Val Shawcross CBE – HATF (Chair)
Mark Frost – HATF (Independent Technical Advisor)
Tony Caccavone – Heathrow Airport Limited (Surface Access Director)
Paul Millin – Heathrow Strategic Planning Group (Chair, Transport Sub Group) Shamal Ratnayaka – Transport for London (Aviation Strategy Lead)
Nigel Wicking – Airline Consultative Committee (AOC Chief Executive)
Mark Purchase, CPT
Timothy Wells – HAL (Surface Access Travel and Policy Lead) Lisa Martin – HAL (Surface Access Strategy Lead)
Matthew Wooll – HAL (Route Development Lead)
The Chair thanked everyone for attending the meeting and shared some opening remarks.
1. Update on current status of bus services (HAL)
MW provided an update on changes to bus services to the airport since the HATF Board meeting on 27th January. See slides for key points.
2. 6 months+ implications arising from withdrawal of Covid Bus Support Grant
a) Operator Perspective (CPT)
Mark Purchase provided an update to the meeting, including the following key points:
The expected Government Bus Strategy was not published on 25/02/2021 as planned and is now expected at the end of March.
For CBSSG, the indications are that the support will remain whilstsocial distancing is in place, so at least until June. The 8-week notice period is still in place, so anticipating that the earliest it will be removed is 8 weeks from 21st June.
The Government is now calling it ‘CBSSG Recovery’ which gives thesense it is longer term than just the pandemic. Key questions include – Will there be a funded recovery phase? How long will it be? How flexible will it be? Constructive conversations are ongoing.
Partnership working with local authorities is key, and we are encouraging our members to realise the benefits of that. Some members are wary of getting too close to the local transport authority, but it is the only real way forward to define the recovery phase.
The next few months will be turbulent, and it is very difficult to predict what the public’s behaviour will be. Key will be flexibility and being able to make changes quickly.
Anticipate a tipping point when demand is back to 70% of normal levels; that might be when funding is scaled back or removed. It will then fall on operators to fund services on a commercial basis, and they may struggle at that point. Until people are encouraged to return to work and not work from home there is little chance of demand getting above 60%.
Comments and questions included:
- TC asked whether, in discussions with the Government or operators,there had been talk of a campaign to get people travelling again on public transport? MP explained that the CPT has invested in a marketing campaign to push this message; it will be a national marketing campaign that can be branded locally by operators and local authorities. TC offered the support of HAL in pushing the campaign out when the time is right. The Chair confirmed that HATF would ask HAL to do this.
- PM said he knew many local authorities in the Heathrow area were talking to operators about what routes look like in future, and there are a number of positive relationships. Fundamentally patronage is 20-25% of levels in 2019 with most services running. He expects, over a period of 18-24 months, patronage might get back to 80%. Losing 2 in 10 customers is hard for any business to take, and we must work collectively to re-design what the network looks like in the future.
- SR shared that TfL has a similar demand picture, but a very different funding context and services are currently running unchanged. That may need to change in the future depending on funding available to TfL following their next settlement with DfT and given the clear requirements for TfL to identify savings. If TfL must make cuts to bus services, then it is more likely to cut frequencies than routes. Buses are disproportionately more important in outer London so the hope would be to limit any changes in outer London, but there is uncertainty around that. The Chair asked if there was a difference in the recovery rate of bus than tube. SR confirmed that bus has performed better, which is mainly due to the type of trip being made.
- MF asked MP if he had a feel for how many services might be at risk around Heathrow if the 21st June comes and CBSG goes away? MP answered that UK wide there will be significant reduction in services which can run, and likely a marginal impact on Heathrow too.
b) Local Authority Perspective (HSPG)
Paul Millin provided an update to the meeting, including the following key points:
- In Buckinghamshire there is real concern about the termination of route 459. The long-term impacts are not yet clear – Bucks have written to HAL to set out their concerns. RBWM is also concerned about routes 10/10a and looking at what they can do, which is not easy given other pulls on finances.
- Changes to X442 in Surrey, direct service from Staines to Heathrow. Surrey recognised how important the 442 was to residents around Stanwell Moor so are keeping it going which is costing SCC £51k a year, but that will be difficult to fund long term.
- So, the changes introduced by Heathrow need to be temporary, and we need to support Heathrow’s recovery. Expect it will be a really difficult time for 12-18 months.
