Bus tickets and fare stages

Oxford City Council Concessionary Travel Scheme  Concessionary bus passengers are often concerned that zero-value concessionary tickets issued to them by bus drivers appear to mis-state the actual destination of the passenger. Passengers may be worried that the Council will be “over-charged” for the journey made, and have regularly raised this concern with elected members and Council staff.  The fact is that with the Council’s present arrangements for reimbursing bus operators, there is not a direct relationship between the length of a passenger’s journey and the payment that the bus operator receives for carrying that passenger. So it makes no difference to the operator – or to the Council – if drivers accurately record concessionary passenger destinations, or do not. The key thing is to ensure that drivers accurately records all concessionary zero fare journeys as such, and that no fare paying passengers are recorded as making a concessionary journey. 

Accurate estimation of the fare revenue that the operator would receive from concessionary passengers if there was no concessionary scheme is a very complex and controversial topic, in which practical considerations are as important as theoretical accuracy. Estimates of the fare that would be paid for concessionary journeys is only one aspect of this. The method used by the City Council uses the average cash fare actually paid by non-concessionary passengers as a proxy for the average fare that would be paid by concessionary passengers in the absence of the scheme. This avoids the practical problems of having to accurately record the actual destinations of all concessionary passengers. It means that errors in recording concessionary passengers have no impact on the amount of reimbursement received by operators.  Other concessionary travel schemes do use the destinations stated by passengers to estimate the fare, but the accuracy of this method relies upon both passengers precisely identifying where they are alighting, and accurate recording of this by the driver. It should be noted that it will often be the case that the alighting stage recorded by the driver will not be the same as the destination stated by the passengers. This does not necessarily imply an error on the part of the driver. The reason is that fares may not vary between alternative alighting stops – indeed, in

Oxford, there are very few distinct fares, so that the same fare is charged for a very large number of specific bus stop to bus stop journeys. So there is no need for drivers to record the precise destination – and if the driver was require do so, this would significantly slow down bus operations and make all passengers’ journeys slower. The conclusion is that concessionary passengers should not be concerned if their zero-fare ticket shows a different alighting point to that stated to the driver. It does not imply that the Council will get charged more for the concessionary journey, and in any case is quite likely not to reflect any error on the part of the driver.

Amendment about bus services

I have proposed the following amendment to the core strategy for discussion at full Council tomorrow, and thought I should explain a little about why I’ve done it. The amendment is:

I would like to propose that the following paragraph is inserted into the document just above Policy CS16

“Some existing residential areas currently have poor or infrequent public transport accessibility to key local services (such as a District centre), relative to other parts of Oxford. The City Council will work with its partners to improve bus services to such areas, particularly where this will support regeneration or social inclusion.”

There is already some mention of improving bus links between the proposed district centres, and this will strengthen our case for improving bus links between Headington and Summertown. However, having served on the North East Area Committee and having canvassed across the North East of the city, I recognise that areas like Risinghurst get a poor deal when it comes to bus services in the evenings and at weekends.

Another reason for proposing this amendment is to make sure that areas like Iffley, with a high percentage of elderly residents, stand a chance of getting a regular bus service out of the village. It will also help estates like Rose Hill get a regular bus service to its local primary district centre Templars Square – the new district centres will offer employment, amenities and shops so it’s important that residents in outlying estates with high levels of socio-economic deprivation have public transport to these key local services.

Public toilets

There has recently been lots of email traffic between councillors about the times at which public toilets are closed, and in my experience this sometimes happens (at Bury Knowle Park) before the shops finish trading, which seems to me to be rather a disincintive for people to continue shopping in the late afternoon. I have received the following instruction from a Works Manager which may be of interest to Headington residents and users of the Bury Knowle toilets who come to Headington to work, shop or study.

All public conveniences should be open between 08.00 and 17.00 daily and the supervisory team at City Works have been instructed to ensure that this is complied with.

Gloucester Green conveniences are opened at 07.30 by the car parks security team and are closed by this team at 23.00

There are also 24 hour facilities at Gloucester Green, Westgate Car Park, Magdalen Street East (Ladies) and Market Street

I would be grateful if you would pass on our apologies to anyone that may have been inconvenienced by some early closures.

It seems to me that when Headington is enshrined as a district centre in the new core strategy, one of the minimum service level agreements should be that there is one 24 hour public toilet facility in each district centre. Do let me have your views on this!

Oxford 2026

There will be a meeting of Full Council next Tuesday 5 August to discuss “Oxford 2026: the Oxford core strategy”. This is a very important document as it outlines the planning vision for Oxford over the next 18 years, and discusses, among other things, the proposed development of Headington and its infrastructure. If you would like to see this document, please click on the website link and select the section you want to view under item 4.1.

