HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
Environment and Transportation Select
Date of meeting:
21 July 2009
Transport in the Community Scrutiny Review Monitoring Report
Director of Environment
1. Purpose of Report
1.1. To provide Members with an update on responses to the recommendations arising from the scrutiny review of Transport in the Community.
2. Contextual Information
2.1. Hampshire County Council's Environment and Transportation Select Committee initiated a review of Transport in the Community in 2007. The work was undertaken by a scrutiny review group comprised of elected members and a transport specialist. The review group considered all the evidence received and prepared a report on their findings, which included a number of recommendations.
2.2. A response to the recommendations was presented by the Executive Member for Environment to the Environment and Transportation Select Committee on 20 September 2008 and a timetable for monitoring the responses was agreed. This report updates members on six key areas of work in order to monitor the recommendations timetabled for July 2009. In addition, an update on the Yellow Bus pilot was requested for July 2009 and is included.
3. Progress in Reviewing the Bus Subsidy Mechanism (Recommendation B)
3.1 Following presentation of an initial proposal, based on work in Surrey, to members from this committee, work was undertaken to assess best practice nationwide and to examine the effect that any new approach would have on the existing subsidised network. It was found that there was no one favoured way of prioritising subsidised services, that the importance given to value for money or social inclusion contrasted greatly between different authorities, that some systems were overly complex and the interface between public transport and community transport was not well handled.
3.2 Of the many approaches reviewed, a system used by a Scottish authority which used simple numeric scores for usage, value, social inclusion, employment and alternatives was considered worthy of further development and is now being worked up. Introduction of Accession data to identify social inclusion issues and tipping points in cost and usage levels at which community transport or taxi-share options would be more appropriate are being evaluated and it is anticipated that work will be completed in the autumn.
4. Community Transport Competitive Tendering Outcome and Legal Basis (Recommendation F)
4.1 Eleven community transport services have been competitively tendered. Following this contracts have been awarded for seven of these services and in all but one case these contracts were retained by the previous operators. The remaining services are now the subject of a second procurement exercise. Negotiations with potential operators are now reaching their conclusions for three of these services after which contracts are expected to be awarded. A further separate exercise will then be undertaken to identify an operator for the remaining service which did not attract any bids during the second procurement process. An evaluation of the impact of the tendering process will be provided once all the contracts have been awarded.
4.2 The move to contract arrangements has been in line with the One Compact for Hampshire which states that funding should be provided as a grant or by contract and that when a service is involved, contracts should be used. Contract award has followed the council's standing orders and not to follow this approach could be liable to legal challenge, for example, in respect of Dial-as-Ride services which can be operated by commercial operators, and are in other parts of the country.
5. Area Review Process - Review of Stakeholders (Recommendation J)
5.1 The first round of the Area Review process will be completed in December 2009, when local bus tenders for the Andover, Basingstoke, Fareham and Gosport areas are renewed. The next round of Area Reviews, which commences in spring 2010 will benefit from the wider scope and membership of the passenger transport forums, as recommended by this committee and as set out below. Work undertaken with the Local Government Association, as part of the Rural Transport Pilots, has identified opportunities for wider community engagement. As part of this process, a half day workshop has been arranged for 4 September to bring together those who provide or rely on transport or have it as an integral part of their own service delivery so that we can maximise the opportunities for joint working and co-design of provision.
6. Area Review Process - Is it fit for purpose? (Recommendation K (ii))
6.1 The Area Review process feeds through the local bus service re-tendering process. The first round of Area Reviews will be completed in December 2009, as noted above, and this will provide an opportunity to evaluate the outcomes and reappraise the process. The principle of seeking to develop passenger transport provision to match changing needs and travel patterns within a finite budget by combining census data, accessibility software, surveys and stakeholder engagement seems sound. Developing the breadth of stakeholder engagement, as described in item 5 above, can only add value to the process which seems in line with best practice of co-design and community involvement.
