Meeting documents

SCC Bus Advisory Board
Thursday, 17th February, 2022 10.00 am

  • Meeting of Bus Advisory Board, Thursday 17th February 2022 10.00 am (Item 25.)

To receive the draft report and discuss.


The Chair invited Tim Reynolds, Associate for WSP, to present the draft Bus Passenger Charter.  He stated that these charters are one of the things that the DfT wants Local Authorities to continue with regardless of the allocation of funding and noted that our draft charter has drawn on best practice from other organisations, such as Transport Focus, an independent body that has helped greatly with both the EP and the BISP.  The draft charter, which has been circulated for input and feedback, should ideally be only two to three pages long.  Not all groups have a charter, while some of them point mainly to operators’ conditions of carriage which deal with the conduct and obligations of the operators and of the passengers.  The charter needs to be kept simple; our draft charter is a bit long and needs to be discussed with operators to understand and create the conditions of carriage document.  This draft is only a start and will be made more concise after today’s suggestions and comments, then it will be circulated to operators and the BUS Group for consultation.  After finalisation, the operators and the Communications team will work together to announce and publicise the charter, making it accessible to all.


The Chair invited attendees to ask questions.  Peter Travis advised that he welcomes the charter, which at this stage is more of a scoping document; he asserted that it will have to be shorter and in an easily understandable format for users, that the question of compensation with respect to conditions of carriage needs careful consideration, and that he has a major concern over the lack of any printed format for the charter being stipulated.  He noted that older people, who are a very important demographic amongst bus users, often don’t have mobile phones (half of those over 65 do not, nor does 1 person in 8 over the age of 55), and that Somerset has some of the lowest internet use in the country, with West Somerset the third lowest in the U.K.  Therefore, bus operators and the County Council need to provide their loyal customers with timetable information on paper, like Wiltshire, who has suggested that 75% of bus stops have paper timetables.  It is a necessity to bear the marketing costs for this and essential to put this in the chart, while also asking that operators be required to put timetable information on paper.  In relation to this, Adam Hawksworth mentioned that Buses of Somerset produces a comprehensive paper booklet and maintains their own roadside timetables.  It was responded that these were all great points, which will be noted during work with operators and passenger groups on the charter, although the BSIP does have a commitment to paper timetables.


Glen Burrows stated that she is concerned about the section on timetables and fares where it advises passengers to ask the bus driver for this information, as she believes that this underestimates the stress and time involved for the driver to provide this.  She opined that this is a very bad idea, as the drivers need to concentrate on driving and safety, and perhaps conductors are needed.  It was replied that this will be noted; although the draft charter is based on best practice across the country, there are pros and cons to the aspects involved, and they are happy to work to get it right.


David Redgewell stated that the timetables in areas such as Wells, Glastonbury, Cheddar, Bristol, Bath and Minehead concern him because these are big tourist areas, and it is difficult for persons on holiday to know how to get to one place from another by bus.  He suggested having bus information at railway stations and working with tourist boards.  He also asked if it would be possible to get a Rover ticket like Wiltshire has that could be used on any bus for a small fee.  He believes there is a need to work with the Baroness to gain funding for marketing and to extend certain services.  It was replied that these suggestions were noted, although much of it, such as the Rover ticket, was already part of the BSIP.  Until funding was received, they will not know what can be done or not, but they will be able to have a much clearer conversation at the next meeting.


Josh Strickland of Hatch Green Coaches said with respect to printed materials that operators agree; they have a comprehensive website but also spend a considerable amount for paper timetables since these are often requested.  He also asked when operators would be asked to provide feedback on the charter.  It was replied that the charter would be shortened and amended after today’s input, then it would be circulated to operators and stakeholders/users.


Tony Reese said that he would be happy to see the charter shortened and that one page would be ideal in order to display it on buses; he would also be happy to have input from operators.  He suggested that there is something missing that the Wiltshire charter has, i.e. information on a network of routes providing wide connectivity, which they must work toward; information on maintenance of bus stops; and something on various modes of travel, given that a bus journey is often part of a trip using integrated and different types of transportation.  It was replied that these comments would be noted, that the Wiltshire document would be reviewed, and there would be a strengthening of the network of connectivity.


The Board received and noted the report on the draft charter.



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