Proposed Supported Public Transport Policy
1.1 Transformation of Transport
Members will be aware that a Transformation Programme for all transport services is underway. The principles of developing new transport policies, and implementing new approaches to planning, procurement and management of those services has been agreed by Executive Board on 14 December 2010. An all Member Workshop was subsequently held on 22 February 2012, where options for transport policies were debated, together with a detailed discussion on implications to service users and potential savings.
The scope of the transformation covers;
- Education Transport ( including Home to School, Special Education Needs and Post 16/College Transport)
- Social Care Transport for Adults and Children
- Subsidised Bus Services ( including ”School Specials”)
- Community Transport
- Staff Travel
- The Council’s Fleet
The council currently spends some £14m on transport. This report, and subsequent reports on transport policies, will set out that much of this transport is “discretionary” and the network has evolved over many years, without significant evaluation of its effectiveness and value for money. Certainly for public transport and community transport, there has been no real engagement with the wider community to determine what services they require, and where the council should prioritise. This exercise should address this, and subject to sensible transport policies being adopted and implemented, informed by a strong evidence base, it should avoid the need at a future date for a less considered and indiscriminatory cut to the network.
1.2 Purpose of this report
The primary building block, upon which the later stages of the transformation process will be built, will be the development of revised and updated transport policies that recognise the financial climate, environmental challenges and departmental/corporate objectives.
The purpose of this report is to seek Member’s approval to consult widely on a new approach to Supported Public Transport. This area of activity includes subsidised local bus services, community transport and school specials.
Future policy options papers will be brought before members over the next few months. These are;
- Transport for Education. This covers home to school transport and home to college transport.
- Transport for staff. This covers staff business travel and also the sustainable staff travel plan (for the commute to work)
1.3Approach to change
The approach to transformation is set out in the diagram below. The case for change has been made, and the detailed planning has been completed. We are now in the Build stage, of determining what our transport policies will be, what our operating methods will be, and our staffing levels. As with all successful change programmes, detailed analysis and planning is essential to ensure benefits are achievable, and change sticks.
1.5 Transport policy objectives
Previous reports have suggested that many of the existing transport policies have not been subject to challenge in recent years. Importantly, there appears to be no overarching set of objectives that drive policy goals. Current policies are not particularly aligned to the new corporate objectives, are difficult to sustain in the current economic climate, and in many cases, are not equitable. With this in mind, the following transport policy objectives are proposed;
- Our transport policies are fair, equitable and transparent
- Our transport policies support wider Council objectives
- Our transport policies contribute to a healthier environment
- Our transport policies are affordable to deliver
1.6 Supporting work
Work continues to improve the efficiency of transport, and will continue throughout any wider consultation on transport policies. This work includes;
- Finalisation of a Performance Management System that allows for proper management of transport costs, benchmarking, and benefits tracking
- Finalisation of Contract management improvements, to ensure quality standards are measured, and financial process is robust and auditable
- Scheduling work, to improve the efficiency of education and social care transport. The first wave of rescheduling will be complete by September 2011, and subsequent waves will continue throughout the programme until maximum efficiency has been achieved.
- Changes to the way we procure transport. We will trial “block tenders” for groups of schools, starting with transport to Ysgol Clywedog and Ysgol Bryn Alyn high Schools.
- Design and implementation of lean systems
- Specification and procurement of a new IT system that will provide route optimisation, database and management reports
- Changes to transport commissioning arrangements and introduction of Service Level Agreements between the transport department and client departments
- Creation of a new Integrated Transport Unit
2.1 Legislative Background
This area of policy covers those local bus services that the council funds (subsidised bus network), school specials (which are fare paying buses for pupils not entitled to free travel) and Community Transport.
The majority of bus services in Wrexham are operated commercially. This means that services are registered by the operator with the Traffic Commissioner, and the company receives no subsidy at all (apart from refund of concessionary fares). In essence, commercial services will “wash their own faces” ie income from fares exceeds the cost of operating them. These will tend to be daytime services on busy corridors.
The remainder of services, including “school specials” are known as “socially necessary” services. These can be in two forms – either providing a bus service in an area where no commercial service exists, or alternatively, operating over daytime commercial routes at times when they would not be viable ( such as early morning, evening and Sundays), or where there is no capacity on existing services.
There is no statutory duty upon the Council to provide local bus services or any other form of public transport but the authority does have a statutory duty under the 1985 Transport Act to keep the bus network under review, and intervene where it feels appropriate. This basically means that all subsidised services are provided on a discretionary basis.
