Accrington - New Bus Station 'exorbitant charges'

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crispy1978

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New £6.4m Accrington bus station farce as operators baulk at 'exorbitant charges'

New £6.4m Accrington bus station farce as operators baulk at 'exorbitant charges'

Operators have warned they may avoid using Accrington’s new £6.4m bus station in protest at ‘exorbitant’ charges.

Charges of up to £1.50 for each journey departure are set to be introduced at the new Accrington bus station when it opens at Crawshaw Street in May.

Independent bus operators in Accrington are warning that they may avoid using the bus station if Lancashire County Council (LCC) introduces such high charges as they bid to make the station ‘self-financing’.

Bob Tuffnell, operations director of Accrington-based M and M Coaches, slammed the potential £1.50 charge.

He said: “That’s totally ridiculous. For one of our buses to go from Accrington to Blackburn it will cost £3 in charges just for that one journey. That’s exorbitant.

“We’d have to put prices and fares up to cover it. In fact we’re looking into not going into that bus station if they charge that much.”

M and M Coaches say they are preparing to bypass the station and use passenger stops instead.

Pilkingtons say they may only use the bus station once an hour.

Alan Pilkington, owner of Pilkington Bus, said: “They are going to go from zero to £1.50. That would cost me an extra £50,000 a year and that’s for services that don’t even make much money.

“We either have to change services or not go into that bus station. I can’t use it if it’s going to put my company at risk.”

Conservative group leader Coun Tony Dobson said the situation was farcical.

He said: “The council started building the bus station without asking operators if they would definitely sign up to the charges. Now we are facing a situation that when the bus station opens in May there’ll be no buses to go in it - it is a circus.”

Phil Smith, managing director of Rosso Bus, said the Lancashire bus operators are in talks with council officers to set an agreed departure charge.

He said: “LCC have a facility to charge up to £1.50 and that is a great concern, but I would hope that a sensible level of departure charge can be arrived at before the new bus station opens in May.”

LCC said “indicative modelling” shows that they would need to introduce departure charges of between 50p to £1.50 in order to cover the costs of operating the bus station.

A spokesman added: “However, no decision has been made and we are currently working to determine the revised charges to be introduced from April.”

Last week we revealed that the new station, due to open on May 22, will include a dedication to former Hyndburn council leader George Slynn.

I'm no expert on bus stations, and how they are generally paid for - not really something I'd thought about before if I am honest - but is this a common thing in other towns and cities?

Genuinely interested in this, and how it works - any comments more than welcome! :)
 
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SCH117X

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Transdev charge for use of Harrogate Bus Station, yet another gripe by Connexions over the fees they have to pay to use it.
 
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I thought most bus stations had charges. I know my Mother when on coach holidays has seen it.
In Nottingham the city operator pulled it's services out of both bus stations as soon as it could - presumably to cut cost - vyears ago. And if you look at Yourbus in the city only one of it's routes uses a bus station - presumably to cut cost, and yet both the city's bus stations have empty bays.
 

radamfi

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Britain probably has the most elaborate bus stations in Europe. In the north especially, great palaces for buses are built. But does it lead to the highest patronage in Europe? Clearly not. In Nottingham, Brighton, Oxford and Edinburgh, some of the UK towns well known for higher than average patronage, most if not all local buses don't use bus stations.
 

Teflon Lettuce

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here in Wales Swansea charge £1 per departure for the bus stands and £4 per departure for the 3 coach stands... and ALL services use the bus stn without any visible sign of the charges destroying the viability of routes!
 

Stan Drews

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Bus station departure charges are common throughout the country, where they are used by operators that do not own them. Whilst the charges per departure vary greatly, i would suggest that bus stations with no charges for their use will be in a relatively small minority.
 

Bletchleyite

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If anything, serving a linear or circular route through the town/city centre offers a better service to passengers than one big bus station in a location convenient to only some of them.
 

duncombec

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Stagecoach used to have the Ts and Cs for using their bus stations on their website (East Kent did, anyway), but I can't find it on the new site.

Matching what others have said, I think bus stations that don't charge will probably be in the minority, or they'll be "bus stations", i.e. a collection of stops in a car park.

