Wolverhampton Advanced Quality Bus Partnership
Background to the Scheme
With significant investment currently going into Wolverhampton City Centre with new retail developments, improvements in public realm and the start of the construction of the Midland Metro extension to the rail station there is a need to use the powers of an Advanced Quality Bus Partnership (AQPS) in a similar way to the schemes in Birmingham and Solihull, to further drive up the air quality through setting minimum emission standards, as well as protecting the significant levels of bus investment by City of Wolverhampton Council and TfWM in recent years.
The Proposed Scheme
The proposed scheme will cover 70 bus stops/stands and shelters (including the stands in the West Midlands Combined Authority owned Wolverhampton Bus Station) that are within the city centre Ring Road.
The phasing of the minimum emission standards for Wolverhampton City Centre are in line with the West Midlands Bus Alliance's current commitments of a minimum of all buses having a minimum of Euro V emission standard by 1st January 2020. There will be a Euro VI minimum milestone twelve months later. The latter is in line with the standards that have been imposed on the recently created scheme in Solihull.
All main bus stops in the city centre will have a slot booking system which is similar to the type used at TfWM's bus stations (including Wolverhampton). This process looks to maximise safety at stops, prevent double parking of buses and make a more effective environment for customers. In addition to the slot booking system and bus engine emission standards the scheme will help with the following:
- Protect improved bus facilities in Wolverhampton City Centre.
- Introduce enforceable bus stops and stands within the AQPS.
- Require City of Wolverhampton Council to enforce bus stands and other TROs
- Require operators to provide RTI data feed to improve passenger information.
- Improve driving standards and driver training.
Procedure to Implementation of the Scheme
The local Transport Act 2008 outlines a specific procedure that has to be followed to implement an Advanced Quality Partnership. We are obliged to consult with:
- The bus operators who currently operate within the proposed scheme area:
- National Express West Midlands (West Midlands Travel Ltd)
- Diamond Bus
- Igo buses
- Banga Buses
- Travel Express (Let’s Go)
- Select Buses
- National Express Coaches Ltd
- Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Transport Delivery Committee
- Chairman and Vice Chairman of the West Midlands Combined Authority
- Elected members in the City of Wolverhampton
- Board members of the West Midlands Bus Alliance
- Transport Focus
- Competitions and Market Authority
- The Black Country LEP
- West Midlands Traffic Commissioner
- West Midlands Chief Constable and West Midlands Police Commissioner
We are not required to undertake a full public consultation on the scheme though anyone can if they wish to make comments. Please email your comments to QPS@wmca.org.uk
To follow the legal procedure the following timescales are proposed:
- Formal Consultation will start on Monday 22nd January 2018 and be open for 13 week period (the legal minimum requirement)
- Consultation ends on 23rd April 2018
- Approval is sort to make the scheme at the Transport Delivery Committee meeting on 11th June 2018.
- Scheme is made on or before 1st July 2018.
- We will then give the legal minimum of 13 weeks’ notice of the scheme start date.
- All bus operators who wish to operate any bus service in the scheme area once it has started will have sign a declaration to both the WMCA and the West Midlands Traffic Commissioner that they will fully comply with the AQPS requirements.
- Scheme starts on 30th September 2018.
Monitoring and enforcement of the Scheme
With the decriminalised parking enforcement powers in Wolverhampton the enforcement of stationary parking offences like buses either parked where they should not be or for too long on bus stops and stands will continue to be the responsibility of the parking enforcement officers employed by City of Wolverhampton Council. Moving offences will continue to be the responsibility of West Midlands Police.
TfWM staff will undertake monitoring of service performance and adherence to the scheme requirements. The scheme provides for procedures to follow for operators who do not comply with the scheme and ultimately this could ultimately result in action being taken by the Traffic Commissioner for the West Midlands.
The implementation of any AQPS should aim to strengthen the working relationship between TfWM and the Traffic Commissioner for the West Midlands (TC). The TC takes his role of ultimate enforcer of the AQPS and through the local office for the TC they help to ensure bus operators meet the required standards set out in the AQPS and this will continue with the Wolverhampton scheme.