Have your say on transport

Dundee Voluntary Action and Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership are working together to see what accessible transport solutions can be created to help people with issues accessing public transport, to help them get out and do what they want to do.    
 
There is clearly a gap in transport for people who do not drive and are not able to access public transport.
 
It is vital that residents who are elderly, disabled, frail and vulnerable have an accessible transport option to reduce isolation for the people who currently cannot get out and about.
 
A consultation is underway and it closes on 30th September – you can take part here.
 
There is also a drop-in event at the Lime Street Sheltered Lounge from 2pm to 4pm on Tuesday 3rd October.    All welcome!
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Dundee Community Transport – new wheelchair dedicated service

As many residents will already be aware, Dundee Community Transport is a local charity that provides an affordable and accessible transport service for Dundee’s over 65 community.
 
It has secured funding to trial a wheelchair dedicated service as part of its very popular Community Cars project and yesterday, I was delighted to attend the launch event and official ribbon cutting ceremony at the City Chambers.
 
Amongst the speakers was Jan Goodall (pictured right at the event) – Jan was Dundee Community Transport’s first chair when it was formed back in 2005 and she has been a tireless and effective campaigner for community transport in Dundee.
 
You can read more about Dundee Community Transport here.
 
Later yesterday, I attended the latest meeting of the Jericho House support group, a regular meeting at which a number of us discuss fundraising and other projects to support this important facility in the West End Ward, that assists those recovering from alcoholism.    
 
We had an excellent discussion about a number of matters including Jericho House participating in “Drink the Musical!” now taking part in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the house obtaining a new minibus and the successful improvements to the house’s back garden/seating area.

Progress with multi-operator bus ticketing in Dundee

I was quoted in the Evening Telegraph and interviewed on Wave 102 yesterday welcoming the launch of multi-operator bus ticketing – now likely to take place later this summer – which will allow customers to use one bus smartcard to travel on both Xplore Dundee and Stagecoach buses.
 
The ability to use different operators’ buses with the same smartcard will be a great advantage to bus users across Dundee – constituents regularly complain that, having purchased a weekly or monthly bus pass from one bus operator, they can only use buses from that company.
 
The multi-operator bus ticketing in Dundee will greatly improve flexibility of bus use for passengers in the city.    As I understand it, the new system when introduced will allow passengers to store multi-operator tickets electronically on a smartcard rather than using paper tickets and will be able to travel on different buses using one smartcard.   This will also be better value for money, reducing the need to purchase multiple tickets.
 
The country’s major bus companies – Stagecoach, Xplore Dundee, Lothian Buses, McGill’s and First  – will deliver the smart ticketing on buses across the country during 2016-17.     Elsie Turbyne, Managing Director of Xplore Dundee, told me this week, “It is likely to be late summer.  I cannot commit to a final date until testing is complete.”
 
After introduction later in the summer for buses only, the project is expected to extend to rail, ferries and the Glasgow subway at a later stage.   Technical work on the scheme has already begun, building upon existing smart platforms already used by operators which conform to the UK-wide Government ITSO standard.     The longer-term goal is the full Scotland-wide Saltire Card scheme that will be developed and delivered by Transport Scotland, and which will enable customers to top up their smartcards with funds – similar to the way an Oyster card works in London.
 
The Saltire Card to hopefully mirror the functionality of the Oyster Card in London – to allow passengers to use one card that allows them to use different operators and different modes of travel – has been a long time coming to Scotland.    However, it is good to learn the first stage – a smartcard for buses that can be used on both Xplore Dundee and Stagecoach buses in the city – is a great step forward and will be a positive move for many Dundee bus users.

Progress with the ‘Saltire Card’

Back in October 2012, I called on Dundee City Council to be at the forefront in progressing the Scottish Government’s “Saltire Card” by offering to be a pilot site for the proposed Scottish equivalent of the Oyster Travel Card that has been a huge success for public transport in London. There is a real need to make public transport as accessible as possible and having a card that passengers can use for travel on trains, different bus operators and other public transport is essential to make travel easier and possibly cheaper.The council took up the role as lead authority in moving the “Saltire Card” forward and I recently asked council officers for an update on progress. I was advised as follows by the council’s National Entitlement Card Development Manager:

“The Bursary Travel Product is now live with Dundee College and has been extended to all students wishing to participate who are in receipt of a travel Bursary as well as for those who would like to purchase the product themselves. The evaluation was very heartening with the headline being ” 90% of students said they are more likely to go to college even if they have no money that day.”

