Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Ask and ye shall receive

Went down to Bristol this morning with Rosie Winterton, the Transport Minister, for the announcement that we're finally getting the £42m from the DfT for the Greater Bristol Bus Network. This means another 10 showcase bus routes (although I'm told the preferred terminology now is 'integrated transport corridors' - can't see it catching on somehow).

I was asked by the West of England Partnership a month or so ago to raise this with Rosie, as they'd been waiting for a long time for confirmation they were going to get the cash, and didn't know why it was being held up. So I did, in the Local Transport Bill committee; she promised she'd look into it as soon as the Committee was over and 10 days later, the cheque's in the post!

When Rosie moved to Transport from Health, where I was her PPS, I told her I couldn't join her at her new department because then I wouldn't be able to lobby her on transport issues. That decision has obviously paid off!

Paul Smith (Labour PPC) and I also met Justin Davies, the new MD of First Bus at the event. Had a good, albeit brief, chat with him about what he could do to improve performance. I asked about smart cards (he sees the benefits but there are some technical/ cost issues), and he also talked about driver recruitment, which is being stepped up. I also asked about the prevalence of the 'Sorry Not In Service' buses; as I suspected, it's because my office is near the depot, but he accepted that it doesn't look good when customers are stuck at bus stops and they see buses sail past. He seems on the ball, and keen to improve things - as they say, "things can only get better"!

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