Val Shawcross CBE – HATF (Chair)
Tony Caccavone – Heathrow Airport Limited (Surface Access Director)
Mark Frost – Heathrow Strategic Planning Group
Nigel Wicking – Airline Operators Committee (AOC Chief Executive)
Paul Millin – Heathrow Strategic Planning Group (Transport Group Chair)
Mark Purchase – Confederation of Passenger Transport (Operations Manager)
Damilola Dada – HATF (Secretariat)
1. Welcome and Introductions
The Chair provided opening remarks and outlined the 2 key objectives from the meeting:
- To explore and understand the real impacts of the removal of subsidies from the public transport network
- To look for mitigations, and ultimately for the restoration of subsidies
2. Impact of the subsidy removal on the route network
TC provided an update on the subsidy removal on the route network:
Particular points discussed included:
- Lack of direct evidence outlining impacts or physical changes.
- TC raised a call for evidence and feedback from public transportoperators and Local Authorities to understand the impacts of thechanges.
- It was noted that of the 9 bus operators using the current travelcardsystem, 8 will continue fulfilling the conditions of the travelcards untilexpiry.
- There is currently no anticipation for any services to be fully lost.However, there may be minor frequency changes, but no location willlose a route in its entirety.
- Operators are dealing with changes to government guidance in termsof local restrictions and its impact on ridership, but they havebenefitted from some limited government financial support, via. the Covid Bus Service Support Grant.
- Most operators have already introduced new ticketing offers for team Heathrow colleagues or will be introducing these in the new year.
- Several operators have secured Local Authority funding to continue early morning or evening services, although one or two early/late services might be lost.
- Heathrow are working with operators to ensure this has a minimal impact on shift workers.
- Impact to date hasn’t been as bad as initially predicted.
- Heathrow remain in discussion with TfL buses to determine when the free travel zone on the buses come to an end. The team are currentlyworking through contractual agreements
- Heathrow Express offer of free travel remains in place for allHeathrow Airport Limited employees until at least June 2021. With all other team Heathrow employees able to take advantage of the 75% discount offer.
- PM noted his concern around route 8, impacting Windsor and Maidenhead.
- Agreement with one service from Surrey County Council (SCC) to make a financial contribution to ensure service continues.
- SCC are keen to work with the airport to mitigate impacts; however, financial contributions will be limited.
- SCC to publicise impacts by the end of the week.
- Covid Bus Service Support Grant allows operators to flex servicesaccording to the demand and need. Need for recovery partnership toprovide operators additional financial support.
- MP stated that operators aren’t anticipated to make any substantialchanges to services in and out of Heathrow currently and expect thatthey won’t have to for a while.
- NW sought further clarification on the fares impact for the workforceand the broader community.
- Heathrow are aware that many of the operators are looking tointroduce their own discount schemes and will be tailored to theneeds of each operator.
- NW noted feedback from airline community on the uncertainty of thepotential fare leap and the need to have sureties for low paid workers.
- Heathrow is directing affected individuals to visit the Way2Gowebsite, as well as direct contact to the Surface Access team, Heathrow community app. Way2Go users will be able to have access to fare information.
- MF stated the need to determine whether there will be changes to lengths of routes, stops and areas served.
- TC detailed the provision to restart subsidies within the next regulatory business plan which begins in January 2022.
- TC to share dashboard of offers available and impacted services.
- TC to find out how many travelcards are currently in use.
- Heathrow Surface Access team to pull together service comparison table to determine old offers vs new offers.
3. Heathrow timescales for subsidy restoration
Particular points discussed include:
- The Chair queried if revenue streams were to return and passengerdemand returns to the airport, why the regulator wouldn’t want the airport to restore some normal operations including subsidies for the workforce and passengers.
- TC outlined the regulatory period for 2021 was set out in 2014, based on a passenger forecast from that period that didn’t take a Covid-19 scenario into account. As a regulated business, Heathrow is way under recovering in 2020/21, as the forecast was based without a Covid-19 impact, the business has since been losing revenue and will need to reduce its cost base for 2021 and therefore recovering costs.
- Heathrow have had to set a budget for 2021, against what is going to be an income stream based on passenger numbers, that doesn’t include any provision for the reinstatement of public transport services. If Heathrow outperform these passenger forecasts, there might be some opportunities. However, there needs to be some material shifts.
- The Chair highlighted the danger of the workforce and passengers returning in large numbers and being forced into car use because of (addition) the lack of the free travel zone or public transport offerings in promoting modal shift.
- It was further emphasised that public transport offerings are to be seen as a necessity, rather than a luxury.
- Heathrow remain committed to Surface Access, with ambitions to develop a modern, fit for purpose offering.
- PM emphasised his concern around the uncertainty the changes. There is a need to provide commitment to putting things back in place.
- There is a need for increased confidence for passengers to travel. Further challenges around capacity on public transport to support social distancing, which could potentially deter passengers from using public transport.
- The Surface Access team continue to engage with operators to determine what can remain in place. The level of government support to operators will determine the gap in funding available.
- TfL and Union representatives to be involved in future discussions.
It was agreed that further discussions were to take place in January/ February 2021 to review progress and address key issues that may arise.
4. Build Back Better
- It was highlighted that there are major inequalities in relation to public transport affordability around the airport. It was proposed that the restoration of subsidies could be an opportunity to design a better and more fit for purpose subsidy regime, which works better for the workforce and employers at Heathrow.
- Further work to be done to pull together information to draw out social and economic inequalities and impact on public transport.
- MF suggested this piece of work provides Heathrow with the opportunity to commission this research in collaboration with a local university.
- Heathrow are to launch a colleague travel survey to determine the impacts to team Heathrow employees.
- MF enquired whether it was possible to identify particular individuals affected by changes and come up with alternative solutions, including active travel support.
- Funding has been secured to keep the Heathrow Cycle Hub in operation.
- There are a number of active travel opportunities being explored campus wide, including the introduction of e-scooters.
- MF to reach out to lecturers to explore idea.