Loss of bus service 4 and the blether bus : an update #dundeewestend

During the COVID-19 health emergency, some bus services have not run and these have included the “blether bus” service (run by the City Council) and Service 4 (run by Xplore Dundee).    

The council’s Parking & Sustainable Transport Team Leader recently advised councillors as follows :

“As a response to lockdown, declining passenger numbers and the unavailability of bus drivers who were shielding, all bus operators reduced their commercial service offering in March/April 2020.   This meant reduced frequencies on core routes and in some neighbourhoods the suspension of non-core bus services.

With financial support from Scottish Government, the bus industry has been able to slowly reintroduce services and increase frequencies so that passengers could return to services with confidence that they would be able to physically distance themselves from other passengers.   Overall passengers numbers are now hovering between 55% and 60% of pre-covid levels but bus service provision is running closer to 90%.   Within that overall picture of reinstated services, there are two commercial services operated by Xplore Dundee that have not been reintroduced and following discussion with Christine McGlasson, MD at Xplore Dundee, I can advise that there are no immediate plans to bring back either Service 4 (Dryburgh – Lochee – West End – City Centre) or Service 23 (Woodside – City Centre).    Therefore, for the immediate future the residents in these communities will be required to walk further to access other buses operating on the core routes.

Separately, as lockdown approached, the Council took the decision to withdraw its minibus operations from service – including the Blether Bus Services, the weekly Shoppers Bus and the Out & About trips.   More recently we have fielded a handful of enquiries about when these services might restart.  Given the elderly user group that would normally travel on these services, the compact design of the minibuses and the requirement to have these vehicles available for school runs (with additional hygiene measures) it is not our intention to restart these services in the immediate future.    We will keep the situation under review and take guidance from public health colleagues.  We will communicate any decisions with users as best we can using a number of different channels in the weeks ahead.

 The next couple of years will bring major challenges for the UK’s bus industry but we will work closely with all the bus operators in Dundee to give them as much support as possible as they face that challenge.”

I have spoken with many residents who miss the services that are currently not running.    For example, the loss of Service 4 adversely affects many older folk in the Magdalen Yard Road, Windsor Street and Roseangle areas as there is no other bus service there and, for many elderly residents, a steep uphill walk to Perth Road to the nearest bus services.    One resident in the area made what I felt was a very good suggestion of asking Xplore Dundee to temporarily do a minor re-routing of Service 17 to cover the area.

I raised this with the Managing Director of Xplore Dundee who replied as follows :

“I know this is very difficult, trust me, and I sympathise greatly with these communities. I understand why your constituent thinks this would be an easy fix and I do appreciate her suggestion, but it is not that easy. The 17 is established as a service for travelling to/from the district centre on Perth Road which would have to be missed in order to serve Magdalen Green and cause problems for existing users. Equally, the 17 is already quite a circuitous route between Ninewells and the City Centre so adding this in would not go down well with those who already use the service.

Clearly, the 17 is a core service carrying many passengers, although sadly many less than pre-Covid -we are currently at 59% of pre-Covid patronage. We believe that deviating from this core service and district centre would only switch off more customers from using the service than we would gain in going into this area. I hope you can appreciate that, despite really feeling for the people who are adversely affected, we could not encourage a further decline to our business in the present circumstances. We are having to make some really tough choices throughout this time as we don’t have the resources to do everything.

 I hope this at least answers your question and sorry I can’t give you better news.”

I will continue to pursue the issue of the lack of any bus service here and hope that it will be possible to restore Service 4 in the near future.

Update on bus service 4 #dundeewestend

Bus service 4 has not operated since the start of the COVID-19 health emergency.
As the only bus service covering Windsor Street, Magdalen Yard Road and Roseangle (as well as also passing Pentland and Logie), I asked Xplore Dundee if there is any chance of its resumption in the near future.
The company’s Operations Manager has responded as follows :
“Unfortunately, at this time, we are unable to operate service 4.   We have had to concentrate all of our resources on mainstream services to allow for physical distancing measures.    I cannot give you any indication of when this will change.”
I will, however, update residents further when there is any change to this.

