Category Archives: From the Press

More cycle racks and less parking ‘will revive struggling high streets’

The Times, Kaya Burgess, 24 May 2014.


Struggling high streets should do away with car parking spaces and replace them with pedestrianised zones, cycle lanes and bike racks to boost business, according to transport experts.

Mary Portas, the retail expert, recommended in 2011 that cheaper car parking was key to reviving the high street. Chris Boardman, the former Olympic cycling champion and policy adviser to British Cycling, disagreed yesterday, offering instead a “counter-intuitive” solution.

“It is well evidenced that replacing car parking with cycle access or pedestrianised zones doesn’t hurt business,” Boardman said. “Stats show cyclists spend less per visit, but they visit more often.”

British Cycling said: “Evaluations of pedestrian improvements in Coventry and Bristol show a 25 per cent increase in footfall on Saturdays and predict £1.4 million in benefits respectively.”

Boardman said that retailers should be shown how the number of shoppers can be boosted by moving car parking spaces off streets to nearby car parks.

The addition of protected cycle lanes on 9th Avenue in New York led to a 49 per cent increase in retail sales, compared to a 3 per cent uplift for shops on other local streets.

He explained: “New York used paint and planters to mark out cycle lanes for a six month trial, which didn’t cost much, and told local retailers if they didn’t like it, they would remove it.”

The Times accompanied Boardman yesterday as he took his local MP for West Wirral, Esther McVey, on a cycle tour.

Martin Key, of British Cycling, said: “Shops tend to over-estimate how many people drive to them. And you can have 10 bike spaces for each parking space.”

Adrian Lord, an infrastructure expert, said: “Those who arrive at high streets on foot or by bike tend to spend more, over time. This is especially true of local shops rather than big supermarkets. With cars, people are often looking at their watches because they have only 10 minutes left on the meter.”

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, last year criticised some councils for having an “anti-car dogma”. Boardman said: “It isn’t ‘anti-car’ it’s ‘pro-people’.”

In West Kirby, Boardman’s home town, he wants to remove car parking on The Crescent, a parade of shops, and create a pedestrianised zone with cycle parking for a six month trial. It would cost £12,000.

Andrew Smith, a butcher at AI Roberts, said: “It would be perfect. It would bring more people in. Restaurants could have tables outside. People are scared of change, but they would adapt.”

Nicola Hulley, who runs a clothes shop, said: “It would be good for business, though we would need to be able to unload our stock.”

McVey, the local Conservative MP, said there would need to be car parking for elderly or disabled people and that such schemes need consultation and advanced warning.

“You wouldn’t want someone to go to the butchers and all of a sudden realise they can’t park outside, so they drive up the road to a supermarket,” she said. “People have to know in advance, have a trial period and, if it does work, that would be brilliant as it would work for everybody.”


Learner held on suspicion of carjacking

The Times, John Simpson, 24 May 2014.

A learner driver has been arrested on suspicion of carrying out a carjacking on his instructor during a lesson.

The young man allegedly pulled over, punched his instructor and got out of the car when he was asked to pay off outstanding debts during a lesson in Handsworth, Birmingham.

When his instructor, 56, also left the car and tried to call the police, the younger man allegedly returned and began punching and kicking him before demanding the keys to the driving school’s Nissan Note and driving off in it. He is accused of stealing his instructor’s mobile phone.

The alleged victim was not seriously injured. Police said that the car had not been recovered.

A 22-year-old man was arrested at home at 6am yesterday and was being questioned by detectives from West Midlands police.

Detective Constable Darren Wilkie said: “The man owed money for earlier lessons and when the instructor asked for payment, his student responded aggressively. The instructor suffered just cuts and bruises but was understandably shocked.”


Bus gift is one in a million for retiring driver

Chris Peregrine, South Wales Evening Post, 25 April 2014

Marketing manager for First Cymru Buses Phil Trotter, right, handing over the keys for a 1976 Bristol VRT double decker to Peter Nedin and John Adams for renovation by Swansea Bus Museum.

Marketing manager for First Cymru Buses Phil Trotter, right, handing over the keys for a 1976 Bristol VRT double decker to Peter Nedin and John Adams for renovation by Swansea Bus Museum.

IN his 45 years behind the wheel of Swansea buses, Peter Nedin clocked up well over a million miles without ever having an accident.

And as a retirement present like no other, the 68-year-old has been given a full size open top double deck bus by First Cymru.

