The West Midlands and transport out of hours

Having just read this piece (link below) about late night transit in America, it got me thinking about the importance of transport availability.

From my time at Centro, I remember various discussions/arguments over the lack of availability of transport opportunities.  We would talk about a 24/7 economy and city-region; that with a growing number of students and a young demographic that there would be demand from the younger population for 24/7 transport.

But there is key demand from night workers and those on early and late shifts also needing to get to and from work.  The push to require car ownership and its relative unaffordability with an impact on the practicality of a number of jobs due to the lack of availability of out of hours public transport is an immense frustration.

We often look with envy at London and the night bus system, as well as initiatives for late night trains and buses and their failure to really take off as viable schemes.

What could the West Midlands do?  The railways are always cited as needing shut down every night for track maintenance.  So night buses (along with Night Metro and Night Sprint).  There has to be a social case for certain key bus routes to be 24/7 operation.

Or instead will we be looking to the imminent arrival of Uber in the West Midlands to basically fill the gaps in public transport.  But then where will that lead us?  Public transport shrinking to core commercial routes and demand-responsive transport opportunities plugging the gaps.  That still leaves the affordability and car ownership and usage questions unanswered.

I would love to see the Greater Birmingham CrossCity lines (see previous blog posts…) leading the way for 24/7 public transport spines.  But in the more immediate near term, the Metro and 24/7 core bus routes must be the answer.

So do we need to look at a number of business-critical bus routes/corridors as being branded and shaped into 24/7 public transport opportunities to serve the needs of our city region?  Could they provide the backbone then for our wider policy goals for those who don’t work 9-5, for those who use or support the late night economy, for the night owls and irregular users…

I will have to tag this as another transport campaign to start developing I guess *smiles, sighs, starts work*

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