Monday, 30 March 2009

Free bus travel for over 60's set to change

Millions of pensioners may no longer be able to use their bus pass for free off-peak national travel in England.

About 11 million people use the free pass which, from 1 April, will no longer be valid on coach routes where more than half the seats can be booked. Pass holders will also be unable to travel free on park-and-ride routes and buses "intended primarily for tourism".

Help the Aged described the move as a "backward step", but the Department for Transport defended the decision. A spokeswoman said the changes would "clarify" which services were not covered by the scheme, and would hit about 22,500 coach trips a year. The changes were being introduced following a public consultation, she added.

Read the full story here

Monday, 23 March 2009

Bus livery of the week

Train company offers flat fares

A train company is introducing flat rate fares allowing passengers to pay the same price regardless of when they book or the time they travel. Hooray!

Wrexham and Shropshire said it was introducing a single standard fare after listening to passengers' views. The company is the first in Britain to introduce such a system.

Tickets may be bought on the train, from the company website or at a ticket office for the same price.

New research from YouGov shows that 71% of all people who travel by train believe that train companies should simplify the number of ticket options. 34% of people who travel by train find buying tickets on the day of travel confusing, with more than a third (34%) also reporting that they find it stressful.

Interestingly for an industry recently in the headlines for having the most expensive fares in Europe, and for a Government continually seeking a reduction in car usage, 66% of passengers polled said that they might use train travel more often if there was a simple flat fare.
I'm surprised it has taken this long for someone to try this. Surely it's a no-brainer? I wonder if it will work in the long term? Only time will tell.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Flight attendant raps!

This is just brilliant. I've watched it three times and it has made me smile every time! I would love to hear this on a train to Paddington.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Virgin Trains' 'talking' billboard

Virgin Trains have come up with an ingenious way to promote their new faster Liverpool to London route.

A 'talking' billboard.The screen displays personalised messages to passers-by all linked to the route. Messages such as 'We're faster than that number 45 bus' are written by creatives observing nearby people.

I think it's a brilliant interactive idea that really reinforces Virgin's cutting-edge profile.

I bet the creatives behind it were tempted to write a few of their own messages. I don't know if I could resist, could you?

Friday, 13 March 2009

Mike gets to work on public transport

As ever with me, after five days on our public transport system, a few things still rankle that I need to get off my chest.

Rankle 1.
As I’m sure the other guys have said previously we have the benefit of knowing the Traveline web address and the job it does in planning our journey each time. However, I can’t help thinking just how many people get put off making the modal shift by not knowing the ‘how, what, where, who & when’ of public transport. Nothing a decent integrated marketing campaign can’t mend though.

Rankle 2.
To save money (although hardly anything if I just making the commuting trip to be honest) I get a PLUSBUS ticket either end of my journey. I get issued with a photo card for my 7-day travel pass but I’m not required to put my PLUSBUS ticket in the machine by the driver. Surely knowing how many journeys I have made over the 7 days would give the organisers valuable information about its effectiveness?

Rankle 3.
Why is the fact bus passengers require the exact fare (on most services anyhow) seem to be only advertised on the bus? Don’t people need to know at some time beforehand? Somewhere prominent at the bus stop seems logical to me.

Rankle 4.
As rule I try and get in the Quiet Carriage on my train journeys – loud people who think they’re important because they talk loudly into their mobile phone is not really my thing. Unfortunately despite the glaringly obvious signs in every window of the carriage, the request for a bit of peace and quiet is all too often ignored. What are fellow passengers supposed to do? Stare menacingly and hope the culprit takes notice or have a quiet/appropriate word and pray you don’t get a volley of abuse in return? I read somewhere that C2C had coated their Quiet Carriages with a film that blocks mobile phone signals – a great solution that means passengers don’t have to self-police the train. What’s stopping other TOC’s doing the same thing?

Rankle 5.
Why do I get so knackered just from sitting on a couple of buses and a train each day? Must be something in the air…

On a positive note - the simple coloured coordinated line drawing showing what bus stopped where on the 23 came in very handy. Nice one Stagecoach.

Until next time.

Disabled train users face detours

Below is an article and a video (click here) by the BBC which followed a wheelchair user travelling by train in the South.

It makes for pretty uncomfortable viewing. As an able-bodied person you don't appreciate how difficult even the most simple journeys can be, when using the public transport.