The National Express weekly smart ticket is also now available to all citizens via the National Entitlement Card and having an NEC makes it easier for them to sign up to this smart product. The partnership working with National Express continues to grow and we are currently hoping to implement smart travel for Modern Apprentices who are entitled to support for travel to and from work. Anticipated implementation for this is to coincide with National Modern Apprenticeship Week – 19th May. We are hoping for a joint launch between the council and National Express. We continue to work with Stagecoach although there has been little progress with this as yet.

All the above fall within the Smart and Integrated Ticketing Workstream of the Scottish Cities Alliance and Dundee City Council continues to lead this, adding more smart travel projects from the wealth of ideas we have accrued. Other possibilites of course include Staff Travel as well as schools transport.

As an aside we are also shortlisted for an OSCA for the Bursary Travel Project in the Improving Services through partnership working category.”

Oyster

In response, I indicated that the concept of the Saltire Card was to allow all citizens to have a Scottish equivalent of something like the Oyster card to enable them to use different modes of public transport (I am thinking primarily of trains and buses) and different transport providers using the same payment card.
myki
The progress is welcome but it’s a long way short of allowing all citizens to use a card as flexible and useful as the citizens of (for example) London have. I pointed out the flexibility of these cards in cities across the world – a great example being Melbourne’s Myki card, which is very easy for visitors as well as residents to use across various modes of travel.I thereafter received further clarification as follows:

“You are correct that the idea is to use the NEC / Saltire Card are the basis for integrated ticketing across Scotland. Transport Scotland’s Smart and Integrated Ticketing Strategy is driving this forward from the main transport objective.

The Cities Alliance Smart and Integrated Ticketing Workstream, which Dundee leads, will be the main deliverer of this and has just approved 4 Project Manager posts to roll out smart travel across the City Regions. It is still some way off yet but the good news is that we have proven here in Dundee that commercial products can be added to the NEC and the partnership working gains strength from using a nationally available smartcard for national travel products. The smart application is there – what needs to come now is the integrated part and that as I say lies within Transport Scotland’s accountability.

(Their website) provides more details of their plans.

You will see that Transport Scotland is including the development of a visitor card which will be akin to the Myki Card. That will of course need the basis in place on the NEC before that can come and Transport Scotland’s role in that is crucial.”

Call for Dundee to be at forefront of “Scottish Oyster Card”

Saltire Card would operate
similarly to the London
Oyster Card.

I have called on Dundee City Council to be at the forefront in progressing the Scottish Government’s “Saltire Card” by offering to be a pilot site for the proposed Scottish equivalent of the Oyster Travel Card that has been a huge success for public transport in London.

Having been the City Council’s Planning & Transport Convener and a former chair of the regional transport partnership TACTRAN, I am only too well-aware that there is a real need to make public transport as accessible as possible and having a card that passengers can use for travel on trains, different bus operators and other public transport will make travel easier and possibly cheaper.
 
I have recently had feedback from Eric Guthrie, Director of TACTRAN, on the Saltire Card issue and Mr Guthrie is to be meeting with Transport Scotland later this month about this integrated ticketing initiative.  He has advised me:
 
“As you are aware TACTRAN has supported the need to extend Smart ticketing across the public transport system, both regionally and nationally.   We will be clearer on the opportunities and likely timescales regionally once we have met with Transport Scotland and I’m happy to update you on progress.”
 
The Oyster Card in London has been a great success in allowing people to pay for different forms of public transport use with the same card without the need to carry exact fare with them, and its made public transport all the more accessible for people.    Having recently had a family visit to Melbourne, their equivalent – the Myki card – is an excellent way to travel to your destination, changing between train, tram and bus seamlessly.  I can see great benefits for Dundee and, as it is clear that the Scottish Government wishes to pursue the Saltire Card initiative through a series of pilot projects, I want to see Dundee City Council take the initiative here by offering to be involved at an early stage.
 
I have written to the City Council’s Head of Transportation, suggesting that the City Council engage with the regional transport partnership and with Scottish Government to move this forward for Dundee.    
 
At least some of the pilot work on the Saltire Card will be Commonwealth Games focussed and whilst that is understandable, it is important that it moves forward in various parts of Scotland, not just in the areas closest to the centre of the games in Glasgow.    
 