Bus services in the West End #dundeewestend

With thanks to Suzy Scott, there’s an update to bus services in Dundee and across the wider region.    Changes take effect today and you can read this here.
Key changes that affect the West End are :
• Service 9/10 Outer Circle will see minor timetable changes every day (as a result of the 5 changes), including one extra early morning bus (06.24) from Barnhill to the City Centre and Ninewells Hospital. 
• Services 15/17 will now combine to provide buses every 12 minutes Monday-Friday daytime (combined), with 15 running 3 buses an hour and 17 running twice an hour.
• Service 22 Monday-Friday daytime Service is reduced to a bus every 10 minutes.
• Service 28/29 Monday-Friday daytime Service is reduced to a bus every 10 minutes (combined), 20 minutes (each of 28/29).

Buses update from 29th June 2020

From Dundee City Council :
From Monday, 29 June 2020, the commercial and supported bus network in Dundee will begin to return to something close to its pre-Covid levels.   Xplore Dundee and Stagecoach are proposing to operate around 80% to 85% of their registered journeys.   For the last three months around 30% of journeys have been operated.    To allow this to happen, there has been a deal negotiated between the Scottish Government and the bus industry and Transport Scotland has agreed to meet shortfalls in passenger revenue.  Full details can be found on operators’ websites.
In Dundee, the two supported services operated by Stagecoach East Scotland (Service 202 and Service 206) will commence operation again.  They were suspended in March 2020.  The other supported services, Service 236 operated by Moffat & Williamson and Service 9/10 (Outer Circle) operated by Xplore Dundee have continued to operate throughout lockdown. 
There is expected to be further changes in late summer which will hopefully see a further increase in frequencies and service provision.
Prior to lockdown, Xplore Dundee had consulted on a number of service changes that were due to take effect on 12 April 2020.  These changes will be implemented this weekend.
We will update all our real time information and all bus users are being asked to refer to Traveline Scotland and bus operator websites for accurate and up to date timetables.   We are not currently in a position to update roadside publicity but will keep this under review. 

COVID 19 emergency – Xplore Dundee bus service changes #dundeewestend

Further to the information I shared yesterday on my Facebook page about changes to Stagecoach Bus Services.   

This is the position regarding Xplore Dundee from tomorrow with links to the Xplore services in the West End.

Xplore Dundee advises :
“Due to the decision to close city schools, we are temporarily reducing service provision to public holiday levels. This will apply from Monday 23rd March.    Xplore Dundee is committed to doing its part to keep essential workers moving – those in hospitals, supermarkets and other frontline services. 
Frequencies on core services will reduce during the day, but most morning journeys will be maintained to ensure vital access to locations such as Ninewells Hospital.    Services 4 | 23 will be temporarily suspended – but we are in discussion with Dundee City Council about alternative provision in the meantime.*
We may move to further restrictions soon after this as things progress. We will keep this website and social media channels updated.”
* I have asked Dundee City Council for details of what can be provided to support the Service 4 route
Links to public holiday timetables that are for services that cover the West End :
Suzy Scott has kindly done a great job on the dundeebuses.info site of putting together comprehensive information on all bus services during the health emergency – see http://dundeebuses.info/?page_id=1624 
See also below from Suzy :


Perth Road bus services #dundeewestend

As residents will be aware, Xplore Dundee has unfortunately now confirmed it will press ahead from Sunday 13th January re-routing Service 5 up Glamis Road and Dickson Avenue and away from Perth Road west of Glamis Road.
I will continue to press Xplore to think again over this change as it disadvantages a large community in the western end of Perth Road.
However, in better news, the Stagecoach Service X54 is now stopping on Perth Road at Millbay Terrace and Clayhills Grove, meaning that – at last – there is a stopping bus service on Perth Road west of Ninewells Avenue.