There is no legal obligation for the council to provide community transport services. However, most authorities do so, to enhance social inclusion. Support for such services is a requirement for receipt of Local Transport Services Grant ( LTSG), with the authority obliged to spend at least 10% of LTSG on community transport or other unconventional public transport services.
2.2 Welsh Transport Policy Context
WAG published the Wales Transport Strategy in 2008. The strategic priorities are as follows;
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts
- Integrating local transport
- Improving access between key settlements and sites
- Enhancing international connectivity; and
- Increasing safety and security
In practical terms, the council’s supported bus network contributes to all of the WAG strategic priorities. There is no specific guidance as to the level of support an authority should give to its bus network.
2.3 Regional Transport Policy
The North Wales Regional Transport Plan was published by Taith in September 2009, as a requirement of the Wales Transport Act 2006. Taith policies and objectives generally follow those of WAG, with the addition of a number of relevant objectives such as;
- Seeking “Network Stability” agreements with bus operators to define levels and relative pricing of commercial and subsidised bus services to be provided through the plan period
- Developing innovative services such as community transport and Demand Responsive Transport
- Promoting integration through consistent standards and through ticketing.
There is no specific reference to levels of subsidised bus network.
2.4 Wrexham Local Transport Policies
There is no longer a requirement for Wrexham to produce its own Local Transport Plan. The last Local Transport Plan was produced in July 2000. The relevant policies for public and community transport at that time were;
Policy PT1 Support and develop the conventional bus services and community transport services with the voluntary sector in rural areas
Policy PT2assists the elderly and disabled to use existing services
Policy PT3 Support and expand the Charriotts Dial a Ride operation
Policy PT4 Continue to develop the commitment to promoting all public transport services in the Borough to promote maximum usage
The specific bus related policies are;
Policy BS1 Secure the provision of socially necessary bus services subject to best value for money, within resources available
Policy BS2 Fares charged on socially necessary services to generally be in line with commercial bus services in the area
Policy BS3 Introduce experimental bus services to enhance the current network to reflect the changing requirements for public transport
Policy BS4 Review the levels of service support on Sundays and Bank Holidays
Policy BS5 Maintain the existing network of school services for children who do not qualify for free transport to their nearest school
Policy BS6Introduce Quality Partnerships to improve passenger facilities and usage
Policy BS7 Consider traffic management priority measures for bus services
Policy BS8 Improve roadside infrastructure to maximise the use and accessibility of bus services
Policy BS9 Through redevelopment of Wrexham Bus Station, provide modern interchange facilities with staff on hand to provide advice and information
2.5 Current Provision
The council funds three areas of supported public transport; subsidised bus services, school specials, and community transport services.Activity / Passenger trips per annum / Net cost per annum / Average subsidy per passenger trip
Subsidised Local Bus Services / 511,671 / £478,750 / £0.93
School Specials / 239,400 / £180,949 / £0.75
Community Transport / 33,554 / £126,300 / £3.76
Total / 784,625 / 785,999 / £1.00
The level of service provided is described below.
2.6 Subsidised Local Bus Services
The list below summarises the current bus services subsidised by the council. They are a traditional mix of early morning, evening, Sunday and rural services and the network has developed over many years through historical trends, requests from members, and evidence of unmet demand from members of the public. The current network has never been evaluated in terms of value for money or effectiveness, and there has been no consultation with users (or potential users) as to how the council should decide which services to support, and the routes themselves. As such, there is no decision making criteria in place to determine what action the council should take in the event of;
