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Notes of Plenary Meeting

Friday 23 March 2018

West Midlands Combined Authority

11.00 – 14.30

  1. Apologies

  2. Presentations & Discussion – see appendix 1

  3. Notes of the Plenary meeting 26 January 2018 and matters arising – approved

  4. Notes of the Executive meeting 26 January 2018 – approved
    Attention was drawn to item 3 and members and officers will be asked to comment on consultation responses
  5. Financial report
    1. Expenditure against Budget 2017-18 – noted
    2. Balance – £19,627.49
      13 members had paid subscriptions for 2017-18, and two for 2016-17
  6. Consultations
    1. East Coast Mainline Route Study – no response submitted
    2. Proposals for creation of a Major Road Network – no response submitted
    3. Transport for the North Long Term Rail Strategy – to be submitted by 17 April
    4. DCLG Formula for Revenue – response noted
    5. Use of Section 19 & 22 Permits – to be submitted by 4 May
  7. Issues to Discuss from NewslettersThe following issues from newsletters were discussed:
    The rail proposals by Transport for the North are of interest but concern was raised at the cost.
    Members were advised that the DfT has issued guidance on Advanced Quality Partnership Schemes.
    Concern was raised at the difficulties young people had experienced in trying to acquire 26-30 railcards. Further information will be sought.
    The station ownership management structure of West Midlands Rail should be considered further.
    Temporary changes by Network Rail, to the advance availability of final timetables is expected to end in December 2018.
    Members were advised that rail major projects would be subject to business case approval on an individual basis in CP6, through a pipeline process – further details will be sought.

    8. LGA Update none received

    9.Regional meeting & study tour
    Durham offered to host the meeting on 28/29 June. 

  8. Future Programme & Dates for 2018
    1. Friday 4 May: LG House – Transport Focus research
    2. Thurs 28/Fri 29 June: regional meeting – Durham
    3. Friday 21 September: 18 Smith Square, Westminster
    4. Friday 16 November, AGM: 18 Smith Square, Westminster

Any other business – none 

Appendix 1: Presentation & Discussion session

West Midlands Bus Alliance – Linda McCord, Peter Bond

A partnership with multilateral voluntary agreements which has led to improvements for passengers, set up two and a half years ago. The priority was passenger satisfaction levels, setting and exceeding 85%. It was relaunched in October 2017 after recognising a need to refocus objectives; congestion and emissions are seen as a key focus. It aims to make travel easier, especially for young people – by making it easier to find tickets, easier to catch the bus and a more pleasant experience. Network resilience group set up assessing the effect of potential disruption from major projects such as HS2 and the tram network and aims to avoid the relocation of problems from major roads to minor roads and any effects it would have on buses. The Bus Alliance ensures the bus network has a higher priority:
Bus Alliance supports West Midlands Rail – £450m investment locally – reopening the line to Brierley Hill, development of 10 new rail stations in next few years which will affect metro, bus and rail. £150m is for bus rapid transit (SPRINT) by 2021, ready for the Commonwealth games.
Challenges: in 2020 – clean air zone in Birmingham city centre, include demand responsive transport operators. Investment is being made in infrastructure with response from operator to maintain the network. There is concern that BSOG, paid for diesel operations, is not paid for electric buses.

Liverpool City Bus Alliance operates on similar principles and is an agreement between Stagecoach, Arriva, Merseytravel. Merseytravel looking at options in the Bus Services Act to determine what would be useful locally; a fall in passenger numbers has forced operators to talk. Transport Focus role is to look at the impact for passengers. The Liverpool fleet is to be all WiFi equipped. Passengers value WiFi, USB charging points, reliability and value for money. A flat rate fare for young people has increased patronage 140%, with no proof of age requirement for young travellers.

Transport Focus involved in other areas to progress bus improvements – a predictable journey time is seen as a key requirement – Sprint dedicated highway to be provided to achieve this.

West Midlands Rail franchise – Tom Painter

West Midlands Rail is a consortium of 16 authorities – 7 metropolitan authorities plus shire and unitary authorities. The Board has politically nominated representatives with the Chair alternating between metropolitan and non-metropolitan authorities. The objective is to provide local leadership for rail in the wider region.

There has been a modal shift away from car and bus use towards rail: car use dropped 14% since 2001 in Birmingham City Centre morning peak; rail use increased from 17% to 36%.

The strategy includes – single network vision, rail investment, stations Alliance, franchising and partnerships

From December 2017 – March 2026, the management of West Midlands Rail franchise has been devolved to 2 business units with franchise management powers for West Midlands Trains. West Midlands Rail involved in the procurement process to ensure the contract meets the local needs. The brand is to continue irrespective of the operating company.

Capacity for growth; commitment for rolling stock – £700m investment, 400 new carriages increasing from 566 – 706 in 2021 giving 20 thousand extra seats in rush hour in Birmingham, 10,000 for London travel, with WiFi in all trains, a new depot and station improvements.  New service quality regime sets out minimum standards that passengers can expect. There is a target of 90% of travel to be with smart ticketing. There will be new Digital customer information screens which will allow for more flexible messaging. Kenilworth will have a new station, Bromsgrove will be redeveloped. The line to Staffordshire will be electrified; Walsall to be connected to London with one additional train per hour between Shrewsbury and Birmingham. Additional evening and Sunday services are also planned. There is also a proposal for freight only lines to be returned to passenger use.

Station ownership management structure of West Midlands Rail is to be considered further.

Bus Passenger Survey 2017 – David Sidebottom

Results published March 2018. Overall satisfaction in England was 88%. Bus drivers found to be key to passenger experience; Arriva and Stagecoach funding customer service training for all their drivers. Half of all journeys are delayed, primarily due to congestion and passenger boarding time.
Tram survey results are also to be launched.
16-19 year olds have the lowest satisfaction: specific research was undertaken – Google maps is key to providing information – young people don’t want multiple apps on their phones; there is confusion over best fares available for the journey; 50% use buses a few days per week, 25% spend £10 per week. Value for money is seen as the most desirable improvement.

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