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 :
 
PUBLIC NOTICE
 
GLAMIS ROAD WILL CLOSE FROM 
NINEWELLS AVENUE – BLACKNESS ROAD
ON MONDAY 19 FEBRUARY FOR 2 WEEKS. 
 
BUS SERVICE DIVERIONS
 
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
Chairman
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.”

X7 hospital bus problems – a solution needed

Some weeks ago, I updated residents about the impending change to the Dundee-Perth 333 hospital bus service – now the X7.    
 
The new bus’s timetable is an improvement on the 333 timetable but as my Perth councillor colleague Cllr Willie Wilson pointed out in the Courier last week, the type of bus being used, with hardly any downstairs seats, is a huge disappointment.
 
Here in Dundee, I have had many complaints, just as Willie has had from his Perth constituents.    As one of my own West End constituents pointed out :
 
“The new bus is no doubt top-of -the range if you are going Perth-Aberdeen, but not so suitable for anyone with mobility difficulties.    Two seats only behind the driver for people like myself (at 91) who find stairs difficult.  
 
Last week a young disabled girl at the South Street (Perth) bus stop said to me that if the two seats were occupied when the X7 came she would have to wait for the country bus to Dundee, taking an hour, as she was unable to climb stairs.”   
 
I have had a fair bit of correspondence with Stagecoach, NHS Tayside’s Chief Executive and Dundee City Council about this concern.     The Managing Director of Stagecoach East Scotland has written to me as follows :
 
“The service does not just serve the hospital and like any successful route it has a myriad of users and demands. The X7 element of the route has only been running for just over three years and the 48 seat vehicles were already proving to be too small at certain times of day, so the increase in size of coach was required. 
 
Depending where the constituents live, from Ninewells we have the Tayway 73 service running every 10 minutes in to to town, the 16A running every hour to Perth in one direction and to town in the other, as well as the hourly 77 service and the X42 – all of these are operated with low floor vehicles without steps in the front area of the vehicle. 
 
We will of course continue to monitor and review the performance of the service and the complaint levels.”
 
I really do think an urgent rethink by Stagecoach is required.   The coach-style vehicle is simply not the appropriate sort of vehicle for a service that links hospitals.   

Bus shelters in the West End

Two bus shelter queries!    Firstly, a constituent contacted me as follows :
 
“The new bus shelter at Elliot Road. Why does it not  have sides as the majority of others do along Blackness Road. It is actually very drafty.”
 
The City Council’s Sustainable Transport Team Leader advised by response :
 
“The pavement width at this location was too narrow to accommodate anything other than a minimal cantilever shelter.  ‘Sides’ would have blocked the passage of people along the pavement.  Lack of space on the pavement is possibly the most common reason why we cannot relocate shelters more readily.   This one is actually a brand new bus shelter and has been positioned so it provides protection from the prevailing winds.  
 
There is currently no power supply to this location and this will be progressed with our colleagues in street lighting over the coming weeks.  I will ask my team to ensure that there is printed information provided within the shelter.”
 
Another – unrelated – query was as follows :
 
“I would like to ask when the Perth Road bus stop sign opposite the Invercarse Hotel is to be reinstated. When new street lighting was put in the bus stop sign and information board vanished. The “BUS STOP” paintwork is still on the road and so far buses ( X5  and 16 ) have stopped to let me off but one driver this morning asked if the bus was meant to stop there as he did not usually do the route. It is a busy stop for people wanting the Invercarse, Botanic Gardens and of course local residents.”
 
On this query, the Sustainable Transport Team Leader advised :
 
“Your constituent’s query has caused us to scratch our heads.
None of my team were aware that the bus stop pole was missing and having made a few calls the trail has gone cold.  We don’t know how, why or when the pole was removed.   If you are able to ask your constituent how long they think the bus stop has been missing, I would be very interested to hear back from you.   My best guess is that it went missing following an unreported traffic accident.
We will get the pole replaced as soon as possible.”
 
He has thereafter updated as follows :
 
“I have now been advised that there was a road traffic accident on 11 May 2014 and that lighting column and bus stop were knocked down at that time.
I will look into the reporting mechanisms to try and work out why it appears this was not passed to us (Sustainable Transport) at the time.”

Changes to 333 hospital link bus service

From Monday 24th November 2014, Service X7 (Dundee – Montrose – Aberdeen) will extend beyond Dundee to serve Perth Royal Infirmary.    After Dundee Bus Station, the stops of this service will be Dundee Rail Station, West Port, Sinderins, Royal Victoria Hospital, then via the current stops of Service 333.

This will run every hour Monday to Saturday, with as two-hourly Perth service on Sundays (the original Aberdeen – Dundee route remains hourly).
 
This will be a much-enhanced replacement for Hospital Link Service 333 (Royal Victoria Hospital/Ninewells Hospital/Perth Royal Infirmary), which will no longer operate after Friday 21st November 2014.
 
Many thanks to Suzy Scott from www.dundeebuses.info for this update.