7. Transport Forums - Identifying Needs, Contributing to Solutions (Recommendation N)
7.1 In response to the recommendation of this committee, passenger transport forums were established in those districts where there had previously been none. Basingstoke and Havant were established in autumn 2008 and Eastleigh, Fareham and Gosport being set up in 2009.
7.2 The autumn 2008 forum meetings, together with the spring 2009 meetings of the new forums focused on the recommendation of this committee to review how the transport forums could be better placed to identify and respond to local transport needs. Feedback was positive and a paper is attached as Appendix 1. In particular, forum members highlighted the opportunity for outreach through other organisations of which they were part, both to identify the needs of hard to reach groups and to create awareness of the facilities which already existed.
7.3 The importance of good communications and efficient administration of the forums, so that the meetings themselves could be issue-based was a common theme as was the recognition of the need to have wider representation at forum meetings.
7.4 Passenger Transport Forums will now adopt the new way of working which will be reviewed again after 12 months.
8. Passenger Transport Group to Review Progress of the LTP Accessibility Strategy (Recommendation P)
8.1 A new approach to accessibility has been developed through the Local Area Agreement (LAA), see attached Appendix 2, where a local priority for accessibility has been developed as an alternative to the respective national indicators which were inappropriate for a county situation. Though at an early stage, most work to date has been in investigating access issues looking into potential projects where a measurable improvement may be realised. Fieldwork and liaison with partners is to be initiated later this year. Help from partners is expected to be very important in this area as are ways of working which cut across traditional lines and may provide models to be used more widely.
8.2 The locations identified in the initial assessment agreed by the LAA Executive, are now being assessed. The highest ranked location was Enham Alamein, in northern Test Valley. The village is part of a charitable trust that provides work for disabled members of the community and as such the higher than average levels of non-car ownership are related to the unique set up in the community. A more detailed assessment of the accessibility issues of the second, third and forth ranked wards of Fleet Pondtail, Penton Bellinger and The Hangers and Forest is now taking place.
9. Work to ensure the prompt adoption of school travel plans (Recommendation W(ii))
9.1 An established School Travel Planning Team operates within the Highways and Transport Policy Group within the Environment Department and works closely with schools, governors and parents for the prompt adoption of school travel plans. Passenger Transport Group works with the team to ensure that passenger transport options are used to best advantage where appropriate.
9.2 The Government has set a target for all schools within the country to have an active travel plan by 2010. Within Hampshire there are a total of 600 schools (538 state and 62 independent) and at present we are working with 93.5% of all schools (99% of state). As at June 2009, contact had been made with all but 7 of the state schools and 425 schools had developed their plan to stage 3, of 4. For independent schools, no contact had been made with 32 schools.
10. Yellow Bus Pilot update (Recommendation W(ii))
10.1 The Yellow Bus pilot was introduced in February 2007 covering schools in Basingstoke. Usage has increased year on year and currently 232 pupils use the service.
10.2 Analysis of applications to use Yellow Bus suggest that 63% of pupils previously travelled to school by car and 55% previously travelled home by car will transfer to bus. This equates to 104 and 87 students, respectively, though not all pupils will use the bus on a daily basis.
10.3 From the analysis, Yellow Bus will remove 40 car trips from the network in the morning peak (34 between 08:20 and 08:30), and will remove the need for a further 44 car trips to travel directly past the school gates. Additionally, some trips will take place later in the morning. Parents will enjoy considerable time savings (49% of drivers will save 20-40 minutes per day). Yellow Bus applicants cover all age groups and there is a high level of interest at Kempshott School and Aldworth College.
10.4 The current pilots are due to run until summer 2010 and future options are due to be reviewed in the autumn.
11.1 The review of Transport in the Community, initiated in 2007 by Hampshire County Council's Environment and Transportation Select Committee, produced a final report in summer 2008. This provided a wide-ranging analysis of the issues and opportunities for passenger transport to identify and meet the needs and aspirations of residents, to engage more fully with stakeholders and other service providers and to examine best practice across the country.
