Whether you are travelling by ferry, train or bus, people in Cornwall may see The One Public Transport System for Cornwall (OPTS) introduced by 18th December 2018.
The ongoing development is a key part of Cornwall Council’s devolution deal with the government and aims to improve transport standards for both residents and visitors across the county.
Additional introductions will include half-hourly rail services between Penzance and Plymouth in a bid to vastly increase the amount of train services in Cornwall. With these new services in place there would be 35 services a day stopping at St Austell, Truro and Redruth, compared with the 24 that currently run.
Truthfal spoke to Bert Biscoe, the Independent Cornwall Councillor for Truro, who described the OPTS as “a very big, very important and life-enhancing project for many, many people”.
“I think this will be the biggest transformation in transport opportunities for the general population of Cornwall since the construction of the Tamar Bridge. It will remove duplication between bus and rail, improve service and thereby remove necessity for car travel.”
Despite the obvious improvements that the OPTS hopes to bring to public transport in Cornwall. Biscoe expressed his concerns about the new system.
“It needs to hit the ground running (like the Congestion Charge) so it is important that Cornwall Council applies sufficient resources (human and financial to ensure that the delivery target of December 18th is met.
“If Cornwall Council gets on with the marketing and ensures that full information is attractively and readily available in good time, then it will be well received. If Cornwall Council cut corners then the result will be potential confusion and disappointment! I am however confident that the right levels of resource will be applied, that the partnership is strong and that most project strands are well on the way to delivery.”
Although contactless payments have already been set up on First Kenow and Plymouth Citybus routes, the system will see contactless payments being accepted on all bus services. Contactless payments could be made using debit cards, mobile phones and also smartcards similar to those used for the Oyster card system in London.
A First Kernow bus driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated his frustrations with the introduction of contactless payments.
“I understand that this is the way technology is heading, but it is taking longer to get people onto the bus, especially as the card reader often struggles to pick up the payment. You have to wait for people to finally put the card on the pad correctly and it is frustrating.”
There will also be an app that will help people plan their journeys on public transport by providing them with the best transport options to take for their journey, and also providing access to timetables and other travel information. The app is expected to be launched in June.
In 2015 Cornwall was awarded £8m Growth Deal 1 funding to match against the £2.375m from the Local Transport Plan to deliver improvements to the public transport to include infrastructure, vehicles and ticketing.
Cornwall Council is awaiting the results of a bid to the Local Enterprise Partnership for additional Growth Deal 3 funding.