To consider an update on Wokingham’s ongoing bus network review, bus strategy and current bus provision
The Committee received and reviewed a report, set out in agenda pages 25 to 38, which gave an overview of Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC’s) ongoing bus network review, bus strategy and current bus provision.
Andy Glencross (Assistant Director – Highways, Martin Heath (Senior Specialist - Traffic Management & Road Safety) and Pauline Jorgensen (Executive Member for Highways and Transport) attended the meeting to present the report and answer any Member questions.
The report outlined that the draft bus network review was due to be released in late September 2019. The review would include an assessment of local, regional and national planning policy, data analysis of the current bus services and consideration of school transport services with future contracted public bus services.
The South of M4 Bus Strategy (SoM4) was secured as part of the planning permissions associated with the South of M4 development area. £2 million was to be made available by the University of Reading (applicant), as and when required, for the implementation of the bus strategy for 10 years following the first occupation on an occupational trigger point method. Phase 2a was underway with phase 2b expected between September and Christmas 2019.
The report stated that the primary issue for bus services in the Borough was congestion which caused variability to journey times on a day by day basis. A possible solution to this was the use of GPS tracking and real time operating systems within the buses, which would coordinate with the traffic light signals to allow smooth passage of the buses, albeit to the detriment of queuing on other arms of the junction.
During the ensuing discussions Members raised the following points and suggestions:
· Please clarify what was being done in anticipation of new occupations at housing developments? Officer response – Officers were trying to anticipate where new residents would be likely to travel to, and a concerted effort was being made to promote public transport within the borough, both for new and existing residents. A baseline service was needed for day 1 occupation and further services would be added via applicant funding based on occupation trigger points.
· When in 2020 would the Wokingham Town Centre bus services be re-tendered? Officer response – These timings would be researched and circulated to Committee Members.
· How would new residents be informed about public transport services? Officer response – Information would be included as part of a ‘welcome pack’ to each new build occupier, The MyJourney team would also target new developments with further information to ensure a sustainable service and a strong take-up.
· Could an estimate be provided as to when phases 3 and 4 of the SoM4 would go live? Officer response – Officers will get an estimated expected timeframe and feedback to Members of the Committee.
· Would the Local Travel Plan 4 (LTP4) be consulted through means other than a strictly online consultation? Officer response – LTP4 was going through various stages of consultation and feedback processes. Officers would look into advertising the consultation in areas such as libraries, newsletters and possibly bus stops.
· Could more clarity regarding the suggested GPS and real time operating signalling solution be provided? Officer response – Signal timings would be used to allow for easy transition of bus services across the borough. This would come at a significant cost, as WBC’s signalling assets would need to be upgraded. This system would be cloud based and would allow WBC more control of public bus services and their timings within the Borough.
1) Andy Glencross, Martin Heath and Pauline Jorgensen be thanked for attending the meeting;
2) information regarding Wokingham Town bus service tendering be provided to Members of the Committee;
3) officers would retrieve an estimated expected timeframe for phases 3 and 4 of the SoM4 bus strategy and feedback to Members of the Committee;
4) the Committee be kept informed about the development of the LTP4.