Bus stop east of Harris Academy moved – trial basis

For some considerable time, along with nearby residents, Harris Academy and its Parent Council, I have suggested to the City Council that the westbound public bus stop on Perth Road that lies just east of Harris Academy should be moved very slightly west to in front of the school.
This would have the following advantages :
+ Far better standing area for passengers waiting for a bus as the plaza in front of the school is spacious.
+ Less crowded situation than where the current bus stop is when passengers are waiting at the stop and school pupils are exiting the school at the end of the school day.
+ The existing bus stop is extremely close to the School Crossing Patroller;  in front of the school is not.
There has been a lengthy debate with council transportation officers about this but, at last, a trial move has been agreed to ascertain how well this works – this will commence today.
This update was sent by a City Council transportation officer to Harris Academy last week which fully explains the trial period arrangements :
“I refer to the Harris Academy Parent Council Meeting of 8th March 2018 where (we) agreed to investigate the possibility of moving the bus stop for a trial period to monitor the effect of the bus stop move especially at the end of the of the school day.     I am pleased to confirm that we have agreed to move the bus stop into the bus lay-by in front of the main school entrance for a trial period to commence from Wednesday 9th May until Friday 1st June inclusive. 
Discussion have been ongoing with the bus operators who have agreed to the trial period being put in place.    The parking team has also been informed of this change and the necessary changes to the plate will be carried out on Tuesday 8th May 2018.     During the trial period the bus stop will be enforceable between the normal times of 0700hrs – 2300hrs where only buses will be legally able to wait.      The parking team have agreed to be in attendance on occasion during the trial period.
Can you please notify staff and parents that the bus stop will now be out of action for general vehicles use during the trial period and that any misuse may result in the vehicle receiving a Parking Charge Notice (PCN).
The transport team will monitor the effect of the local bus services using the revised stop during the trial period with a view to making a decision about the trial period becoming the permanent stop location.”
During this period, I would welcome any feedback from residents – many thanks.

Bus diversions during Glamis Road closure – an update #dundeewestend

Further to my update last Wednesday about bus diversions during the temporary closure of Glamis Road between the rounadbouts with Blackness Road and Dickson Avenue, the City Council has now advised of an amendment to this to accommodate access to Royal Victoria Hospital.
Here’s the council’s update :
“The Roads Maintenance Partnership has taken the decision to allow bus services X7/8 and 204 to access Royal Victoria Hospital.
Diversions for services X7/8 and 204 are now complicated and therefore not described in detail but in simple terms passengers normally boarding at Glamis Road can use Royal Victoria Hospital as a boarding point.
Due to the works bus services cannot stop on Glamis Road.
I think the vast majority of passengers will use the option of catching buses on Blackness Road or Ninewells Avenue.”
New public notice :

Sheltered Housing Shoppers’ Bus #dundeewestend

The City Council now operates the sheltered housing shoppers’ bus service that takes residents direct from their sheltered housing complex to a supermarket and then back to the complex after around an hour for shopping.    
The West End routes are as follows :
Tuesday Timetable :
Tullideph Place 1150
Logie Avenue/Gardens 1205
TESCO RIVERSIDE – arrive 1225
TESCO RIVERSIDE – depart 1325
Thursday Timetable :
Corso Street 1000
Pennycook Lane 1005
Muirlands 1010
Patons Lane 1015
TESCO RIVERSIDE – arrive 1015
TESCO RIVERSIDE – depart 1125
I have requested that the Morven Terrace Sheltered Housing is included in future (I’ve discussed this previously with the tenants) and have been advised by the council’s Travel Care Officer that :
“I have spoken with the driver and I think there is time to accommodate a pick up at Morven Terrace on Tuesday – around midday. The bus will take the shoppers to Tesco Riverside.     …  we will count the number of passengers travelling from Tullideph Place and Logie Avenue/Gardens to ensure there is sufficient space for any additional passengers from Morven Terrace. Once I have an answer I will liaise with the warden.”

Bus diversions during Glamis Road closure #dundeewestend

From the City Council :
Service 22/73 towards Ninewells: Normal route to Blackness Road then left turn into Glamis Road – Perth Road – Ninewells Avenue – Dickson Avenue and then follow normal route. 
Service 22/73 towards City Centre: Normal route to Dickson Avenue then via Ninewells Avenue – Perth Road – Glamis Road – Blackness Road and then follow normal route. 
Service 23S towards Harris Academy: Normal route to Dickson Avenue then via Ninewells Avenue – Perth Road –and then follow normal route. 
Service 23S towards Dryburgh: Normal route to Perth Road then via Ninewells Avenue Dickson Avenue and then follow normal route. 
Service 204 towards Ninewells: Normal route to Glamis Drive then right turn into Glamis Road – Perth Road – Ninewells Avenue – Glamis Road and then follow normal route. Royal Victoria Hospital will not be served by bus services.
Service 204 towards City Centre: Normal route to Glamis Road then via Ninewells Avenue – Perth Road, left into Glamis Road – Glamis Drive and then follow normal route. Royal Victoria Hospital will not be served by bus services.
Service X7/8 towards Perth: Normal route to Blackness Road then left via Glamis Road – Perth Road – Tom McDonald Avenue to Ninewells Hospital. Royal Victoria Hospital will not be served by bus services. 
Service X7/8 towards Aberdeen: Depart Ninewells Hospital via Tom McDonald Avenue – Perth Road – Glamis Road – Blackness Road and follow normal route. Royal Victoria Hospital will not be served by bus services.
Should you require further information please call :
Xplore Dundee – 340015 or Stagecoach – 01241 437978

