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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 09/03/2004
QUALITY BUS PARTNERSHIP – BUS SHELTERS PROVISION



Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report is to respond to the request of Surrey County Council for Waverley Borough Council to enter into a ‘Quality Bus Partnership’ to work together to develop and implement a range of initiatives to improve local bus services and to encourage greater bus use.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
Positive
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive



The provision of an effective public transportation service with safe, secure and protected waiting facilities can reduce car travel and its associated pollution, increase walking and its associated health benefits and improve access to town centres, thereby supporting the local economy.

E-Government implications:

Web-site timetabling information and real-time bus location and estimated time of arrival systems are being introduced to improve bus information services. There are no direct implications for Waverley’s e-government.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no legal implications in this report as the Council’s support for public transportation is permissive rather than statutory. There are resource implications referred to in the report.
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Introduction

1. Surrey County Council’s Passenger Transport Group (PTG) is charged with improving local bus services and encouraging greater bus use. It seeks to do so by working in partnership with those agencies that have powers and/or responsibilities in the service, those which can influence bus use, and the bus operators. The PTG has asked Waverley to initially commit to supporting its initiative on one bus route, as a trial for a Borough-wide scheme, by entering into a Quality Bus Partnership. It is proposed that the partnership initially includes SCC Passenger Transport Group, SCC Local Transportation Service (Highway Authority), Waverley Borough Council and the bus operator. The Town and Parish Councils may also have a role in the partnership in the future.

2. The Partnership’s aims are proposed as:

• to provide high quality bus stop infrastructure including bus stop flags and timetable frames

• to ensure that traffic management schemes encourage bus service usage

• to consult with bus operators on traffic planning matters

• to implement and enforce bus stop clearways and appropriate waiting restrictions

• to provide appropriate accessible infrastructure in accordance with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

• to provide and maintain enhanced shelter and waiting facilities

• to design, develop and implement a Real Time Passenger Information system as funding is identified

• to develop bus/rail integrated ticketing schemes and to maintain a concessionary fares scheme

In return the bus operator will be expected to:

• introduce low-floor fully accessible buses

• undertake training of drivers in customer care and the DDA

• maintain service levels

• maintain an appropriate fare structure

• undertake appropriate publicity and marketing of the service

• maintain reliability and punctuality.

3. Waverley’s principal responsibility in the above is the provision and maintenance of bus shelters. The County Council has indicated that the partnership could permit access to Surrey Local Transport Plan (LTP) funding for improvements to some bus shelters, which Waverley is unable to fund from its own resources.

Mid-Waverley Quality Bus Partnership

4. In 2001, Surrey County Council proposed a similar Quality Bus Partnership (QBP), initially for the Godalming to Haslemere bus corridor. The Waverley Partnership Area Transportation Committee, at its meeting on 29th May 2001, resolved to endorse the principle of establishing a QBP for that corridor. Waverley’s Executive at its meeting on 24th July 2001, resolved to approve the participation of Waverley in that partnership.
5. Waverley undertook an amount of survey work on that route in co-operation with Surrey’s Transportation Officers. However, its Passenger Transport Group made no progress in implementing the identified improvement programme due to:

(a) no LTP funding being allocated

(b) no commitments being forthcoming from the bus operator on that route.

6. Consequently, no further progress was made on this initiative. The PTG has now obtained a commitment to partnership working by the operator of the service 53/63 Ewhurst/Cranleigh/Wonersh/Bramley/Guildford, and is therefore seeking to resurrect the partnership with Waverley.

Bus Shelter Provision

7. Under the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1953, a local authority has the power to provide and maintain, in or adjacent to any highway within its district, which is comprised in the route of public service vehicles, shelters, at stopping places on the route, for the use of persons intending to travel on such vehicles, subject to the consent of the Highway Authority.

8. In this context, ‘local authority’ means the Council of a County, Borough or District and includes the Council of a rural parish or town. Any persons authorised to run public service vehicles may also enter into an agreement with the Local Authority to provide and maintain shelters. In practice, the majority of the shelters in the Borough were provided and maintained by Waverley’s predecessor authorities and therefore have been inherited by Waverley. Some new and replacement shelters have been provided by Waverley since 1974 and a few new shelters have resulted from developments such as the Godalming Town Centre Enhancements and new superstores as part of the ‘planning gain’. A few Town and Parish Councils, most notably Farnham Town Council, have contributed to the funding of shelters in their areas. None have been funded, in Waverley’s history, by the County Council or bus operators.

9. Waverley has responsibility for approximately 100 bus shelters. The provision and maintenance of these shelters is funded through the General Fund Revenue Budget for Street Furniture. This budget must also fund the repair and replacement of approximately 100 public benches and the 4,000 street nameplates in the Borough. The Council has a statutory duty to provide and maintain street nameplates. There is no capital funding provision for any of these assets but asset charges for depreciation and interest are, however, debited to the street furniture budget. The revenue budget for the repair and replacement of these assets is currently 30,000 per annum, approximately 5,000 of which is directed to bus shelter maintenance and contributions to renewals. At less than 50 per shelter per annum, this is clearly inadequate.

10. A capital bid for 20,000 for bus shelters for 2004/05 was not agree
d by the Chief Officer Group.

11. Street furniture, and particularly bus shelters, are by their nature and location particularly vulnerable to graffiti, other malicious damage and vehicle impact damage. Many of the shelters are of wooden construction with a 15 to 20 year life. Many are in excess of 50 years old and in a poor condition. In many cases, demolition and disposal is the only practicable option, but that itself has a cost which the Council is unable to fund within current resources. Shelters are prominent in the streetscene and their dereliction does nothing to enhance the image of the Borough.
Private Partnerships

12. The Council has entered into discussions with the companies which are able to provide and maintain bus shelters at no cost to the Council, in return for being able to sell advertising space thereon. The advertising is generally by way of internally illuminated panels and subject to planning control. The shelter itself is exempt from planning control.

