‘The Accessibility Challenge’ – Bus Franchising in Europe
December 2016 Newsletter
As we prepare to enjoy the forthcoming festivities and to both reflect and to look forward, as our first Christmas Newsletter Accessibility Solutions wants to ‘gift’ an archive that we think will have increasing significance to the UK bus regulatory regime into 2017 and beyond.
Researching the Buurtbus model in the Netherlands.
In 2012 our Director Gareth Blackett was honoured by the Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers ( ATCO) with the Martin Robertson Travel Bursary to research the Buurtbus model in the Netherlands. The work proved both prophetic and practical- BuurtBus operates in a franchised network and offers great insight given the forthcoming Bus Services Bill ; and ultimately the learning was applied to a trial in the UK to develop innovative transport solutions.
The context in 2012 was an increasingly compromised supply of public transport services due to austerity, particularly in less populated areas, against growth in demand due to demographic and economic trends, as well as local modal-shift policies. The results were somewhat predictable – service withdrawals, network gaps and consequent growing social exclusion – and determined that the focus of the research was to develop a generic intervention that could be proactively ‘plugged into the network and played’ prior to service cessations in order to preclude network gaps . There had been some success in the UK with innovation – demand responsive buses, shared taxis and community transport – but no solution that could be standardised, measured and sustained…and it was the quest for such a model that was termed ‘The Accessibility Challenge’.
Following extensive desktop research and fieldwork in the Netherlands, the results identified that the Buurtbus model could offer a viable solution to mitigate bus service withdrawals in the UK as well as functioning successfully in a franchised network. The key success factors proved to be the collaborative design of the delivery model ; the customised nature of the service (note to MaaS) ; the regulatory framework ; cultural perceptions of public transport and social action ; infrastructure integration ; and a commitment to public relations and marketing.
The model was presented at a number of national UK transport events and to a number of transport commissioners – notably Transport for London and Nexus – which ultimately resulted in working with Hackney Community Transport to re-appropriate, modify and develop the Buurtbus model into a prototype that was trialled in Jersey before their award winning Liberty Bus service was introduced. Although unsustainable, a number of key lessons were learnt.
Looking forward to 2017
Accessibility Solutions is keen to work with commissioners and providers of transport to develop innovative, Buurtbus-type services within franchised bus networks; and as on-demand ‘Accessibility as a Service’ solutions in rural environments. Please contact us for more information.
You can download the original ATCO News Article -‘The Accessibility Challenge’- here for free as a Christmas gift to our valued network of customers, clients and stakeholders.
Happy Christmas & an Accessible New Year from all at Accessibility Solutions!!