Val Shawcross CBE – HATF (Chair)
Mark Frost – HATF (Independent Technical Advisor)
Paul Millin – Heathrow Strategic Planning Group (HSPG)
Chris Cole – London Borough of Ealing (Head of Transport Planning)
Rupert Zierler – Buckinghamshire Council (Principal Transport Strategy Officer) Fergus McGhee – Transport for London (Service Planning Manager)
Robert Heslop – London Borough of Hounslow (Principal Transport Planner) Peter Bradley – UK Coach Operators Association (Managing Director)
Sophie Chapman – HAL (Surface Access Director)
Matthew Wooll – HAL (Route Development Lead)
Tim Leech – HAL (Head of Surface Access and Sponsorship)
Lucas Taylor – HAL (Sustainable Travel Manager)
Val Shawcross welcomed everyone to the HATF Bus SIG and group introductions.
2. Review of activity in 2022
The Bus SIG was established to consider what could be done with limited funding, following the withdrawal of Heathrow’s funding in 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This culminated in the development of the Sustainable Travel Zone (STZ).
Supported by LAs, the group aims to re-organise the way we look at buses and sustainable access to the airport and beyond.
Heathrow Update (Matthew Wooll and Tim Leech)
The STZ is the umbrella for activities to improve accessibility at the airport for colleagues and passengers. Enhancements are focussed around, but not limited to, colleague home postcodes. Existing improvements and developments can be found in the STZ Colleague Guide.
The STZ Annual Report for 2022 can be found here
Opportunity to grow network of longer distance coach services – some good options in place that could be further developed (Green Line), includes buses with luggage racks, improved frequencies, and repainted buses.
ULEZ: the STZ will be supercharged in 2023 to mitigate the impact of ULEZ. C. 10,000 Team Heathrow colleagues drive non-compliant vehicles, c. 500 based outside proposed ULEZ boundary. Set of mitigation measures include:
- Improving public transport offering, focussing (but not limited) on options from outside Greater London to the airport.
- Park & Ride – temporary measure.
- Green car scheme – HAL colleagues only.
- Improved marketing and communications.
Park & Ride option to be modelled on HAL’s existing P&R at High Wycombe.
Central Bus Station (Tim Leech)
CBS is stressed for capacity, further challenged by operator’s move towards larger tri-axle vehicles.
Chapel Lane: plan to re-instate four stops on Chapel Lane for additional capacity. The project is undergoing internal governance, but the plan is to implement in 2023.
Bus Stop Information (Matthew Wooll)
Some bus information in the public domain is not correct, particularly non-TfL bus timetables at TfL managed bus stops. HAL struggle to correct this, although have had a positive conversation with TfL about the possibility of installing a second poster case in bus shelters at the airport.
Update from Transport for London (Fergus McGhee)
A10: comparison study on early morning boarders in January. Weekday journeys carry 30 passengers in both directions (3 x journeys in each direction). Would normally expect it to take six months for usage like that. Confident that patronage will grow (forecasted to increase to 75 per day). Expect 6-12 months to reach forecasted levels, though early indications are positive.
Uxbridge: new contracts for Uxbridge town centre routes due in April 2024. A service review will be undertaken 1-year before so tender specifications can be issued.
Route U3 Review: plan to consult proposals this year to change the U3 (exact details are confidential). As a result, the U3 might have a frequency increase to Heathrow (every 10-mins in the day, 12-mins in the evening, every 15-mins early mornings).
Early morning enhancements: shorter term plan to ask existing operator to give costs for early morning enhancements. Possibility of introducing earlier U3 and 278 journeys in Autumn.
X26: in the tendering programme with next contract due in 2024. Plan to tender an option to double the frequency on this route (from 30-mins to 15- mins) from first to last bus. Subject to costs and business case.
LA BSIP Round-Up (Paul Millin)
Surrey County Council (Paul Millin): although unsuccessful in their bid, they are in a good position to re-submit. Large capital programme for low emission vehicles and more real-time passenger information. Good feedback from DfT about where they fell short which will help to improve BSIPs.
Buckinghamshire Council (Rupert Zierler): in absence of additional funding, Bucks is looking to enhance its partnership with operators. High Wycombe Park & Ride and DRT (Pick Me Up) has been going well, offering residents another opportunity to reach the P&R for onward travel to Heathrow.
HAL (Matthew Wooll): continues to work with several local authorities who are not represented today. Shared issues across operators and LAs show that collaborative work can strengthen our position and achieve our objectives. Services should be economically viable for both the community and airport users.
3. From Heathrow Vision for buses to a Heathrow BSIP (Mark Frost + all)
Heathrow Bus Vision (2021) expanded as one document to support LAs development plans and push collaborative agenda. Opportunity to consolidate joined visions, with ULEZ adding a certain urgency.
Key questions to explore include:
- What was in your BSIPs that didn’t secure funding that we may be able to take forward in partnership?
- Are there opportunities for collective funding bids to support a Heathrow Bus Service improvement Plan?
- What options are there for increased coordination and interoperability between operators? Across GLA boundary? E.g., Heathrow Travel Card for operators outside Heathrow, branding etc.
- How can resources available for mitigation for ULEZ extension help move the dial on this, particularly in terms of improving services across the GLA boundary?
- How do we secure a good award of that funding for the Heathrow area?
Heathrow to take the lead with close collaboration with HATF Bus SIG.
Matthew Wooll: initiatives such as the Heathrow Travelcard were good, but absence of funding in 2020-21 meant ownership was on the operator to offer alternative colleague discounts. Enhanced technology is an opportunity to solve a lot of these problems, i.e., multi-operator ticketing options. Other improvements include a focus on branding, increased frequency on services outside Greater London, and 24-hour bus lanes, i.e., Slough.
Mark Frost: is an overarching plan or working document for the future a good idea?
Pail Millin: Opportunity to be a lever with the DfT. Must be aware of need to collaborate with commercial bus operators and encourage a shared vision.
Sophie Chapman: The tide is changing; people are more prepared to use bus and coach, but the education and marketing piece is important. Focus needed on building services but making sure people understand what they are, where they are, and how easy it is.
Matthew Wooll: Slough residents to receive a leaflet through the door about improvements to services in Cippenham from 2 April, in partnership with Slough Borough Council and the bus operators.
Mark Frost: Phased plan looking at the coming 12, 24, 36 months. Next session to involve ‘blue-sky’ discussions about what radical bus and infrastructure changes at the airport could look like.
Next meeting in May 2023.