- Existing commercial bus services being de-registered (withdrawn by operators as no longer commercially viable)
- Significant price increases through the tender process (which is very possible with fuel increases having an impact on operating costs) which means that budgets will be over committed
- The council being presented with evidence of unmet demand
In summary, the council subsidises 32 routes, at a total cost of £478,750, as follows;Contract No. / Description / Net cost per annum (£) / Passengers per annum / Subsidy per passenger journey
D13.11 / Service 13. Mon-Sat: am and pm journeys to Wxm Ind Estate / 25,625 / 6,483 / 3.95
E146.14 / Service 146. Mon-Sat: Evenings Wxm-W'church (2 hourly) / 29,585 / 7,726 / 3.83
E44.14 / Service 44. Mon-Sat: Evenings Borras 2 journeys / 9,150 / 3,240 / 2.82
TL 20089 / Town Link Service. Mon-Sat: 3 journeys pm. Wxm-Plas Coch / 3,911 / 1,525 / 2.56
S.146.14 / Service 46. Sun/BH: Days. 4 x 2 hourly. Wrexham - Whitchurch / 10,260 / 4,118 / 2.49
M21.11 / Service 21. Mon-Sat: 0641 Summerhill-Wxm / 3,209 / 1,382 / 2.32
D23A / Service 23. Mon-Sat 5 off peak jnys Wrexham to Coed y Glyn / 15,631 / 7,320 / 2.14
M.07.11 / Service 7. Mon-Sat: 0625 Wxm-QueensPark Circular / 3,776 / 1,883 / 2.01
E03.14 / Serice 3. Mon-Sat: Evenings Wxm-Rhos-Penycae / 29,344 / 16,470 / 1.78
SA.04.11 / Service 4. Sat only 1 am journey Penycae to wrexham / 906 / 513 / 1.77
D.60/64/65.14 / Service 60/64/65. Monday to Saturday daytimes Glyn Ceiriog/Chirk to Oswestry/Llangollen/Wrexham / 94,000 / 53,939 / 1.74
D.01 / Service 1. Mon-Sat: 2x evening journeys. Wxm-Chester / 11,079 / 6,958 / 1.59
S.3/37/44.14 / Services 3/37/44. Sun/BH: Days. Wxm to Penycae / CaiaPark / Borras / 26,800 / 17,812 / 1.50
E141/142.14 / Services 141/142. Mon-Sat: hourly Holt - Ind Estate - Wrexham - Minera –Bwlchgwyn / 32,000 / 22,965 / 1.39
E.21.14 / Service 21. Mon-Sat: Evenings Wxm-Summerhill (hourly) / 10,000 / 7,740 / 1.29
S.21/33.11 / Services 21/33. Sun/BH: Days. Wxm to Summerhill / Llay / 22,699 / 18,244 / 1.24
D34/17.14 / Services 34/17. Mon-Sat: 5 Journeys per day 08:00 -17:01 / 32,000 / 26,444 / 1.21
SA.07.11 / Service 7. Sat only 3 am Journeys Wrexham to QueensPark / 1,013 / 912 / 1.11
SA.32.11 / Service 32. Sat only 2 am journeys Wrexham to Llay / 693 / 627 / 1.11
D.14 / Service 14. Diversion of Brymbo service through Lodge / 6,150 / 6,024 / 1.02
ES.1.14 / Service 1. Sun/BH, Evenings Wrexham to Chester / 7,916 / 8,504 / 0.93
M.33.14 / Service 33. Mon-Sat: 0645 Wxm-Llay-Wxm via Gwersyllt / 3,812 / 4,227 / 0.90
D.42 / Service 42. Extension to Ind Estate plus peak hour journeys / 25,010 / 31,605 / 0.79
M.05.14 / Service 5. Mon-Sat: 0559 Cefn Mawr-Rhos-Wxm / 3,999 / 5,823 / 0.69
M.12.11 / Service 12. Mon-Sat: 0600 Brymbo-Pentre Br'ton-Wxm / 897 / 1,581 / 0.57
E12.11 / Service 12. Mon-Sat: Evenings Wxm-Brymbo (hourly) / 12,036 / 21,448 / 0.56
S11/12.11 / Services 11/12. Sun/BH: Days. Wxm to Brymbo / Minera / 10,558 / 19,195 / 0.55
E.33.11 / Service 33. Mon-Sat: Evenings Wxm-Llay (hourly) / 8,000 / 17,623 / 0.45
M.10.11 / Service 10. Mon-Sat: 0625 Gwynfryn- Coedpoeth-Wxm / 845 / 2,222 / 0.38
C56 / Service C56. Mon-Sat: Days. Wxm-Holt-Chester (Increase in frequency to hourly) / 25,625 / 72,936 / 0.35
S.5A.14 / Service 5a. Sun/BH: All day Wrexham - Llangollen - Chirk / 5,016 / 30,682 / 0.16
D10. / Service 10. Mon-Sat: Days. Divert Coedpoeth service via Heol Llewellyn. (total for route) / 7,205 / 83,500 / 0.09
Totals / 478,750 / 511,671 / 0.94
2.7 School Specials (subsidised local bus services)
The term “school specials” has been in use for many years to describe the services listed below. They are, in fact, subsidised bus services that happen to operate to schools, where no alternatives exist due to a lack of appropriate routes or a lack of capacity on other services. They have developed over a period of time in response to demand for transport, where pupils are not entitled to free transport, usually because they live within the three mile statutory walking distance. Users pay a fare every day (50p per one way trip or £1 per day), and the Council pays a net subsidy to the operator. Some of the services also carry pupils with free passes, usually where the route commences more than 3 miles form the school.Route / Schools / Area / Fare paying journeys per annum / Net cost p.a.
