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Posts Tagged ‘Connected City

Dig for defeat

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Seven months have elapsed since the Connected City reorganisation of bus stops in Birmingham city centre, and most of them still don’t have functional real time information. In lower Moor Street, the pavement has been dug up again around the stops, apparently for some kind of wiring.

Centro bus stop at Moor street, Birmingham, dug up again - February 2013

If anything, the reorganisation seems to have made route stability even worse. Centro has had to issue a third version of the CityID bus map, dated 27 January 2013.

Centro bus stop-outside Selfridges Birmingham dug up again, February 2013

Written by beleben

March 1, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Pedestrian orientation in central Birmingham, part three

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Part one | Part two

Birmingham CityID bus map, Sep 2012 version (reduced scale)

Last year’s preparatory works for the Midland Metro tramway extension from Snow Hill to Stephenson Street caused extensive disruption in Birmingham city centre, requiring a ‘summer-ary’ upheaval of bus circulation and stopping places. In July 2012, transport authority Centro issued a new style of city centre bus map, designed by CityID, showing the changes brought about by closure of Corporation Street to buses.

In September 2012, the second version of the CityID map was issued, with a white background replacing the earlier black one. The paper versions of the CityID map have not been widely distributed, but online versions were hosted at the Network West Midlands website. The general style of the paper maps is the same as that seen on the Interconnect Birmingham tombstones and totems installed on Birmingham city centre streets (as part of the Connected City project).

Birmingham CityID shopping map, 2012 (reduced scale)

CityID also produced a 2012 Shopping Map for Birmingham city centre, in the same style as the bus map. But there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that the comprehensibility of the CityID bus maps is any better than the FWT product previously used. Although cartographically somewhat more accurate, the September 2012 CityID bus map remains a hard-to-read cluttered mess.

Written by beleben

January 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Birmingham city bus stop overloading, part three

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Part two | Part one

Planning mistakes in the Birmingham Bull Ring redevelopment led to privatisation of public space, and a deterioration in walkability

Centro’s Birmingham City Centre bus Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme (SQPS) has fomented disconnectivity and bus stop overloading.

[Centro summary of the Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme, Version: QPS summary v2]
Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme

Bus and Highways Facilities in Birmingham City Centre and its environs


1.1 Centro and Birmingham City Council (BCC) are investing around £15 million in improvements to passenger facilities and highway infrastructure in Birmingham city centre, in advance of the construction of the extension of Midland Metro from Snow Hill station to New Street station via Upper Bull Street and Corporation Street.

1.2 To support this investment and ensure that bus operators using the improved facilities deliver a high standard of service, Centro and BCC have introduced a statutory Quality Partnership Scheme (QPS) that covers all local bus services using stops in the city centre area. A QPS for the city centre is considered to be the most appropriate way forward. The agreement will support the delivery of several aims for improving the quality and management of the city centre, including: to provide a better quality of service for bus passengers; an improved standard of public transport infrastructure; to provide stability for the bus network during Midland Metro and New Street Gateway construction programmes; to address bus-related aspects of wider air quality problems; to equitably manage available kerb space; and to protect partners’ investment in public transport.

1.3 To encourage further investment in the bus network, the QPS introduces a series of regulations governing how bus services operate in the city centre, requires improvements in vehicle quality, seeks to address air quality issues and promotes a better image of public transport to attract additional users.

1.4 The Scheme Area covers 90 bus stops/stands and shelters within Birmingham City Centre, as shown overleaf.

1.5 The Scheme will be introduced on completion of the main phase of highway works in the city centre, on 22nd July 2012, and will operate for an initial period of 10 years, until 9th July 2022.

Centro's Birmingham bus Statutory Quality Partnership area

1.6 A primary bus stop is one at which a bus will be able to wait for up to five minutes, and will generally be the main terminus point for a service in the city centre. Secondary stops are the pick-up/set-down stops used by services on their way into, and out of, the city centre.

1.7 In order to ensure that the primary bus stops don’t become too congested, a limit has been set on the number of buses using each primary stop. This will provide buses with longer time at their primary stop, providing greater scope for buses to leave the city centre on time, thereby improving service reliability.

1.8 The requirements of the Scheme will apply to all registered local bus services using bus stops within the Scheme Area. It does not apply to schools services, Ring & Ride services, scheduled long-distance coach services or tours, services operated using heritage vehicles, rail or Midland Metro replacement services or services operated by Community Transport organisations.

1.9 Coaches are still allowed within the scheme area. However, as the scheme restricts the use of all bus stops and bus stands to local services only, coaches are not permitted to use them. Boarding and alighting of passengers can still be carried out on single or double yellow lines, providing the driver is not causing an obstruction. However once the passengers are off the coach it must then move off. Existing on-street short-stay coach spaces have been retained, a few additional spaces have been provided and longer-stay coach parking is available at the Brewery Street facility.

1.10 Registered local services are required to meet certain criteria, in order to be granted permission to use the city centre bus stops. These criteria will require that: the vehicles used are low-floor, easy access, and comply with all Equality legislation requirements by 2016 all buses are fitted with electronic number and destination displays to front, side and rear drivers shall drive in a safe, courteous and professional manner, wear a uniform and that a driver training programme be in place including diversity/disability awareness training drivers will be required to assist passengers in wheelchairs by lifting or deploying ramps all operators offer ticketing product(s) that permit passengers to interchange between services without the payment of a separate fare.

