Your Say survey results: Your transport

See the results from day three of the Your Say survey, after we asked you about transport in your area.

Your Say - Your transport
Easy travel but at a cost – light traffic on the M6 Toll, which most drivers would like brought back into public ownership

In a damning verdict on Britain’s first pay-to-drive motorway, 85 per cent of people say the M6 Toll should be a free, publicly-owned road.

Figures emerged on the third day of the Express & Star Your Say Survey looking at all aspects of life in the region.

Today we concentrate on transport and priorities people have for improving how they get from A to B.

Readers have made clear that they have no appetite for pay-as-you-go travel like the M6 Toll.

See more results from the Your Say survey

And our survey shows that while people would generally like to see an extension of public transport like the Midland Metro, the overwhelming majority would refuse to pay a tax levy to pay for it.

More than half of those taking part in the poll also feel that the cost of buses in the region is too high.

Cost is clearly a significant factor for people as they make a choice about how they travel around the West Midlands and Staffordshire.

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Almost two thirds of our readers, 62.7 per cent, have never even used the M6 Toll motorway between junction 11A of the M6 in Staffordshire and junction four near the NEC close to Birmingham.

Fewer than three per cent of respondents to the survey had used it in the week before they answered the questions. It now costs £5.50 for a car and £11 for a lorry.

Plans for the £32.7 billion high-speed rail line have also been rejected by more than six out of 10 of those who took part in the Your Say Survey on transport.

The HS2 line will begin to be built in 2016 and the first phase between London and Birmingham will be open from around 2026.

Two new stations will be built in Birmingham – one in the city centre and one near Birmingham Airport. The line promises huge economic benefits but it has been met with opposition from people in rural areas, such as Staffordshire, because it will tear a path through the countryside.

Meanwhile, buses are too expensive and what is really needed is improved roads, not more bus lanes, readers told transport bosses today.

Fewer than one in 20 of the people who responded to the survey want to see more bus lanes built.

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And while they are generally in favour of extending the Midland Metro tram network, respondents were overwhelmingly keen to see the roads improved for motorists. Our survey found that this was the priority for more than 78 per cent of people, with more bus lanes being important for only 4.4 per cent. A further 6.4 per cent wanted more cycle lanes while 10.9 per cent of readers did not think any of those were important to them.

Clearly, we all use a variety of transport methods, but the Your Say Survey asked readers to pick how they most often travelled.

Almost two thirds said that they usually use their own car or motorbike to travel by road.

Just over a quarter of us are going by bus as the main form of transport while just over two per cent mainly use the Midland Metro tram on its 23-stop route between Wolverhampton St George’s and Birmingham Snow Hill.

A further 1.5 per cent have a bicycle as their main form of transport, while 4.6 per cent walk.

But there is also food for thought for transport bosses on matters such as the cost of buses, which the majority have said is too expensive following successive increases.

There has been extensive private investment in the region’s bus network by the main operator National Express West Midlands.

The company is spending £26m and is buying 130 new “hybrid” electric and diesel buses.

Meanwhile slimmer buses that have automatic announcements telling passengers about the next stop will also hit roads across the Black Country this year.

Around a dozen new “midibuses”, which are smaller than a normal single decker, will be used on the 222 route between Dudley, Russells Hall Hospital and the Merry Hill Centre.

But the cost of travelling by bus has gone up consistently year on year with 10p rises on National Express services now the norm every January.

A single fare is now £2 and more than half of people believe this is too expensive with only one in five people saying it is about right.

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Around a quarter of people, 23.1 per cent, have said they do not use the buses.

Just 2.2 per cent people say that buses are “cheap”. Centro is cutting the price of its own bus pass by up to £1.60 a week from April.

People who have one of Centro’s nBus passes will now also be able to use them in Staffordshire as well as the Black Country and Birmingham.

The changes have been brought in by the transport authority following a review with different bus companies.

Most existing nBus passes will be reduced in price from April including an adult one-week pass which will cost £16.80 rather than £18.40 and an adult four-week pass which will be £60 rather than £62.

While the previous passes were accepted by 35 different bus companies, they were valid only within the West Midlands metropolitan area.

But passengers will be able to use their new pass in a number of areas in Staffordshire including Codsall, Bilbrook, Perton, Pattingham, Wombourne, Himley, Swindon, Kinver and Little Aston.

A wider range of nBus products will be launched by Centro this year on its new Swift smartcard which is in the process of being rolled out across the region.

