Proposed withdrawal of Stagecoach X8 bus service

I have raised with the Commercial Manager, Stagecoach East Scotland, the negative effect of the  proposed removal of the X8 bus service that runs through the West End travelling to/from Perth Royal Infirmary from/to Arbroath and taking in both Ninewells Hospital and Royal Victoria Hospital.     

 

This issue has also been highlighted by my colleague Perth and Kinross Councillor Willie Wilson and we have pointed out that removal of the X8 will mean that the only linking hospital service between Dundee and Perth will be the X7 service which uses a coach-style vehicle, totally unsuitable for passengers who have mobility difficulties as virtually all seats are upstairs.



Stagecoach has not given the X8 a decent chance to get established as it only started last summer.      On the other service – the X7 – it uses coaches that 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.  


I have said to Stagecoach’s Commercial Manager that he should give the X8 a proper chance to build a passenger base, but if the company is determined to take the service off, it absolutely cannot leave the X7 with the coach-style vehicles.  I have long-said to Stagecoach that must have a vehicle type that is suitable for a bus service that serves three hospitals – the coach certainly is not.

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 :

Stagecoach bus service 26 being withdrawn

I have expressed disappointment that Stagecoach is to withdraw its relatively new Service 26 – City Centre to Camperdown Park via Lochee – from the end of May.
 
The City Council has advised councillors that :
 
“Please note that the Council has been advised by Stagecoach Strathtay that they plan to withdraw Service 26 (City Centre to Camperdown Park via Lochee) in its entirety after 29 May 2016. 
This was a short-lived bus service, that only started operating in November 2015.  Service 26 was operated on a 20 minute frequency with distinctive yellow buses and was marketed as a bus that could take passengers to Camperdown Zoo.   I have been in e-mail correspondence with Stagecoach management who have explained their decision to withdraw was because patronage levels were below that which was necessary to sustain the service in the longer term.
Because the route operated in direct competition with a number of commercial services operated by Xplore Dundee – notably Service 28/29, it is not possible for the Council to support a replacement service.”
 
The 26 service has proved very useful for constituents in streets like Lochee Road, City Road, Pentland Avenue, Balgay Road, Blackness Road and Hawkhill and I’m disappointed that Stagecoach is intending to take it off after such a short period.    
 
I felt it really needed greater publicity and with this it could have, over time, become a commercial success.    
 
I have made these points to the Managing Director of Stagecoach East Scotland, in the hope that some reconsideration of the decision can be considered.

New Bus Service 26

From Monday 9th November 2015, Stagecoach Strathtay will be introducing a new, regular, daily bus service, linking their depot in Wester Gourdie, then Asda Dundee West, Charleston, South Road, Lochee By-Pass, City Road, Pentland Avenue, Balgay Road, Blackness Road, Hawkhill, West Port, Dundee City Centre, and the Bus Station.
 
This is a new helpful service which will benefit parts of the West End Ward and given the concerns I have received about changes to the Xplore Dundee 17 and 9/10 service changes in the Tullideph and Pentland areas. an additional service from Stagecoach is welcome.
 
Many thanks to to Suzy Scott at dundeebuses.info for her helpful information about the new service and you can download the timetable for the new service here.

Launch of new hybrid buses on 73 route

I was pleased to attend today’s launch by Stagecoach of its new hybrid buses that from today serve the 73 service that runs through the West End.

 
The 18 new vehicles feature distinctive branding encouraging the public to ‘Go Green’ by trying the new hybrid buses which will also feature free wi-fi access onboard.
 
The 18 electric powered hybrid double deck buses marks an investment of around £5.3m by Stagecoach and as well as being attractive new vehicles, they have a positive impact on the environment as well.
 
Here’s a couple of photographs from the launch :
The new hybrid bus type on the 73 route
From the left – Neil Gellatly (Dundee City Council Head of Transportation), Cllr Alan Ross & myself!

