Hampshire County Council
New Forest Highway and Transport Advisory Panel
21 September 2004
Passenger Transport Report
Report of the Director of Environment
1.1 This report outlines the services provided by the Passenger Transport Group and details the work undertaken in the New Forest area.
2.1 The Passenger Transport Group (PTG) has seventy staff and 700 school escorts in the Design and Implementation Branch reporting to the Assistant Director (Design and Implementation). The Group, comprising five teams, is highly diverse with a wide customer base. The Group deals with the following:
(i) passenger transport strategy;
(ii) passenger transport infrastructure;
(iii) information provision;
(iv) community transport;
(v) subsidised bus services;
(vi) finance and contracts;
(vii) social services transport;
(viii) mainstream home to school transport provision; and
(ix) special educational needs transport.
2.2 The £20 million home to school transport (HTST) provision is undertaken by PTG on behalf of the Education Department.
2.3 The Group's aim is to produce a top class passenger transport network, and service provision for the residents and scholars of Hampshire and visitors to the county, allowing a greater modal shift towards passenger transport in a safe, efficient, reliable and affordable manner.
2.4 The over arching objectives are as follows:
(i) make public transport as widely available as possible;
(ii) maximise the use of passenger transport;
(iii) seek innovative approaches to transport provision;
(iv) ensure social inclusion with regard to public transport;
(v) ensure continuing improvements in quality of service;
(vi) maintain successful partnerships and build others;
(vii) ensure effective consultation; and
(viii) provide an efficient and innovative HTST service, on behalf of the Education Department.
2.5 The Group is facing an exciting and challenging time. It needs to further address some concerns, eg the improvement of Best Value Performance Indicator (BVPI) 103 Public Transport Information and BVPI 104 Local Bus Service, whilst in parallel playing a major role in the implementation of the Community Strategy, Corporate Objectives and in the development of Local Public Service Agreement 2, as transport is a cross-cutting issue. During 2005/06 there is a need to implement the Passenger Transport Strategy which will feature prominently within the Local Transport Plan (LTP) 2. There is also a need to maintain the high standard of school transport provision for the County Council.
3.1 Later in the year a project appraisal will be taken to the Executive Member for Environment seeking approval to make improvements to the roadside infrastructure and to assist passengers board buses and be informed about bus services in the coastal towns between Lymington and the Dorset border. It is anticipated this will form part of a Quality Bus Partnership with the local bus operator, Wilts and Dorset.
4. Community Transport
4.1 A report will be considered by the Executive Member for Environment in October which recommends funding to replace one of the existing minibuses operated by Community First. The vehicle is being funded through the Local Transport Plan capital programme and forms part of the County Council's overall approach for supporting and developing community transport schemes in Hampshire.
4.2 The Lymington Cango services were recently retendered. New arrangements were introduced from 1 August and this has resulted in the Lower Buckland area reverting back to a conventional bus service. The Cango service now includes New Milton Railway Station, the Tesco superstore in New Milton and Efford Way in New Milton, the latter of which has long been an unmet request. The services continue to be operated by Wilts and Dorset.
4.3 A grant of £12,800 has been made from the Local Transport Plan capital programme towards the costs of purchasing eight mopeds for the New Forest moped scheme which is operated by Community First. This grant was used to replace six existing vehicles and purchase two new vehicles. The moped scheme enables young people without access to transport to take advantage of training and employment opportunities.
4.4 Officers from the County Council's Passenger Transport Group are currently working with Community First to develop a minibus brokerage scheme in the New Forest. Voluntary organisations and schools operating minibuses in the district will be approached and given the opportunity to be involved in this initiative.
5.1 The County Council's subsidised local bus service contracts are normally retendered every four years. Consultation is undertaken with New Forest District Council and Parish Councils as part of each retendering process.
5.2 The total annual cost of these contracts in the New Forest area is £1,044,000, of which £867,000 comes from the County Council's local bus subsidy budget and £177,000 from the Rural Bus Subsidy Grant. The County Council's total budget is £5.2 million for local bus subsidy, plus £1 million of Rural Bus Subsidy Grant from the Government.
5.3 The current contracts for Lymington, New Milton, Fordingbridge and the surrounding areas were let in April 2002 and run to April 2006. Subsidised services provide up to 50% of the network in these areas, compared to a county-wide average of around 25%.
5.4 New contracts for Totton and the Waterside area were let in June 2004 and expire in June 2008. Owing to very low levels of usage and high tender prices, contracts for a few journeys in the Waterside area were not re-let. However, the operator, Solent Blue Line, is continuing to run these journeys without subsidy for the time being, pending a review later in the year. Services on the Southampton to Cadnam corridor may also be subject to review in due course, to ensure that value for money criteria continue to be met.
5.5 There have been some welcome recent commercial developments this year from the Wilts and Dorset Bus Company, following its acquisition by the Go-Ahead Group in August 2003. Two core long-distance routes have seen their frequency improved on weekdays: Service X33 now runs hourly between Bournemouth, Ringwood and Southampton, via the A31 and M27, while Service X3 now runs every half hour (previously hourly) between Salisbury, Fordingbridge, Ringwood and Bournemouth.
5.6 The Passenger Transport Group reviews its mainstream home to school transport arrangements for each new academic year, in response to changing numbers of entitled pupils attending the various schools. Contracts for September 2004 have now been finalised and parents informed of their children's transport details for the new term.
6. Special Needs Transport
6.1 Since 2000 the Passenger Transport Group has been managing a special project known as `Spend to Save'. This project looks at innovative transport solutions for school transport, with a view to improving quality whilst reducing costs. There are two key areas within this project, firstly `the school transport minibus scheme' and secondly `complete transport reorganisations by school'. Total savings county-wide to date are £1.4 million.
6.2 Schools in the New Forest area that have been involved in these projects over the period are:
(i) in 2001/02 Forest Education Centre with delivery of a minibus realising savings of £11,840;
(ii) in 2001/02 Oak Lodge School with delivery of a minibus realising savings of £9,046;
(iii) in 2002/03 Salterns School with a complete reorganisation realising savings of £63,184; and
(iv) in 2004/05 Oak Lodge School with a complete reorganisation realising savings of £59,639.
Total savings over the period for the New Forest area are £143,709.
6.3 In addition, Breamore Primary School has expressed interest in the minibus scheme which is currently being pursued.
That this report be noted.
Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers
The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.
NB the list excludes:
Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.