Our response to Harrogate's congestion consultation09-07-2019
Congestion is the biggest single factor affecting the timekeeping of our services, so we welcome the consultation and some of the sustainable transport focussed proposals within.
Unfortunately the consultation documents say that bus customer numbers are declining, but we can clearly demonstrate this is no longer the case. Since the consultation's background document was published, in 2016, we can report:
- 20% growth in customer numbers, and 96% satisfaction ratings, on The 36 - thanks to an increase in frequency to every 10 minutes and 17 brand new low emission buses.
- 9% growth in customer numbers across Harrogate's town network since the introduction of our Harrogate Electrics – the first of their kind in the UK. These 100% electric buses have enabled Harrogate to reach Low Emission Bus Town status.
- Our Sunday Freeway campaign (sponsored by Slingsby Gin) is giving free rides for everyone on our town network and has led to 70% more Sunday passengers than last year.
We're moving more people in and around Harrogate and are seen as leaders within in our industry. This is despite the challenge of congestion which can affect all our services and despite a lack of bus priority infrastructure in the area.
Reducing congestion will help us to offer a better service to our customers. But buses also have a key role to play in achieving the drop in congestion we're all seeking. More reliable buses with quicker journey times and better information will attract more people out of their cars – something already proven in our operation elsewhere.
We will keep investing in new buses, in our people and making more improvements and partnerships across the town. In turn we'd like to see the local authorities treating buses seriously as a solution to congestion - if you make buses move, you'll make more people move.
We hope to see quick action on the back of this piece of work which is why, as part of our consultation response, we've pledged to work alongside NYCC to deliver some key proposals for buses. These are just some of the suggestions we made as part of our response to the consultation:
A park and ride on The 36 route – which can be delivered without an ongoing financial commitment from NYCC.
Traffic light priority for buses - which could make a huge difference to bus timekeeping, and could be delivered quickly as the technology is already fitted to buses and lights.
Bus lanes – which will be essential to achieving meaningful journey-time reductions along corridors which are congested at peak times.
Improving bus shelters – to keep shelters clean, provide more real-time information and an altogether better experience for customers.
Reducing the impact of Starbeck Crossing – which could also involve priority bus infrastructure for buses.
Reviewing how parking spaces are priced – to ensure people have a balanced choice to make about how they travel into town.
A review of how road space is allocated – particularly close to bus stops and around residential bus routes, to ensure they can always be accessed.
An information campaign – targeted at workplaces, schools and new developments, but also generally across the town.
Alex Hornby, our CEO said: "We believe healthy towns thrive when access is good across all modes of transport and recognise that a successful local economy requires movement for everyone, including motorists. In participating in the conversation about congestion we hope that buses can be part of the solution in a broad range of initiatives."