatically and the proportions of older people will
increase substantially over the next 50 years. This is a market
that the industry must continue to nurture and develop.
7.3 Breaking down the barriers to the use
of public transport is vital to making public transport more viable
as a business and as an alternative to the private car. It is
important for passenger transport providers to identify and prioritise
the needs of women and children, particularly concerning personal
security, both on discreet journeys and as part of the whole journey.
Again, this represents a substantial existing and potential market
that the bus industry should increasingly target in a planned
and proactive way.
8. SERVICE QUALITY
8.1 Within the literature there appear to
be 10 key categories that determine service quality and development.
Reliability, which means consistency of performance,
frequency and dependabilitybus priority measures and their
enforcement are particularly important in this regard. However,
there is little evidence that Bus Quality Partnerships have delivered
significant or widespread benefits and, indeed, a growing feeling
that a more streamlined approach to Bus Quality Contracts (BQC)
would offer greater incentives to transport authorities, increase
control and better reflect the balance of contributions to partnerships
made by the public and private sectors. Practical demonstration
projects would speed up delivery of BQCs by developing and disseminating
knowledge on how best to implement them.
Responsivenesstimeliness and the willingness
of employees to provide a good service.
Competencepossession of the required skills
and knowledge to perform the service on offer.
Accessease of using the system and contacting
Courtesybeing treated politely and considerately.
Communicationkeeping customers informed
and, most importantly, listening to them.
Credibilitytrustworthiness and having
the customer's best interest at heart. Central to this is easy
to use, accurate timetable information and publicity.
Securityfreedom from danger, risk or doubt.
Understanding and knowing the customerunderstanding
customers' needs and, more importantly, reacting.
Finally, the tangiblesthe physical environment
of the service.
9. CUSTOMER LOYALTY
9.1 These issues are important because they
create customer loyalty. The bus industry needs secure customers
that continue to use the service and recommend it to others.
9.1 A more sophisticated approach would
look at the various components of individual trips: planning the
journey, affordability, accessibility, waiting conditions (in
particular the quality, comfort and information afforded at bus
stops and shelters), the quality experienced on the vehicles,
transfer arrangements to other transport services and systems
and egress to the final destination. This approach is crucial
to increasing ridership and fulfilling the Government's wider
integrated transport policies.
10.1 Good interchange between modes is essential
to achieving customer satisfaction and loyalty, primarily this
means integration with walking, but at interchanges and Park &
Ride facilities, there will be multi-modal considerations. People
judge the total journey rather than the component modes within
it. Their level of satisfaction is based on a door-to-door assessment
of the journey.
10.2 Good interchange facilities are critical
to encouraging alternatives to the private car and creating a
genuinely integrated transport system.
11. THE ESSENTIALS
11.1 Good interchange need not cost
more than poor interchange. It requires attention to detail.
Interchange is often thought of in relation to
large transport facilities but, just as important, is the availability
of cycle racks, shelters, good publicity materials and accurate
and easy to understand bus stop information. The design, location
and maintenance of these basic facilities needs equal care and
attention to detail at major interchanges. It also needs pooled
resources and close co-operation between local authorities and
operators. There are four key requirements for good interchange.
Certaintygood information on when the
connection arrives and what routes are being served.
Safety and securitypassengers need to
Comfortgood seats, protection from weather,
well-maintained and clean facilities; good lighting and facilities,
and some form of interest whilst waiting.
Good standards of accessibilityeverybody
should be able to use public transport interchanges: wheelchair
users, people with children, pushchairs, heavy luggage or shopping,
and people with arthritis or problems with sight or hearing. This
brings us back to the issue of universal design and taking proper
account of the so-called "human factors".
11.2 In terms of interchange between public
transport, cars and taxis it is important to consider parking
provision (within a sustainable local transport policy), Park
& Ride and accessibility, safety and security in relation
to bus services.
12.1 About 8.5 million people in the UK
currently meet the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 definition.
In addition, around 1.5 million people have had a disability in
the past and would also be protected by the Act.
