Stagecoach and PECT on the Transport Plan for Peterborough

Philp Norwell Commercial Direcor of Stagecoach and Hugh Cripps from Peterborough Environment City Trust offer their perspectives on the Local Transport Plan for Peterborough which is about to go out to widespread public consultation. Broadcast at 08:10 on Friday 27th August 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show hosted by Andy Gall on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

AG: Now every person in Peterborough is getting a say on the future of its transport system. It’s after Peterborough City Council announced it was going to launch a consultation on the future of transport for the next five years. Projects proposed include a permanent park and ride scheme, priority bus lanes, water taxis, maybe even water buses. Earlier we spoke to Mark Speed Transport Planning Manager at Peterborough City Council. He started by explaining why consultation was needed. (TAPE)
MS: Yes it’s taking on board what the growth predictions are, and how we planned to grow the city, and as you say we designed the infrastructure and put forward our plan for how we’re going to deal with that. (LIVE)
AG: Mark also explained what the Council hoped to gain from the consultation. (TAPE)
MS: We really want to get as many people involved in putting together the Local Transport Plan as possible. What we’ve done is we’ve put down our ideas into the leaflet. We really want to see what people think of those ideas, and come forward with ideas of their own. (LIVE)
AG: Joining us to debate the possibilities for the future is Philip Norwell Commercial Director of Stagecoach Cambridgeshire, and also Hugh Cripps who is from the Peterborough Environment Trust. Hugh Cripps joins us in the studio. Good morning Hugh.
HC: Good morning Andy.
AG: And good morning also to Philip Norwell who’s on the phone. Good morning Philip.
PN: Good morning.
AG: Now does Peterborough need an overhaul of its transport system? Because it doesn’t seem, knowing cities, several other cities around the area that have been beein (INAUDIBLE) that, they seem to be much more congested. Is that a fair comment Philip?
PN: Yes, but I think you need to bear in mind that with the growth that is expected in Peterborough, the situation from a traffic point of view is going to continually get worse. It’s quite right that the City Council have an ongoing programme where they’re able to react to that increase in traffic.
AG: Ok. Hugh, Mark Speed mentioned permanent park and ride schemes, priority bus lanes, water taxis, maybe even water buses. And they all sound great on paper, but putting them into practice and making them workable a lot tougher.
HC: Yes they can be tough. But we need to make some tough decisions don’t we? You imagine another five thousand, ten thousand new homes. And that could be fifteen thousand new cars on the road. So we’ve got to do something now.
AG: And you’re not too critical about the proposals that have been put forward in the leaflet that erybody’s going to get to look at.
HC: I’ve not actually had a chance to see the leaflet ..
AG: It’s here. It’s in my hand. You can have a look at it.
HC: .. but I have been involved in some of the sessions where they’ve been introducing the scheme. Over the five year period, you know, OK, we’ve got to sort of tackle the immediate issue. But also the plan is looking at the (twenty) sixteen up to sort of twenty twenty six I believe. For that we need a bit more vision.
AG: But you can argue that they are having some vision. They’re doing this much more holistic sort of attitude that they’re giving the people of Peterborough the chance to sort of like thumb through the leaflets and feel as though they have a real active role in designing the transport structure of the future.
HC: Absolutely brilliant that they’re actually consulting the general public. But I mean if you ask somebody on the Titanic as it’s sinking, what do you want to be doing in fifteen years time, the instant reply will be I think be alive. But actually if you get a chance to think about it you’ll be sitting back thinking, no, no, I’ll be in a nice house, with a wonderful wife and kids, and all the rest of it. So it’s actually having the vision of where we want to be, not sort of just tackling the short term issue that’s important.
AG: Questionnaires on the Titanic! Can I have five minutes of your time please. (LAUGHS) Now Philip, looking at Stagecoach, would you be in favour of these ideas, like water taxis, and a permanent park and ride scheme, even if it takes business away from you?