1.11 In order to address air quality problems that are currently experienced in certain areas of the city centre, and the requirements of the Air Quality Action Plan adopted in early 2011, buses will have to comply with stringent emissions standards. From 6th January 2013, as a minimum all buses will have meet Euro 2 standards, with those used on services operating every 20 minutes or better (three or more buses per hour) having to meet the Euro 3 standards. Starting on 3rd January 2016 and concluding by 28th May 2017, all buses operating services every 20 minutes or better will have to be to Euro 4 standards as a minimum, with Euro 3 for services operating fewer than three buses per hour; the phasing depends on whether a vehicle is single- or double-deck.

1.12 For its part, Centro agrees to maintain all the new passenger facilities to set standards, including displaying up-to-date timetables at each stop, the provision of Real Time Information displays at most stops and the regular cleaning of the bus shelters and stop poles/totems. Centro will also manage the use of bus stops within the Scheme area, to ensure that no stop becomes congested.

1.13 Birmingham City Council has agreed to maintain the highway infrastructure to set standards, and will also monitor and enforce bus lanes through the use of CCTV camera systems and address illegal parking on bus stops under its civil parking enforcement powers.


Has Centro managed “the use of bus stops within the Scheme area, to ensure that no stop becomes congested”?

Written by beleben

December 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Coney island

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Coney island, Moor Street, Birmingham, England (Sep 2012)

As part of the ‘Vision for Movement’ works for Midland Metro, streets and street furniture have been torn up and remodelled across Birmingham city centre. The outcomes for traders, pedestrians, and bus users have been poor. In the ‘new’ section of Moor Street, between the railway station and the Selfridges department store, the shortcomings of the year 2012 bus stops and road layout make for potentially dangerous traffic situations.

Congestion and dangerous traffic situation in Moor Street, Birmingham, caused by bad design

In the ‘old’ part of Moor Street, by Carrs Lane, one lane of the 2012 road layout has been cordoned off, presumably because of the hazard posed by the bus turning loop created for buses to return along St Martin’s Queensway tunnel. Although contractors seem to have attempted to re-radius the loop during construction, the outcome has been as poor as might have been expected.

Moor Street bus turnback, Birmingham, showing potential road traffic accident zone

Birmingham Moor Street, Vision for Movement design errors

Birmingham Moor Street, lane coned off for safety

TSM Ltd, 'Birmingham city contract will provide world class facilities'

Written by beleben

September 7, 2012 at 8:32 am

Disconnected city

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The disconnected city:  Birmingham city centre map, Centro, 2012

According to Centro’s project website, the ‘Connected City’ scheme lays down a shared vision designed to benefit all users of Birmingham city centre.

For the first time the city’s business community and its public sector have come together to support a Vision for Movement designed to benefit all users of the city centre and secure Birmingham’s future prosperity. This vision is the result of that close collaboration and lays down a shared Vision designed to benefit the city centre in the years ahead.

[…]Our transport vision is based on a well connected city, an efficient city and a walkable city. By linking the city centre together we will be making it easier for everyone to use – pedestrians, those travelling by public transport, cyclists and those using cars.
A world class city centre and transport system will be created for residents, businesses and visitors. Improvements to the movement network and transport information will help connect people with places.

Different transport projects have been co-ordinated to achieve common goals and to maximise user benefits including:

* A highly accessible place and movement system that is inclusive for people with mobility and sensory impairments

* Designated transport interchanges for more intuitive use, revealing travel options

* Higher frequencies and improved vehicles

* Improved stations, stops and facilities

* New information products and services

* Extended use of real time information and the latest technology

Who the Vision was shared with is unknown, as the reconfiguration of roads and bus routes was done without any public consultation or input. According to Birmingham city council, the design work was done by Amey, the same concern that holds the city’s 25-year highway maintenance PFI contract. Apparently even Centro’s head of ‘strategy’ Alex Burrows seemed to think it was more of a nightmare, than a vision.

Centro 'strategist' Alex Burrows: interchanging is a nightmare

Bus services have been grouped into five impressive-sounding ‘interchanges’ serving different parts of the city, but these turned out to be just names applied to groups of on-street bus stops (with no seating and minimal protection against the rain).

Birmingham 'Connected City', so-called interchanges, 2012

There doesn’t appear to be much functional real-time information, either. All in all, I’d be surprised if any of the Connected City design staff ever used Birmingham public transport. On the evidence available, there must have been some involvement of ‘Telly Savalas designers’, who have never set foot in Birmingham.

Centro's explanation of Connected City claimed that public comments were welcome, but the public have been presented with a fait accompli

Looking at Centro’s map of routes updated following July’s bus reorganisation, it’s clear that Birmingham’s public transport is anything but ‘well connected’. Lack of connectivity and through routes makes for slow and inconvenient travel between points on opposing sides of the city centre (e.g. from the Jewellery Quarter to Bordesley). Centro’s intention is to revive a version of its failed Stationlink bus to link the various ‘interchanges’, so that a 4 km journey might entail changing bus twice.

Birmingham city centre most hold some kind of world record for the number of times the streets have been dug up. A Central News report from February 2000 showed similar disruption and confusion affecting the same streets as those being dug up in 2012.

One of the areas most badly affected by incompetent planners was Moor Street, where a bus mall was built and demolished, before it had even fully opened.

Written by beleben

August 22, 2012 at 10:51 am