Free to use cash machines – an update

As residents are aware, I have campaigned over a long period for more free to use cash machines and to have fewer – and hopefully in the future – no ATMs that charge local people for the pleasure of obtaining their own money.
 
A couple of years ago, I was pleased that the Co-operative Group agreed to my request to covert the ATM at their store at the junction of Polepark Road/Edward Street/Brook Street to a free to use machine.
 
Constituents have complained to me that the ATM at Dundee’s bus station in Seagate charges for cash withdrawals so I asked the bus station operators, Stagecoach Strathtay, if the company will review this when the contract with the machine suppliers is due for renewal.    
 
Stagecoach Strathtay’s Operations Manager has responded as follows :
 
“I have contacted the Company that currently supply this machine and they have confirmed they are under contract until 2016.
Your concerns will be considered when we renew or change at this time.”

Latest on Service 5 route change petition

Further to the recent petition by over 230 residents of the West End and workers at the Technology Park opposing the recent change to the Number 5 bus route, the Managing Director of National Express Dundee, has responded to me saying he’s given the petition consideration but:
 
“I still believe that our decision was correct & we have no plans to revert this service to its former route. Please pass on my appreciation to the signatories and also my regret that National Express Dundee are unable to meet their aspirations in respect of this matter.”
 
I will continue to press this issue with National Express Dundee as the bus route change adversely impacts on both my constituents at the western end of Perth Road and also workers in the eastern part of the Technology Park.   However, I am also keen to look at other possible solutions.
 
I have now had discussions with the Operations Director for East Scotland for Stagecoach (both Fife and Strathtay) – to see if any of their services which by-pass the area might be given a short diversion.   
 
In particular, the X42 service from Kirkcaldy to Ninewells could possibly be diverted to cover the Perth Road before heading into the Technology Park and then to Ninewells rather than picking up no passengers on Riverside Drive.    I do think its worth looking at all the options to improve the situation and am grateful to Stagecoach for giving the matter its consideration.

Over 230 residents oppose change to West End bus service

As reported in today’s Courier, yesterday, I delivered a petition to National Express Dundee that criticises changes that have seen the removal of a vital bus service from the west end of Perth Road, resulting in fewer bus options for residents but also removing the service for visitors to the Riverview Nursing Home.   The petition calls for the previous bus route to be restored, for the benefit of local people.

Bus changes from the end of May resulted in National Express Service 5 terminating at the Technology Park (Luna Place/Explorer Road) after visiting Ninewells Hospital, not serving Apollo Way or the Clovis Duveau Drive area at all.    

I am very grateful to the group of local residents and workers at the Technology Park who have helped me gather over 230 signatures from local people, who have made it clear their opposition to the bus route change.

This detrimental bus route change means that the far west end of Perth Road around Clovis Duveau Drive is no longer be served by this vital bus service – it previously covered the area on its return route eastwards from Ninewells and the Technology Park back into the City Centre – and I concerned about this not only for the residents involved but also visitors to the Riverview Nursing Home who relied on the service.

Back in May, I wrote to the Managing Director of National Express Dundee who replied :

“… We have taken a commercial decision to make Service 5 a more attractive proposition for those customers wishing to travel to and from Ninewells Hospital.   Other bus services provide to and from the western extremity of Perth Road and the other roads stated. Our objective is to make Ninewells Hospital the primary focus of Service 5 so that it calls there before serving the Technology Park.” 

I have, in response, pointed out to National Express Dundee that Service 5 does already serve Ninewells Hospital – which is also extremely well served by many other bus services.     Also, in numerous proposed changes by Stagecoach Strathtay, changes on the 73 group of services mean Saturday services also reduced from 6 buses an hour to 4 in the West End.