In Nottingham, Brighton, Oxford and Edinburgh, some of the UK towns well known for higher than average patronage, most if not all local buses don't use bus stations.

Don't know Nottingham, but in Brighton, Oxford and Edinburgh the bus stations are too small to accommodate the number of local buses, and would more accurately be described as coach stations in the sense of Digbeth or the now closed facility in Liverpool. Edinburgh may have buses, but they run coach-length routes!
 

radamfi

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Don't know Nottingham, but in Brighton, Oxford and Edinburgh the bus stations are too small to accommodate the number of local buses, and would more accurately be described as coach stations in the sense of Digbeth or the now closed facility in Liverpool. Edinburgh may have buses, but they run coach-length routes!

But they could have built massive bus stations like what they have in Greater Manchester and Lancashire with all routes going there. We don't hear about how great bus usage is in Burnley or Preston, but we do hear about Oxford and Edinburgh.

Nottingham has two small bus stations at the north and south extremes of city centre. The city centre is very spread out and it takes about 15 minutes to walk between the two bus stations up a steep hill.
 

dmncf

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This whole news article is just a typical negotiating tactic of the bus operators who understandably want to keep their costs down. One could bet that during the planning of the new bus station, none of these bus operators said they didn't want lots of bus stops and stands, good shelters for passengers, high quality passenger information, toilets for passengers and drivers, and regular cleaning. The bus operators just don't want to pay for it.
 

Statto

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Stagecoach used to have the Ts and Cs for using their bus stations on their website (East Kent did, anyway), but I can't find it on the new site.

Matching what others have said, I think bus stations that don't charge will probably be in the minority, or they'll be "bus stations", i.e. a collection of stops in a car park.



Don't know Nottingham, but in Brighton, Oxford and Edinburgh the bus stations are too small to accommodate the number of local buses, and would more accurately be described as coach stations in the sense of Digbeth or the now closed facility in Liverpool. Edinburgh may have buses, but they run coach-length routes!


Edinburgh & Brighton have a lot of local routes that are cross City routes, calling at the bus station will just add more time to the journeys.

Nottingham is a weird one they have 2 bus stations but are served mainly by out of town routes whilst local routes start/terminating in the City centre mainly Angel Row/Beastmarket Hill using street stands, & the bus stations in Nottingham aren't ideally located either, being on either edge of the City Centre.


Merseytravel also have charges for using there bus stations.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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But they could have built massive bus stations like what they have in Greater Manchester and Lancashire with all routes going there. We don't hear about how great bus usage is in Burnley or Preston, but we do hear about Oxford and Edinburgh.

Nottingham has two small bus stations at the north and south extremes of city centre. The city centre is very spread out and it takes about 15 minutes to walk between the two bus stations up a steep hill.

So if you didn't have bus stations, patronage would go up? That's why Europe works.... Of course not. The reasons are much more complex.

In smaller towns or for services of less than 15 mins frequency, a bus station makes a lot of sense. Quite simply, passengers have little time to wait for a frequent service.

Somewhere like Salisbury (which has lost its bus station) is a case in point. Traditionally, the frequent local services used roadside stops. However, now you have all services dispersed across the city centre with bus sat waiting and all manner of wandering to locate your bus.

Another good example is Bristol. All the city services use roadside stops whilst the inter-urban services use the bus station.
 
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radamfi

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So if you didn't have bus stations, patronage would go up? That's why Europe works.... Of course not. The reasons are much more complex.

My point was that bus palaces probably have negligible or no effect on bus patronage. The money spent on such spectacular buildings for just one bus stop could be spent on actual services or infrastructure in other parts of the town.
 

Tetchytyke

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My point was that bus palaces probably have negligible or no effect on bus patronage.

I'd say that would depend very much on which services use the bus station.

For frequent city routes (4-6bph+) a bus station probably makes precious little difference. But for less frequent interurban bus routes a bus station probably does make a difference. If you've got 2bph then having somewhere warm and dry to wait will improve the experience; waiting in the pouring rain at a street stop will quickly persuade people to abandon the bus.