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The smartcard allows people to pre-pay for their travel, then swipe it over a sensor on the bus, under a system that will work in a similar way to London’s Oyster card.

All nBus passes will be available on Swift – including new products such as nBus passes specifically for Coventry and the Black Country which are planned to be even cheaper.

There will also be a range of off-peak and student passes as well as ones that can also be used on the Metro tram route.

Despite concerns over the cost, most people accept that their bus services are good on the whole, with 38 per cent pleased with what they are getting for their money.

It reflects the big investment undertaken on the network by bus operators and the transport authority Centro in recent years. More than a quarter of people believe there is still room for improvement while one in 10 people are very dissatisfied.

Councillor Roger Horton, one of the Sandwell representatives on Centro, said he could understand why 54.3 per cent of passengers felt buses were too expensive.

He said: “I don’t think fares should be put up willy nilly every year. I can understand why people are disgruntled. There are problems with reliability, frequency as well as a lack of information.

“People don’t want to be paying more until those issues are addressed.”

Meanwhile there are still rumblings of discontent over the re-routing of buses in Wolverhampton that took place two years ago when the city’s new £22.5 million bus station opened.

Up to a third of services were no longer using the bus station because Centro had revised routes that connected areas such as Tettenhall and Dudley with Wolverhampton in the middle of the journey rather than the terminus.

To make services quicker, they no longer went to the bus station but it meant many passengers were forced to walk long distances from places like Lichfield Street and Stafford Street to the bus station to get connecting services. Campaigners signed petitions calling for a re-think which led to the number two service starting to use the Pipers Row station.

However, there are still concerns that the busy numbers 3 and 4 services do not go there.

Respondents to our survey were generally in favour of the long-awaited extension of the Midland Metro tram network between Wednesbury and the Merry Hill Shopping Centre.

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The scheme has been an ambition of councils and transport officials since the original line was launched in 1999.

Our survey reveals that just under half of people consider the £268m project to be a priority, with 20 per cent classing it as “very important” and 23.4 per cent saying it is “fairly important”.

Just over a quarter believe it to be “not very important” while just under one in 10 say they do not want it at all.

The closest the region came to having the link was when funding was offered by the former Labour government if the Black Country would commit to trying out London-style congestion charging.

Money was taken off the table when the region ruled out the idea.

Plans that have been discussed since include running trams along disused freight lines through Wednesbury and raising the cash by putting a levy of £2,500 on around 10,700 homes that would be built alongside the new system.

Geoff Inskip with a copy of the Your Say Survey
Geoff Inskip with a copy of the Your Say Survey

Geoff Inskip, the chief executive of transport authority Centro, has also previously suggested a 2p a month rise in business rates.

However this idea was put forward before the recession.

One thing that our survey does rule out is any possible levy on council tax to help pay for the line, with just over one in 10 people prepared to fork out for such as scheme.

Infrastructure is a big subject when it comes to our transport network in the West Midlands and Staffordshire.

Whether it is road, rail or tram, there is always room for improvement to increase efficiency and reduce journey times.

Bobby McAlpine, the former chairman of construction company Alfred McAlpine, whose company was involved in building the M6 motorway and the M6 Toll, said: “One of the big scandals of recent years is how successive government neglected infrastructure.

“We built Gatwick Airport but its runway is still exactly the same today.

“The only thing the Government seems to want to build is high-speed rail when we’re desperate for roads.

“The problem is governments are not interested in things that take a long time.

“Blair, Brown and now Cameron seem to want projects that will be done while they’re still in power, not things that take years to do even if they are the right thing to do.”

While many readers are not in favour of the M6 Toll, the majority of them are in favour of new roads to ease congestion.

A total of 70.9 per cent of the Your Say respondents would like to see a Western Bypass, linking the M5 south of the Midlands to the M6 northbound.

The £2.5bn scheme was unveiled in 1991 and would have been a massive 42-mile bypass between the M5 near Stourbridge and the M54 north of Wolverhampton, which would then link to the M6.

The route would have skirted several areas including Kidderminster, Stourbridge, Codsall, Codsall Wood, Perton, Pattingham and Wombourne.

Plans stalled amid strong protests from people living in villages around South Staffordshire unhappy that it would mean a loss of green belt.

They were revived again but dropped after environmental groups, residents and the then South Staffordshire Tory MP Sir Patrick Cormack said it would have destroyed the area.

The result has sounded alarm bells for people living in the countryside between Stourbridge and the M5 in Worcestershire, who rallied in force to protest at a previous plan unveiled back in 1991 for a 42-mile road cutting a swathe through rural areas to link up with the M54 north of Wolverhampton.

