Milton Keynes Central Station Travel Plan
Milton Keynes is a city of around 22 5,000 people and is set to grow to 32 5,000 by 2026 . It is very well connected to the rest of the country by train, being 30 - 45 minutes from London, 55 minutes from Birmingham and 1 hour 40 minutes from Manchester with some direct services to places such as Carlisle and Rhyl.
Although Milton Keynes Central Station is in the middle of Milton Keynes, it feels very removed from it. To the NE of the station is Central Milton Keynes which has high employment and key venues such as the theatre, Art Gallery, Shopping Centre, the Xscape (SnowDome and cinemas) etc but the station is 1.3 km from the shopping centre and 900m from the restaurant quarter called the Hub and the area to the south and the east is low density residential and employment so a visitor to the station can feel very isolated.
Milton Keynes is often unfairly described as a city of roundabouts, and shopping malls, However, Milton Keynes contains several lakes, some with water skiing and sailing, 272.5 km of cycle-ways , a Pagoda and Peace Garden, an Eco-park, museums and nearby historic villages and all the main roads are lined with trees and flowering shrubs. However at present it is very difficult to become aware of these opportunities at the station.
Need for a Travel Plan
Major improvements are planned for the Station Square outside the station through Growth Area Funding and for the station itself through the National Stations Improvement Plan. Milton Keynes Council is also making serious investments in sustainable travel. Bus services have recently been improved, with better quality vehicles being introduced and increased frequency, especially in the evenings. In this context a Station Travel Plan can have a very beneficial effect through ensuring coordination and through partnership working.
Description of the process
Key stakeholders were gathered together including Milton Keynes Council,(Passenger Transport, Sustainable Transport, and Travel Planning) Hackney Carriage Association, London Midland, Passenger Focus, Marston Vale Community Partnership, A representative from the nearby Leighton Buzzard Station travel plan steering group also joined the group.
The group was chaired by Alan Francis from the Milton Keynes Transport Partnership. Later, the group extended membership to MK Metro, Virgin and Discover MK (the heritage and tourism information shop in the shopping centre) later became key players. After a few meetings the group decided to employ a dedicated Station Travel Plan Officer.
Action Plan highlights
The survey results concluded that a high proportion (40%) of people travel less than several times a month and that business travel (which was the highest category for car and taxi use) was high (12%) The Steering Group therefore agreed to focus on promoting existing public transport access to MK businesses and leisure attractions, partly through information at the station itself, and partly through personalised and workplace travel planning. Some of the key points are below:
- New Maps and Improved Website: The MK station travel plan group is working with Arriva produce maps with iconic photos of key venues so that people can see at a glance the key tourist and cultural venues and sustainable travel options. This will evolve to create a range of maps of key facilities that are accessible by public transport such as Learning and skills, Community facilities, Leisure, Health, Parks, and Businesses.
- Information Kiosk at the station: Staffed from 6.00am to 8.00pm, this will promote Carshare MK, taxi share, buses, cycling and walking both to commuters leaving Milton Keynes, and to commuters and visitors coming to Milton Keynes.
- Workplace travel planning: MKC council to produce a package of help with workplaceWorkplace travel planning: MKC council to produce a package of help with workplace travel planning to reduce the need for businesses to employ their own travel plan officers.
- Frieze / mural to promote public transport: Station Square is being rebuilt with Growth Area Funding and the station itself is being rebuilt as part of the National Station Improvement Programme, providing an opportunity to embed public transport into the design. The proposal is to have a frieze of the key destinations with the relevant coloured bus and cycle routes beside them on the platforms, the stairs the over-bridge and out to the bus stops.
- Improving cycling along the V6 which is a major North South route running past the station: A key cycling route is currently being installed on the V6-Grafton Street from the Haversham roundabout to Denbigh and Bletchley. This type of installation has never been seen before and we are now mirroring routes in Europe.
Key lessons learned
Concept of Travel Plans: While the Station Travel Plan was based on the concept of travel plans such as school travel plans, and workplace travel plans, all these travel plans had a travel plan coordinator some one who talked to the people whom the plan was aimed at. The station travel plan at its outset seemed to lack this personal touch which is so crucial to changing travel behaviour which is why we came up with the concept of the station kiosk.
Policy Framework: The lack of revenue funding as opposed to capital funding which is a key problems for all sustainable transport projects meant that it was vital to have partnership working and getting committed buy in from all the partners. This meant really looking at the policy framework behind station travel plans and partnership working and understanding the Local Area agreement.
Language: It was important to find the right language for different partners. Many people were unsure about the idea of getting people out of their cars especially business, but if you spoke about accessibility, and 'selling the brand' there was great enthusiasm. It is important to explain and follow the aim that transport information is about the destination. People do not want to know about buses, they want to know how to get to a destination by bus and if it is easier than by car. Explaining this can be difficult and time consuming but is crucial to get people on board.