Val Shawcross CBE – HATF (Chair)
Mark Frost – HATF (Independent Technical Advisor)
Paul Millin – Heathrow Strategic Planning Group (Chair, Transport Sub Group) Shamal Ratnayaka – Transport for London (Aviation Strategy Lead)
Mark Purchase, Confederation Passenger Transport
Andrew Clarke – Buckinghamshire Council
David Knowles – LB Hillingdon
Robert Heslop – LB Hounslow
Russell Roberts – LB Ealing
Alan Tilly – LB Hillingdon
Eddie Hewitt – Slough Borough Council
Tim Golabek – Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead
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 design principles for Sustainable Travel Zone (HAL)
MW provided an update on our initial work analysing available data to inform the new STZ. See slides for key points.
Comments and questions included:
DK thanked MW for the interesting and comprehensive presentation with lots of useful data and asked that it be shared. Using the specific example of route 278, he shared that Hillingdon had lobbied TfL for an extension of this service to Northwood to create improved links for residents. By sharing our information, he said we can all lobby more effectively.
Slides will be shared with Minutes.
TG recognised that tough decisions had to be made – he asked when HAL might consider turning some services back on…there was a concern that data presented by HAL would get out of date fairly quickly given reductions in service levels etc. MW responded that the plan for the new Sustainable Travel Zone will be scalable so HAL can lay out clearly when it was expected to turn specific support on again. MW also noted that there had been no complaints from Heathrow commuters about the specific link TG was referring to; it provided mainly a local link for shopping and education (which are the crucial parts of that bus service).
AT asked if Heathrow collected data on bus punctuality, and if it could be shared? MW responded that current data is not very accurate as things are not normal – however HAL hold some historic data and want to get conversations going again with service providers to understand where those pinch points are.
SR –Shamal offered to find out what data TfL held on punctuality. He asked if this type of analysis and data allows us to work through the practical steps for how service offer can be improved. MW responded that the Paddington route is actively being looked at and we are aware of the need to run early/ late or 24-hour service on that route. The Piccadilly Line is the most challenging to increase to for example a 24 service, due to the need to identify engineering hours.
AC asked whether, given HAL’s targets relate to staff travel, that means any new route developments will be led predominantly by the home location of Heathrow colleagues? MW responded affirmatively, adding though that any colleague benefits will also deliver passenger and wider community benefits.
2. Introduction to National Bus Strategy (Bus Back Better) (Paul Millin, HSPG & Surrey CC and Mark Purchase, CPT)
PM gave a presentation about what we know so far about the NBS – see slides.
MP added that most CPT members are supportive of the bus strategy and are keen to be involved. The NBS closely reflects the strategy that the CPT published two years ago around enhancing collaboration in the sector. The frustration at moment is that there is no guidance yet as to what should be include in Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) and there are very tight timescales. There is also no certainty with funding yet – only that CBSSG will continues until social distancing is removed, but will then be dependent on compliance with the objectives of NBS.
a. Around the room: What is your current position re response plan to NBS
TG shared that RBWM’s intentions were to develop an enhanced partnership route with all operators. Increasing bus use is something the Council has a real interest in to help meet climate change goals. The real challenge is that RBWM have one of the lowest levels of current bus patronage and don’t have a prior bus strategy, so they are starting from a largely blank page, and a tight programme to end October in line with government deadlines. Have applied and received £100k funding for support.
MW shared that the development work Heathrow is doing for the new Sustainable Travel Zone makes this the perfect time to consider the wider National bus Strategy objectives. Both plans will be aligned by sharing a 3 year plan; HAL is happy to share plans such that they can fit in with other’s plans. In particular, HAL would like to help identify opportunities for bus priority, building on the excellent recent collaboration with Slough to deliver much improved bus journey plans from Slough to the airport.