He is not taking it home, though. Peter, from St Thomas, volunteers at Swansea Bus Museum, and his former colleagues thought restoring it would make the ideal hobby.

So Peter, and his fellow volunteers at the museum, will now restore the bus — a Bristol VRT open topper — to its former glory before putting it on display for all to see.

“People had often joked that I should be given a bus because I’d worked for the company so long, but I never actually expected it to happen,” said Peter.

“It was such a shock and a great honour to be told the old open topper would be donated to the museum in my name.

“It’s in really good condition for its age and it’s nice to be able to keep this in the area, helping to celebrate its history.

“I had a fantastic career at First, and a great sending off when I left. I’m now enjoying retirement and wondering how I ever really had the time to go to work.

“I have plenty of little jobs to do around the house and have been enjoying days out here and there, alongside my work at the museum.”

First Cymru managing director Justin Davies said: “It was a sad day for us when Peter left the business. He has been a perfect employee, he’s a brilliant driver and was great with all the customers.

“We recognise though that after 45 years of working for us, five of which have been on a part-time basis, he wanted to spend more time doing the things he loves even more — restoring old buses.

“To help him with this we donated one of our oldest vehicles — which we had recently taken out of our fleet — to the museum in his honour. We hope he gets much fun and enjoyment restoring it back to its former glory.”

Swansea Bus Museum to Lose Home?

From the South Wales Evening Post, 26 March 2014.

Brakes put on Swansea Bus Museum’s plans to move

  • A South Wales Transport AEC Renown single decker bus turns into High Street from Alexandra Road in 1950.
  • Swansea Bus Museum was hoping to move its premises to Clarence Street, but the council is proposing to demolish the building.
  • The old and the new in Oxford Street, mid-1950s. The buildings behind this United Welsh double decker bus represent post-war Swansea rising from the ashes of wartime bombardment.
  • A South Wales Transport AEC Renown single decker bus turns into High Street from Alexandra Road in 1950.
  • Swansea Bus Museum was hoping to move its premises to Clarence Street, but the council is proposing to demolish the building.

MEMBERS of Swansea’s historic bus museum say they are upset after being told they cannot relocate to a former bus garage in the city.

The Swansea Bus Museum said the unit they are currently leasing is costly and too big.

So they sent an email to Swansea Council asking to purchase the old bus garage on Clarence Street, but this was rejected by the council.

Alan West, chairman of the museum, said: “The old bus garage is of great historical value to us and we thought it would be the perfect place to move the museum to.

“At the moment the current unit we lease in the SA1 Business Park is costing us a lot in rent and rates.

“We only have three years left on the lease, so are looking for somewhere smaller and cheaper to move to.

“The place where we are now is far too big for us. So when we found the old bus garage we thought it would be perfect.”

However the museum group was told by Swansea Council that the building, close to the former Vetch football ground, is structurally unsafe and needs to be demolished. Mr West said: “That bus garage has been there since the 1950s and was custom made for United Bus Wales.

“It is a piece of heritage and we would be so upset if it was demolished. It was in use right up until last year when the electrics were condemned, but I think the building itself is sound.

“We are really interested in taking it on and think it would be a perfect place for the museum.

“The location is great and there is lots of parking nearby. As it is very near to the Quadrant I think it would be the perfect place because there would be plenty of footfall.”

A Swansea Council spokesman said: “We couldn’t agree for the Swansea Bus Museum to relocate to Clarence Street, because the building there is structurally unsafe and needs to be demolished.

“The plan is to put a temporary car park on site once the building has been demolished, pending redevelopment in the long term.”

Swansea Bus Museum is run by the South Wales Transport Preservation Trust and restores, preserves and displays buses from former public transport companies of South and West Wales.

At the museum there is currently a large fleet of buses including a 1959 Bridgemaster double decker.

The bus is one of only four surviving vehicles and the museum is looking to restore it so it looks back to its best in time for the 100 years celebration of South Wales Transport later this year.

South Wales Transport began shortly before the outbreak of the First World War and, at its height, it was responsible for 92 million passenger journeys a year. This year South Wales Transport is taking steps to celebrate the history of buses in order to mark its centenary.

Iconic bus companies from South Wales will be recalled in a new book, to be launched as part of the Roads and Road Transport Associations’s event Wales on Wheels, at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, on Saturday, May 17.