Bus changes from 14th August – an update

As residents will be aware, I have now spoken with the Managing Director of Stagecoach East Scotland and met with the Managing Director of Xplore Dundee about the bus changes proposed for next Sunday – 14th August.
In particular, I have raised concerns about the lack of services covering the Scott Street/Glenagnes Road/Peddie Street areas and also the detrimental affects of re-routing Service 5 off part of Perth Road west of Glamis Road and the removal of Stagecoach Service 77 and reduction and re-routing of their Service 16.
With thanks to Suzy Scott of dundeebuses.info, she has published a full document of all the changes that is available here.    This is really useful as it lists the changes across the whole city and covering all bus providers.
If any resident wishes to speak with me about the changes, do please give me a call on 459378 or e-mail buschanges@frasermacpherson.org.uk.

Harris Academy pupils – bus options from August

The map below indicates the bus options available to Harris Academy pupils from the start of the new academic year in August – this includes new school bus routes as well as service bus options :
You can download a full leaflet about transport options for pupils here – it includes a high-definition copy of this map.    In addition to this, I am anxious to see additional Stagecoach Service 16 buses to ensure the far west of Perth Road and Perth & Kinross domiciled pupils have adequate transport options.

Future of the 204 bus service settled

A number of residents have contacted me recently about the future of the 204/204a bus service.   
The contracts for the council-subsidised bus services – that aim to ensure streets otherwise not served by bus services – are up for renewal from mid-August and passenger surveys have been undertaken about usage.
The 204/204a has not been the best-performing of similar services – the ‘split’ part route meaning that for much of the route the services is only every two hours has made it difficult to built up passenger loyalty.   On the current “204 version” (as opposed to the 204a) there have been challenges with parts of the route (narrow streets with parked cars).
The good news is that the 204 service will continue with a new contract from August.     The council’s Sustainable Transport Team Leader advised me earlier today :
“The contracts were exchanged yesterday.  You can advise constituents that the Service 204 is to continue – but in a revised format.  To be operated by Stagecoach Strathtay from 15 August 2016.”
The revised route centres on the old 204a route (the version that includes Royal Victoria Hospital) – see route pictured above right.

This will ensure an hourly service throughout the route.    If any resident has a query about the 204 service, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Bus Service 203 – diversion from next Monday

I previously advised of the changes to bus routes for Xplore Dundee services whilst the current roadworks on part of Perth Road are taking place.    
From Monday (23rd), the Sinderins junction itself will be resurfaced (this will take up to a week).    This will require a diversion for bus service 203 and Xplore Dundee advise it will follow the diversion below:
Normal route to Perth Road, then left into Roseangle, following on to Magdalen Yard Road, right into Windsor Street, Perth Road, Hyndford Street, Blackness Avenue and then Seymour Street.
The route will be followed in reverse when heading towards the City Centre.

203, 204 and 204a bus service diversions during Perth Road roadworks

Earlier today, I advised of the changes to bus routes for Xplore Dundee services when the roadworks on part of Perth Road start next Monday.     However, the poster did not include details of the services tendered by the City Council (the 203, 204 and 204a).     Xplore Dundee now advises the following with the 204/204a services :
Service 204 (to the City Centre)
Normal route to Corso Street, then left into Blackness Avenue, Sinderins junction, left into Perth Road and then normal route from Nethergate.
Service 204a (to the City Centre)
Normal route to Newhall Gardens and Perth Road, then left into Glamis Road, right into Blackness Road, right into Blackness Avenue Sinderins junction, left into Perth Road and then normal route from Nethergate. 
Service 204 (from the City Centre)
Normal route to Nethergate, then carry on to Perth Road, Sinderins junction, right into Blackness Avenue and then normal route from Corso Street.
Service 204a (from the City Centre)
Normal route to Nethergate, then carry on to Perth Road, Sinderins junction, right into Blackness Avenue, left into Blackness Road, left into Glamis Road, and then normal route from Perth Road. 
Phase 2 (the Sinderins junction closure – third week only – not until 23rd May) will affect service 203 – but Dundee City Council is still considering which option to go with, once a route viability test has been carried out on some of the streets in the Blackness/West End area.

