The Peak District is one of the most-visited national parks in the world, with an estimated 11 million tourist visits every year, over 38,000 residents and some of the biggest cities in the north within easy reach. Recent studies show that more than 80% of visits are by car.
Stakeholders from around the national park including operators, visitor economy, local authorities and volunteer sectors came together for the Travel Summit on 5 March 2015. The purpose of the event was to begin to discuss ways to deliver a more sustainable transport network across the national park to serve the needs of both residents and visitors.
Through a series of workshops and inspiring guest speakers the event examined key issues facing travel in and around the Peak District. Among the speakers was Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin who said that sustainable transport involves all of us, at every level of government, and affects every community across the country. He felt there was particular resonance in the Peak District, which as a place of outstanding beauty needed excellent transport to meet the needs of millions of visitors, as well as keeping local communities connected
Inspiration from around the UK
To help generate momentum and inspiration, Chris Gregory from the Green Traveller and Nat Taplin from New Forest National Park, brought examples of sustainable transport innovation projects that have been successful adopted in protected landscapes across the UK.
Prior to the event delegates were asked to identify the biggest transport issues they felt the Peak District faced. These were examined in the first of two workshops as delegates began to explore where problems were rooted and how they could be addressed. It was acknowledged that challenges can be overcome by a connecting infrastructure and a change in people’s attitudes to getting about. Strong links between the key issues were identified and it was agreed that partnership working would be crucial to finding practical and long lasting solutions.
Transcripts can be found here:
Key issues taken forward by the six groups were:
- Different travel solutions for local / visitor journeys
- Innovative solutions are not championed by the Peak District National Park
- Bringing the National Park out to the local cities – e.g. National Park hubs in the cities to connect to the transport system
- A lack of integration between different modes of transport at hubs
- Complicated displaying of timetable information and seasonal variations
- Increased isolation for ageing national park demographic
Ideas for change
A second workshop session, where groups developed a series of actions and key messages to instigate solutions within the Peak District.
A series of ideas were brought forward by each group including:
- Smoother changes between different transport modes – an integrated service, including transport hubs
- The importance of marketing – creating the demand via effective marketing for sustainable travel services that people really will want to use – making the journey itself part of the experience
- Travel Partnership – working across the Peak District
- Different income streams needed
- Making transport modes more user focused- e.g. incentives/discounts, and making journeys more fun
- Smarter ticketing – ‘Peak Passport’
Transcripts of the workshop can be found here:
Along with these ideas, delegates worked together to agree some key messages to take forward after the day. These included:
- Different models for funding built on well-developed and tested business cases.
- Travel should to be seen as business in its own right, with development and support available.
- Rural travel infrastructure solutions need time to develop, and ideally Government funding needs to be available on a 5 year cycle, rather than 1 year as has been the case recently
- There is an immediate need for more joined up working between partners across and around the wider Peak District National Park, which covers an area managed by many different local authorities and agencies - possible by creating a new integrated Travel Partnership.
Transcripts can be found here:
Actions to take forward
The workshops produced a number of suggested areas of work going forwards
- Dialogue between visitor attractions and transport companies regarding branding etc.
- Turning existing bus services into attractions for visitors as well as supporting residents.
- Make bus travel fun and an event rather than a means to an end.
- Evaluate the Peak District NPA’s Green Traveller Pilot Project to provide a marketing model for a bus based ‘Visitor Experience’ to assess what does and doesn’t work.
- A concierge service and a common marketing approach.
- Research into resolving travel issues for residents.
- Physical marketing at travel hubs, including ambassadors.
- Wider marketing of the National Park including travel.
- Improving links at transport hubs between different modes of travel including cycling and walking.
- Smart ticketing and the introduction of a Peak District Wayfarer ticket to / from surrounding hubs.
- The creation of a travel website where all relevant travel, accommodation and visitor attraction information is together – along with an app.
- Revenue generation through a small annual charge for driving in the National Park (e.g. £10 per annum).
Some of the areas of work have a common theme, for example, all of the short-term ones fall under around making bus services part of an experience rather than purely a means of transport. Where there is a common theme to areas of work, the National Park Authority will bring together appropriate partners to investigate ways of taking them forward.
Partners are already undertaking work to bring forward some areas, particularly with regard to the short-term actions including visitor attractions and bus operators. Some areas of work, such as marketing may need to be undertaken on an area-based approach to ensure a manageable approach.
The completion of these areas of work will require partners such as Visit Peak District and Derbyshire, plus local authorities and transport operators to take a leading role. However, the feedback from the summit indicates a willingness to be involved in bringing forward solutions to some of the identified issues.
* The full speech delivered by Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin is available online at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/national-vision-local-solutions
- According to the 2014 visitor survey, 85% of visitors arrive in the National Park by car, van or motorbike, compared 1% by coach, and 2% by bus or train.
- Traffic levels in 2013 were double those seen in 1980 (5,953 vehs/day compared to 2,920 vehicles per day). However, they have seen no significant variation since 2010, suggesting that car numbers in the Park have plateaued. Due to data losses in recent years, these figures should be treated with a degree of caution (State of the Park report).
- The 222 Dambuster bus in the Upper Derwent carried 2,654 passengers in 2013, and 2,026 in 2014 (Nick Oddy, Transport Manager, Bakewell & Eyam Community Transport).
- TM travel and Chatsworth have teamed up to provide a discounted fare into Chatsworth – those using the 215 and 218 can receive £2 discount off of admission to the house, garden, farmyard and adventure playground. In 2013, 877 visitors took advantage of this offer, but in contrast, between March and the end of November 2014, 7394 visitors had utilized this offer (figures curtesy of Paul Hayes, Chatsworth).
- Information for the Lake District suggests that c. 30% of their carbon budget is attributable to cars; of this, 41% is from visitors driving to and from the Park (potentially an issue in the Peaks, due its positioning near major cities). 28% is attributable to visitors driving within the Park and the final 31% belongs to residents car use (LDNP carbon budgeting report). There are some key differences that should be borne in mind, for instance, higher visitor numbers in the Lake District (National Parks UK 2013).