The weekend of events will mark Swansea Bus Museum’s centenary year, and Return Ticket — the Story of South Wales Transport, by former Evening Post News Editor Jonathan Isaacs, will detail the troubles and triumphs of ‘The Transport’, as it was affectionately known.



Brecon Beacons Bus Service Axed

From the BBC News web site, 31 March 2014.

Brecon Beacons Sunday and Bank Holiday bus to be axed

Brecon Beacons

A bus service used by thousands of visitors to the Brecon Beacons is being axed as part of budget savings of £650,000 over the next two years.

Brecon Beacons National Park Authority faces a budget cut of 8.9% from the Welsh government from April.

It follows a public consultation over the bus, which brings passengers from Cardiff, Newport and Swansea on Sundays and summer Bank Holidays.

But a bike bus service will still run on Sundays and summer Bank Holidays.

The authority had said it needs to make savings of more than 13% over the next two years, which prompted a review of its services.

It has 130 staff and has responsibility for planning issues and managing the national park, which attracts 4.15m visitors a year.


Earlier this year the authority also decided to cut seven posts as part of its savings plan.

The authority said it had decided to stop the service as a result of falling income from partners and concessionary fares, and a significant rise in tendered prices for the coming year.

Beacons bike bus The bike bus will still run during the summer

It added that the Cardiff to Brecon bike bus using a 24 bike trailer will continue to run from 25 May to 28 September on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

The service will interchange with the Hereford 39A service in Brecon and then shuttle between Brecon and Abergavenny twice during the day.

Martin Buckle, Vice Chair of the National Park Authority’s Planning Committee said: “We understand how very disappointed many of our regular passengers will be at the withdrawal of the service.

“We hope they will still be able to travel to the National Park by making use of the Monday to Saturday bus services, and we will continue to work hard to promote these.

“The bike bus has been very popular with cyclists wanting to explore the National Park and to ride the Taff Trail back to Cardiff, and we are very pleased that we have been able to negotiate this new arrangement to allow the bike bus to run.”

The Beacons Bus bought passengers into the area on Sundays and bank holidays between May and September.

Axing the service – which was used by 5,552 people last year – will save the authority £26,000.


‘Unsung’ London war bus brought back to life

For the best part of a century the vital role played by the B-type London bus in World War One has been overlooked and largely forgotten. But now the model is to be celebrated with a remarkable restoration project in time to mark the centenary of the conflict.

See the full story on the BBC website.


We Must Drive Down Bus Fares

Will Straw (Associate Director for Climate Change, Energy and Transport, Institute for Public Policy Research), The Times, 9 October 2013.

Commuters reading their morning paper could be excused for thinking that energy prices are the main cause of the cost of living crisis.

The truth is that getting to and from work costs about three times as much as keeping the lights on and homes warm. Average households spend £65.70 a week on transport but just £20.20 on gas and electricity.

All political parties aimed to address transport during their party conferences but it was overshadowed by announcements on energy prices. George Osborne announced a further fuel duty freeze for motorists and Labour announced a slew of measures to address rising rail fares.

Bus policy got left in the manifesto depot. Although they make up a small proportion of overall family spending, buses are the most popular form of public transport: 5.2 billion passenger journeys were made on local buses in 2012 compared to 1.5 billion rail journeys. These users — particularly the young, old and those from poorer families — have been subject to the fastest price rises. From 1997 to 2012 bus fares rose 28 per cent above inflation compared to a 21 per cent rise in rail fares. Meanwhile, motoring costs have fallen by 6 per cent.

So how should politicians address the “cost of buses” crisis? Lessons must be learnt from the failed free market experiment of the 1980s. The 1985 Transport Act privatised and deregulated most bus markets with catastrophic consequences. Bus usage outside London is now a third lower now than it was at the time of the 1985 Transport Act.

Meanwhile in London, which was never deregulated, bus use has doubled over the same period. Public bodies were given powers to set fares, routes and service levels. London bus usage exploded after the decision by Ken Livingstone to use public funding from Transport for London to increase provision. Because London’s market is functioning, subsidy levels per passenger are lower in the capital than in the rest of Britain.

Outside London, the powers currently available to local authorities to intervene in bus markets have never been used properly, because bus operators use their market dominance (five companies have two thirds of the market) to threaten the withdrawal of key services. Creating new bodies with the scale to challenge operators and the powers to regulate prices would be the best way to increase quality and reduce prices.

For too long trains and automobiles have dominated political thinking on transport. It’s time for politicians to get on the bus.