Transport Minister Claire Perry has added to the chorus of approval being voiced by key public and private sector employers for Nottingham’s newly-opened tram extension, while the Campaign for Better Transport has urged other cities to follow Nottingham’s lead in using a Workplace Parking Levy to fund improved public transport.
Ms Perry said: “The doubling of Nottingham’s tram system will transform public transport in the city, providing better links and economic opportunities for light rail customers and businesses.
“Record numbers of passengers are using trams across the UK and Nottingham NET has proved an accessible and popular travel option. The DfT funding of up to £371 million for this major extension shows our commitment to providing Britain’s cities with transport networks fit for the 21st century.”
City employers were also quick to note the advantages that the new lines to Chilwell and Clifton bring to staff and to clients or patients, while acknowledging the environmental benefits and the economic development and regeneration which the new lines are stimulating.
The expansion of the network to 32km brings the tram directly to the ng2 business park, where VF Northern Europe, the name behind such familiar leisure wear brands as Wrangler, Lee and The North Face, said the new tram line had been an “important factor” in locating their international Customer Service Centre at The Curve on ng2 last year.
Patrick Willems, Vice President, Business Integration, Compliance and Shared Services, said: “A near-city-centre location with good bus links and the new tram line running right alongside enables VF to be situated very conveniently to recruit and retain motivated and multilingual staff. The Curve now has nearly 200 staff with approximately 40 additional seasonal staff to be engaged during peak seasons.”
James MacColl, Head of Campaigns for the Campaign for Better Transport said: “Nottingham is getting great new public transport – new tram lines, new electric buses, and a greatly improved rail station – and part of the money is coming from a levy on parking spaces at workplaces in the city.
“Given the funding issues facing public transport, we want more cities to look at innovative charging mechanisms like this and to follow Nottingham in creating better, cleaner public transport networks.”
Councillor Nick McDonald, City Council Portfolio Holder for Jobs, Growth and Transport, added: “It’s particularly pleasing that within days of people being able to start taking the tram on their daily commute that an organisation such as VF Northern sees the trams now serving their HQ as an integral factor in enabling them to attract and retain staff.
“It is no coincidence that Nottingham is recognised nationally for its excellent public transport provision and the extension of tram services to Clifton and Chilwell plays a crucial role in helping the city to further enhance that provision.
“It’s gratifying to see the Campaign for Better Transport acknowledging that the tram extensions wouldn’t have been possible had the council not taken the bold step of becoming the UK’s first local authority to introduce a Workplace Parking Levy. And we welcome their support in urging other UK authorities to follow our lead. “For every £1 raised the Levy helps to lever in £3 of Government funding, and will deliver £10 of economic benefits to the city.”
Lara Marriott, Management Coordinator Specsavers Facilities, also located on the ng2 business park, said: “We are very excited about the unveiling of NET Phase Two. The project has given us the opportunity to promote more sustainable and environmentally-friendly transport across Nottingham.
“We recently conducted a travel survey and found 75 per cent of participants said they would be encouraged to use the tram network if there was a more direct service, more frequent service or if they were given the opportunity to purchase tickets at a discounted price.”
With direct and frequent services now a reality, Specsavers is even helping staff to access discounted tickets as they finalise a loan scheme to give staff the opportunity to buy the best-value Kangaroo or Tram2Work annual passes and spread the cost over the year.
The company also hosted the recent Totally Transport Roadshow, inviting businesses from across ng2 after being approached by Nottingham City Council. The Roadshow was part of a European Union-funded initiative to reduce congestion, carbon emissions and car dependency by providing businesses with tailored travel plans for staff that encourage alternative modes of transport for employees commuting to the city’s three business parks.
“The event was a big success and created a real buzz among the representatives about considering more sustainable transport options,” said Lara. “We believe that this is just the beginning of a bright future for Nottingham’s public transport.”
At the Queen’s Medical Centre, the region’s largest hospital and one of the city’s largest employers, thousands of staff and patients now have the chance to ease their journey in by using the tram. Nottingham University Hospitals Chief Executive Peter Homa said the hospital was also working hard to make sure patients using the tram could find their way to the right part of the complex:
“Becoming the first hospital in the country to be served by tram is a remarkable achievement and one that sets NUH and the city of Nottingham apart. We have been working with patients to strengthen wayfinding to help those who arrive by tram to find their way in and around the hospital.
“We have recruited a dedicated team of volunteers to help patients and visitors get into the hospital as quickly as possible and have an improved our website – adding animated videos to help people find their way and plan their journey to QMC by tram.
“We continue to progress our plans for a new south entrance at QMC that will provide direct access into the hospital from the tram platform and main patient and visitor car parks. We hope the new entrance will be in place by the end of 2016.”