To consider a report from the Corporate Director for Economic Growth and Infrastructure.
Members considered a report on Public Transport which highlighted the various areas of transport that Dorset Council delivered to the residents of Dorset.
Following a question from the Vice-Chairman regarding contractors and sub-contractors and any possible areas of mitigation, the Corporate Director for Economic Growth and Infrastructure advised there was a compliance team within Dorset Travel who acted upon any issues raised by parents and members of the public. In respect of the business model ensuring that people were paid etc the Corporate Director undertook to brief the member outside of the meeting.
In response to a question about how new public transport was rolled out to members of the public, the Corporate Director advised that Dorset Council now had the opportunity to have a new discussion on transport which would include planning and infrastructure and would welcome ideas from members on how best to engage.
One member highlighted the issue in relation to the safety of cycling to school in particular areas which resulted in more parents driving their children to school. The Corporate Director advised that in future it would be helpful to have a discussion on sustainable transport but undertook to discuss this issue further with the member outside of the meeting.
The Chairman invited Bob Driscoll, Chairman of the Western Area Transport Action Group (WATAG) to speak, in order to give new members balance to the subject particularly in light of rural isolation and Post 16 transport difficulties.
Mr Driscoll advised that WATAG had now produced a booklet of travel information. WATAG was one of a number of Transport Action Groups (TAGs) set up in Dorset and were the eyes and the ears on the ground with a significant role to play and met every two months. Over the past few years they had seen major cuts to bus services in rural areas and had been advised that perhaps cuts that had been made were too deep. He felt the issue of concessions needed to be addressed at Government level. With climate change on the agenda a good and reliable public transport system was vital. Rural public transport would never pay in the conventional sense and would require funding, but more importantly investment. The integrated transport review held in February 2019 was excellent and he had received many complements, but sadly there had been no follow up afterwards or further chance for networking. He urged the Council to engage with other transport bodies.
The Chairman noted that the Post 16 transport policy had caused issues for young people in rural areas. Sundays and evening services in some rural areas were few and far between. Concessionary fares had been discussed with local MPs in the past couple of years. He felt it was important to encourage the Government to offer Dorset a pilot in charging say £1 per journey rather than losing the service. He proposed a steer to the Cabinet to ask them to approach the Government and ask them if Dorset could be a pilot citing reasons of the impact on climate change and the ever- increasing carbon footprint and improvement to service provision particularly in rural areas.
The Vice-Chairman proposed that a working group be set up to look into transport issues. One member suggested that car parking be included in the transport equation in order to help to influence the flows of traffic in some areas.
The Committee agreed to set up a working group to look into transport issues further. Scoping and Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOE) would be created by the Working Group.