James Freeman, recently retired from his full-time role at First West of England, is taking over from Alan Bailes as Chair of Bus Rapid Transit UK (known as BRTuk), a membership organisation seeking to promote the use of high-quality buses with high levels of priority on the street and ideally segregated rights of way. A very practical and cost-effective way of providing top league rapid transit quickly and cost-effectively by combining the bus’s flexibility with routes designed for rapid journeys.
Also stepping forward at this time is BRTuk’s new Deputy Chair, Patrick Warner, who is Head of Innovation Strategy with Go-Ahead Group’s Brighton & Hove Buses and Metrobus. His area includes the operation of the successful and well-known Guided Busway in Crawley, Sussex. Patrick is also on a part time secondment to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as their Lead Officer for Bus Decarbonisation, overseeing the deployment of their first 20 hydrogen buses and developing a strategy to deliver Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham’s vision of a zero emission regional fleet of 1,400 buses by 2035.
BRTuk is unique and serves as an information hub and ideas exchange. It engages with all levels of government as well as operators, offering them practical, regulatory, legal and financial advice, as well as promoting best practice. The National Bus Strategy is strong on the principles that BRTuk promotes and has particularly highlighted Belfast’s “Glider” as an example of good practice that other towns and cities should aim to follow.
Before Covid BRTuk’s regular technical visits to showcase best practice and Annual Conferences were very popular and well attended. A “blended approach” is being introduced so that people can benefit either from physical attendance or streamed/recorded content depending not only on returning to the “new normal” when pandemic restrictions are lifted but also the advantages of video technologies allowing participation by those unable to be present in person.
James Freeman said: “I am so grateful to my predecessor, Alan Bailes, for steering BRTuk through a period when its finances needed careful husbanding. I have the good fortune to be taking over at a time when Government policy is, perhaps for the first time in ages, appearing to promote the development of really top-class public transport, including rapid transit. Bus Back Better provides a fantastic opportunity for promoting Bus Rapid Transit solutions that will deliver attractive yet affordable mass transit in our cities”.
Patrick Warner said: “The challenge of attracting travelers back to public transport after more than a year of lockdowns and exposure to Covid-19 is very significant. It will need imagination and drive to develop schemes that can be delivered on time and at an affordable price for the public purse. BRTuk is ideally-placed to support these moves.”
Together, James and Patrick plan to reinvigorate the activities of BRTuk in the post-pandemic era, a time which offers unrivalled scope for developing bus rapid transit.
Note to Editors
James Freeman was Managing Director of First West of England, serving Bristol, Bath and the surrounding areas, between 2014 and 2021. During that time the high quality MetroBus system was successfully introduced with First West of England its operator. He has recently retired after more than 45 years in the industry, having started as a bus conductor in 1974.
Patrick Warner joined Brighton & Hove Buses and Metrobus in 2014 as Business Development Manager in 2014 and was promoted to Head of Innovation Strategy in 2018 where he has led on innovation across the business and has been leading the charge to make zero emission hydrogen fuel cell bus operation a reality. Their UK first commercially led application of the technology aims to deliver by far the largest deployment of hydrogen buses anywhere in Europe in 2022 when the first 54 buses are due to start operating with Metrobus from Crawley and there are plans under development for the first all hydrogen powered bus depot at one of four sites in the Brighton & Hove Buses operating area shortly after subject to successful funding applications. Patrick has also been working with local authority partners to ensure that each deployment of zero emission buses is able to move more efficiently supported by ambitious new bus priority and through plans to share bus refueling infrastructure, able to see buses become a powerful enabling force for much wider decarbonisation of road transport.
Alan Bailes is a Director with “the transportation consultancy” (ttc) and has considerable experience working on BRT assignments throughout the UK and around the world. Over the past two decades, he has been actively involved in the evolution of BRT globally, being actively involved in BRT assignments in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa, which have included practically all aspects of BRT development.
Anyone seeking more information about BRTuk or wishing to join should contact the Secretary, Tom Hacker (Tom.Hacker@wsp.com).