13. Those providers are currently in discussion with potential advertisers to explore the opportunities for sites which will be sufficiently rewarding for advertisers in respect of public visibility and exposure. The sites which will be attractive to advertisers, and therefore to the shelter providers, are those with maximum public exposure such as town centres. Unfortunately, many of those sites are in Conservation Areas and Planning Officers have indicated that consent may not be forthcoming in these areas.

14. If sufficient commercially viable sites, in terms of advertising revenue, can be identified, discussions with Planning Officers will be entered into by the shelter providers.

Promoting Public Transport

15. The Council, through its Local Plan, has embraced the principle of sustainable development in town centres by the adoption of the restrictive (maximum) parking standards recommended in PPG13 (Transport) PPG3 (Housing) and RPG9. By restricting parking provision through the planning process, the Council, by implication, expects the public transport system to meet the mobility needs of many of the occupants of new residential and commercial developments. The provision of safe, conveniently located and weather protected bus waiting areas is fundamental to supporting those needs.

16. Where a developer is able to profit by limiting the provision of parking, in accordance with the adopted parking standards, the Council is able to seek contributions under a Section 106 Agreement, to improvements in the transport infrastructure needed to meet the transport needs of that development. The funding of bus shelters is a classic example of improvements which could and should be funded ‘on the back of’ town centre developments, residential and commercial. However, the funding source must fairly and reasonably relate to the particular development. It cannot be used for shelters outside the relevant transport corridor. Phase 1 of the ‘Key Site’ development in Godalming, comprising 50 residential units, is an example of where a developer contribution might have helped fund much-needed bus shelters in Godalming, had a ‘planning gain’ policy been in place.

Company Transport Plan

17. The Council’s own Organisational Travel Plan, agreed by the Executive on 2nd December 2003, pledges to “encourage the use of public transport by staff and visitors - encouraging the use of public transport for work-related travel and commuting by staff and promoting it to visitors when they come to see us”. However, one of the most well used bus stops in Godalming, at The Square in the High Street, which would be used by staff and visitors has no weather protection at all. It would be useful to look at the comfort and convenience of bus waiting areas in developing the Council’s travel plans.


Resource Implications

18. It is difficult to quantify resources at this stage. Initially, officer time will be required to attend partnership meetings, seek funding, and arrange the inspection estimation and implementation of a bus shelter repair programme. The Engineering Manager has initially been approached as the existing bus shelter stock is in his Portfolio. However, the encouragement and promotion of bus use should perhaps be a matter for a more corporate approach, and there may be a more appropriate place in the organisation for this responsibility to lie?

Financial Implications

19. The financial value of the partnership is the opportunity which it may provide to access LTP funding for bus shelter improvements. However, Waverley may be expected to make some contribution to the upgrading of its own assets but it is not possible to quantify that at this stage. Waverley maintains 14 shelters on bus route 53/63, all of which are of wooden construction and 50% are in very poor condition. it is estimated that approximately 10,000 is needed to restore them to an acceptable condition.

Conclusion

20. The Council seeks to promote and encourage alternative means of transport to the car, through its planning policies, Car Parking Strategy and Organisational Travel Plan. However, in real terms, little has been done to improve conditions for those using public transport, even where the Council has the power and responsibility to do so, i.e. the maintenance of, and improvement to, the bus shelter infrastructure. Currently, many shelters are in poor condition and likely to deteriorate further. To date, no action has been taken to seek funding for transport infrastructure improvements which Government Circular 1/97 (guidance on Section 106 planning agreements and planning gain) encourages.

21. The Council does not have a statutory duty to provide and maintain bus shelters, but has the power to do so, in common with the County Council, Town and Parish Councils and bus operators. It does have a statutory duty to provide and maintain street nameplates. The Street Furniture Budget is insufficient to meet the Council’s statutory duty on the maintenance of street nameplates and is wholly inadequate to maintain the Council’s inherited responsibility for bus shelters and public benches. Waverley could elect not to provide any new shelters and/or not to replace those which are beyond economical repair, in which case they would need to be demolished for public safety. Waverley cannot abrogate responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the existing 100 shelters unless it resolved to remove them.

22. Waverley was not encouraged by its experience with the Mid-Waverley BQP which came to nothing after it had undertaken an amount of work on it. However, the route 53/63 operator has already demonstrated its commitment to improving passenger facilities on this corridor by the introduction of real-time monitoring of bus progress and low-floor easy access vehicles.

23. It would be advantageous for Waverley to co-operate with Surrey County Council in a Quality Bus Partnership if it wishes to:

1. demonstrate the support and encouragement of increased public transport use; and

2. seek to continue to facilitate the provision of new and replacement shelters which could be financed, in whole or part through the Local Transport Plan funding allocation.

24. However, the resources to progress that partnership will need to be identified and funded.

25. Waverley is pursuing every opportunity for external funding for shelters and, if this partnership results in funding from the LTP, it will be worthwhile. A draft Partnership Agreement, prepared by Surrey County Council is appended at Annexe 1.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the Executive affirms its commitment to supporting the Quality Bus Partnership proposed by Surrey County Council on Bus Route 53/63.
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Background Papers (DoE&L)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: R Ellks Telephone: 01483 523411

E-mail: rellks@waverley.gov.uk
comms/executive/2003/2004/471 35461