Hampshire County Council
Executive Member - Environment
26 February 2008
Passenger Transport Review and Retendering - Winchester
Report of the Director of Environment
Contact: Alison Hull, ext 6919 email: email@example.com
1.1 This report:
(i) sets out the Winchester area review process;
(ii) details the outcome of tenders for local bus services in the Winchester tendering area (city services plus inter-urban services to Petersfield, Fareham, Southampton and Salisbury); and
(iii) proposes a plan of action to ensure value for money, and seeks to enable transport services which give access to employment, education, health, retail and leisure facilities for the widest section of the community, so enhancing well-being.
2.1 That approval be given to:
(i) award tenders for new four year bus subsidy contracts for the Winchester area at a cost of £708,290 per annum, which will result in the current bus network being maintained; and
(ii) reinstate service 67 timetable (Winchester-Petersfield) which was reduced in September following the 2007 subsidy review in the summer.
3.1 The approach has been to undertake an area passenger transport review - one of a series throughout the county, based on district council boundaries - in advance of area tendering. These Area Reviews represent the new approach to reviewing and planning passenger transport services in Hampshire.
3.2 The approach being adopted for these reviews embraces a combination of a practical desk-top exercise which uses Accession and census data as a basis, overlaying this with local technical knowledge and expertise together with survey information.
3.3 Options developed using this approach are scored on how well they enable people to access retail, health, leisure, work and education locations in the area being reviewed. This scoring assesses the options on how well they provide people with the opportunity to travel to these destinations, their frequency and flexibility, together with their ability to offer a friendly and easy-to-use option for people with a range of disabilities, including wheelchair users.
3.4 A critical aspect of the review is the engagement of stakeholders in the process. In Winchester this has included bus operators, the City Council, Parish/Town Councils, the Community Transport sector and other key players. The cooperation of the major bus operators is critical to ensure that, where possible, the review considers both those services that are financially supported by the County Council and those that are operated on a wholly commercial basis. Stakeholder engagement has a key role to play both in developing the options and validating the final choice of options.
3.5 This approach is central to the Council's Bus Strategy which advocates the importance of identifying those services most likely to achieve greater bus use, as well as areas where social inclusion objectives may best be achieved.
3.6 These elements will form the foundation for any options coming out of the area reviews. They demonstrate a more visionary and flexible approach to providing passenger transport services in Hampshire in the future by:
(i) working in partnership with commercial bus operators to try and maintain the viability and attractiveness of bus services through improving journey times, simpler timetabling, targeted marketing and promotional activities, improved access and better coordination between operators, in order to reverse long term passenger loss; and
(ii) greater and more effective use of `unconventional' transport, such as taxis, community transport, shared cars and demand-responsive services, where conventional services are no longer appropriate.
4. Winchester Review - Context
4.1 The current subsidy contracts for the Winchester area group of services expire on 29 March 2008, and the new contracts being tendered will commence on 30 March 2008. These services have a combined value of £655,000 per annum (November 2007 figure). The total spend on bus service subsidies in the Winchester City Council area is over £1 million per annum - this higher figure includes supported services that enter from neighbouring tendering areas, and Winchester area contracts that are not due for renewal at this time.
4.2 Stagecoach is the predominant operator with both commercial and contracted routes. Other operators to be found on subsidised routes are Wilts & Dorset and Mervyn's Coaches, each with one "Winchester area" contract.
4.3 There is a single car share scheme in the Winchester City area centred on Alresford. It is poorly used and will be the subject of a separate investigation and review.
4.4 The Winchester tendering area comprises the City itself, the rural hinterland and the urban approaches to Southampton, Fareham and other towns. Within the City area every effort is made to complement the commercial network, which operates with a mixture of low floor accessible buses and high floor vehicles. In the rural areas bus services are less frequent, are fully subsidised and use step entry vehicles.
4.5 Quality Bus Partnership (QBP) investment in the Winchester area focuses on the high-frequency City routes, namely: 1 (Harestock-City Centre-Stanmore), 5 (Winnall-City Centre-Badger Farm) and more recently the 6, which has been relaunched as The Spring (Springvale-Kings Worthy-City Centre). Passenger numbers on these routes have increased significantly as a result of the QBP approach.
4.6 Solent Blue Line's premier service Bluestar 1 operating between Winchester and Southampton is also the subject of a Quality Bus Partnership, in this case involving Eastleigh Borough Council.
4.7 The Winchester Area Review covered only the City Council area to facilitate clearer consultation, and incorporated both conventional bus services and unconventional (community transport). The wider tendering area includes parts of Eastleigh Borough Council area; some services cross into East Hampshire District Council, Fareham Borough Council, Southampton City, Test Valley District Council, Wiltshire County Council, and Basingstoke and Deane areas.
4.8 A number of supported bus services in the Eastleigh tendering area serve the southern part of the Winchester City Council area, namely: services 7, 8, 17, Red Rocket F and E1/E2/E3. The Eastleigh area tendering process was successfully completed in September 2007 with the result that all these bus services now operate generally as they did prior to retendering.