Perth Road – temporary bus diversions from Monday

Further to my recent update about the temporary closure of Perth Road between the Sinderins junction and West Park Road from Monday (9th May) for road resurfacing work, Xplore Dundee has kindly given me the following information about temporary bus diversions.    
The poster below covers Xplore Dundee services, but similar diversions apply to Stagecoach 16 and 77 services too :

Meeting with Xplore Dundee

Yesterday, I met with the Managing Director of Xplore Dundee and two of her colleagues about local bus services in the West End.
The good news is that, from 24th April, Xplore Dundee is issuing revised timetables for the 9/10 service which, with additional resource being added into the service, aims to tackle reliability issues and will hopefully ensure the service runs to timetable at all times.    The new timetable for the 9/10 will be a combined timetable with the 5 service which, given the partially shared route, will be of assistance to passengers.
We also had a useful discussion about inter-operator bus ticketing, likely to come to Dundee this summer, which is good news from passengers and a step towards the Saltire Card functionality becoming a reality, which, in later phases, will allow cash to be put onto a inter-operator card and use on other modes of transport.

Bus shelter – Perth Road – a further update

Back in July, I updated residents about my request of the City Council to provide a bus shelter on Perth Road at either the Rockfield Street or Windsor Street stops, given how exposed it is there.   At that time, the council hoped to provide one later in the year.
As this has not yet happened, I asked the council for an update and was advised as follows:
“We have recently relocated seven of our existing bus shelters to new sites.  Unfortunately, Perth Road at Rockfield Street was not one of the selected sites for the shelters to be relocated to.   It’s still on our list, and currently there is no site ahead of it on our scoring system.  I had not been minded to acquire new shelters when we still had redundant shelters dotted around the city – but these are beginning to reduce in number.  
At the Perth Road site, footway width is a limitation, which means only the narrower style of shelter can be accommodated.    While I would not completely rule out a move or a new shelter this winter, I think it is now unlikely.  I will however review our approach to shelter requests in light of the issue this e-mail exchange has highlighted (i.e. lack of ‘redundant’ narrow shelters).”
I have responded asking that all effort is made to attempt to get this resolved before the bad winter weather and I will keep residents updated.

Bus changes affecting the West End

There will be changes to National Express Dundee bus services from Sunday 13th September (and the company will be rebranding locally as Xplore Dundee this autumn too).

