Bus punctuality: Required reading…

first_imgCase StudiesPF set out to identify around 20 bus routes across five local authority areas, and to work with local partners to understand and address problems with bus punctuality across a wide range of operating territory.After writing to every local authority in England, it agreed to work with each of the PTEs, with support from PTEG, plus the local authorities for Cambridgeshire, Derby, Devon, Hertfordshire and Southampton.It identified 19 routes across those five local authorities, and a further 10 in the PTE areas. The routes would give good coverage of both commercial and tendered services, and offer a mix of operators and urban and rural areas.Methods of collecting punctuality data vary: GPS-based data is potentially a very rich source of information, combining comprehensiveness and objectivity with precision. The authorities and operators PF worked with were “generally enthusiastic” about it. However, GPS data has flaws, and the principal limitation of GPS data is that, while it may tell you when and where buses are late (or early), it will not tell you why they are not on time. Here, manual on-bus surveys offer a key advantage.All operators in the studies have systems for reporting punctuality and acting to address concerns. The cause of delays may sometimes be obvious. Many hotspots are familiar and long-standing bottlenecks. Reasons for delaysSome specific examples discovered – which are dissected in detail in the case study reports – include:Boarding and alighting: Not always a direct correlation with the number of passengers carriedBus design: Two-door buses speed up alighting but not boarding, and reduce saloon spaceTraffic: The increasing volume of traffic and constraints on road space in cities provide a constant challengeHighways: Narrow roads limit the scope for bus lanes and increase the impact of parked carsJunctions: Poor designs hamper operationsTraffic lights: The phasing of signals leading to constant interruptions to the progress of buses, caught by one red signal after anotherTurning vehicles: Going into retail sites, schools or car parks. The absence of yellow boxes, or patchy enforcement of them, exacerbates problemsPedestrian crossings: Progress slow in shopping areas and, in peak periods, outside schoolsParking and loading: Inconsiderately-parked vehicles are not just a problem during the daytime. Problems were encountered on Sundays (car boot sales) and evenings (outside night clubs and takeaways)The law: The failure of the enforcement authorities to take action against illegal parking was noted in several of the case study areas. There was also a need to remove opportunities for cars to obstruct buses by parking legally on unsuitable roadsExiting bus stops: Especially at lay-by stops, or where stops are too close to traffic lightsExiting bus stations: Poor road designs leads to delay – up to five minutes in Wakefield and Leeds, for exampleInadequate recovery time at the end of a journey: Setting a timetable to reflect variable traffic conditions represents a considerable challenge. Overview“We regularly ask passengers if their buses turn up on time,” says PF Passenger Director David Sidebottom.“We know from our Bus Passenger Survey that passengers are consistently less satisfied with the punctuality of their buses than they are with bus services as a whole. Improving punctuality is their top priority.”The bus punctuality project saw PF working alongside operators and local authorities as they analysed their data and decided how to improve their services.The work was directed by a national steering group of nine people representing PF, the Department for Transport (DfT), the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), PTEG, DVSA, Local Government Association, Association of Transport Coordinating Officers, and the Traffic Commissioners (TCs). Senior TC Beverley Bell represented the latter.Mr Sidebottom says that the case study partners, covering 20 routes, gave “enthusiastic and open support” and that the project has enhanced the understanding of when, where and why buses are delayed.The project has led to “energetic responses” from operators, authorities and PTEs, working in partnership, to address the challenges that emerged during the course of the studies.“Everyone seems to agree in principle that getting the buses to run on time is the key to increasing passenger numbers, profits and passenger satisfaction levels,” says Mr Sidebottom. “So it has been disappointing how long it took us to get this project off the ground in some areas.“We have also been surprised to discover the lack of consistency about which services are monitored and how this is done, a lack of consistency which even characterises the approach taken within some companies.“And we had assumed wrongly that Bus Punctuality Improvement Partnerships (BPIPs) would automatically be used as the mechanism for taking this work forward.” As long as buses have been running, punctuality has been an issue. There is no question that a regularly unpunctual service will lose you passengers, and the reasons for late running – mainly congestion and other road-related issues – are broadly well known.But what exactly is causing each delay and its knock-on effects, and – crucially – what are the solutions?In a major study by watchdog Passenger Focus (PF), working with operators and local authorities, the answers have been revealed.The solutions are not always easy to implement. But the 20-page report What’s the hold up? and its companion 70-page Case Studies, offer illumination on a subject that could help everyone in the industry. What nextWhile not representing a statistically valid sample of the country’s vast variety of bus routes and operating environments, the case studies highlight the challenges of setting timetables to reflect variable patterns of traffic and patronage.They have thrown up a number of recurrent themes, including traffic and parking, boarding and alighting, inadequate recovery time and, perhaps most surprisingly, exiting bus stations.“We urge operators to make full use of the rich potential to use ticket machine and other vehicle-based location tracking data,” says Mr Sidebottom.“We urge local authorities and operators to routinely engage with each other to use their data and experiences on delays to better manage the highway network in relation to bus punctuality. And we urge local partners to make full use of their existing BPIPs when acting to make the buses run on time.“Having said that, we salute the courage of our operator and local authority partners in sharing with us what were sometimes quite disappointing punctuality statistics. Openness is the first step in any partnership. More dialogue will result in better services for passengers.“Earlier this year, we published research into what bus passengers thought about punctuality and timetables, Bus Punctuality and Timetables, which we used to inform our comments on the Senior TC’s draft punctuality guidance.“We would encourage operators and authorities to examine that research and the wealth of detail in the case studies in this report when seeking to implement the guidance.”Reports athttp://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/research/publications/whats-the-holdup-exploring-bus-service-punctualitylast_img read more