4.9 Department for Transport accessibility software (Accession) shows that accessibility to employment, education, health, shopping and leisure is generally very good, with unconventional transport catering for small numbers of individuals who would otherwise be isolated.
4.10 Winchester City Council area has the lowest population density of Hampshire and the lowest number of `blue collar' workers. The number of no-car households and the percentage that commute by bus are about the County average. Winchester has the highest numbers working from home throughout Hampshire.
4.11 A number of factors have affected public transport in the Winchester tendering area since tenders were last sought in 2004:
(i) 13 new low-floor buses were purchased for Stagecoach Services 1, 5 and the Spring with a contribution from the European "Miracles" programme. These buses use state-of-the-art engine technology to deliver improvements in the emissions performance of diesel-fuel buses serving Winchester. These buses have since been replaced by a new fleet in 2007.
(ii) Solent Blue Line has branded all its services under the Bluestar and Red Rocket banners, and the company now trades alongside Wilts & Dorset as part of the Go Ahead group.
(iii) Countywide Travel ceased its operation of service 10 (Winchester-East Stratton-Basingstoke) in May 2007, and an emergency contract was placed with Mervyn's Coaches for additional journeys on services 95/96 to compensate.
(iv) 25 "Stopwatch" real-time information screens were installed in Winchester.
(v) The Solent Travelcard was introduced and the area was later extended to include the northern environs of Winchester City.
4.12 Decisions that were taken in July 2007 in respect of the bus subsidy budget resulted in a number of supported bus services in the Winchester City Council area being reduced, particularly on Sundays and weekday evenings.
4.13 The County Council spends £46,000 per year on Community Transport services in Winchester such as Dial-a-Ride. Officers work in partnership with the City Council for funding and delivery.
4.14 Of the five Rural Pilot schemes in Hampshire, two are in Winchester: a project to improve information in local communities and the Wheels to Work initiative providing young workers with moped transport.
5.1 A preliminary meeting with stakeholders, including Winchester City Council representatives, was held in October 2006 to introduce the Area Review process. The objectives were set out, ideas invited and suggestions discussed from which a series of options were developed.
5.2 A number of themes were identified as a result of feedback from consultees - see attached appendix. Some of these, such as the cost and reliability of bus travel, were already being addressed through the Solent Travelcard initiative, the introduction of real-time information and highway bus-priority measures. Others were taken forward by the relevant officers.
(i) Bus cost/reliability (addressed via Solent Travelcard, real-time information and bus priority measures).
(ii) Southern parishes, inconvenient transport services (Review will seek to address).
(iii) Better connections bus/bus and bus/rail (potential opportunity to address during tendering process).
(iv) Hospital links (addressed by means of car schemes, ticketing and the Andover-Winchester hospital access pilot).
(v) More information at bus stops (bus stop upgrades on key route are yielding improvements).
(vi) Evening/Sunday services particularly for Sutton Scotney, South Wonston and Kings Worthy. Sutton Scotney and South Wonston have not been taken forward following the Executive Member decision in July 2007 to move away from providing subsidy for Sunday evening services as part of the cost saving package. Two additional Friday and Saturday evening services to Kings Worthy have been provided by rerouteing service 86 at no extra cost.
(vii) Introduction of low floor buses (quotes have been requested as part of the tendering exercise.
(viii) Community Transport role (to be addressed by the Transport in the Community Review).
(ix) Better publicity for Community Transport users and drivers (a Marketing pack was suggested). A Community Transport section has been introduced in the Bus and Train Travel Guides to help address this.
(x) Greater role for car share (scheme for Sparsholt College to be developed). This has not been progressed due to the very small increase in access for the additional cost.
5.3 Three specific options were taken forward for evaluation and costing as part of the Area Review process, namely:
(i) Simplified bus service between Andover and Winchester with additional community transport provision (possibly car share). The requirement was to evaluate the several route options and devise a simplified service that would be easier to understand and promote.
(ii) Simplified conventional bus and community transport provision for the Meon Valley. The proposal was to integrate a number of services:
- 17 Bishops Waltham-Petersfield
- 38/138 Fareham-Wickham-Portsmouth/Waterlooville
- 94 Fareham-Knowle-Wickham
- Meon Valley Minibus and Denmead Village Shoppers and other Community Transport provision.
(iii) A Friday/Saturday car share service between Winchester and Sparsholt College.
5.4 The Winchester Area Review culminated with a report-back session on 14 December 2006, at which the various costed options were discussed.
6. Assessing the Options
6.1 Each option was assessed against its ability to provide access to the following facilities (Local Transport Plan priorities):
(ii) education - primary, secondary and further;
(iii) health - GP surgeries, health centres and acute hospitals;
(iv) retail - food shopping and one higher level retail; and
6.2 Each option is scored against each set of access locations, showing:
(i) opportunity to travel to those destinations;
(ii) frequency and flexibility of service; and
(iii) ease of use for those with disabilities.
6.3 For the purpose of this analysis the three divisions of education are assessed separately and their scores combined. Each element has a possible score of 30, so that combined each option has a maximum score of 90. This is factored up to give a score out of 100.