I am grateful to Suzy Scott of dundeebuses.info for the detailed breakdown below (in which I highlight only the changes as they affect the West End) – these are now in the public domain, having been published by the Traffic Commissioners in their weekly Notices and Proceedings.
There are significant changes across the city but the changes that particularly impact on the West End are as follows :
Service 5, X5 – Ninewells Hospital to Balgillo (and Outer Circle between these places) :
•        A revised timetable, with all buses running as Service 5. 
•        All buses will run to and from Ninewells Hospital via Perth Road and Tom McDonald Avenue. Technology Park to be served by the Outer Circle, with Gowrie Park served by the 29.    Please see my comments below about the negative impact on the very far west part of Perth Road.
•        The daytime service of every 7-8 minutes during the day (some as Outer Circle) Monday to Saturdays continues, with buses doubled between the City Centre and Ninewells Hospital, as almost all buses will now run through. 
•        Sundays will have two buses an hour from Ninewells Hospital to City Centre, with four buses an hour from City Centre to Balgillo.   Evening service is part of revised Services 9A/10A.
Services 9-12 Outer Circle :
• Service much simplified, with buses now showing 9 Clockwise Mon-Sat daytimes, 9A Mon-Sat evenings and Sundays, 10 Anti-Clockwise Mon-Sat daytimes, 10A Mon-Sat evenings and Sundays.   Two morning buses will continue to by-pass Douglas as Service 9C. Monday-Saturday services will be every half hour, with a Sunday half-hourly service between Ninewells and Balgillo, and hourly elsewhere on the route.
• Between City Centre and Ninewells Hospital, buses will operate direct along Perth Road and Tom McDonald Avenue.    Blackness Avenue, Balgay Park, Pentland Avenue and City Road will now be served by Service 17, and also served by Services 51, 203 and 204. Glamis Road and Elmwood Road will still be covered by Services 204A and 205. 
Services 15, 17 Whitfield to Technology Park :
• Between City Centre and The Friary, Service 17 is rerouted via Perth Road, Sinderins, Blackness Avenue, City Road, and onto Tullideph Road.   This replaces the Outer Circle section between Sinderins & The Friary.
• Most daytime buses on the 17 will now terminate at Ninewells Hospital, with some peak time buses extended to Medipark and Technology Park. Gowrie Park will now be covered by Service 29 all day, while the off peak buses to the Technology Park will be provided by the Outer Circle.
• Service 17 will run every half hour on evenings and Sundays, as now, thus then providing more buses to Blackness Avenue and Pentland Avenue.
Services 28, 29 Douglas to Charleston :
• Service 29 no longer serves Asda Myrekirk Road.  Service 28 will continue to do so.   No effect on West End part of the route (Lochee Road).
• Bus times are now standardised, Monday to Friday, at the same times.   Service will be gradually converted to only double deck buses.
Commentary :   There are clearly significant changes for the West End (and, indeed, across the city).   In particular, the 9/10 service no longer serving Blackness, Pentland, Tullideph areas but instead going right along Perth Road as far as Tom McDonald Avenue;  the 17 no longer serving the Lochee Road area but instead picking up the Blackness, Pentland, Tullideph areas that the 9/10 used to serve, and the 5 no longer serving the very far west end of Perth Road west of the roundabout at the bottom of Ninewells Avenue.   The latter area will continue to the served by the hourly Stagecoach 16 service.
Prior to the changes becoming public with the submission to the Traffic Commissioners, I met with the Managing Director of National Express Dundee and with the company’s Operations Manager, to discuss the proposals.    
Many of the changes across the city are positive with increased frequencies and simplified timetables.     However, some of the changes are disappointing – back in 2012, I organised a petition (that hundreds signed) against the removal of Service 5 from the far west part of Perth Road and the Technology Park – a decision that was thankfully reversed – so it is disappointing to see the areas around Millbay Terrace, Millbay Gardens, Clovis Duveau Drive and the far west of Perth Road losing National Express Dundee services (although the Stagecoach 16 service will continue to cover the area).
There are also changes to the timetable for the X7 hospital bus service (between Royal Victoria Hospital, Ninewells Hospital and Perth Royal Infirmary) from 17th August.  You can download the new timetable here.

X7 hospital bus service – an update

Residents will recall that in recent months, my LibDem colleague Cllr Willie Wilson of Perth and Kinross Council and I have highlighted the problems the X7 hospital link bus service causes many constituents who are elderly or who have mobility difficulties, given the style of bus used.
I advised last month that Willie had written to Sir Brian Souter, Chairman of the Stagecoach Group, requesting that he intervenes in this matter.
Willie has now received a rather disappointing reply from Stagecoach that you can read here.
Willie has now issued the following news release about the situation – reported in today’s Courier.   We will both continue to campaign for a better style of bus or coach to be used in this service :
X7 Bus Service
Willie Wilson, Scottish Liberal Democrat Councillor for Perth South has been campaigning on behalf of local residents to request Stagecoach to replace the type of coach provided on the X7 Bus Service, the hospital inter-link bus between Perth Royal Infirmary and Ninewells Hospital.  He is being supported in this campaign by his Scottish Liberal Democrat colleague on Dundee City Council, Councillor Fraser Macpherson.  In addition, all three other local members for Perth South area, Councillor Bob Band, Councillor Alistair Munro and Councillor Alexander Stewart, strongly support the moves taken by Councillor Wilson.
Following receipt of the response from Mr Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of the Stagecoach Group, Councillor Wilson said:
“This is an extremely disappointing response.  It just really ignores the total issue.  There is adequate testimony to indicate that the buses are not suitable for inter-hospital transport between PRI, Ninewells and Royal Victoria Hospital.  We have had numerous complaints from residents; both in Dundee and Perth, on the matter and, apart from some very minor adjustments to the buses, Stagecoach have failed to address this.  The response is totally unacceptable.  
I am writing back to the Chief Executive asking him to join me on the bus one day on a return journey between the two hospitals so that he can see for himself the difficulty that people have in gaining access to the bus, climbing the stairs and negotiating the narrow passage, especially when the bus is moving.
I am really disappointed that a huge company like Stagecoach cannot set their minds to resolving the problem rather than just repeating information they have already given and indicating that passenger numbers have increased so that’s all that matters.  The public deserve better.”

