On Tuesday 2nd December Portsmouth Cycle Forum was invited to the first meeting of the City Council’s Transport Stakeholder Liaison Group. The new Tory administration has significantly widened the engagement of these transport stakeholder meetings. There are now no fewer than five groups:
- A taxi operators group,
- a bus operators group,
- a rail operators group,
- an active travel group and
- an overarching group which includes all.
This is considerably richer than the previous groups which only included taxi, bus and rail operators. A really positive change and well done to Cllr Ellcome doing it.
The meeting included representatives from: the taxi trade (lots of them), First and Stagecoach bus operators, South West Trains, Portsmouth Disability Forum, PCC reps (from Transport & Environment, Parking, Traffic Management, Town Centre Management and Transport Planning), Colas, British Cycling and us, the cycle forum. Councillors Ellcome (Con) and Stagg (LD) were in attendance.
Apart from details of the current PCC program of works, the park and ride, NHT surveys the main issue on the agenda was a discussion about admitting private hire taxis into bus lanes. Currently buses and Hackney Carriages are allowed in bus lanes - but private hire taxis are not. There are currently about 300 Hackney Carriages in the city but over 800 private hire taxis.
This issue was brought up by the taxi drivers and they have raised a petition in support of about 800 signatures. Both bus companies spoke against as did British Cycling and Portsmouth Cycle Forum. I can understand that the taxi drivers are frustrated that congestion levels are hampering their business but the solution is to attract people out of their cars and onto other transport - like bikes. If we fill what little cycling space we have with taxis then that won’t happen.
We also had the opportunity to brief on A City to Share, our new cycling strategy. All the copies of the document I had available were given out - I’d love some feedback from bus companies and taxi operators.