German minimum wage starts and affects UK?

first_imgGermany introduced a legally-backed minimum wage of €8.50 per hour from 1 January.Says the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT): “The new legislation applies to the transport sector including, as far as we can tell, to foreign operators performing transport operations on German territory, including not just cabotage operations but occasional international transport operations to Germany or passing through Germany.”It adds that the application of the law to visits to Germany and coaches transiting through Germany has still not been confirmed, and the CPT is pursuing clarification on these points through the umbrella transport trade body IRU, and the German trade association RDA.It has also raised queries directly with the German authorities and the European Commission, as well as the Department for Transport (DfT).If the law does apply to UK operators, there is a form, in German, for all operators to complete.The completed forms, showing the details of each driver deployed in Germany, need to be faxed in advance to the German customs office in Cologne.The CPT is supplying members with details of the forms and guidance.last_img read more

Altas’ hybrid minibus

first_imgAll that glitters…While the iPHEV system offers potential in what in the UK is a comparatively slim part of the market, Altas has been unable to reach agreement with Mercedes-Benz for the alteration to be considered an approved modification.As a result hybrid Sprinters will not have the chassis manufacturer’s warranty, although Altas does provide a guarantee of the electrical system and body conversion.Nevertheless, the strong interest already reported from a number of high-profile cities in Scandinavia and the Netherlands suggests that operators will be able to work around this lack of chassis manufacturer’s warranty if the joint venture between Altas and Elinta Motors delivers what it promises. The hardware is already in service in the van market, but it is untested in a minibus.Mr Radzevičius is confident that it will work as stated, explaining that Altas would not have involved itself were it not sure of the outcome.“We made a decision to do this,” he says. “We are no longer just a bodybuilder. We wanted to show that we are an innovative company and can do something which has not been done before.” Diesel-electric hybrid technology has been around in the large bus sector for several years, but is conspicuous by its absence at the smaller end of the market. Lithuanian minicoach convertor Altas is about to change that with an all-new system. Tim Deakin explains more.The move towards zero-emission capable buses continues apace, but one area that has so far been ignored in the quest for electrification has been the smaller part of the spectrum, where van conversions are used on either low demand or socially inclusive duties.It’s a surprising oversight, but it may be about to be rectified thanks to a product from the Baltic states.Altas, the Lithuanian minicoach convertor which has a muted but soon-to-grow presence in the UK market, is putting the finishing touches to a simple, easily-installed Intelligent Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (iPHEV) system, which can be installed in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and can provide up to 45km of engine-off running.The first Sprinter to receive the equipment, developed in partnership with Elinta Motors, will be a low-floor example and it is currently in the final stages of concept validation. The vehicle is expected to debut at Busworld Kortrijk next month. After that, the vehicle will be demonstrated to several operators in Scandinavia and the Netherlands.“Our fellow Lithuanian company Elinta Motors had already developed the technology for the Iveco Daily van when we approached them,” says Altas General Manager Edvardas Radzevičius.“I decided that it was suitable for use in small buses, although we understand that it is not yet a commercially-viable solution. It’s an investment for the future, and that is one of the objectives behind our work together. The other is that we wish to prove that we are an innovative company which looks to develop new technologies as simple solutions.”The potential for UK operations is clear, as Altas has recently reached agreement with Irish convertor EVM to build the Community low-floor minibus in Lithuania. Production of the first of these was nearing completion last week. Hidden benefitsAs the iPHEV’s motor also regenerates electricity during braking, it can be classified as a retarder, allowing the Sprinter’s gross vehicle weight to be increased to 5,500kg. Braking tests have been passed at this GVW.The motor weighs 91kg and can deliver 