Nottingham is a compact urban unitary authority which continually puts buses at the heart of integrated planning, transport and regeneration work, ensuring that accessibility and operations are considered at all times. Over 20% of LTP capital budget is for bus measures aimed at improving the existing high quality commercial network, adding value and helping keep it commercial in the face of rising operational costs – well surfaced, lit roads and pavements, enforced network bus priority, extensive well maintained waiting facilities, integrated ticketing and information and safety measures such as stop CCTV.
Several key innovative policies show Nottingham’s consistent support for bus travel from a high level:
- Workplace Parking Levy. The City now has full approval to introduce this levy from April 2012, making bus travel relatively more attractive, and ring fencing funds for significant improvements to public transport infrastructure.
- Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme. In May 2010 Nottingham established the Country’s first area wide statutory scheme covering 100 bus stops, over 100 routes and over 500 buses. This commits the Council to a significant range of new obligations, including enforcement, marshalls, high quality waiting infrastructure, stop booking and a free city linkbus (Appendix 1)
- Decriminalised moving traffic enforcement. The City Council now has powers and a highly effective range of tools to enforce all bus lanes in the City, together with all on-street parking, using both fixed cameras and a mobile CCTV car.
- The City Centre Turning Point major schemes. The first of these has removed all north-south car travel movements from the City Centre, enabling buses to fully access and turn in the main shopping areas through a series of bus-only roads. This has improved reliability and lead to an extension of several bus services. The second stage is currently out to consultation, and will severe east-west car movements and give greater bus priority from the north to the south train station area.
- Retained part ownership of Nottingham City Transport. The council has consistently taken only a modest dividend, in return for significant qualitative improvements to the network made by NCT.
- Concessionary travel. Despite significant cost pressures due to legislative and funding changes, the City Council has not had any operator appeals and has managed to continue discretionary peak concessions for disabled persons, companions, P&R and the Tram, to give an integrated citywide ticket to over 25% of residents
- The Citycard project is a joint partnership smartcard project with the bus and tram operators. It seeks to integrate public transport with shopping, education, employment and leisure activities – by issuing over 250,000 residents with a multi-functional smartcard, together with a personalized travel plan and starter deals. There are over 100,000 regular users, with use growing each month. All new residents receive a Citycard, together with information on all Council services and how to access them by public transport.
Over 93% of the City is already accessible by commercial or contracted buses. Developers are given a guide showing postcodes with high frequency bus routes and contribution is sought to bring all sites to a minimum frequency standard. Policies new accessible developments relate to minimizing car parking and ensuring buses can stop close-by, have safe pedestrian crossings, shelters and real time information, car park enforcement, footpaths and entrances near stops and that traffic calming is bus-friendly. Contributions are also levied to promote bus travel by giving all new residents free travel for a given period eg the NG2 development have free bus and P&R travel if they give up their right to a parking space. There is a dedicated accessibility planning team which ensures that sustainable transport is considered throughout the development process relating to new facilities.
Parking and Traffic Management
Moving traffic offences in bus lanes together with on-street parking enforcement is now carried out by the City Council. Over 12000 penalty notices were issued in 2009, with this falling by 50% from 18 to 9 a day over the year. One camera installed 6 weeks ago issued 120 notices in the first week, which has now dropped to around 10 notices. There are now bus lanes on 10 of the 14 major radial bus routes into the City Centre. Together with the City Centre priorities outlined above, and excellent management by operators, key targets are being met within the agreed bus punctuality improvement programme shown below.
There is a monthly forum with all bus operators for roadworks and events which impact on bus operation and early consultation on all major highways projects. Details of all route diversions and changes are now relayed by the City Council to over 400 on-street electronic stop signs. All major signalised junctions are now on SCOOT with queue management arrangements on major radials optimised for buses. By the end of 2010 over 70% of all buses will be fitted with real time tracking equipment data will be used by SCOOT to prioritise late running buses.
The City Council owns over 80% of public parking in the City Centre and deliberately set prices to discourage competition with buses - all day parking £16 and upto 4hours is £5.80, compared to all day bus travel of around £2 and P&R of £3. This has seen a significant reduction in car park use of over 35% over the past 5 years.
The tendered Medilink service gives a free 10-minute service along the Ring Road from two P&R sites, a tram stop and many bus stops interchanging with key bus radials. Usage has risen from 0.4m to 1.2m in 3 years, with 30% interchange from bus/tram. The rising trend of congestion on the Ring Road has now slowed down, helping many other bus routes.
In 2009, the City Council in partnership with a local bus operator commenced a series of Eventlink service from an expanded P&R site to major sporting and leisure events around the City – football, cricket, concerts etc. Using dedicated branded buses and co-ordinated publicity, these now take around 150,000 trips pa off roads at congested peak times.