Improving the image of bus travel (TI)
The Worcestershire Passenger Transport Strategy ensures information about services is readily available and is easily understood, whilst also considering the cost effectiveness of production. Critically passengers and non-passengers need to understand what services they can use and, essentially, how to access them.
Worcestershire Passenger Transport Strategy aligns with this objective. Consideration is given to the variety of ways to disseminate information, ensuring that the most efficient, cost effective methods are adopted whilst maintaining accessibility for all user groups. This includes Real Time Information, printed and digital material, bus stop information, audio announcements, websites, access through phone apps and future developments.
Improvements in the way that information is presented is a common theme in feedback from surveys and is an area that needs to be improved as we look to make significant changes to the network.
The delivery objectives for Improving the image of bus travel in this iteration of the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) and subject to funding are:
To develop a clearly defined and understood “brand” for the Worcestershire passenger transport network, used consistently across the network (TIB)
A Worcestershire Network brand will be considered as a BSIP Target for the first year of Worcestershire BSIP. Consistency will be required across the network to ensure the information is presented in the same way across the network.
In building the brand we want to ensure that there is a consistent approach across the network and will focus on several activities
- creation of routes that are easier to understand including common numbering and themes
- consistent and good publicity (currently there is a mix of ownership in who provides publicity on Worcestershire’s network)
- re-branding of routes to accommodate trip attractors or tourist destinations
- build on Worcestershire On Demand Brand for DRT (Demand Responsive Transport) services
- refresh Choose How You Move Branding (CHYM)
Alongside Network branding Worcestershire is also considering a refresh of its Choose How You Move Branding (CHYM) as one method that could be used to look at the network but also allows for a more integrated approach to how sustainable transport could be promoted and marketed within the County. While CHYM was focused on Worcester City and Redditch previously there is an opportunity to look at how this can be delivered across the County.
Along the Salt Road – 144 Re-branding
We want to encourage more local branding while ensuring the network is easy to understand. One prime example in Worcestershire is First Buses rebranding of the 144. A new name for the route was chosen for the links to the salt trade in Droitwich. Salt was a valuable resource in Roman times and the Romans came to Droitwich specifically for this.
As well as re-branding the route, buses were given a facelift, including maquette fabric seating, USB charging points fitted to seats and WIFI provision. We want to deliver more localised branding while also ensuring the over-arching design of the network is still consistent. Where buses have been branded, we want to ensure that they remain on the services they have been designed for.
Roadway Arts – Choose How You Move Redditch
As part of the Choose how you move Redditch Project teams worked with the Redditch Roadway Arts Project. The aim of the project was to use art to reduce the fear of crime, reduce vandalism and encourage pride in local areas around Redditch. Local people are often involved in designing all the pieces of artwork for the project and in many cases help to paint the final pieces.
As part of the roadway arts movement, Choose How You Move teams redesigned the panels for a number of bus shelters to help enhance the local area. As part of this BSIP we will look at mechanisms to carry out similar activities to brand shelters and other infrastructure with involvement from local communities.
- TIB1 – creation of Worcestershire Network Brand
- TIB 2 - increase number of locations Worcestershire Brand Appears
- TIB2 – ensure branded publicity is accurate and is up to date
- increase patronage due to marketing activities (PG)
- improve public perception of Worcestershire Brand/ Network (CS)
Continue to enhance the way information is provided on Worcestershire’s digital estate (TID)
With budgets modest to those in comparison to some of our neighbouring transport authorities, Worcestershire County Council is rightly proud of the real time information estate infrastructure that we have delivered. With the use of TFT real time information displays throughout the County, we have, for many years, utilised the display real estate to promote council services and activities alongside vital transport information.
Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, we utilised the displays to promote key social distancing messages and even ensured the displays switched to a message of thanks to the NHS and other key workers during the weekly “clap for carers”.
We will continue to utilise our information estate to promote messages that encourage people on to public transport by highlighting the safety steps that we as an authority, and our bus operator partners, have engaged in, using the advertising function that is native to the Content Management System that operates our displays.
Worcestershire County Council would also seek to expand the roll out of our 10” interactive displays. The small, iPad size rugged devices have enabled the authority to complete many functions from a small, relatively low-cost device.
The displays have been pivotal in obtaining feedback from customers and enable the authority to provide surveys targeted directly at persons who use public transport. They are also utilised to promote information on carbon-zero alternative transport options, such as walking routes and cycle options.
Worcestershire Information Points
Following the introduction of a next generation information point in Cathedral Square in 2017 Phase 2 Worcestershire quickly developed the software to become multi-use providing a much more innovative platform that not only provided traditional travel information but also a variety of other information that is useful to the user.
Information Point Transport Section
While the focus has always been on providing innovative travel information, we are keen to more digital information forward while linking this to other solutions discussed in the BSIP. Currently Pressing the Transport Icon defaults to taking the user to Bus Information. The user will see bus stops in the vicinity and selecting these will bring up real time and scheduled information for that stop. The Route ladder for the bus can also be seen by selecting the Information Icon which we are keen to replicate in in-shelter displays.
The Rail icon acts in a similar way to that of the Bus and shows stations, pressing these gives a list of live and schedules services and pressing information gives a route ladder of the journey.