X7 hospital bus link – an update

Cllr Willie Wilson
In the past few months, my LibDem colleague Cllr Willie Wilson of Perth & Kinross Council and I have highlighted the problems the X7 hospital link bus service causes many constituents who are elderly or who have mobility difficulties, given the style of bus used.
Although we secured some concessions from the bus operators Stagecoach at a meeting we held with them back in January, no early commitment to replace the coach type could be given.
I am therefore pleased that Willie has now written to Sir Brian Souter, Chairman of the Stagecoach Group requesting that he intervenes in this matter.   Both Willie and I have continued to receive concerns from constituents about the unsuitability of the coach type for the hospital service.
Here’s Willie’s letter to Sir Brian – I’ll keep residents updated as to Sir Brian’s response when Willie receives this :
13 June 2015
Sir Brian Souter
Stagecoach Ltd
Dear Sir
X7 Bus Service – Perth Royal Infirmary to Aberdeen
As you may be aware, grave concerns have been expressed by many users of the above service.  The type of bus provided by Stagecoach is completely unsuitable for inter-hospital transport.  
I am advised by Andrew Jarvis that it is not within his remit to seek replacement coaches within the Stagecoach Group.  Perhaps this is something you could look at personally.  It may be possible to replace the buses with others in a couple of years’ time; however the public cannot wait this length of time for an improvement.  I have received numerous complaints regarding the steep stairs on the bus and the lack of disability access and seating.
Can you please advise if it is possible to exchange the buses on this route for some others that have improved disability and low floor access?
I look forward to your reply.
Yours faithfully
Councillor Willie Wilson

X7 hospital bus problems – outcomes from meeting with Stagecoach

Further to my article on 15th January about the X7 hospital bus service, my Perth & Kinross Council colleague Cllr Willie Wilson and I have now met with Stagecoach about the issues affecting the service – mainly related to the bus type used.    This has been reported in the Courier and the Evening Telegraph.
I reproduce below the news release issued to update constituents about the outcomes from what was a productive meeting :
Following a meeting held in Perth on Thursday, 22 January 2015, some positive outcomes have been agreed between Perth & Kinross Council, Dundee City Council and Stagecoach East Scotland regarding accessibility arrangements to the new X7 Link Bus Service.  The meeting was attended by Councillor Willie Wilson, Perth and Kinross Council, Councillor Fraser Macpherson, Dundee City Council, Officers from the Transport Units of both Councils, a representative from NHS Tayside and Mr Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director for Stagecoach East Scotland.
The meeting agreed a number of short-term measures that could be taken to try and improve accessibility; some of which have already been progressed by Stagecoach East Scotland.  These include alterations to the arrangements for locating wheelchairs within the coach and changes to the on-board CCTV system to allow better driver observation of people who may wish to leave the service.  In addition, Stagecoach are to review the availability of handrails that are of assistance to customers within the coach.  The company advised that they are in discussions about making the headroom greater in the stairwell area of the coach.  A review has already been carried out of the buzzer arrangements whereby people can alert the driver of the requirement to stop.
In addition to the above modifications of the existing bus, both Councils and Stagecoach are to examine opportunities for extending some journeys of the 16A Bus Service to Perth Royal Infirmary.  This would provide an alternative link between the two hospitals for passengers who find the X7 Service too difficult to access.  The meeting also heard that the increased passenger usage of this service had already approached nearly 20% in total (compared to the former X7 and 333 services).  This included a 12% increase on the former 333 Route between Ninewells Hospital and Perth Royal Infirmary.
Speaking following the meeting, Councillor Willie Wilson said:
“The meeting was constructive, led to agreement on a considerable number of small improvements to the existing bus which I hope will help passengers with accessibility.  In addition, if we can make changes to the 16A Service and allow a direct link between Perth Royal Infirmary and Ninewells using that service, it will at least provide an alternative journey for people who find it impossible to use the X7.  In the longer term however, we have pressed Stagecoach to provide a better form of coach on this service.”
Following the meeting, Mr Andrew Jarvis of Stagecoach said:
“I was pleased to meet Councillors Wilson and Macpherson to discuss the X7 and highlight the tremendous growth in customers the newly combined X7 and 333 has generated.  The new coaches meet all relevant accessibility legislation and are supremely comfortable vehicles to travel on.  However, we do acknowledge that other than for two seats, the rest of the seating requires the use of steps to enable access, which some customers have expressed concerns about.
We do operate the alternative 16A service every hour between Ninewells Hospital and Perth City Centre using low floor buses for those that struggle with steps.  We will now work with Perth & Kinross Council to see if amendments are possible to the 16A to allow some journeys to extend beyond Perth City Centre to the Royal Infirmary.”
Councillor Fraser Macpherson of Dundee City Council added:
“Stagecoach has acknowledged that there is an issue with access to the current vehicles.  We have all agreed that this needs to be remedied and, in addition to short term measures agreed at the meeting, we are all looking towards medium term when more suitable buses can be introduced to the route.  This largely depends on user numbers, but if the current trend continues then we will have a strong case to press the company to renew the coaches dedicated to the route.”