12.2 Disability is a high priority area,
particularly due to the obligations placed by the DDA. From 2004,
providers of facilities and services will be required to remove
physical obstructions to their premises. Much work has already
been undertaken to ensure that transport authorities and providers
comply with the law. However, for implementation to succeed, a
culture changein valuing human diversity, widening and
managing access and building on existing good practiceswill
need to be promoted.
12.3 Bus services are the cornerstone of
more socially inclusive transport opportunities. There is no escaping
the fact that bus services are price-sensitive. For bus services
to achieve the Government's aims concerning quality of life and
social they need to be available and affordable, particularly
relative to the private car.
13.1 As a result of the 11 September terrorist
attack, managers in critical service industries, like passenger
transport, must pay greater attention to issues such as terrorism,
civil unrest, natural and technological disasters. Contemporary
terrorists have made public transport and buses a new theatre
of military operations (ie attacks against Greyhound bus drivers
in the USA and their use in the conflict in Israel/Palestine).
13.2 In terms of emergency preparedness,
transport providers should seek to:
Prevent incidents within their control and responsibility,
effectively protecting critical assets;
Respond decisively to events that cannot be prevented,
mitigating loss and protecting employees, passengers and emergency
Support response to events that impact their
communities, integrating their equipment and capabilities seamlessly
into the total effort; and
Recover from major events, taking full advantage
of available resources and programmes.
13.3 No security system can stop terrorists
from setting off bombs in public places but good security measures
can make terrorist operations more difficult, increase the terrorists'
likelihood of being detected and identified, keep casualties and
disruption to a minimum, reduce panic and reassure alarmed passengers
in a crisis.
13.4 The passenger transport industry played
a major role in getting Manhattan back on its feet after the World
Trade Center attack. Best practice requires that, particularly
in major urban centres, transport providers produce comprehensive,
up-to-date security and emergency response plans, co-ordinated
with local authorities, perhaps including mutual aid pacts with
other relevant agencies, and subject to periodic review.
13.5 One of the most important lessons learned
following 11 September, was the value of exercises or drills.
These include tabletop crisis management exercises, joint field
exercises to test emergency response and covert testing of security.
Caring for victims is also important. Providing prompt assistance
to survivors, and victim identification and location in relation
to relatives, will not save lives. But it will spare the industry
some of the ugly criticisms that come into inept handling of these
14.1 Bus deregulation was intended to improve
quality through competition. However, due to consolidation in
the industry, the reality is that little real competition exists
through which to drive up quality. Despite this, the Office of
Fair Trading police anti-competitive practices and this can include
restricting integrated ticketing policies which are at the heart
of providing seamless journeys, a desirable outcome. The competition
restrictions need to be reviewed to develop a system in which
ticketing and service delivery arrangements promote the public
interest first and foremost.
14.2 There is no clear and accountable national
regulatory body with the remit to drive up standards in the industry.
Arguably, the Traffic Commissioners are not perceived to be fulfilling
this remit in practice.
15.1 Funding for public transport services
would benefit from review and reform. At present funding is derived
from the Standard Spending Assessment process within which there
is no specific consideration of bus service needs. This is not
satisfactory and, notwithstanding that Local Transport Plans (LTPs)
deal primarily with capital expenditure, there is a case for revenue
funding for bus services to be provided through the LTP process.
Buses operate mainly on the public highway which is managed and
improved through the LTP process. This suggested approach would
more closely integrate local transport infrastructure and passenger
transport service provision. It could form part of a stronger
focus on bus services in LTPs to ensure that, for example, measures
that could make conditions worse for buses are less likely to
occur on the ground.
15.2 In terms of regulation of the industry,
it is time to review the Transport Act 1985 restrictions on ownership
of vehicles by PTEs to look for ways to provide greater flexibility
and to reinforce control and quality.
16.1 The 10-Year Plan target requires a
10 per cent increase in bus use over the Plan period. There is
growing concern that there is no practical mechanism for achieving
this outside London. Further work is required to develop delivery
mechanisms and monitoring arrangements, perhaps as part of the
LTP process, to increase the likelihood of this target being achieved.
16.2 There is a case for separate targets
for bus passenger growth within London and outside London. This
would help to focus effort on the situation outside London, and
particularly in rural areas, where the overall circumstances are
worse yet potentially masked by progress in London.
Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Technical
18 April 2002