The changes are highly detrimental to the residents in the area and I hope that the strength of feeling expressed by over 230 people will result in a rethink by National Express Dundee.   These people it must be remembered are all National Express Dundee customers, and I hope that the bus company will listen to its customers.
Delivering the petition to National Express Dundee Headquarters yesterday

Good news on school bus concern

recently highlighted the concerns about the withdrawal of the 3.50pm Service Number 16 school bus from Harris Academy and so am pleased to say that yesterday I was informed that it is now hoped that a solution can be found by making a separate bus service to Kingoodie larger next session and thus having a number of spare seats available for Harris Academy pupils from Invergowrie and en route.   

The bus in question, likely to be called Service 816, would be a ‘service bus’ so as well as carrying pupils from the catchment area entitled to free travel given the distance their homes are from the school, it will also allow any pupil wishing to travel as a fare payer.  
I understand that this service is now out to tender and that full details of who has been awarded the contract and the associated timetable will be put on the Perth & Kinross Council website in early August 2012.   It is also hoped that Harris Academy will be able to circulate timetable details to parents prior to the school returning.

I am very grateful to Perth and Kinross Council for its prompt action to address this situation.    Although the majority of pupils benefiting from the larger bus going to Kingoodie will live in the Perth and Kinross Council area, it is also good news for West End of Dundee pupils who live in the most westerly part of Perth Road and surrounding streets.    

There is still an issue for Perth and Kinross pupils who attend Harris Academy and live in Longforgan and Inchture and I have no doubt that Perth and Kinross Council and the councillors for that area will be mindful of this.   However, the situation for my own constituents’ children in the West End of Dundee – and for pupils from Invergowrie – now looks a lot more promising so I am now a lot more confident that there will be a proper bus service to take them home after school when the new term starts in August.

I spoke about developments on Wave 102 news late yesterday.   Click ‘play’ below to listen:

Concern as school bus withdrawn

I am concerned to have been advised that a decision by Perth and Kinross Council to withdraw a vital school bus that takes Harris Academy pupils home after the school day to Invergowrie, Longforgan and Inchture will adversely also affect pupils in parts of the West End of Dundee.

Last week, Perth & Kinross Council advised Harris Academy parents who live in the Perth & Kinross area of Carse of Gowrie that the 3.50pm Number 16 school bus operated by Stagecoach Strathtay would no longer be supported by their council and was being withdrawn.    This is apparently because of budget pressures and the fact that only one pupil who uses it qualifies for free travel due to distance from home to school.   However, the bus is used by many fare-paying pupils in both the Perth & Kinross Council part of the Harris Academy catchment area and in the area of Perth Road west of Harris Academy within the Dundee boundary.

I have already had concerns about this expressed by constituents who live in the far west part of Perth Road – for example in Clovis Duveau Drive – and the particular concern is for the youngest secondary pupils in S1 and S2 where parents are not comfortable with the long walk these younger pupils will have to take home given the withdrawal of this school bus, particularly in the bad weather over winter.    The bus is to be withdrawn from the start of the new term in August and this exacerbates the already poor service locally following the re-routing of the Number 5 service away from the west end of Perth Road.

If pupils wait for the next service bus, they would be standing waiting for a bus until 4.16pm – over half an hour after the school day ends.    Perth and Kinross Council has indicated to their pupils that they could also use the Stagecoach Strathtay 77 service but it is not well-timed at all and does not help West End pupils living in the far west part of Perth Road, as it does not pass that way.

I have asked Dundee City Council transportation officials to open a dialogue with their counterparts in our neighbouring council to see what can be done in advance of the new term starting in August.

I have to say that I am really concerned to see yet another detrimental cut to bus service provision in this part of the West End – this time also affecting our neighbours into the Perth & Kinross Council area.    We already have a petition gathering pace about the unfortunate change to the National Express Number 5 route that has taken the service away from the most westerly part of Perth Road and this latest news on the afternoon school bus operated by Stagecoach Strathtay is further bad news.

Detrimental changes to West End bus services

I have criticised changes that will see the removal of a vital bus service from the west end of Perth Road, resulting in fewer bus options for residents but also removing the service for visitors to a local care home.

