Agenda item

Updates from the Transport Operators


1)    First Group


2)    Stagecoach


3)    South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive


4)    Rotherham Community Transport


5)    Northern Rail


6)    Robin Hood Airport - Consultative Committee meetings - minutes of the AGM on 15 January, 2015 (pages 8 to 12) and the ordinary meeting, also on 15 January 2015 (pages 13 to 17)


(1) First Group – Members welcomed Mr. Paul Flanagan (Business Manager, First Rotherham) to the meeting. Thanks were also extended to Mr. A. Timewell, who had attended previous meetings and who had now joined another company. First buses will be increasing bus fares with effect from Saturday 28th March 2015, although the increase is not large and represents value for money. Purchase of the weekly travel card will entitle the purchaser to discounts when using the shop local card in Rotherham. Various single fares will have an increase of 10 pence. At the end of April 2015, a number of service adjustments will take effect, in order to improve punctuality. However, there are no major alterations to services. The Pool Green (A630 Centenary Way) highway improvement scheme had inevitably caused some delays, although service punctuality had been maintained at 91-92%.


The recent results from the South Yorkshire county-wide passenger survey group had shown that 87% of service users are very or fairly satisfied with the First bus services, which is an improvement of 6% on the previous survey results from 2012.  Highlights of the survey were the ease with which passengers are able to get on and off buses, the comfort of seats, the cleanliness of buses, value for money and the good customer focus of bus drivers.


Additionally, the First bus company will extend its community work and be actively involved in the Crucial Crew training of Year 6 school pupils and also elderly persons, in respect of public transport safety. The company is replacing the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, which has withdrawn as a consequence of budget reductions. A refurbished First bus will be located at the Lifewise Centre, Hellaby, for use as part of the training. Members thanked the First company for becoming involved in this community initiative and training.


Members asked the following questions:-


(i) Referring to the currently plummeting oil prices and zero inflation and acknowledging that companies will purchase oil in advance, are the bus fares likely to remain the unchanged next year ?  Members were informed that bus fare increases are being kept to a minimum and weekly ticket prices had been reduced. Value for money is important and if fuel prices do remain unchanged, it may possibly be the case that bus fares could remain unchanged next year. However, the whole issue remains uncertain.


(ii) The price of a First day ticket is going up. When the Rotherham bus partnership was announced in 2014, there were promises of lower fares in Rotherham, but they are already going back up. Why ?  Members were informed that there was a reduction in fares for weekly and day tickets when the Rotherham Bus Partnership began. However, circumstances do change and commercial demands mean that variations in prices are unavoidable.


(iii) In the context of the First company’s operating climate, what were the First group's profits in the United Kingdom last year ?  Members were informed that the company’s end of year figures are not yet available and that they will be commercially sensitive.


(2) Stagecoach – no report


(3) South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) – Members were informed of the imminent first anniversary of the Rotherham Bus Partnership. Bus passenger numbers are continuing to rise and buses have better punctuality and reliability. There is increasing customer satisfaction with bus services. Improvements made to the highway network are also important for the reliability of bus services.


Members asked the following questions:-


(i) Request for an update concerning the possibility for a bus service on the Wentworth Parks estate, Piccadilly, Swinton.  Members were informed that there is already a high frequency of bus services to the Kilnhurst area. Some fifteen years ago, the SYPTE had provided a financial subsidy for the operation of bus services to the Piccadilly area. However, because of a combination of increasing costs and low passenger numbers, that subsidy had been withdrawn as a budget saving measure. Very recently, the SYPTE has been involved in discussions with a number of bus service operators, but none has been prepared to begin operating a service to the Wentworth Parks estate. None of the operators are able to make a viable commercial case to operate the service in this area. Members noted that the Rotherham Bus Partnership will continue to review the position and the estimated cost of providing a bus service such as the one being requested.


(ii) The travel centres are due to close in a few months, does this include the customer desk in Rotherham ?  Members noted that the Rotherham Transport Interchange will remain open for the provision of customer advice, as well as a mail box facility to accept re-applications for concessionary travel passes.


(iii) Time and again, the schools’ lifestyle survey says that young people are afraid of the Rotherham bus interchange. What improvements have been made to safety in the last year ?  Members were informed of the extensive commitment to ensuring and improving public safety at the Rotherham Transport Interchange. The closed circuit television system is in place and is monitored regularly. There is active liaison with the South Yorkshire Police, who have allocated an Officer specifically for this liaison with the Interchange staff. There was sometimes the perception that the Interchange is an unsafe place, but one which is not borne out by actual experience. It was noted that there is a consensus amongst bus drivers that the bus stations in South Yorkshire are safer places than stations in other parts of the region.


(iv) For the coming financial year (2015/2016), will there be fewer staff working in the Rotherham interchange than there are during this year ?  Members noted that a detailed written response will be provided to this question. As a consequence of the necessary budget reductions, it is likely that there will be fewer staff, as well as service reductions (eg: building cleaning).  Every endeavour will be made to reduce the impact of any reductions upon customers and the travelling public.


(4) Rotherham Community Transport – no report.


(5) Northern Rail - no report.


(6) Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport - Members welcomed Kellie Naylor (Environment and Community Officer, Peel Airports Management) to her first meeting. It was noted that Aer Lingus flights to Dublin will begin operating from the Robin Hood Airport, during May 2015. Customers will be able to access flight to America from Dublin airport. In addition, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft makes flights to and from Jamaica. The Robin Hood Airport cargo operations continue to thrive. The Airport has recently recruited an Aviation Development Manager.


Consideration was also given to the minutes of the two most recent meetings of the Robin Hood Airport Consultative Committee, both held on 15th January, 2015 : (i) an ordinary meeting; and (ii) the annual general meeting.  The contents of these minutes were noted.

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