P195A / Acrefair CP, Garth CP / Plas Madoc to Acrefair, Trevor / 22,800 / £17,528
P539A / Ysgol Grango / Rhos/Grango / 11,400 / £12,659
P539B / Ysgol Grango, Ysgol Rhiwabon / Johnstown to Grango, Rhos/Penycae to Rhiwabon / 17,100 / £9,932
P545C / Darland / Gresford, Marford / 22,800 / £9,256
P545D / Darland / Gresford, Marford / 22,800 / £17,528
P545E / Darland / Holt, Gresford, Marford / 8,740 / £10,224
P547A / Ysgol Rhiwabon / Cefn Mawr / 24,700 / £29,213
P547B / Ysgol Rhiwabon / Rhosymedre, Plas Madoc / 24,700 / £20,449
P557A / Ysgol Clywedog / New Broughton, Southsea / 13,300 / £15,200
P557G / Ysgol Clywedog / Marchwiel, Hightown / 7,600 / £6,047
P557H / Ysgol Clywedog / Queensway / 19,000 / £11,685
P557K / Ysgol Clywedog / Queensway / 6,460 / £7,712
P567C / St Josephs / Burton, Marford, Gresford, Acton / 11,400 / £6,680
P567E / St JosephsSchool / Acton, Borras / 26,600 / £6,836
totals / 239,400 / £180,949
2.8 Community Transport
Community Transport can be described as the provision of non-conventional non-profit making transport for the many people of Wrexham who can not access conventional public transport due to reasons of disability, or lack of a regular bus service. It is traditionally made up of one, or a number of: dial a ride type services, taxi bus, group booking, minibus hire, and social car schemes.
There are currently seven alternative transport schemes operating within Wrexham. These are detailed below.Scheme / Operating area / Operating methods / Client group / Council subsidy / Trip p.a
Chariotts / All of borough. / Members only, must meet criteria. 9 wheelchair accessible vehicles used / People in wheelchairs and those with severe mobility restrictions / £33,000 / 16,554
West Wheels / West Wrexham communities / Dial a ride type service, operated by taxi, based on first come-first served / Any resident in area who has applied for free membership (membership now closed) / £25,000 / 10,200
Maelor Taxibus / Maelor area / Taxi bus to serve rural communities where buses not provided. / All residents in area can use it, but mainly used by elderly passengers for shopping. / £24,000 / 1083
West Taxibus / Rural villages west of the county / Taxi bus to serve rural communities where buses not provided. / All residents in area can use it, but mainly used by elderly passengers for shopping. / £20,000 / 1861
South and East Taxibus / Rural villages south and east of county / Taxi bus to serve rural communities where buses not provided. / All residents in area can use it, but mainly used by elderly passengers for shopping. Also used by under 16’s for shopping weekends. / £18,600 / 3298
WRVS Social Car Scheme (Maelor) / South East of County, area known as The Maelor / Volunteer drivers use their own cars, and are reimbursed at 40p per mile / Elderly people from rural areas, mainly accessing health appointments / £4700 / 471
WRVS Social Car Scheme ( CeiriogValley) / South West of County, area known as The Ceiriog Valley / Volunteer drivers use their own cars, and are reimbursed at 40p per mile / Elderly people from rural areas, mainly accessing health appointments / £1000 / 87
totals / £126,300 / 33,554
Chariotts is an independent Social Car scheme that has been in existence since the late 1990’s. The scheme utilises 9 wheelchair accessible vehicles, and a pool of 38 volunteers, to transport passengers in wheelchairs, or those with severe mobility restrictions. The Council pays an annual grant of £33,000 to Chariotts from the existing public transport budget, which is approximately one third of its total budget. Chariotts provides its services to members, who pay an annual membership fee of £5. Charges for journeys are based on miles travelled as follows.Miles (per single journey) / Member contribution
Up to 2 miles / 3.00
3 miles / 3.95
5 miles / 5.85
10 miles / 9.60
20 miles / 16.60
Recent discussions with Chariotts management reveal that the annual turnover of Chariotts is some £100k, with council subsidy accounting for approximately a third of that turnover, and the other two thirds mainly from member contributions ( fares charged). The long term sustainability of this scheme is unclear, as their current accounts do not allow for depreciation (and subsequent replacement) of vehicles. Chariotts is a very well run scheme that provides essential transport for individuals. However, it does not provide for group bookings.
West Wheels was created in 2008, supported by European Funding. It is a Dial-a-Ride type service covering West Wrexham communities, and operated by a taxi. Whilst funding comes from the Council’s public transport budget, it is managed by the West Wheels Management Group. Up to May 2011, the scheme operated free to users in possession of a concessionary bus pass. Not surprisingly, demand started to increase, placing significant pressure on the budget. From May 2011, the Management Group has introduced a charge of £2.00 inter village, or £3.00 between villages.