900Nm of torque, which offers potentially high performance when used in parallel with the diesel engine, although Altas and Elinta are currently developing a more powerful motor.The battery pack comes with three years’ warranty and is expected to last for over 12 years, which in a minibus such as a Sprinter is likely to exceed the vehicle’s useful life.Altas is also proud of the geofencing element of the system. Zero emission zones can be updated at will, and when altered they are uploaded to a cloud-based server. The on-bus iPHEV control unit then downloads the ‘green zones’ and adjusts the periods of engine-off operation to suit.Remote battery condition monitoring is also possible via this link, as is the use of real-time telematics and various other data harvesting opportunities.Prolonged engine-off operation will be aided by the iPHEV’s plug-in capability, while Mr Radzevičius does not rule out the use of short opportunity charging periods at termini.“This is an add-on system, so it could be fitted to our minicoaches if required,” he says. “That would give the potential for an operator of minicoaches that spend a lot of time in city environments to also benefit from prolonged electric power.”center_img Nearly ready to goSince details of the iPHEV-equipped Sprinter were released, there has been strong interest from operators in countries where air quality is a priority and minibuses are used for bus work.“Operators are waiting impatiently to see it,” says Mr Radzevičius, who is particularly keen to point out that interest so far has all come from countries in Western Europe. Altas is in the process of growing the exports of its range to these nations, and the iPHEV system in Sprinter is part of that.“We are currently completing some electrical optimisation and configuration involving the Sprinter’s seven-speed 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox, which has proved difficult. However, that is almost complete. It is not a mechanical issue; it is simply electrical. Were the six-speed manual gearbox specified, it wouldn’t have existed,” he explains.Three modes are possible with iPHEV thanks to its configuration: diesel- or electric-only, and a pairing of the two for maximum power delivery.Befitting its status as a simple addition, the number of components added to the Sprinter when iPHEV is fitted is low, although the prop shaft must be split into two shorter shafts to permit the motor to be added to the driveline between the gearbox and rear axle.This liquid cooled motor is hung from additional chassis cross members, and has only five moving parts, says Altas. A battery pack and control unit are also added, and geofencing capacity is provided. That will allow the iPHEV-equipped Sprinter to operate in engine-off mode in sensitive areas.Other modifications carried out by Altas are conversion of the steering to electric, and the braking system is altered to remove hydraulics from the vehicle entirely.On the first vehicle the driver manually switches between engine-off, diesel only, and diesel and electric operation through a dash unit, but configuring it to change when judged optimal by the control system and without driver input is in the works and expected to debut soon, adds Mr Radzevičius.The price premium for the iPHEV is expected to be in the region of €25,000 (18,400) for the three-mode set-up, suggesting that Altas is right that the system is not yet a commercially viable product, despite its promises of 25% fuel savings on urban work. The company does not rule out the development of a simpler and cheaper entirely hybrid package later.last_img read more

New Head of Safety appointed at First Bus

first_imgFirst Bus has announced the appointment of Angus Glasby as the company’s new Head of Safety.Angus, who is based in Doncaster, joins from supermarket chain Morrisons and started with First Bus on 1 September. He is responsible for making improvements to safety performance across First Bus’ operations.He said: “I’m very excited to have joined a company that has safety ingrained within its culture. I’m already relishing the challenge and have joined a very committed and talented team.“I’m determined to build upon the fantastic achievements and ensure that the company’s relentless approach to safety continues.”Angus will report to Regional Managing Director for First Bus’ operations in Wales and South of England, Neil Barker, who says: “I’m delighted to welcome Angus to the team. He brings with him an impressive track record and has a fresh perspective on how we can continue to improve our safety performance.”Angus replaces First Bus’ previous Head of Safety, Sarah Claypole, who has joined another FirstGroup company, Tram Operations Ltd in Croydon.last_img read more

