Public transport: Forging a new role in the world?

Modern Blackpool Trams On Tracks

As the year ends, Jane Cole considers how public transport can gear up to modernise, decarbonise and digitise services

The festive season is upon us, and I hope that through wearing masks and continuing to keep ‘COVID-secure’ measures in place, we can alleviate the spread of the Omicron variant.

We can all do something extra, so Blackpool Transport staff are challenging around 400 people a day who do not have masks and around 250 people take one.

The work that the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has done during the past 18-months on behalf of members has been outstanding, and it would be so good for that work to continue throughout 2022 without interruption by another lockdown. I have been impressed by how quickly CPT has prepared successful strategies, new priorities and direction to help the government in its planning of a powerful revival of the UK coach and bus industry.

The Prime Minister has said that he is looking at opportunities that will open up the UK as it seeks to forge a new role in the world. Importantly, public transport has accepted this challenge and is gearing up to be a crucial part in shaping that exciting new role.

The trouble is we do not know all the implications. In some areas, we are forced to stand on the sidelines and I am frustrated that we have to wait and see if ambitious revivals for individual towns in Bus Service Improvement Plans in England are going to be given the chance to come to fruition.

We need to know what support will be made available to help operators within the National Bus Strategy and the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas scheme as early as possible to boost public transport’s recovery and give it momentum. Will there be package of financial support after March 2022 for coach and bus operators as they seek to take advantage of new technologies that net zero has to offer? My hope is that ministers make it easier to get access to the finance needed to invest and prosper.

Now, more than ever, operators must plan how they can reshape their bus networks
to provide an integrated travel
experience for their local

The operations and marketing teams at Blackpool Transport are planning how to link our timetables with railway services to maximise benefits for travellers using the tram extension from the Promenade to Blackpool North railway station.

We believe that there could be benefits from taking a bold approach with revenue growth for buses when they connect smoothly with tram and train services. Digitisation is opening up new ways to capture data and understand customer preferences with QR codes and travel apps.

My focus in 2022 is the same as the theme of next year’s CPT Conference of modernising, decarbonising and digitising to grow income and migrate customers from car to bus faster than ever seen before.

A merry Christmas and happy New Year.