11.2 The report produced some 24 recommendations to which a response was provided at a meeting of the Select Committee in September 2008. For those items identified as requiring follow-up, progress reports were agreed for the meetings in January and July 2009 according to the timescale of the item in question and those items listed for July 2009 are dealt with in this report.
11.3 Recommendations of the Select Committee have been incorporated within a series of measures, such as the community transport review, the programme of rural transport pilots, the home to school transport initiative and the bus subsidy criteria work.
11.4 A significant piece of work which has incorporated recommendations of the Select Committee concerns the passenger transport forums which have been extended in their coverage and remodelled, and this is detailed fully in the report.
Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background documents
The following documents discuss facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and have been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report. (NB: the list excludes published works and any documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.)
1.1. The proposals in this report are derived from the departmental service plans and Local Transport Plan objectives. An impact assessment of the departmental service plans has been carried out and the proposals in this report are not considered to be discriminatory.
2. Impact on Crime and Disorder:
2.1. Not applicable.
3. Climate Change:
3.1. How does what is being proposed impact on our carbon footprint / energy consumption?
Some additional journeys may be provided to counter social isolation but these will use the most effective form of provision.
3.2 How does what is being proposed consider the need to adapt to climate change, and be resilient to its longer term impacts?
The recommendations seek to support sustainable transport provision.
THE ROLE OF THE PASSENGER TRANSPORT FORUMS
The last round of Passenger Transport Forums discussed the role which the forums could play in improving transport services in their local communities. All seven forums have had the opportunity to feed into this exercise. The feedback given in the workshop sessions has been brought together, with similar themes coming out of many of the forums. A summary of the overriding themes which came out of the forum discussions are set out below:
1. Identification of local transport needs
Forum members felt they could identify local transport needs through consultation with the members of the organisation which they represent and through mechanisms that already exist (for example, Housing Association Newsletters, Over 55's Forum). Communication of these transport needs to those providing transport services needs to be open and two way. Forum members could also be given the opportunity to present a local transport need to the forum, which could be discussed and if appropriate forum members who could contribute towards a solution could be identified to work together on this. It was suggested that this process could help to break down some of the perceived barriers to improving transport services.
2. Promotion of existing passenger transport services
Forum members could help promote current transport services by identifying transport information that is appropriate for their area and suggesting locations where this transport information should be displayed or made available. Forum members could also identify gaps in transport information in their local area, and work towards filling these. Forum members need to be part of the information process by proactively promoting transport services and information sources in their area through non-transport specific publications such as parish magazines, organisation newsletters and websites which they may have links to. To do this forum members also need to have a good understanding of what local services are available. This could be partially achieved within the context of forum meetings.
3. Delivering services that reduce social exclusion
Forum members felt they could look at their local area and identify groups that experience social exclusion, what or where local groups are excluded from services, and identify if current transport services or information contributes towards this. Forum members can then help to ensure that targeted and appropriate information is provided for the groups that have been identified. Forum members should be able to play an active role in transport consultations ensuring that service design takes into account groups experiencing social exclusion. Additionally, a broader representation of groups, including socially excluded groups, should be encouraged to become forum members.
4. Reduction of barriers to improving passenger transport services
Forum members identified that communication was seen as one of the key barriers to improving passenger transport services. Improving communication about transport issues between parishes, district and county, especially in the areas of feedback/local input on travel information, local needs and the operation of local transport services would be especially helpful. Forum members also felt that contact information should be available for commercial operators so that, where appropriate, issues could be raised directly with the service provider. Coordination of transport services and information branding could also improve communication.
Other commonly mentioned barriers, many of which are directly outside the scope of the forum, included low user numbers, the rural nature of Hampshire, poor management of customer expectations, the image of public transport, inadequate funding, integration between different transport services (poor connections), lack of public confidence in the use of transport services and general concerns about accessibility.