Ex Wallace Arnold staff hold 12th annual reunion

first_imgThe 12th annual Wallace Arnold reunion took place last weekend (22-24 October).Many still miss the cream coaches with the large orange ‘WA’ logoOver 80 ex Wallace Arnold tour drivers attended the reunion held at the Holiday Inn, Harrogate.Staff travelled from Devon, Scotland, Leeds and even San Francisco to attend, including the last Managing Director, Stephen Barber.Many are now drivers and managers with other operators, yet still miss the cream coaches with the large orange ‘WA’ logo, which used to operate from Scotland, the north of England, the Midlands, London and the south east, Devon, Cornwall and South Wales.The next events are already planned, with a Wallace Arnold Devon reunion in Babbacombe, Torquay, and the taking over of a whole hotel in Scarborough just before Christmas 2017.last_img read more

‘Raising money for St Luke’s Hospice’

first_imgOn 18 March I am taking part in a Strictly Come Dancing themed event at the Tilbury Community Centre, Tilbury.St Luke’s Hospice is close to Simon’s heartTen business men and women have been paired up with our own professional dance instructor. My instructor Leighanne Phillips will spend the next six weeks attempting to teach me to dance.Each couple will dance in front of a panel of judges and an audience of 350 people. Whoever scores the highest score will win the St Luke’s Hospice Glitter Ball trophy. To earn extra points we are asked to raise as much sponsorship as possible. For every £100 of sponsorship raised I can earn one extra point, up to maximum of 10 points for £1,000 raised. This is where you can help me.If you can help me raise money for this great cause by donating directly to my fundraising page I would be very appreciative.JustGiving sends your donation straight to St Luke’s Hospice (Basildon and District) Limited and reclaims Gift Aid if you are a UK taxpayer.Every penny will go towards my vote on the night, but more importantly will go to help St Luke’s Hospice continue to do their great work.Simon Holder,Simon’s Bus,Southend-on-Sea,EssexTo donate, go to www.justgiving.com/Simon-Holder5last_img read more

REVIEW: ‘Unbeatable’ night out at London’s Cabaret Club

first_imgThere’s a new high-class experience in town for groups.‘The costumes are simply showstopping’The London Cabaret Club is now in the stunning Art Deco setting of Victoria House in Bloomsbury Square, and we were invited to experience its ‘Best of British Pop’ show on a Friday night. Cabaret doesn’t get any better.We were greeted with excellent cocktails in the bar, and serenaded by singers doing the hits of Take That.Then we were led into the glorious Ballroom by the charming costumed hosts. The stage is set up for a live band, with tables set out around the dancefloor. The room is decked out in great British colours, and starters are brought out to the elegantly-dressed tables.Then the band starts up, and the acts begin. The music starts in the ‘60s with the likes of the Beatles, and moves through the decades, taking in the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Bee Gees, Queen, Chris de Burgh, Bonnie Tyler, Pixie Lott, Adele and more – all performed live by the talented cast.And the dancing! There’s an excellent variety, from salsa and ballet to acrobatic acts, one involving an oversized hoop. There’s even an Old English Sheepdog who does a decent routine. And the costumes are simply showstopping.Described as ‘British tapas’, the food is a stylish medley of fish and chips, followed by such traditional favourites as Eton mess, and it’s all delicious.The cabaret finishes at 2300hrs, and a DJ takes over, playing more British hits to dance to until the small hours.All in all it’s a simply stunning night out, and while it’s not a cheap one, groups of 8+ get a whopping 50% discount. One in 10 of the group goes free, with a free show brochure for groups of 10+.More information at thelondoncabaretclub.comlast_img read more

PickMeUp hits landmark with 100,000 journeys

first_imgIt comes as the on-demand service plans zone expansionPickMeUp, the Oxford Bus Company’s on-demand ride-sharing service has announced more than 100,000 journeys have been made on since it launched.More than 22,000 registered users have signed up to the app and an average of 3,700 journeys are now completed per week.From 21 April, Oxford Bus Company will also be expanding the zone to serve Summertown and Jericho in response to public demand. The zone expansion forms part of its growth plans which have also seen a further investment in five new jobs and two new buses this year and corporate backing from Oxford Science Park.Phil Southall, Managing Director of Oxford Bus Company, says: “To have completed 100,000 passenger journeys in the first nine months of operation is a fantastic achievement and would not have been possible without the hard work of our great team.“It is ahead of our expectations and we’re focused on developing the service further. That said it is still a challenge commercially especially given this is a new approach to public transport and securing more commercial partnerships remains vital.“Developing new public transport services is difficult, but we’re good at it. Local businesses said they wanted greater connectivity and we have provided it and we need more businesses to support the service to enable it to continue to grow.“There is no reason why PickMeUp cannot continue to grow and compliment traditional bus services if the ingredients are right.”last_img read more