Of course the big deciding factor is where the bus station is sited. The two bus stations in Newcastle are splat bang in the middle of the shopping district. They're both incredibly popular, to the extent that they (especially Haymarket) can't cope with the number of departures scheduled to use them.

Compare that with the situation in somewhere like Darlington, and you can see the difference.

Fees of 80p-£1 per departure are about the going rate, it seems.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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I'd say that would depend very much on which services use the bus station.

For frequent city routes (4-6bph+) a bus station probably makes precious little difference. But for less frequent interurban bus routes a bus station probably does make a difference. If you've got 2bph then having somewhere warm and dry to wait will improve the experience; waiting in the pouring rain at a street stop will quickly persuade people to abandon the bus.

Of course the big deciding factor is where the bus station is sited. The two bus stations in Newcastle are splat bang in the middle of the shopping district. They're both incredibly popular, to the extent that they (especially Haymarket) can't cope with the number of departures scheduled to use them.

Compare that with the situation in somewhere like Darlington, and you can see the difference.

Fees of 80p-£1 per departure are about the going rate, it seems.

Exactly my point, and Darlington is a prime example of a town without a bus station where locating your bus stop is terrible, waiting around for your bus is terrible, and the idea of interchanging between services is laughable.

Darlington HAD a bus station (a grim place that was really the United depot) but local services (traditionally Darlington Corporation) always used town centre stops.
 

radamfi

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For frequent city routes (4-6bph+) a bus station probably makes precious little difference. But for less frequent interurban bus routes a bus station probably does make a difference. If you've got 2bph then having somewhere warm and dry to wait will improve the experience; waiting in the pouring rain at a street stop will quickly persuade people to abandon the bus.

But if the service is less frequent than every 15 minutes, why would you be at that bus stop before 5 minutes before departure time? You would be more likely to spend more time at the stop if you turned up at a stop for a 15 minute frequency route at random intervals than a less frequent route 5 minutes before departure time. However in a lot of places, mostly outside the UK, the bus station is often combined with the rail station anyway so you do have somewhere nice to wait.

Also, only those passengers at that stop would benefit from the enhanced waiting experience. It is very common, both in the UK and abroad, for the next stop after the bus station to be well used, even on low frequency routes.
 
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TheGrandWazoo

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But if the service is less frequent than every 15 minutes, why would you be at that bus stop before 5 minutes before departure time? You would be more likely to spend more time at the stop if you turned up at a stop for a 15 minute frequency route at random intervals than a less frequent route 5 minutes before departure time. However in a lot of places, mostly outside the UK, the bus station is often combined with the rail station anyway so you do have somewhere nice to wait.

Also, only those passengers at that stop would benefit from the enhanced waiting experience. It is very common, both in the UK and abroad, for the next stop after the bus station to be well used, even on low frequency routes.

First of all, people may leave work at 17:00 but their bus isn't until 17:30. That's why they get there early.

As for continental bus stations being nice places to wait because it's next to a rail station.... well, I can point you to a number of places even in your favourite Netherlands that are distinctly poor (e.g. Sittard). Even in places like Utrecht and Maastricht, they're not exactly brilliant.

Going back to the example of Darlington. Aside from the fact that the rail station location is peripheral, the town centre is THE main traffic objective. A well located bus station of a sensible design would be welcomed by the majority of passengers.
 

radamfi

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First of all, people may leave work at 17:00 but their bus isn't until 17:30. That's why they get there early.

As for continental bus stations being nice places to wait because it's next to a rail station.... well, I can point you to a number of places even in your favourite Netherlands that are distinctly poor (e.g. Sittard). Even in places like Utrecht and Maastricht, they're not exactly brilliant.

Going back to the example of Darlington. Aside from the fact that the rail station location is peripheral, the town centre is THE main traffic objective. A well located bus station of a sensible design would be welcomed by the majority of passengers.