Pressing the Car Icon shows the User Car Parks and Taxi Ranks within the City area and allows them to be routed too.
Pressing the Journey planner icon takes the user to the integrated journey planner, this gives the user intelligent journey planning that is integrated into the interactive mapping. Currently this is replicating the type of journey planning that is in place elsewhere but the thought is that this could be made more intelligent and integrate more "local" destinations as well as key tourist locations.
Pressing one the popular destination options brings up journeys to take you to the location.
As part of the BSIP aspirations we will look to continue to improve the overall functionality of information points software and look to integrate DRT, Cycling and Walking elements into the Travel Section while also providing linkages between other information provided for tourists.
Information Point Heritage Information
Pressing the Heritage icon brings up heritage information about key sites within the Worcester city area. Different colour icons have been used with the display of interactive timelines if a user selects a gold icon on the screen.
As part of the BSIP we want to integrate this type of information into other Digital Estate Assets including in-shelter as well as on-board vehicle displays.
- TID1 - develop information content and management across platforms
- TID2 - increase number of 10” interactive screens on corridors (Initial Target of 15 per year)
- TID3 – increase number of Information Points in the County (Initial Target of 10 per year)
- improvement in public perception of Infrastructure and information (CS)
Ensure that information on the Worcestershire Transport network is accessible for all users (TIS)
The County also has a statutory obligation to consider the needs of elderly and disabled people, this must be considered when determining how to provide passenger information. As part of the BSIP we will ensure that passenger transport meets recognised best practice guidelines in terms of design content and distribution.
Worcestershire County Council also aims to be completely digitally inclusive. Through research and workshops across a range of teams SCULPT for Accessibility was developed. It is a workforce approach to lay the foundations of digital accessibility awareness and deliver the basic skills needed to produce accessible content.
SCULPT guidelines will be followed when considering how accessible Travel Information is provided.
- TIS1 Ensure travel Information that is SCULPT compliant (%)
- increase patronage due to marketing activities (PG)
- improve public perception of Worcestershire Brand/ Network (CS)
Develop a passenger charter allowing users and non-users to engage with the authority including how Information will be presented and accessed (TIP)
As outlined in the NBS BSIPS are being designed to “drive improvements for passengers by committing to a Bus Passenger Charter (BPC) that sets out what passengers can expect from bus operators delivering local bus services across their area. “
Working in partnership with operators we want to ensure that one of the first steps of delivery of our BSIP is to provide a concise and easy to understand BPC that sets down what passengers can expect from the Worcestershire Network and the services that operate on them. It will also show the mechanisms that are in place to deal with issues if things do not go as expected or passengers want to provide positive feedback or suggest improvements. A BPC will be critical to building confidence in Worcestershire’s network for both current users and potential new ones.
The passenger will include several Targets that are outlined in the BSIP and clearly define what these mean in terms of the experience that should be expected on any journey within the County. Areas that will be covered within Worcestershire BPS will include
- information and Targets on Punctuality and Reliability
- passenger Satisfaction Trends – with areas of focus for improvements
- commitments for Cleanliness of Infrastructure and Vehicles
- commitments for Vehicle accessibility
- details of any planned significant changes or reviews and how users will be consulted
- bus information and Publicity commitments including change dates
- details on alternate service provision including DRT and Community Transport Services
Through current and future developments in the way that we market the Worcestershire Network and its brand there will be also amble opportunities to provide narrative around the BPC.
- TIP1 – Creation of Worcestershire Bus Passenger Charter
- TIP2 – Improve number of positive responses compared to Complaints (%s)
- improve public perception of Worcestershire Brand and Network (CS)
Co-ordinate and limit to a minimum the number of timetable changes for passenger bus services (TIC)
One of the core issues we currently have in Worcestershire is managing the volume of change dates that we have within the County. This has resulted in information on street being in-correct at times. We want to focus on delivering a small number of set timetable change dates throughout the year that will allow users when to expect possible changes to the network. This will be emphasised and promoted through the creation of the Passenger Transport Charter.
- TIC1 – creation of Worcestershire Bus Passenger Charter
- TIC2 – number of Timetable change dates per year
- improvement in public perception of Worcestershire Brand/ Network (CS)
Provide a safe and secure environment to Travel (TIE)
While Bus Operators have delivered on-board CCTV on most of their services and vehicles there is an inconsistency to how infrastructure is provided off-bus. Worcestershire is committed to providing improvements to Bus Shelter infrastructure which will include at a minimum lighting and CCTV coverage where this is possible.
- TIE1 – increase the number of Worcestershire Shelters with lighting
- TIE2 – increase the number of Worcestershire shelters with CCTV
- improve public perception of safe and secure environment for using public transport (CS)
- increase patronage on services (PG)
Associated survey analysis
- 90% of respondents stated that passenger transport publicity should be improved (Passenger Transport Survey 2019)
- 50% of respondents were happy with public transport information (aspects) (NHT Survey 2020)
- 40% of non-bus users would be encourages to use services if better information was provided (Passenger Transport Survey 2019)
- when considering what makes a Satisfactory journey 6% stated that Bus Stop Safety and Information was a priority (Transport Focus 2019)