Home-to-school payments ‘must continue’ during closures: CPT

first_imgPayments for home-to-school contracts must continue to be made by local authorities to operators while educational establishments are temporarily closed to most pupils, the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has said.CPT made the call in the wake of the introduction of further restrictions across England, Scotland and Wales that involve school closures. The Confederation describes those wider measures as “a further blow to the coach industry,” adding that they will prevent any tours and day trips from running “until the spring.”In addition, CPT has asked governments to ensure that additional support for businesses announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak is made available to coach operators.On 5 January Mr Sunak announced a £4bn UK-wide package of property-based support for businesses in the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors. Payments will be based on rateable values, but there is again no confirmation that coach operators will be categorised under leisure across England, Scotland and Wales for the purpose of this stream. A £594m discretionary fund will be made available to help other impacted businesses.Many operators found that obtaining money from earlier grant mechanisms was impossible. CPT says that distribution of the most recent package must not be “left to a postcode lottery of local authority (LA) discretion.”During the first period of movement restrictions in 2020 when educational establishments were closed, analysis by routeone showed a wide variation in the level of ongoing payments made by LAs to operators of home-to-school contracts.In some cases, operators received 100% of the value with no stipulation that drivers must not be subject to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Others received much lower levels of reimbursement, prompting at least one operator to consider legal action to force full payments.It is not yet known how school closures will affect the distribution of the £27m allocated by the Department for Education to pay for additional dedicated home-to-school services in England in the first half of the spring term.last_img read more

Excessive Heat Warning in effect through Saturday

first_img Pinterest Twitter Pinterest Facebook Facebook Google+ WhatsApp IndianaLocalMichiganNewsWeather Twittercenter_img By Jon Zimney – July 18, 2019 0 327 Excessive Heat Warning in effect through Saturday WhatsApp Excessive heat and humidity expected Thursday through Saturday. Peak afternoon heat indices between 100 and 110 degrees each day. pic.twitter.com/lS4tAfQBg5— NWS Northern Indiana (@NWSIWX) July 17, 2019 (Photo supplied/ABC 57) Extreme heat starts Thursday, July 18, and lasts through Saturday.The heat index will surpass 100 and could reach 110 by Friday.There is little relief at night due to stifling humidity, lows stay above 70.The chance of rain is low but a few storms are possible.The heat now looks to break Sunday with an approaching cold front that will likely produce showers and storms.Next week is the complete opposite, very mild, cool for the end of July.Your ABC 57 First Warning Neighborhood Weather Center Forecast:Thursday: Extreme heat, isolate storms, high of 94.Friday: Extreme heat, mostly sunny, high of 96.Saturday: Extreme heat, mostly sunny, high of 95….EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM EDT /1 PM CDT/THURSDAY TO 8 PM EDT /7 PM CDT/ SATURDAY…The National Weather Service in Northern Indiana has issued anExcessive Heat Warning…which is in effect from 2 PM EDT /1 PMCDT/ Thursday to 8 PM EDT /7 PM CDT/ Saturday. The Excessive HeatWatch is no longer in effect for Indiana counties.HAZARDOUS WEATHER… * Afternoon to early evening temperatures from Thursday through Saturday in the 90s with heat indices from around 100 to 110 degrees. The hottest heat indices is expected on Friday and Saturday.IMPACTS… * Heat illnesses likely for those spending prolonged periods outside or in non-air conditioned locations. * Prolonged heat most dangerous for young children and elderly. * Car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in minutes.PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…Take extra precautions…if you work or spend time outside. Whenpossible…reschedule strenuous activities to early morning orevening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing whenpossible and drink plenty of water. To reduce risk during outdoor work…the occupational safetyand health administration recommends scheduling frequent restbreaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcomeby heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heatstroke is an emergency…call 9 1 1. An Excessive Heat Warning means that a prolonged period ofdangerously hot temperatures will occur. The combination of hottemperatures and high humidity will combine to create a dangeroussituation in which heat illnesses are likely. Drink plenty offluids…stay in an air-conditioned room…stay out of the sun…and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended invehicles under any circumstances. This is especially true duringwarm or hot weather when car interiors can reach lethaltemperatures in a matter of minutes. Google+ Previous articleSouth Shore will be watching train line closely during heat waveNext articleTwo men arrested on heroin-related charges at Niles Walmart Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney.last_img read more