Chamber of Commerce Report

Greater Birmingham and Solihull Chamber of Commerce reported on 28 November 2018 that the sector “has to work together” in regional bus and other public transport operations.

The message was the ongoing theme of a panel debate, hosted by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s chief executive Paul Faulkner, at The Future of Quality Bus Transit for our Changing Cities conference hosted by Transport for West Midlands.

The debate featured a number of regional stakeholders, including Chris Keogh, joint managing director at residential developer Court Collaboration, Linda McCord, senior stakeholder manager at Transport Focus and Chair of the West Midlands Bus Alliance, Peter Plisner, BBC Midlands Today transport correspondent, Sandeep Shingadia, director of development and delivery at Transport for West Midlands and Alex Perry, partner at Transport Investment.

The panel focused on how collaboration between business, authorities and transport bodies can develop and promote better bus schemes in the West Midlands.

Ms McCord said: “We know from our bus passengers that their top priority is value for money, and value for money when it comes to transport is about getting from A to B and on time.

“It’s really important that all of us work together to deliver those basics.”

Ms McCord highlighted the key findings from research conducted by the Bus Alliance, and indicators of the ‘basics’ that current and potential bus travellers feel are a priority.

She said: “We do research on people who are use public transport, but we recently did some research of non-users just to see what their barriers were to using public transport, predominately bus transport.

“We found that 28 per cent of people said that they would use buses instead of their cars if the basics were delivered, and those were punctuality, reliability, an extensive network, increased hours of operation and better routing.”

Mr Shingadia said that collaboration was needed between businesses, residents and transport bodies in order to deliver on the infrastructure required for improved bus services. 
She highlighted the need to deliver “the right transport schemes in the right place at the right time.”

 Mr Keogh agreed that good infrastructure was “key”, and said that “connectivity in the city has to be correct and serves both residential and commercial sectors”.

Mr Plisner added that the media also had a role in collaboration, highlighting examples of good service but also asking important questions in relation to transport.

Mr Faulkner said that “collaboration is clearly key” and required in the coming years.

He said: “There is an incredible amount of infrastructure work to take place in the next 10 years, and there is an ever greater onus on stakeholders to collaborate.

“We have got to work together to make it effective, as we have a number of key regional moments, such as the Commonwealth Games and HS2, which requires effective transport.

“Transport stakeholders within the region are already working well together, however it is imperative that we don’t lose this positive momentum.

“Our moment is here and now, so we have to make sure we work together and make it happen.”