As many readers will no doubt be aware, Nottingham has been named as the city least car dependant city in England. This accolade comes from a combination of factors, with two award winning bus operators, a high frequency bus network, an excellent tram system (despite speculation around any future extensions, due to government cuts) and investment in cycling infrastructure. The controversial workplace parking levy has also helped to reduce dependence on the car, and lead to the highest levels of public transport usage outside of London.
Within the city, public transport fares are also very reasonable. Nottingham City Transport did recently increase their flat fares, up from £1.50 to £1.60 and their day ticket from £3.00 to £3.20. Naturally, people were quick to bemoan NCT on the companies own Facebook page but in reality, when compared to other places close by, the fare prices are very reasonable. The exact fare system employed has also faced criticism for not being user friendly, but in reality, with well publicised set fares it makes for very quick boarding of passengers, and this helps with the high frequency operation on many routes.
There is also a multi-operator and tram ticket known as Kangaroo priced at just £3.40 – though NCT’s CityRider day tickets are also accepted on the tram. Both major bus operators have also invested in smartcard technology, with NCT offering the fixed price EasyRider, and TrentBarton with the PAYG (similar to Oyster) MANGO ticket – both offering discounts on the standard fares.
The City Centre is also now governed by an SQPS (Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme), which requires all services to be operated by low-floor vehicles (although TrentBarton and NCT already had 100% low-floor fleets prior to the scheme), minimum engine standards and commitments to customer service, and driver training. In addition the scheme has created bus stop ‘slots’ (of 5 minutes) at most of the busier stops, which prevents operators from blocking stands (especially relevant, with escalating competition in the City).
Overall, many cities and towns could learn from Nottingham’s excellent example. While there will always be detractors, in truth, the City is lucky to enjoy such excellent levels of provision and, the author hopes that this continues for many years to come.