Improving local bus services
In order to boost passenger satisfaction with public transport services in Winchester, bus priority sigansl were installed at the railway station; new buses and bus shelters were introduced; bus frequency was improved; and park and ride facilities were extended.
Implementing sustainable mobility
A 1999 survey among residents of Hampshire showed that many of them had concerns about the quality of public transport in general, and the local bus services in particular. MIRACLES aimed to improve local bus services and to make public transport a more appealing option for those wishing to travel in or around Winchester.
The specific objectives were to:
- improve the quality of the bus service;
- improve the quality of information services;
- integrate public transport services; and
- contribute to an 8 percent increase in passenger satisfaction with public transport bus services.
Major improvements were made to the bus-rail interchange at Winchester Railway Station to allow closer integration of public transport services. These included bus priority signals and new bus stops.
In September 2003, the Quality Bus Partnership, covering two bus lines and the park and ride service, was formed by the local bus operator Stagecoach, Hampshire County Council and Winchester City Council in order to implement MIRACLES public transport objectives.
As a result of the partnership, 76 new bus stop poles and flags were installed on the cross-city routes of services 1 and 5. New bus shelters were installed at stops with the highest passenger demand, and bus stops for services 1 and 5 and the park and ride facilities were also equipped with stop-specific timetables and maps. A total of 13 new buses were introduced, allowing the frequency to increase to 10-minute intervals on service 5. In addition, the existing park and ride facility was extended to provide 420 additional spaces. Frequency in peak hours was increased to every 7 or 8 minutes and operational hours were extended to 21:00 hours for a six-month trial. A cross-city route, operating between the park and ride car parks and several major employers on the opposite side of the city was also tested for seven months. It was hoped that these improvements would encourage a wider range of people to enter Winchester using the bus facilities.
A total of 10,000 Winchester Public Transport Plus pocket travel maps were distributed in November 2003 and updated in September 2004. The map included details of bus, rail, and National Express coach services, along with the opening times of city-centre attractions. A detailed city-centre map was included to help users to travel around the city on foot, as well as by public transport.
On the three key routes covered by the MIRACLES Quality Bus Partnership, patronage increased by an average of 12 percent, although with substantial variations between routes (a drop of 6 percent on service 1; an increase of 25 percent on service 5; and a rise of 42 percent for the park and ride). Two non-MIRACLES control routes saw an average decrease in patronage of 6 percent.
Passenger satisfaction ratings on the MIRACLES routes were very high, with 87 percent of passengers rating the service as good or very good.
Punctuality also improved, with the number of early or late bus journeys falling from 0.95 percent in 2002/2003 to 0.34 percent in 2004/2005.
The new cross-city park and ride service was abandoned at the end of the trial because it attracted too few passengers.
The Quality Bus Partnership and the improvements to public transport infrastructure and information were expected to continue beyond the lifetime of the MIRACLES project.