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Uber-style tracking and an idling ban - what our readers want from the buses

PUBLISHED: 08:39 04 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:53 04 January 2020

The number 25 First bus at Castle Meadow, Norwich.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The number 25 First bus at Castle Meadow, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2015

Bus users hope up-to-date information and the environment will come first in an updated charter setting out pledges from Norwich's bus operators.

Bus in North Walsham.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYBus in North Walsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The Norwich Bus Charter was brought into force in 2009 and updated in 2014, and today includes 12 pledges covering reliability, punctuality and cleanliness of buses among other areas.

It vows that printed and electronic information at bus stops is "clear and up to date" and that bus fares will be refunded if a bus is more than 15 minutes late and it was "within the bus company's control".

Other pledges include providing discounted ticket prices to regular customers, providing safe and clean buses, shelters and stations and ensuring there is "one Standard Reference wheelchair" space on every bus.

An air quality report published by Norwich City Council in December says plans are ongoing to refresh the charter.

It said: "The bus charter for Norwich, brought in in 2009, is due a comprehensive review. Targets are to be set which reflect the progress in engine technology and current pollution issues."

On Friday, we asked our readers online what suggestions they had to include in the bus charter. They included:

- A commitment to zero carbon by 2025.

- No engine idling.

- Real time tracking of every single bus in operation - similar to Uber - to see where buses are at any time of the day.

- Oyster cards.

- Clearer information on how to claim if a bus is delayed or does not turn up.

Konectbus is one of the operators involved in the Norwich Bus Charer. Photo: IAN BURTKonectbus is one of the operators involved in the Norwich Bus Charer. Photo: IAN BURT

- More buses at peak times, especially in the morning.

- 100pc Euro 6 standard for all bus fleets.

- Orbital bus routes to the hospital, which avoid the city centre, throughout the week.

- Improved links between bus operators and the council in order to ensure electronic display boards, which are run by the council, are as accurate as possible.

First Eastern Counties' head of operations Chris Speed. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFirst Eastern Counties' head of operations Chris Speed. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

- Ensuring there is full disability awareness.

- Ensuring fare structures are "clearer and realistic".

Chris Speed, head of operations at First Eastern Counties, said: "We have discussed the bus charter document that is presently in place with Norfolk County Council and suggested some amendments in line with the current bus network.

"When the process of compiling the content for a revised document has been completed, we will be in support of the pledges as detailed in the charter."

And a spokesperson for Norfolk County Council, which oversees the charter with bus operators, said: "The bus charter is important to help the council, operators and the public understand what can be expected from each party and aids partnership working.

"Introducing new emission standards for buses using the city centre will be considered as part of our review of the current charter which we plan to relaunch later this year, once target dates for compliance have been agreed.

"If our current funding bids to central government are successful, then we'll be looking to introduce cleaner transport at the earliest opportunity.

"The latest report on air quality has shown considerable improvement across the city but there is still more we can all do to change our travel habits as congestion caused by high levels of single car occupancy is still a major contributing factor."

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Konectbus said: "Over the years, many political and environmental changes have impacted our industry and we actively work with Norfolk County Council to ensure that the Norwich Bus Charter reflects these changes to the benefit of all our customers, including more accessibility options and improved air quality."

Looking at environmental changes in particular, they said they had recently introduced new stop-start technology buses and had retro-fitted others with more eco-friendly engines.

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