5. Contributing towards supporting and developing services
The forum feedback clearly identified that there is a role for each forum member to play in supporting and developing passenger transport services.
CHANGING THE FOCUS OF THE PASSENGER TRANSPORT FORUMS
The feedback from forum members has been used to outline a future role for the forums.
The forum is open to representatives from voluntary, statutory and commercial organisations. Whilst each individual forum member's role will be different, the overarching scope of each member's role should include:
(i) promotion of local transport services;
(ii) disseminating information about changes to local transport services and information;
(iii) gathering information on local transport needs;
(iv) contributing to transport related consultations; and
(v) partnership working to identify and provide solutions to transport needs.
Further to this, we have outlined a revised role for the Passenger Transport Forum meetings which responds to the feedback received by forum members. The forums could in future include the following elements although not all of these may be present at each meeting.
(i) A main agenda item which focuses on a particular passenger transport related issue or topic, for example youth transport or tendering of local bus services. It may also provide the forum with the opportunity to learn about and be involved in passenger transport related consultations. This will take the form of presentations, questions or workshop format to enable the forum to contribute.
(ii) A presentation by an invited speaker (eg transport operator), to increase forum members knowledge of their local services and have input into future operation and developments.
(iii) Opportunity for a forum member to raise a particular local transport need which they have identified and possibly researched. This would generally be agreed in advance, and could become a future agenda item, so that other organisations could also come prepared to take part in discussion around this topic and potentially contribute towards a solution Alternatively, a group of forum members may take away the need raised to work on and report back to a future forum meeting.
(iv) Forum members, including Hampshire County Council, to provide information on latest developments and share good practice.
(v) Response to forum members questions on non-agenda items. It is proposed, that in order to provide more helpful responses at the meetings, that issues could be raised in advance so that full responses can be given at the meetings.
(vi) Forum members to have networking opportunity over coffee break midway through the meeting.
(vi) County Council officers to host surgery sessions for forum members before the meeting and during the coffee break.
(viii) Update on action points agreed at the last meeting.
(ix) Prioritise any action points which have arisen in the forum meeting.
The other important change relates to how we communicate with forum members between meetings and the inclusion of new groups as forum members.
We propose to:
(i) Create a commonly asked questions and answers section on the Passenger Transport Website, to reduce the number of repeat questions at the forums in order to give new forum members a better understanding of passenger transport issues.
(ii) Include key contact information for different aspects of transport on future forum agendas and minutes, allowing specific issues which are not relevant to all forum members (such as local bus stop issues) to be asked directly to the appropriate officer. This could also include local transport operator contact details with their permission. It would also make forum members aware of the appropriate contacts for any issues which they may wish to raise between forum meetings.
(iii) Widen the representation of those present at the forums, we would like to work with forum members to identify and invite more community groups, especially groups representing young people and other hard to reach groups.
We would expect to review this revised approach in 12 months time (eg after the next two forum meetings). At the next forum meeting there will be the opportunity for forum members to provide feedback on the new proposed approach.
Briefing Note on Theme C Accessibility and Transport - LAA Executive Meeting 8 July 2009
Theme C has three targets for national indicators
NI 47 - Serious or Killed road Casualties
NI 168 - Road Condition A Roads
NI 169 - Road Condition B and C Roads
There are three local priority indicators
LIC1- Quality of life and speed in rural villages.
LIC2 Tackling congestion hotspots.
LIC3 Local Accessibility
Road Condition and road safety have been long term priorities for the County Council and this priority has been carried through to the wider LAA partnership. The approaches to highway maintenance and casualty reduction is primarily based on technical assessments and data led but with input from partnerships particularly on road safety matters. All three of these targets are on course to be achieved.