Bus changes at the end of May will result in National Express Service 5 terminating at the Technology Park (Luna Place/Explorer Road) after visiting Ninewells Hospital, not serving Apollo Way or the Clovis Duveau Drive area at all.    

This detrimental change means that the far west end of Perth Road around Clovis Duveau Drive will no longer be served by this service – it currently covers the area on its return route eastwards from Ninewells and the Technology Park back into the City Centre – and I concerned about this not only for the residents involved but also visitors to the Riverview Nursing Home who rely on the service.

I recently wrote to the Managing Director of National Express Dundee, Phil Smith, who has replied :

“Yes this is correct we have taken a commercial decision to make Service 5 a more attractive proposition for those customers wishing to travel to and from Ninewells Hospital.   Other bus services provide to and from the western extremity of Perth Road and the other roads stated. Our objective is to make Ninewells Hospital the primary focus of Service 5 so that it calls there before serving the Technology Park.” 

I have, in response, pointed out to National Express Dundee that Service 5 does already serve Ninewells Hospital – which is also extremely well served by many other bus services.     I further point out that, in numerous proposed changes by Stagecoach Strathtay,  changes on the 73 group of services mean Saturday services also reduced from 6 buses an hour to 4 in the West End.

The changes are highly detrimental to the residents in the area and I have asked for a rethink by National Express Dundee.   I have also queried with Stagecoach Strathtay their proposed reduction in Saturday Service 73 in the area.

Tayway 73 bus service

On behalf of West End constituents, I recently contacted Stagecoach Strathtay regarding the operation of the Service 73.   Constituents have complained that on a regular basis passengers are having to change buses at Whitehall Crescent – so when a resident travels back to the West End from Broughty Ferry, a change of buses is necessary midway through the journey as the bus travelled on from Broughty Ferry terminates in the City Centre.  

The other complaint regarding Service 73 is the difficulty getting a bus at the Seagate travelling back to the West End between 3pm and 3.30pm and buses then not sticking to timetable.

Stagecoach Strathtay has updated me as follows:

“I assure you that we work very hard to minimise any delays or disruptions to our passengers. Unfortunately due to the amount of roadworks recently there have been times that our buses have been delayed. To combat this we have input extra buses into the route in the afternoon peak to reduce the delays for as many of our passengers as possible. This may have contributed to passengers having to change bus at Whitehall Street although I have checked this and at the most this practice has happened two or three times a week. 

With regard to there being a problem getting a bus at the Seagate between three and three thirty again we have had problems with roadworks but I assure you that we have never had at any point no buses going to the Seagate between three and three thirty and there would never have been a problem getting a bus at this time they may have been a few minutes late but this is why we are putting extra buses out which may run only to Whitehall Street and turn there and then run back towards the Ferry. 

We have a new timetable coming into effect at the end of May and we have put a lot of time and effort into this to ensure that going forward the service will run as close to timetable as is possible and hopefully stop all the problems you are being told about.”

I was pleased to be advised of the new bus timetable being introduced at the end of next month and hope it is the solution to the issues on Service 73.

Bus services : latest

Following constituents’ concerns about the timetable reliability of 73 Tayway services recently, I raised this matter with Stagecoach’s Operations Director for East Scotland, who has responded as follows : 

“We have had problems adhering to the timetables on all services due to the weather conditions of the last few weeks.  Whilst most of the main roads are now clear and easily passable there are still a number of side roads which are in a less acceptable condition.  Very few services are contained purely to main roads meaning that there is a knock-on effect on timetables.”

The Courier today covered the issue of bus fares increases, including the feedback I have received from National Express Dundee and my own concerns about the fare increases.

73 bus service complaints

I have received complaints recently from some residents in the Blackness Avenue area about the reliability of the Stagecoach Strathtay 73 service – the following is an example of the concern from one resident :

“On the last three occasions that I have waited at the seagate bus stop for the 3.03pm and the 3.11pm 73 bus they have not turned. Two buses then turned up at 3.23pm arrived. When we reached Whitehall Street the passengers were unload onto one bus and then the empty on proceeded to go back to the Arbroath route thus not completing its run to ninewells. This left the bus to Ninewells completely full. Passengers that travel everyday say this is a regular occurrence.”