6.4 Opportunity to Travel - the following are assessed:
(i) network coverage of home and destination;
(ii) home within 800 metres of stop, maximum one change; and
(iii) stop within 800 metres of destination.
6.5 Using the approach outlined in Section 3, three options were considered in addition to the status quo.
6.6 The current tendering process was taken against the background of the Area Review. The following table estimates the costs of providing each of the options mentioned above and sets this against the access score achieved. The cost shown is estimated cost as at December 2006.
6.7 Note that the above figures cover the review area, which differs from the tendering area.
6.8 The above table shows that Options 1 and 2 show a modest cost saving and a slight improvement in the access score, while Option 3 would incur additional cost for the slight improvement in access.
6.9 Option 1 involves bus services in both the Winchester tendering area and the Andover tendering area (contracts expire 2009/10). The difference in tendering dates will be addressed by offering only a short-term contract for the relevant Winchester-area service so that its end date aligns with the Andover area retendering.
6.10 Option 2 involves bus services in four tendering areas: Winchester, Eastleigh, Havant and Fareham. Consequently, these services are, where possible, being maintained on short-term contracts while a study of services for the Meon Valley progresses.
6.11 Option 3 involves a taxi share scheme providing evening journeys between Sparsholt College and Winchester. It is not proposed to take this option forward due to the small increase in accessibility for the additional cost.
6.12 Combination of options 1, 2 and 3. Options 1 and 2 are being progressed (but are outside the scope of Winchester re-tendering) whilst option 3 is not being pursued due to the additional cost.
7. The Winchester Area Tendering Process and Outcome
7.1 The current contracts for supported services in the Winchester tendering area expire on 29 March 2008. A total of 83 bus or coach operators were invited to bid for tenders and 15 of these were sent details of the contracts.
7.2 Tenders were invited for the post-October 2007 pattern of services, ie the bus network after the budget revisions of October 2007. Some of the tender documents invited priced options as below:
(i) the pre-October service level where a modest cost saving was achieved;
(ii) small housekeeping measures where particular journeys were found to be poorly used;
(iii) timing adjustments in response to suggestions from users; and
(iv) for one of the services, route standardisation where the route variants appear to be little used.
7.3 Of the operators invited to bid, seven operators actually submitted tenders. These are the incumbent contract holders (Stagecoach, Wilts & Dorset and Mervyn's Coaches), plus Solent Blue Line, First Hampshire & Dorset, Countryliner and Brijan. Tenders were received on 4 January 2008.
7.4 Because the Area Review had identified the need to tender Winchester-Andover services as a whole, a short-term contract was offered for one of the Winchester services (service 68 Winchester-Stockbridge-Salisbury) to allow a unified network to be specified at a later date as part of the Andover tendering process.
7.5 One of the Winchester area bus services was not retendered at this time, namely: Service 86 (Winchester-Overton-Basingstoke). This was because it had been introduced relatively recently with external funding, and had an end date of 2011.
7.6 There will be no changes of any significance to suburban and urban services operating within and close to Winchester City, ie Services 1, 4, 5, The Spring, 7, 11.
7.7 The effect on the County's bus subsidy budget from the Winchester area retendering process is that contracts can be retained with an 8% increase over 2007/08 prices, which can be accommodated within the overall budget provision for 2008/09.
8. Impact Assessments
8.1 It is considered that the actions outlined above should not have any detrimental impact on equalities or race discrimination. The area reviews in particular seek to provide journey opportunities to locations for all members of the community.
9.1 Overall, the effect of the tendering process will result in maintaining the current level of service provision (plus enhanced service 67) in the Winchester tendering area at a modest cost increase.
LINK(S) TO CORPORATE STRATEGY
Hampshire safer and more secure for all
Enhancing our quality of place
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.
Executive Member for Environment
Bus Subsidy Budget - Savings Plan
24 July 2007
22 August 2007
Room 117, Castle Avenue
County Councillors, Winchester City Council, neighbouring councils, and parish and town councils were invited to attend the Winchester Area Review seminars - bus operators and Community Transport officers were also invited to attend. These same stakeholders were kept fully informed in advance of the October 2007 budget savings and the ensuing alterations to bus services. Furthermore, all parties (plus affected schools) were contacted by letter in November 2007 with an invitation to submit further comments and suggestions about bus services as part of the Winchester Area retendering exercise.
During these consultations, comments and suggestions were received from the following:
· Eastleigh Borough Council
· Winchester City Council, St Paul Ward Members
· Bighton Parish Council
· Valley Park Parish Council
· Durley Parish Council
· Sparsholt Parish Council
· Olivers Battery Parish Council
· Compton and Shawford Parish Council
· Owslebury Parish Council
· Badger Farm Parish Council
· Ampfield Parish Council
· Chilworth Parish Council
· Twyford Parish Council
· East Hampshire District Council
· Cheriton Parish Council
· Resident of Petersfield
· Upham Parish Council
· Shedfield Parish Council
· Tichborne Parish Council
· Whitchurch Town Council
· John Goater, resident of Winnall
· Resident of Kings Worthy