X7 hospital bus problems – meeting with Stagecoach agreed

Further to my recent article about concerns from residents regarding the problems the bus type is causing on the X7 hospital bus service between PRI and Ninewells Hospital, my colleague Cllr Willie Wilson of Perth and Kinross Council has issued this news release on behalf of his council colleague Cllr Alexander Stewart and myself :
A meeting date has been agreed between Scottish Liberal Democrat Councillor, Willie Wilson, and Councillor Fraser Macpherson to discuss the accessibility and suitability of the type of coaches used for the new X7 service from PRI to Ninewells Hospital and Aberdeen.  Councillor Willie Wilson is the Scottish Liberal Democrat Councillor for Perth South in the City of Perth and Fraser Macpherson is the Scottish Liberal Democrat Councillor for the West End Ward in the City of Dundee.  Councillor Alexander Stewart, their Scottish Conservative and Unionist colleague for Perth City South, has also been invited to attend the meeting.  
Stagecoach have now agreed to a meeting to be held on Thursday, 22 January 2015.  As well as the local councillors and representatives of Stagecoach, the meeting will be attended by representatives of the Public Transport Units of Dundee City Council and Perth and Kinross Council.  
Complaints have previously been received regarding the new service about accessibility and suitability for a whole variety of passengers.  The new coaches only have one space for a wheelchair, have no dedicated built-in access ramp and the amount of seating on the lower deck is restricted to only two cramped seats immediately behind the driver.  There are no facilities for buggies and prams to be taken on the coach apart from them being dismantled and loaded into the boot.  
In addition, if a wheelchair ramp is required it has to be taken out of the boot by the driver in all weathers, put in place and then replaced in the boot once the wheelchair passenger has been secured into the space at the front of the bus.  The stairs on the coach are particularly difficult to negotiate if anyone suffers from visual impairment or orthopaedic injuries.  In addition, passengers with heart conditions and those who find it difficult to negotiate the stairs on a moving bus find the coaches very difficult to handle.
Councillor Willie Wilson said:
“The buses are three quarter million pounds each and appear to be designed for inter-city travel, not inter-hospital work.”
Councillor Fraser Macpherson said:
“We need to have this meeting to emphasise to Stagecoach the unsuitability of the types of vehicles that are provided on this service, particularly between Ninewells Hospital and Perth Royal Infirmary.”
Councillor Alexander Stewart, who has always taken a keen interest in anything to do with Perth Royal Infirmary, said that he added his support to the efforts to have the type of coaches reviewed:
“I welcome this meeting and hope that it will lead to a serious review of the type of bus which is provided on the route, whilst the improvements to timetabling and frequency of buses will be greatly welcomed and it would appear that the company have chosen the wrong type of coach for inter-hospital travel.”