I raised this matter with the bus company’s Operations Manager and have received the following response :

“I write to you in response of the complaint that you received from a constituent regarding our 73 service.   Your constituent states that this problem happens regularly and as a result, I shall have this matter investigated and these services monitored by a Company Official at different stages of the route to see if there is a problem that is causing these delays.

Sometimes it is outwith our control when buses are running late if this is due to traffic or roadworks, and on occasions this may due to a breakdown as I’m sure you can appreciate this can happen from time to time.

I would be grateful if you could pass on my apologies on behalf of Stagecoach Strathtay and thank your constituent for bringing this matter to my attention as customer feedback is important to the Company as this can help with future planning, I sincerely hope that they have no further problems with our services.”

I have responded saying that “the complaint is about this happening regularly so I doubt it is because of temporary roadworks or breakdown but I would be grateful for further feedback once the matter has been fully investigated.”

Improvements promised at Dundee Bus Station

I recently wrote to the Operations Manager of Stagecoach Strathtay as follows :

“I have received complaints about an alleged lack of staffing at the Seagate bus station – people saying there are few staff on, it taking ages to be served, people missing buses as a result. Can you advise me of the current situation?   Many thanks.”

I have received the following positive response :

“Fraser

Seagate Bus Station is currently under review and staffing levels is high on the agenda.

The staffing of the above is currently split between ourselves and Citylink but I agree the present set up is not working.

We are also relocating our Admin staff back to the Bus Station from (the Stagecoach offices at) Smeaton Road later this year which will rectify all the problems.”

School buses issue …

I recently received concerns about Harris Academy pupils who live in the area around the western end of Perth Road (west of the school) finding difficulty being able to get on a bus to/from school as they are so busy. I have received the following feedback from the Director of Travel Dundee (National Express Dundee) :

“Fraser,

All of the buses which we schedule as School services are general registered services and available to all members of the public.

We do not have the school bus contracts for any of the public authority schools in Dundee.

There are a number of pupils who have passes for our buses provided by the education department and these numbers are built into our service planning.

Across the city there has been an increase in the number of pupils travelling by bus.

As far as we are aware these additional passengers are pupils not entitled to free school transport.

In order to accommodate this we put the largest buses possible on the busy school routes.   This is a juggling act as we have every available bus out for the evening school run.

We keep in regular contact with the Transport team on school bus services and as far as we are all aware the problems experienced at the start of term this year have abated as they usually do once after school activities start up.

We had inspectors up at the Harris a fortnight ago all the pupils seeking to travel on bus that evening were accommodated.

The numbers do considerable fluctuate from day top day due to a variety of other reasons.

Wet weather also causes many additional pupils to travel by bus.

Unfortunately there will always be peaks which we cannot accommodate but if there is a regular ongoing problem can you let us know and we will discuss the issue with the DCC transport team and see what can be done.

Kind Regards

Lawrence Davie
Director Dundee”

The Head of Transportation at Dundee City Council has also advised :

“… the National Express Dundee service 9x departs at xx39 thus missing the school finish time.  However there are three Stagecoach buses 77, 16 and 16a which leave between 1545 and 1556.”

I have asked parents to keep me advised of any problems in the forthcoming weeks and I’ll take these up with the bus companies and with the Head of Transportation at the City Council.

69 bus service

The 69 bus service runs across the West End only three times a day on weekdays but it is a very useful service for those residents who live on the streets it serves that are not visited by any other buses. However, I have had complaints about its punctuality recently and, in particular, the failure of any bus to turn up at all earlier this week.

I have been in touch with Stagecoach Strathtay about this and have received the following initial response:

“Fraser,

I am conducting a investigation into this complaint with regard to the 69 service.