Dundee has high usage of public transport and will make an ideal pilot location.   There are real benefits for the travelling public and I want to see Dundee included at the earliest opportunity.

Demand Responsive Transport and Park and Ride – an update

I have received a number of residents’ enquiries recently about progress in getting park and ride in Dundee – particularly to the west and south of the city.   

Having moved forward the Park and Ride issue when I was chair of TACTRAN, the regional transport partnership, between 2007 and 2009, I asked TACTRAN for an update on the issue, and also on moves towards community transport (Demand Responsive Transport or DRT) that would be a boon for those who have difficulty using the main bus services or who have a poor bus service at present.  

The TACTRAN response is below :

“Park & Ride at south side of Tay Bridge
This project is being taken forward jointly with Tactran, Sestran, Transport Scotland, Dundee City Council and Fife Council.  As you’ll no doubt be aware a site identified as “Landfall Site” located on an area across the road from the existing Tay Road Bridge car park, was identified through the joint study as the preferred site and would include 350 car park spaces and be serviced by existing bus services passing the site.  However, the land was not allocated for Park & Ride within the draft St Andrews and East Fife Local Plan and Tactran and Sestran formally objected to this lack of allocation.  The St Andrews and East Fife Local Plan examination commenced in June 2011 during which the issue of Park & Ride at the Landfall site will be considered by the Reporter.  We are therefore waiting for the outcome of the examination at present before taking this project forward.  The best guess I have from Fife Planning Officers is that they expect the examination process to take around 9 months, but nothing official has been received regarding this timescale.
Dundee West Park & Ride
A Technical Report and Outline Business Case for Dundee West Park & Ride was recently completed and reported to Tactran Partnership meeting in June.  This was taken forward by a Steering Group consisting of Tactran, Dundee City Council and Transport Scotland and also keeping NHS Tayside informed of progress.  The study provided detailed designs for two possible sites, both with 400 space car parks: Site 3i – north west of Swallow Roundabout and Site 6b Riverside Avenue at Wright Avenue. Both sites would likely be serviced by a 12 minute frequency dedicated P&R bus service and could serve Ninewells Hospital in addition to the city centre.  However, the cost of the bus service serving Ninewells Hospital would be significantly more than serving the city centre only. 
The work concluded that both sites have positive business cases. Site 3i has a higher capital cost and annual bus subsidy cost, but has a benefit of removing traffic from Swallow Roundabout in the morning peak as well as removing traffic from the city centre.  Site 6b has a lower capital cost and bus subsidy cost, but removes traffic from city centre only (i.e. no effect at Swallow Roundabout).
The Partnership in June remitted officers to explore opportunities for funding and implementation for Dundee West Park and Ride.  We are currently in discussion with Transport Scotland and Dundee City Council regarding which of the two sites is each organisation’s preferred site for implementation and we are also exploring NHS Tayside’s interests.  Once we get agreement on the preferred site, we will report back to the Partnership Board and continue with the detailed design.
Both Dundee West and South of Tay Bridge Park & Ride sites are identified within Transport Scotland’s Strategic Transport Projects Review, Strategic Park & Ride Project -Project 8 – and as such any funding discussions will involve Transport Scotland.  We are also investigating the possibility of European funding for both sites.
As noted above a report on progress with the various Tactran Park & Ride projects was considered at the Partnership meeting on 21 June 2011and I’ve included a link to the report should you want more detailed information than that I’ve provided above.
DRT

Dundee City Council is leading on implementation of the DRT scheme, in partnership with Tactran. Revised options are being considered for the delivery of DRT, with the aim of introducing a pilot scheme during 2011/12. It is anticipated that the scheme will commence in December 2011 at the earliest.  £30,000 is allocated within Tactran revenue budget and £125,000 within the joint Tactran/DCC Capital budget in 2011/12 to support the introduction of DRT in Dundee.”

The City Council has missed its original target date for a DRT pilot and I have therefore asked the council’s Head of Transportation for more details of exactly what scheme will be brought forward and if it will indeed be brought forward in the revised timescale envisaged above.

Car sharing club for Dundee?

Last week, I attended a highly interesting and enjoyable lunchtime workshop at the University of Abertay Dundee about the possibility of Dundee establishing a city-wide car sharing scheme.

The session was chaired by Chas Ball, Director of Carplus, who promote responsible car use through car sharing clubs.  

I see real potential for this in Dundee – particularly in the parts of the West End where parking is a real problem.

The Courier published a good background report on the workshop.