Licensee Ted Etheridge, now aged 69, who used to run the Station Inn and later the Prince of Wales at Hagley, said: “The proposed Western Orbital Route created a lot of worry for people in the Hagley area and was a big topic of conversation at the time.

“A proposed spur off the orbital route as a bypass through Blakedown and Hagley, which would have gone under Wychbury Hill, signed the death warrant for the Prince of Wales, which was compulsory purchased, even though the scheme was later abandoned.”

But Mr Etheridge, now licensee of the Britannia Inn in Wollaston, Stourbridge, added: “I’m in full agreement with anything that makes it easier to get from A to B, so support the call for a road linking the M5 in the south to the M6 northbound.

“The problem is, if you live by one of these proposed roads, you’re against it.”

Comments for: "Your Say survey results: Your transport"

PJW Holland

Interesting results... especially the Western Orbital route. This illustrates how NIMBYism acts against the interests of society at large. The lack of this road is a major contributory factor in the poor performance of the local economy.

Interesting too that an overwhelming majority have not been hoodwinked by the spurious propoganda around HS2 and can see it is potentially extremely harmful to the local economy in the form at present proposed. I wonder why Wolverhampton City Council has made no representations to be included on this network. Blinkered, Blind or Bewildered?

bobwolf101

Totally agree with you!!!

Jamil

We live in a democracy. Those that are are apposed to the western Orbital route care merely for themselves and not for the future of Wolverhampton and it's surrounding areas. They are selfish and self centered. If every individual did this how would the country ever progress? The West Orbital route would bring in business and and could be one of the major infrastructure projects the government keep going on about. The majority of people have voted for the road.

Wulfrunian

Bring on the Western Orbital route for all those NIMBYs in Perton who clog up the roads in Finchfield Castlecroft and Compton !

Steve Keefe

Surely the results that you have published regarding paying a levy on Council Tax to fund the extension of the Metro to Merry Hill is the wrong way around. Why would 85.9% be willing to pay when only 43.4% considered the extension fairly or very important?

In fact, 8.4% are opposed and 25.2% consider it not important! It doesn't make any sense.

JJ

I can't say I'm Surprised about any of these results. Its a well known fact that the M6 toll is unused because its inappropriately expensive, buses are way too expensive and the metro needs expanding

I'm glad the Weston bypass has been brought up again. It's desperately needed. Not just to ease the joke that is the M6-J8 but also the overcrowded Wolverhampton ring road which is very hard to avoid unless you rat run through numerous housing estates.

What people need to ask is what makes the people on this route so special. Everyone else has to put up with motorways and railways being built by them. Try sitting in stationary traffic for 2 hours everyday of you life. That's what pain is. Not having a little bit more noise then you had before. Get over it. You are outnumbered but no, the government wont listen to the people who actually want it.

Martacus Redd

Just like to point out:

Midland Metro, the overwhelming majority would refuse to pay a tax levy to pay for it.

This doesn't match up with your graphic

jeaton

Knowing Wolverhampton Council, the reply would be "Whats HS 2? I didnt see HS 1, can we hire it from blockbusters?

PJW Holland

very droll...

You might think that. I could not possibly comment

:-))))))))))

ben

Why doesn't the government just buy the M6 toll and open it as a free? surely this will halve the traffic, especially lorries passing through J11-4 thus reducing accidents, delays and the money spent on them. It would also mean they could get on quicker with the current widening program

Albrightondek

It's pretty obvious that the vote on the proposed Western Orbital Route will be split mainly along the lines of those who would be directly affected by the building of the road and those there would'nt be. But would all those people who voted for it be quite so keen if it was another toll road and they would have to pay for it's use? I seem to remember the government saying last year it was in favour of more toll roads.

Perhaps the call for a western route would less enthusiastic if the M6 Toll road was publicly owned. On the very occasions when I've used the toll road, there was virtually no commercial traffic using it. I only used it when I was working, and could reclaim the cost on expenses. If the M6 Toll was just a normal motorway, I'm quite sure the log jam that happens every working morning and evening would disappear - thus negating the need for another motorway to be built.

The cost of building the Western Orbital would probably equate to the cost of buying out the owners of the M6 Toll. Also, there would be an almost immediate relief with the congestion, whereas building another motorway would take several years to complete.

James

Yes but building a new road would employ people, who would then spend some money in the local economy. Buying the toll road would not have this effect.