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Monday, 19 December 2016

Bus Rapid Transit for Sheffield opens - and more news for London



This is going to be a compilation of recent articles that I’ve selected from various sources about Transport in Britain - a mixture of good and bad news.

First off, Sheffield opens up their own Bus Rapid Transit scheme:


Sheffield City Region’s £29.8m Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) North scheme has been officially opened. Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Andrew Jones MP, attended the ceremony at the newly constructed ‘Blackburn Meadows Way’ link road under J34 of the M1. Delivered by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Sheffield City Council, it was part financed by £15.8m from the DfT and £8.1m from the European Union’s Regional Development Fund (ERDF). BRT North’s eight-mile route introduces a new link road, highway and junction modifications that provide bus priority traffic control, purpose built bus stops with real time passenger information and will be operated by modern low emission vehicles.
The ‘Blackburn Meadows Way’ link road, built on bridges over the River Don and under Tinsley Viaduct, is designed to offer a direct route for buses past local traffic congestion and support Lower Don Valley development schemes such as the Olympic Legacy Park and Ikea in creating up to 4,400 new jobs. It includes one of the largest retaining wall structures in the UK.

Andrew Jones MP said, ‘This new link between Sheffield and Rotherham will cut congestion, improve journeys, help create thousands of jobs and boost the regional economy. Up to 2m passengers are expected to use it in its first year alone, this shows how vital good bus services are to our communities.’

Nearly half a million passengers have already benefitted from the scheme’s ‘X1 Steel Link’ bus service and new infrastructure since it was introduced on 4 September 2016. The service provides high quality, frequent public transport connections between Rotherham and Sheffield in addition to improving capacity, reliability and quality on the bus network.

First South Yorkshire Head of Commercial, Allan Riggall, said, ‘Customers have welcomed the new X1 service providing a high quality, great value journey delivering improved and reliable connections. We’re delighted to have worked closely with all our transport partners in delivering such an outstanding new service that supports the region’s economic and low emission objectives whilst providing a real alternative to the car.’

Despite the overall decline in bus usage, it’s interesting to see the growth of Bus Rapid Transit schemes in Britain. Recently, I reported that the East London Transit routes will be getting their three-door two-staircase hybrid buses known as the “New Routemaster,” which will be launching by February 2017. Also, I wrote an article about the Fastrack scheme in Kent, Thameside, not forgetting that their competitor is the London Bus route 96.

Next up we have news that bus usage continues to decline in England:


The decline in bus use continues, according to the latest statistics from the DfT. In the year ending March 2016, there were an estimated 5.04bn bus passenger journeys in Great Britain, around two thirds of all public transport journeys. 4.53bn journeys were in England, of which over half were in London, decreasing 2.6% compared with the previous financial year with 119m less using them. There were around 9.9m older and disabled concessionary bus passes in England, with an average of 98 bus journeys per pass per year. Local bus fares in England, in the 12 months to March 2016, increased by 1.8%, similar to the annual all items Retail Prices Index rate of inflation (1.6%).

Bus mileage in England decreased by 2% when compared with 2014/15. According to DfT figures, this was largely due to a 12.3% decrease in mileage on local authority supported services in England outside London. Commercial mileage decreased by 0.8%, a reversal of the recent trend where a decrease in supported mileage has been partially met by an increase in commercial mileage.

Back to London now where TFL has won the International Road Safety Award!


Transport for London (TfL) has been recognised internationally for its work to improve the safety of cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists in London.

At a ceremony on Tuesday (13 December), Prince Michael of Kent awarded TfL the International Road Safety Award for its ground-breaking work and promising results for reducing death and serious injury.

Analysis of police collision and travel demand data led TfL to put in place a range of initiatives which contributed to a three per cent drop in the number of people killed and seriously injured on London's streets (2,092) in 2015, its lowest ever level.

Projects included the launch of the Safer Lorry Scheme, the installation of special sensors at pedestrian crossings which adjust crossing times when large groups of people are detected as well as the trialling of 20mph limits and average speed cameras on key routes.

TfL is now looking to go further and is working to deliver London Mayor Sadiq Khan's plans to remove the most dangerous Heavy Goods Vehicles from the Capital's roads by 2020 through the Direct Vision Standard. This is the first scheme of its kind in the world, directly addressing the issue of lethal driver blind-spots.

Other measures include expanding the use of 20mph limits, introducing motorcycle and pedal cycle skills courses as well as developing a world leading bus safety standard which includes the latest safety technologies to help avoid and reduce the impact of collisions involving buses.

Leon Daniels, TfL's Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: `We are delighted to receive this award which recognises the hard work our teams have put in to reduce casualties on London's roads, however any death or serious injury is a tragedy, and our priority is to eradicate such incidents. Last year saw the lowest level since records began, but there is much more to be done.

`We are working to reduce collisions involving all road users by creating more attractive, accessible and people-friendly streets, making walking and cycling safer, working with London boroughs to introduce more 20mph limits, looking to remove the most dangerous Heavy Goods Vehicles from the Capital's roads by 2020 and continuing our road safety education and enforcement programmes.'

Adrian Walsh, Director of the Prince's awards scheme, said: `The judges thought that it was a first-class programme of action, well planned, adequately funded, and well organised with promising results.'

Next, we have the news that TFL has revealed the shortlist of bidders to build the Barking Riverside extension:


Transport for London (TfL) today announced the names of the companies shortlisted to bid to build the London Overground Barking Riverside Extension, which will serve one of London's largest housing development sites.

The extension of the London Overground Gospel Oak to Barking line down to Barking Riverside will bring huge benefits for people in the local area and beyond, supporting the major new development with 10,800 new homes, many of which are affordable, a new school and healthcare services, as well as shops, restaurants and leisure facilities.

The new station will lie at the heart of the Barking Riverside community, delivering a sustainable public transport alternative to car travel and linking the area into London's public transport network through connections at Barking, with District and Hammersmith & City Tube services and c2c services to London Fenchurch Street and Essex.

Three bidders have been shortlisted to build the extension, they are: 
  • Balfour Beatty 
  • Carillion PLC 
  • VolkerFitzpatrick Morgan Sindall joint venture.

Jonathan Fox, TfL's Director of London Rail, said:

'The Barking Riverside extension is key to regenerating this part of east London, helping to support up to 10,800 new homes, along with new jobs and improved facilities for the local community. The London Overground network has helped regenerate other parts of London by providing a frequent, reliable and high standard rail services, and this rail extension will help Barking riverside to grow and develop.'

A Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) for the 4.5km extension was submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport in March 2016 and if approved could mean construction beginning in late 2017 with train services commencing in 2021.

TfL's transformation of underused suburban rail links into the highly popular London Overground has seen passenger numbers rise by 400 per cent since 2007 and the network become one of the most reliable and popular in the UK.

And lastly, a dose of bad news! First bus is to close two depots in Manchester:


Bury and Tameside depots are to close from April, with driving staff relocated to its depots in Oldham and Bolton. No changes to services are planned, but 84 non-driving jobs are at risk. The two depots employ 412 staff, with 320 at Bury and 92 at Tameside. It comes after a review to make the business more sustainable and protect jobs in the long term.

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