Sittard is an Intercity station so has a sizeable indoor concourse area despite being a modest sized town. The bus stands within the bus station may be normal bus shelters but you might as well stay inside the station building until the bus is due. As usual for a Dutch bus/rail station, the bus station is fully integrated into the station and you don't need to cross any roads to reach the buses. That is why a separate structure for buses isn't needed because there is one already there. Same for Maastricht and I've been there many times.

As for Utrecht Centraal, that's been a building site for the last 5 years but as it is coming up to completion now, the finished product can more or less be seen. I visited Utrecht in the last month and it is quite a spectacular place now with a station concourse of 21 platforms. It will have the biggest cycle park in the world. It takes so long to walk from one end to the other that outlets such as Albert Heijn are duplicated. The old bus station was split into two, one for city and country, but now it has four bus stations A, B, C and D. I only used bus station C, as I was visiting a business on a bus route from there, but the bus platform area is simply accessed by a lift or escalator to the main concourse. The road out of bus station C leads directly onto a dedicated busway with bus activated signals.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Sittard is an Intercity station so has a sizeable indoor concourse area despite being a modest sized town. The bus stands within the bus station may be normal bus shelters but you might as well stay inside the station building until the bus is due. As usual for a Dutch bus/rail station, the bus station is fully integrated into the station and you don't need to cross any roads to reach the buses. That is why a separate structure for buses isn't needed because there is one already there. Same for Maastricht and I've been there many times.

As for Utrecht Centraal, that's been a building site for the last 5 years but as it is coming up to completion now, the finished product can more or less be seen. I visited Utrecht in the last month and it is quite a spectacular place now with a station concourse of 21 platforms. It will have the biggest cycle park in the world. It takes so long to walk from one end to the other that outlets such as Albert Heijn are duplicated. The old bus station was split into two, one for city and country, but now it has four bus stations A, B, C and D. I only used bus station C, as I was visiting a business on a bus route from there, but the bus platform area is simply accessed by a lift or escalator to the main concourse. The road out of bus station C leads directly onto a dedicated busway with bus activated signals.

I am no stranger to Limburg - a good friend of mine was with Nato in Brunnsum. You can hide in the concourse at Sittar and peer out, as you can do at Maastricht....in which case, why have shelters out there?

I accept what you say about Utrecht - it is 18 months since I visited.

However, I still maintain that for less frequent inter-urban services, a bus station in a central location is far better than a collection of disparate bus stops seemingly randomly scattered across a town centre a la Darlington, Salisbury, Weston super Mare, Scarborough.

In fact, Scarborough is another great opportunity that is being missed. Can be located adjacent to the rail station, just across the road from Westborough (main shopping street) etc
 

radamfi

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I am no stranger to Limburg - a good friend of mine was with Nato in Brunnsum. You can hide in the concourse at Sittar and peer out, as you can do at Maastricht....in which case, why have shelters out there?

To be honest, that's always been a bit of a mystery to me. I guess some people are happy to go straight to the actual stand even if it is well before the departure time and maybe they want to get on the bus first. Some bigger bus stations have dynamic bus stands so it is impossible to know which stand the bus will use until it is advertised. I've even seen it at some small bus stations in Denmark. They basically don't want people at the stand early.
 

Busaholic

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Bus stations CAN work where there are very frequent services - I would cite Victoria in London as a prime example. The secret has to be, though, in their design. One longish platform for an individual route, with all buses on that route going to the same destination, is the ideal, which happens to match the simplification process TfL has introduced over the last few years. It even used to work when more than route used a stand, and with various destinations including short workings, but that was only when routes still had conductors and no closed doors to prevent access!

On the subject of 'provincial' bus stations (I really am not casting aspersions!) Plymouth Bretonside has to be an exercise in how not to run a bus station - make it as smelly and dingy as possible and make sure that, even when you run most buses in the city yourself, as they used to, hardly any of them actually go there. Penzance has a small turning area, just as buses are going into the bus station, that, before reconfiguration, was used by a firm called Brookside that set itself up to compete with Western National, presumably because WN didn't allow them access to 'their' bus station. Brookside really was a soap opera, now all but forgotten in the area.
 

Robertj21a

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Edinburgh & Brighton have a lot of local routes that are cross City routes, calling at the bus station will just add more time to the journeys.