The document will be formally published on 5 September 2008 and there is still time to contact either Cllr David Rundle or myself if you want us to raise any associated issue at full Council. Any planning policy changes in the future are likely to refer back to this document, so we need to make sure it reflects the views of our Group and our residents. Please let us know if you have concerns about anything in this document.

How far do planners consult residents on applications?

I have been contacted by residents to ask about the degree to which public consultation has taken place with regard to the prospective application to install a mast at Rock Edge. Please click on the planning application website to view this application and quote planning reference 08/01162/CPU. This is the reply from Planning Officers.

There are three types of proposal for telecommunications:

1. Permitted development notifications
2. 56 day proposals ( up to 15 metres)
3. Full applications.

For all three we notify neighbours within 100 m and schools within 200m,
although blocks of flats will get just a notice put up in the foyer.

In addition for those:
For category 1 above the letter advises that this is permitted
development and neighbours should write to the company not us.

For category 2 we also put up 4-5 site notices on community notice
boards and other strategic sites in the area

For category 3 as well as the site notices we also put a formal notice
in the local press.

This application falls under permitted development. It
appears from the system that the 100m ruling was applied in this
instance.

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If you are a resident living close by this development (i.e. within 100 metres) and you feel you should have been consulted about the application but this has not happened, please get in touch with me via phone or email or via this website and I will investigate this further.

The planning officers have been working on a consultation guide outlining the extent to
which they should consult on all types of applications received by Oxford City Council’s Planning Dept. A copy will be posted on the Council’s website as soon as it has been signed off, and I will post a link to it from this website as soon as this has been actioned

Resident involvement in NAGs

The next meeting of the Headington North NAG (Neighbourhood Action Group) is taking place on Wednesday morning. If you live in Old Headington or in the area between the JR and Headington shops and you would like me to convey your views to our neighbourhood police officers and parks officers about issues relating to crime, anti-social behaviour, roads, or open spaces, please contact me by email or phone, or post a comment above.

I talked to Chief Inspector Olly Wright from Thames Valley Police about involving more residents in NAG meetings. It is tricky to get a balance between just having one or two local representatives from Residents’ Associations at NAG meetings, or making NAG meetings essentially ‘open house’ (which could get unwieldy). He is currently writing a constitution for NAGs which he is hoping to introduce across the whole of the Thames Valley Police area in order to make NAGs more consistent. Some residents don’t attend Residents’ Association meetings but still have a view on the way their area is policed or have concerns about one specific issue, and I worry that these people’s views don’t reach the authorities. I would welcome views from residents on this.

As you know, I have given some presentations on resident involvement in NAGs to NAG chairs and members of Thames Valley Police. Recently, following on from this, I was asked to write a short script and do a piece to camera for a police training video on tackling anti-social behaviour. The experience took me out of my safety zone as it was the first time I had embarked on such a project, and I was duly equipped with microphone, a Mastermind chair, brilliant lighting and an autocue machine, complete with a team of sound technician, cameraman, autocue operator and script editor, at the police training HQ in Sulhamstead. The filming will form part of a DVD for duty officers new to an area who are called upon to deal with anti-social behaviour, and will be used for training purposes from October. I think it’s really encouraging that the police trainers are involving members of the public in developing their training materials rather than doing this solely in-house. That’s got to be a good thing.

Night Patrols by police in Headington

You may well have seen that the bus shelter on London Road near Sandfield Road has suffered repeatedly from vandalism. As was explained on this site earlier in the month, the shelter itself is in line to be replace soon, and your LibDem councillors have ensured that a notice is placed on the shelter to make sure residents know what’s going on. All the more importantly, we have followed up this and other incidents with the police, encouraging them to increase patrols, in particular on Friday and Saturday nights. We are delighted to say they have now done so and that it is being promoted in the local press.

Improved bus service from Headington to Cherwell School

I have just been informed of the following improvement brought about by successful lobbying of the County Council by the parent of a Cherwell student who lives in Headington.

RH Transport, who run the 700 between the JR and Water Eaton have agreed to run the 0805 service from the JR via Summertown, i.e. along Marston Ferry Road, to reach Cherwell by 0820. This should help those pupils who come from Headington and Marston to Cherwell. Until now that service has used the ring road instead to avoid congestion – but this should not be such a problem in that direction at that time.


Time to review residents’ parking zones?

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The County Council says it will carry out regular reviews of residents’ parking zones. One has just been completed in West Oxford.

Isn’t it time that our RPZs were reviewed in Headington? That’s what residents in New Headington are telling David and me.

We shall be working with residents’ associations to push for action on this.

Why should residents have to pay to park their cars outside their own homes?

Why are some zones 24/7? Is this unfair for residents living in busy areas?

Why should residents in 24/7 areas have to pay for passes for every visitor to their homes?

Tell us what you think!