EH thanked MW for the positive statement about Slough and their bus priority work. He noted some caution given the requirement to consider overall network management and public response to some schemes implemented post Covid. Slough is currently reviewing the NBS requirements and have expressed interest and secured the £100k funding. EH echoed comments about the challenge to produce a plan by October but confirmed it is one of the Council’s priorities. They are looking to develop partnerships – with other authorities, operators, and Heathrow. There is a clear need for lots of cross authority coordination.
SR said that the NBS is a really good idea and supported its objective to achieve outside of London what has been done in London. There is little bit of concern is that this is a levelling up agenda and we must ensure we don’t push London down. TfL currently has a very significant funding challenge, and discussions are taking place internally about the right approach to take if it is necessary to cut bus operating budgets with minimal impacts. In outer London bus plays a key role and this is recognised -TfL is hopeful it can maintain good service levels and build on that. TfL also recognises that there will be interactions with what other Boroughs are doing and happy to work together where it makes sense to, e.g. bus lanes cross borders.
3. Proposal to develop a Heathrow Area Bus Improvement Plan (Chair, Mark F/ Paul M, All)
- Coordination & Progression options
- Funding collaboration – options?
PM presented to the group three options for how Heathrow could best be considered in their BSIPs (see slide). MF supplemented this by noting that there may be funding available if the DfT were to consider Heathrow a special case. PM asked for thoughts about the options laid out.
EH suggested this was a question we need to look at and need more guidance about. Could Slough be involved at two levels, for example accountable as Slough and in partnership with operators within Slough, but also involved in a wider Partnership and perhaps a Heathrow based one? Can authorities be involved in two levels of Partnership?
MF responded that whilst we still waiting for the guidance, his understanding is that Slough will have to have a BSIP which covers all services in Slough including those which go into the airport. But if three separate authorities do that and don’t talk with each other, that will not make sense. This is a good forum to talk with each other – how much ambition is there to do something very integrated?
PM responded that with his Surrey hat on, they recognised that no local transport authority is an island and Surrey has started discussions with neighbours in Hampshire and West Sussex. He considers that for the airport this could not have come out at a better time and recommended that the group need to maximise the opportunity – he suggested that the group grasp this opportunity and perhaps go down the more difficult path as the rewards will be greater.
MP shared that the DfT are talking a lot about collaboration, and BSIPs covering a much larger area than just a LA area. They have spoken about journey to work areas, and he suggested there may not be many bigger journey to work areas than Heathrow.
SR echoed what had been said but pointed out there will be a broader issue in how to treat any area that falls outside the BSIP. The guidance needs to set out how that will work. Within the Heathrow context, the first challenge is going to be non-London authorities.
The Chair asked if she detected that the group wanted to do something but not go the ‘whole hog’? So, for example, would the inclusion of a Heathrow chapter in each BSIP be preferred rather than a dedicated Heathrow BSIP?
She pointed out that the two were not mutually exclusive – starting with one could provide the groundwork to move forward and do an individual BSIP. She asked the group what they thought was the right way to go forward.
AC said that he would be happy to go with either option but wants to see the detailed guidance to see the required format. He could see Bucks having a lot of partnership north to south, but they cannot yet be sure what will work best until we hear from Govt.
DK suggested that he thought Heathrow was so large and almost like a Local Transport Authority in it’s own right, that he would argue that there is a lot of sense in having its own BSIP. There seems an obvious case that if we want to build Heathrow back better it should have own BSIP.
MF noted that VS had said the two options were not mutually exclusive. He proposed that he formulate a letter to DfT to say this is the ambition. He asked the group if there be any concerns from anyone on the call to signing that? Hearing none, he suggested he draft and circulate the letter as a next step.
The Chair supported Heathrow’s desire to work with local authorities and operators to understand how Heathrow can best support and input to the early thinking on the development of their BSIPs. HAL will be ready to share data as required.
MF proposed that the Steering Group of this SIG meet and decide next steps. It is apparent the meeting attendees value the work Heathrow is already undertaking and would welcome HAL’s input to their plans.
There was nothing raised.
5. Confirm date of next meeting
None set until guidance has been issued and next steps are clearer.