Nottingham is a weird one they have 2 bus stations but are served mainly by out of town routes whilst local routes start/terminating in the City centre mainly Angel Row/Beastmarket Hill using street stands, & the bus stations in Nottingham aren't ideally located either, being on either edge of the City Centre.


Merseytravel also have charges for using there bus stations.

There's no bus station in Brighton to call at !
 

AB93

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The money spent on such spectacular buildings for just one bus stop could be spent on actual services or infrastructure in other parts of the town.

You dismiss it as 'just one bus stop' - but generally, it'll be the one stop most passengers use for half of their journeys.

So the scope to improve waiting conditions and make a positive difference is definitely there.
 

Baxenden Bank

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Returning to the topic.

Surely all these things should have been sorted, and signed on the dotted line, before development commenced. Calculating the running costs of the new station should be reasonably easy - opening, cleaning, closing, security if offered, manager if offered, enquiry office if offered. Indeed these latter variables should be discussed with the operators at the design stage to ensure that they are required.
 

radamfi

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You dismiss it as 'just one bus stop' - but generally, it'll be the one stop most passengers use for half of their journeys.

So the scope to improve waiting conditions and make a positive difference is definitely there.

If most bus passengers only go to the town centre by bus, you aren't going to get a high bus modal share, although that may well be the case in most towns in this country. Where you have high patronage, such as in the main towns in Switzerland, buses/trams cater for a wide range of trips because there is less emphasis on radial routes. This has been discussed at length on previous threads.

That said, even if you look at British bus networks which are typically geared up to serving the town/city centre almost exclusively, there are often one or more stops in the centre other than the bus station which are well used.

For example in Edinburgh, buses stop at several stops along Princes Street which most routes serve. It is a long street which could not really be served adequately by one bus station. Haymarket station is also a popular stop. Even in Crawley, population only about 100,000, within the town centre there is the bus station, the Broadway stop and also the Leisure Park.

Incidentally, I would class Crawley as a better bus station than average. Most people reading this would probably think it sucks because it is only two rows of bus shelters. But it is next to the rail station (although you have to cross a busy road) and the main shopping centre.

Obviously places like Plymouth Bretonside can only be viewed in a wholly negative way. However, I also suspect that even state-of-the-art bus stations like what they have in Greater Manchester have a deterrent effect in that people may feel vulnerable in such an enclosed place, especially at quiet times like the evening and Sunday. They have tried to make them as tall and bright as possible, yet it is still an enclosed bus station. TfGM resorted to manning bus stations even late in the evening to make people feel safe. I'm not sure if budget cuts have stopped this, but the point is, the whole bus station concept has led to this being deemed something that was felt to be needed. You don't get such a feeling of subjective danger at bus stops along the street.

Bus station departure charges are an issue because we have commercial bus services. With a tendered or council run bus service, levying departure charges would be pointless as the council would be charging itself. Although bus station operating costs would probably come straight out of the bus operating budget.
 
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crispy1978

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Returning to the topic.

Surely all these things should have been sorted, and signed on the dotted line, before development commenced. Calculating the running costs of the new station should be reasonably easy - opening, cleaning, closing, security if offered, manager if offered, enquiry office if offered. Indeed these latter variables should be discussed with the operators at the design stage to ensure that they are required.

You would have thought they would have been sorted. I'm sensing the impression they haven't though - or to perhaps put it another way, the companies complaining weren't at the meeting when this was discussed?

Obviously, even a basic bus station with minimal facilities has a cost, even if it is just basic maintenance - someone has to pay for this, and cash strapped councils (as we are led to believe) aren't going to pay for it - so the bus companies obviously have to unless it comes out of public funds (council tax, etc) - now I know nowadays when I use the bus, it's pretty rare I actually see a cash fare, so how are the bus companies going to make this extra money to fund the extra charge? I can't see the council subsidy being increased - infact they are cutting it per my original quote. So, if the bus company uses the station, essentially it has to come out of dwindling profits I'm assuming?

Seems like a stalemate to me, the council will insist on the station being used, the bus companies will refuse because of the charge.......
 
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