It must be tough for the train companies though, as many of the smaller and older Victorian stations are not accessible and would cost millions to improve. And I thought taking my daughter out in her pushchair was a nightmare! (sorry Daisy)

Secret filming by BBC South has shown the difficulties faced by wheelchair users when using trains in the region.

Mark Greenwood made test journeys, including a trip from Liphook station which meant a 40-minute detour as there is no access to his required platform.

Only one in five stations run by South West Trains (SWT) on the Waterloo line is fully accessible.

SWT said it was not required to invest in better access, but facilities were being improved at 21 stations.

Paul Bentley, from SWT, said: "Under the terms of our franchise we are not required to undertake major investments in stations.

"But there is an access-for-all programme funded by the Department for Transport which is providing level access at 21 of our stations over the next five years or so."

BBC South followed Mr Greenwood, who lives in Liphook, Hampshire, as he tried to travel south.

"The nearest platform is northbound. The southbound one, which is where I am trying to go, is over a steep bridge."

There is no access over the bridge so he was forced to take a train in the wrong direction to Haslemere where the station has lifts - adding 40 minutes to his journey.

At Brockenhurst station, the only way out is to cross the track.

"The trouble is these stations were never built for it," Mr Greenwood said.

"The staff could not be more helpful, they are very caring, but the facilities make it very difficult."

In 1995 the Disability Discrimination Act was brought in to improve access for disabled people who use public transport.

Nikki Haswell, from Disability Wessex, said: "I think that given the act came in 14 years ago, it is worrying that only one in five stations on the Waterloo line are currently fully accessible."

Monday, 9 March 2009

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The bus - Better than acceptable

Found this interesting article on Onmibuses. Just goes to show what we're up against when trying to convert people from the car. It seems no matter how good the service is, we can't get away from the negative stigma attached to public transport in this country.
It’s funny how people seem at best to have a grudging acceptance of their bus service. Even when that service’s actually very good, they can’t bring themselves to say so, in public.
I was speaking to a woman from Bristol today (that fact in itself was rather strange but there you go). She’d been forced from her car owing to a crash. She was using the bus. Said she, referring to the bus service operated by First, “It’s not bad”. I felt this was undervaluing First’s service. So I dug a little deeper.
How far did she have to walk to a stop? About three or four minutes. How frequent was the bus? Often there was one within a couple of minutes wait. Was the bus punctual? Yes, so far as she could tell—at her inbound stop, at least. It might get delayed further in. Was there a shelter? Yes. Did it have real time? No. Were there usually seats available on board? Always going into town. Even though going home was sometimes full, she never needed to stand. Were the drivers friendly? They were OK, polite. Was the bus clean? Always in the morning but a few items of litter in the afternoon.

I told her that it sounded to me that her service was a little better than “not bad”. “Well, yeee-ssss” came the grudging response, I suppose so. “It’s a bit expensive, though”. It turned out to be £4. I wasn’t sure whether this was a single or a return. In Bristol, First has certainly been accused of costly fares, some of which are a throwback to the notoriously high fares charged all the way back by antecedent Bristol Omnibus Company.
I wondered how much it cost to park her car in Bristol. She sometimes managed to get a space at work but otherwise it was £8 a day, apparently. £8! QED said I. I estimated that the cost of a week’s travel ticket would be no more than two day’s parking and that’s without any petrol or diesel (or hassle, come to that).
The package as an alternative to the car seemed far better that “not bad”. Why can’t people work this out for themselves?
I think the reason people can't work it out is that they don't want to. They don't want to admit that it's better. It's not cool, it's not something you want to admit to. It's seen as a second class way to travel.

The only way to convert them is to get people to try it for themselves. Then maybe we'll wake up to the fact that for some people (not everybody), public transport is a better option.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Good enough to say, Phuket I'll stick it on the blog...

I love it. I would love to know how the agency managed to persuade the client to run with this. Well done Air Asia for taking their advice!

Great design makes the complicated, simple

I love the way they have used a combination of really simple illustration and a clear voiceover to explain this complicated situation. Good job.

It may be a bit Americanised, and not anything to do with transport but this is so well produced and applicable to all of us, I'd thought I would share it.

It's a great example of how great design can be used to explain an otherwise complicated issue. The use of simple, quirky illustration, fresh colours and a clear voice-over all combine to make a normally boring, deep subject matter easily understood by anybody.