The rural villages project has been introduced in close working with parish councils and the safer roads partnership. Early results are encouraging and the enforcement aspects of the project are now being introduced . The congestion and accessibility local indicators have been developed as an alternative to the respective national indicators which were inappropriate for a county situation. Congestion is being approached through three projects looking a number of ways of reducing traffic levels including working with local communities and businesses while for accessibility most work to date has been in investigating access issues looking into potential projects where a measurable improvement may be realised. The congestion and accessibility fieldwork and liaison with partners is to be initiated later this year.
Direction of Travel
Progress with the three priority National Indicators has been very good with the principal road target on course and the classified (B and C) roads and the serious casualties performance well ahead of the negotiated target.
Initial results from the first tranche of the village speeds exercise are encouraging , approaching the 10% target in early after survey results. The congestion and accessibility work is still at relatively early stages. The congestion reduction target areas have been identified and action plans being developed while for congestion research work is continuing identifying sites with the potential for making improvements where there is low car availability.
Risks with the highway maintenance indicators are principally now around possible weather events ( for example a very hot dry summer can bring clay shrinkage which can seriously damage road structure) while casualty numbers can be influenced by a variety of apparently random events, indications are that the three year target will be met.
Risks for attaining the village speeds targets will depend on the longer term reaction of motorists to the new speed limits, the success of enforcement and any supplementary initiatives that may be introduced. The congestion situation may be affected by the national economic situation while there remain issues in terms of accessibility in identifying people with serious access problems for whom satisfactory cost-effective improvements can be devised. Help from partners is expected to be very important in this area.
There are no obvious obstacles with regard to the three NI targets but risks as identified above. Funding may be an issue in future years as budget pressures increase but these should not significantly affect the three year LAA performance. Similarly with village speeds the installation has been progressed satisfactorily and enforcement is now being introduced. For congestion and accessibility the projects are still at an early stage.
There is very strong support for the highway maintenance and safety targets across the wider and local communities and the speed limit programme generally has support locally. Congestion remains a difficult area with government forecasts of significant national traffic growth over the next 20 years conflicting often with local aspirations for traffic reductions within their community. Access problems are proving difficult to combat with traditional public transport approaches and there are demands for improved access while concerns of the costs of providing `empty buses' in the rural areas. There is unquestionably a need for more innovation in this area.
Wider LAA Partners
Maintenance and casualty reduction work is very much technically and data driven and is likely to remain so but there are opportunities to involve the wider community in identifying issues and joint initiatives and this carries through to the speed limit and to an extent with congestion where travel plans and other elements of the smarter choices agenda can make a difference locally. Accessibility has the greatest potential for improvements through working with partners in the community and the plan with the LAA work in this area is to investigate ways of working which cut across traditional lines and may provide models to be used more widely.
Programming and progress since the last LAA Executive Meeting
Following the approval of the approach towards local congestion and accessibility by the LAA Executive at its May meeting, work has commenced to take forward and develop the projects in both of these areas.
As agreed by the LAA Executive detailed timetables for the three congestion projects will be developed this Summer with implementation during 2010. Initial liaison with businesses, which are affected by the congestion at Junction 4A on the M3, has already taken place and an officer project planning meeting is taking place in July to agree the detailed approach to the project. A similar meeting to consider the scope of the other projects on the A32 Corridor and Whiteley is also being arranged shortly. Once the broad scope of the projects is established, contact with external groups and partners will take place, to ensure they are fully involved as the work is progressed.
For local accessibility, the locations identified in the initial assessment that was agreed by the LAA Executive, are now being assessed. The highest ranked location was Enham Alamein, in northern Test Valley. The village is part of a charitable trust that provides work for disabled members of the community and as such the higher than average levels of non-car ownership are related to the unique set up in the community. A more detailed assessment of the accessibility issues of the second, third and fourth ranked wards of Fleet Pondtail, Penton Bellinger and The Hangers and Forest is now taking place.