TC said that we need to think about how we plug the gap between the end of June and our new regulatory period from Jan 2022 when we are relatively confident, subject to CAA determination, that HAL can support some services again. TC’s bigger concern is that local authorities will not have a support blanket after CBSSG ends, and we might see a complete collapse of bus services that do not touch Heathrow unless there is a longer-term sustainable solution across the country. If there is fundamental change in how bus services are operated, we need to respond to that.
The Chair said it was clear that partnership working is important, and MW is doing everything he can. HATF should support the messages CPT are giving DfT. PM agreed that collaborative working was needed, and subsequent lobbying of Government for a national picture/ promotion of bus.
3. Initial reflections on possibilities for ‘Free Travel Zone 2.0’ and encouraging sustainable colleague travel
a) HAL Ideas
MW presented some initial ideas for how sustainable colleague travel can be encouraged, and what Colleague Travel 2.0 could look like (including consistent bus start and finish times, first/last mile links, DRT, Park and Ride service and more shared microbiology services).
His presentation also included why there was a need to provide a free travel zone, and what a new one could look like (including consolidation of bus services and introducing a multi modal element).
At the end of the presentation, the Chair asked who the Free Travel Zone is for – the workforce, community, or passengers, or all the above? Feedback from HAL colleagues was that the intervention was aimed primarily at colleagues, however it was recognised that the community may also benefit. Need to consider the relative balance of beneficiaries in new scheme design.
b) TfL Perspective
SR shared that there are lots of things going on at the moment, so it is a good time to concentrate minds and move blockages. This will take time – operations, strategy and ticketing all need to work together.
TfL would want to ensure any replacement scheme delivered the same mode shift outcomes. They would not be wedded to any solution if the same outcomes can be achieved at no greater cost – any new system should have no net increase in costs for TfL.
The more complexities around the system and the more bespoke we make it, the more complicated it gets. TfL is less nimble than other operators – a solution HAL identifies with other operators might not be work with TfL. The TfL advantage is the wider network to other routes and services.
The Chair proposed that HATF input should not be in the detail but rather in expressing some priorities. A key question to ask is “What is not good about the current system when it is fully functional?”
- One known weakness is legibility (there is an information gap, especially for passengers). This could get greater if the offering is broadened to be more than bus.
- Another gap is the ability to walk around the airport campus, especially for colleagues. Some thought must be given to improving pedestrian facilities, particularly for those last trip legs.
- Need to consider the need for “easy travel” not only free travel. How are different services unified (even if they are not branded consistently)?
- Identify different priorities for different groups (colleagues, passengers, community). One size fits all prioritisation is probably not a good idea.
TC made three points:
- Why do we want this and what do we want it to deliver as anoutcome? Key in the design, is that it allows more people to use services by acting as an integrated transport hub, aggregating the benefits, viability and convenience of all the incoming services – and that in turn lets operators to put more services on.
- Keep it simple. The airport is complex and intimidating, even if you are a colleague. The more rules and requirements the harder it becomes, and would push some people to car.
- Is there an opportunity to do something on a trial basis? Could there be an incubator pot to bring in new ideas to test and trial them, as well as a core offer. Trials may be less intimidating for third parties and provide a ‘safe space’ to test out new products and ways of working that can be rowed back on easily if they don’t work. May also allow for innovation in the face of blockages such as state aid etc. Need to take a ‘step into the unknown’ and innovate…
NW provided an airline perspective:
- It is very important for the broad airport community to have a servicethat can fulfil the work patterns, in particular the early starts and latefinishes.
- As a very large employer in the community, there is a need for a goodsupporting PT system.
- Need to pay attention to lower paid workforce – there is a broadworkforce and there are lots of lower paid members of staff and these deserve special attention, particularly if parking charges are going up
The Chair agreed that paying attention to the lower paid parts of workforce should be added to the design principles.
PM agreed on focusing on lower paid members of the community at Heathrow and keeping it simple. Legibility is really important point and there is a real opportunity to consolidate those services that run around and make it more sustainable and open services to more people.
SR agreed on making it easy, designing with the lower paid in mind and to be legible. Some of the things that can be done at Heathrow are much more applicable within the wider London network – and it may be that Heathrow is the way to show people that is can be more widely applicable.
The Chair asked if we want to think about social equity? Is it appropriate that people pay more from different directions? HATF would like to see Heathrow become not just a hub of the sky, but also a hub on the ground.
There was nothing raised.
5. Confirm date of next meeting
Next steps are that HAL will pull together as many views as possible to develop a set of principles about where we go next. This item is on the next HATF Board agenda (24 March) so there is no need to schedule another meeting of this SIG before then.