New Skylink Express service to EMA

IMG_9644ta0580h TB Skylink Express.pngTrent Barton are to re-introduce a more direct Nottingham to East Midlands service from 31st January.
A half-hourly 35 minute service with a new fleet of coaches, and starting at Broadmarsh, calling at Nottingham Midland station, Trent Bridge (but at County Hall), NTU Clifton, and the NET park & ride at Clifton South.
Lilian Greenwood MP and I spoke at the launch and I told the stories of –
– how before Nottingham Forest were European Champions, we were known across Europe for pioneering bus lanes; including Meadows Way East and Carrington Street – one of the most successful priority schemes there is;
– political insight and resolve that meant we’d kept NCT in public ownership, and introduced free passes for older people and the less mobile, decades before the nations scheme;
– customer focus: modern fleets, drivers trained to look after passengers, proper shelters with customer information systems; branding so that the public recognise and understand where bus services run;
– travel planning and workplace parking levy – asking the car commuter to pay more towards making public transport, including by 2 years’ of investment to get this new service going;
– multi-operator ticketing, with the big hopper Kangeroo ticket and now the Robin Hood Travelcard (kinda like London’s Oyster).
Wider concerns too about reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and air quality – new worries over nitrous oxides and particulates, means NCT may be getting support for gas powered fleets for its double-decker 6, 10 and 48 services that pass through The Meadows.
More might be done with franchises, but there are risks and what I would most look for from franchises are requirements on quality vehicles and proper pay, pensions and conditions for staff.
A recent report, picked up by a Guardian columnist, has stressed municipalisation of bus services as the way forward, but it does overlook how private operators like Trent Barton are considered as one of the top 2 bus companies in Britain (the other being NCT); and how Trent Barton pioneered many of the customer focus initiatives that NCT were to pick up from.
Elsewhere, I might lose no tears if Arriva were to lose control of Derby, Burton and Swadlincote. But a much wider set of packages is needed to make a difference.
For now, the combination of political resolve, customer focus, helping those most in need and green outlooks means Nottingham are the bus champions of Britain, if not Europe. 

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