PN: I think we’ve got to look at it from a Peterborough point of view. If you bear in mind that over the last six years since we introduced our city network with newer vehicles we’ve seen upwards of nearly fifty per cent increase in passengers. We’re currently carrying around ten million passenger trips per year. That means that if you provide a service that people want, then they will use it. Now going forward, the sort of things that are talked about in the Plan are bus lanes, park and ride. All of these things will help us as an operator to run an effective service in a cost effective way.
AG: So it’s all about interacting all of these different options isn’t it? It’s making them work well together and not simply just focusing specifically on one type.
PN: Yes. And of course you have to bear in mind, you take park and ride for example, park and ride very successful down the road in Cambridge. And one of the things that makes it successful is the fact that parking charges within the City of Cambridge are very expensive. So you have to incentivise the fact that people will leave their car outside the city and travel by bus. And they’ll only do that if there is a fast journey into the city which is where bus lanes come in.
AG: It’s so important, isn’t it, with the economy being as fragile as it is at the moment, that you’ve got to get the transport right, haven’t you, to make a city work economically.
PN: Yes that’s right. And if you’re a private company such as ours, we will invest with the local authorities who are proactive and looking to the future to make the job easier for us, and to make it better for their people.
AG: OK. Hugh. Obviously as a contendor to become the UK’s Environment Capital we want to support green travel, but things like electric cars, water taxis, will all cost money. And it’s always difficult to get people to change their habits, isn’t it?
HC: Well it’s exciting times at the moment, because we .. Peterborough’s involved in a plugged in places bid to actually get electric charging points across the city. Now you need that. Before someone buys an electric car they need to know that they can go out shopping and plug their car and get it charged up. So things are moving. And really I’d like to ask all the listeners to sort of .. when they’re actually filling this consultation out, have the vision. What is it they want out of transport? You don’t want to be sitting in your car in traffic jams. What would you like? Would you like to be sitting on very very cheap, very very efficient, very very clean public transport?
AG: I want it to be like the Jetsons. I want to hear the vehicles outside my house going wo wo wo wo.
HC: And all the kids want hoverboards don’t they? It would be fantastic. (LAUGHS)
AG: If you look at transport, and how it has morphed over the generations, we’ve actually looked behind this for ideas as to how to move forward, haven’t we? You know you’ve got …
HC: Well we’re back to trams, and trolley buses and all that sort of stuff.
AG: And obviously in things like the Simpsons they sort of have a risble sort of approach to things like the monorail, but I have a soft place in my heart for a monorail.
HC: Yes. Absolutely. Well the other thing is we’ve got to try and future proof what we do now. Because there’s issues like Peak Oil. We actually have reached, or about to reach maximum capacity for producing oil in the world. And with people like .. countries like China and India having thousands of millions more cars, oil’s going to be hugely expensive. So we want to actually have a transport system that tackles that issue as well over the next coming few years.
AG: Indeed. Well Philip, we’re trying to take .. address this seriously. A little bit of levity now and again on the subject. The producer just sent through a message saying could we have a giant waterslide from Ferry Meadows to Cathedral Square. Is that lunacy? Or does he have something there?
PN: I think it’s really good that we’re looking at all kinds of ideas. If something needs to operate I’m sure that Stagecoach will be there. (LAUGHS)
AG: Well there is that commercial on TV for a bank where they do go to work on a water flume, which is a great idea. So I think we’re all agreed here that something has to be done. Twenty five thousand new homes planned for the area. And we have to get the infrastructure right for the city to grow and develop, and to be a fun enjoyable successful place to live.
HC: Absolutely. And you see successful cities, they’re the ones that have got their transport infrastructure right. We need to actually make sure we get it right. So everybody must take part in these consultations.
AG: Indeed. I’ve got the consultation leaflet. Hugh, if you want to take a look, you can do that in your own leisure. Hugh Cripps, Peterborough Environment City Trust, and also Philip Norwell Commercial Director of Stagecoach Cambridgeshire. Thank you for talking to us this morning.