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.