I do understand that there was a breakdown with the bus on this day but the person who dealt with it is on holiday till next week, so on his return I will ask him about this.

In the meantime I can only a apologise for any inconvenience caused due to this and assure you that we are striving to minimise any inconvenience due to breakdowns.”

69 and 72 bus services

I am disappointed at the decision by Stagecoach Strathtay to withdraw the 72 bus service around part of the West End, although relieved that concerns about the 69 service which covers a larger route in the West End are unfounded and it is not being withdrawn.

I was contacted at the end of last week by constituents concerned to learn that the 72 bus, which provides a limited service to Windsor Street 4 times a day on weekdays, was being withdrawn by Stagecoach Strathtay. There had been absolutely no warning about this – indeed a list of proposed bus changes by the bus company had been circulated to councillors last week and the 72 wasn’t even mentioned on it.

Residents were particularly concerned that this might mean the future of the 69 service. It follows a similar route to Windsor Street but then continues westwards through parts of the West End to Ninewells Hospital and also serves Broughty Ferry. I immediately contacted the City Council’s Head of Transportation, and am relieved to have been informed that the 69 service is to continue as before.

The Council’s Head of Transportation advised me this morning :

“I have spoken with colleagues and unfortunately the Service 72 was withdrawn from Friday 29 May 2009, which ties in with the withdrawal of operation by Stagecoach of the Services 138 / 139. The 72 utilised a 20 minute gap in service when the buses sat in the bus station between runs.

“There was a series of Stagecoach service changes planned for today but these were postponed until the 06 July 2009 changes (as circulated last week). However the cancellation of the 138 / 139 was determined by contract changes with Angus Council, resulting in the knock on that the Service 72 vehicle was no longer available and thus withdrawn too.

“The Service 69 remains in operation and I can confirm there are no plans to withdraw this service. Magdalen Yard Road times are available at http://www.dundeetravelinfo.com/dccmap/pdfs/print_7087904.pdf and www.dundeetravelinfo.com is fully updated, on street timetable displays are being changed today and tomorrow.”

Given that the 72 service has now been withdrawn, I was surprised to see it was still being advertised on the Stagecoach Strathtay website – I have asked the City Council to point this out to the bus company.

Stagecoach Strathtay Bus Route Changes

Following my blog entry last Friday about bus routes (click on headline above to view), I have had feedback from Stagecoach Strathtay’s Operations Manager on the matter as follows:

“Cllr Macpherson,

Just a quick explanation of the change to the service 13 route.

It has always been the intention for the 13 to use the link road once it had opened and the service registration has been produced to show this. The link road was due to open last year and until the opening the diversion via Ninewells Avenue was only temporary.

The link road allows us to offer a more direct service to Ninewells Hospital by reducing the journey time to access the hospital. As Neil states in his email, Ninewells Avenue still enjoys a 30 minute service operated by the 42 and 96.

We are reviewing the changes we made to the network in August 2007 and also reviewing the network as a whole, so the comments regarding the service provision along Ninewells Avenue will be noted and consideration will be given to increasing the frequency along this route.”

Buses update

There are some significant changes to local bus services in the Dundee area about to take place which come into effect on Sunday 6th April and Monday 7th April.

If you click on the headline above you can read the details including a press release from Jim Lee, Managing Director of Travel Dundee, which explains the changes.

The City Council has advised me that the www.dundeetravelinfo.com information is now updated to take account of the changes, and the “real time” signs and timetable posters at the bus stops will be updated over the next couple of days.

Stagecoach is making significant enhancements between Dundee and Perth. In particular they are introducing a PRI to Ninewells shuttle (Service 333) with funding from PKC and NHS Tayside (see http://www.thecourier.co.uk/output/2008/04/03/newsstory11156638t0.asp).

And, lastly, the City Council has advised me that the “bus only link roads” at the west of Ninewells Hospital will become fully functional on Sunday (6th April) 2008 and this will offer real journey time savings for bus operators and passengers and also gives significant access improvements for buses from all directions.