GoToo – Visit, Explore, Commute

TACTRAN, the regional transport partnership for Tayside & Stirling, has introduced www.GoToo.com, a new website aimed at providing travel information that is lifestyle focussed. 
 
GoToo provides residents and visitors with tailored information to explore and get around the Tayside and Central Scotland area, as well as providing a range of travel tools and options to ease the daily commute.
 
GoToo has people as its focus, recognising that visitors are looking for places to visit before they travel and want to know how to get there; residents are keen to find their travel options for getting around the area and commuters are looking for travel information while on the move.  GoToo has been designed to provide travel information where and when it is needed across a range of platforms – PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
 
TACTRAN, together with other organisations including Angus, Dundee City, Perth & Kinross and Stirling Councils, Visit Scotland, NHS, University of Dundee and Traveline Scotland have worked in partnership to provide this people focussed travel website.
 
Please note, as a result of this new website, TACTRAN’s existing TactranConnect website will no longer operate.

Launch of the Thistle Assistance Card

TACTRAN, the Regional Transport Partnership, has just launched a Thistle Assistance Card throughout the TACTRAN area, including Dundee, Angus, Perth and Kinross and Stirling Council areas.
 
The aim of the Thistle Card is to help anyone who has difficulty in using public transport because of their age, disability or illness.   The card will quickly and easily tell the bus driver about any extra help needed during the journey.
Further details will be available from local libraries, the Coach Shop in Commercial Street and on National Express buses within the next few days.    You can also find out more by contacting TACTRAN on 01738 475775 or info@tactran.gov.uk
 

No progress on Demand Response Transport

I have today criticised the City Council administration’s complete lack of momentum towards the provision of Demand Responsive Transport, to fill gaps in bus service provision across Dundee.
 
A year ago on this blog, I pointed out that, back in 2008, as the then Planning & Transport Convener of the City Council, I had discussed with the then Dundee Accessible Transport Action Group (DATAG) bringing in pilots of Demand Responsive Transport to improve public transport both in Dundee and across Tayside/Stirling for those with accessibility problems in terms of existing provision.    
 
As the then Chair of TACTRAN, the Regional Transport Partnership, I had moved forward a consultation exercise for its buses strategy and, within this, specifically, community transport and demand responsive transport.    Two pilot projects were agreed – an urban one for Dundee and a rural one for Perthshire/Stirlingshire.    However, at that time, I was disappointed at the slow lack of progress since the SNP administration took over control of Dundee City Council in 2009 and took the chairmanship of TACTRAN.
 
As I pointed out then, Demand Responsive Transport – or ‘Dial a Bus’ – would help bring some form of bus service to those communities across the city that have no or poor services at the moment.   With flexible routing and scheduling of small or medium-sized  vehicles operating with pick-up and drop-off locations according to passengers needs, it would be a boon particularly for elderly people and those with mobility difficulties.
 
After questioning by me, TACTRAN advised me in July 2011 that :
 
“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.”
 
In August 2012, the City Council’s Head of Transportation advised me:
 
“The options of community and social enterprise delivered DRT have presented extraordinary challenges in terms of capacity and legal/procurement matters.    We have been looking at further operational models and are looking to bring forward solutions early in 2013.”
 
After further questioning by me last week, the Head of Transportation updated me further stating:
 
“As you know the issues involved in Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) in the city are wide ranging and complex.  Officers are continuing to develop the concept of DRT, and during the course of this work have taken on board robust stakeholder feedback indicating that the current Taxicard scheme is very popular. Therefore the current focus is on developing an enhanced new generation smartcard based Taxicard scheme. Plans are in hand to design and then procure such a system during the remainder of FY13/14 and this task will be undertaken over the coming months.
When a new taxicard scheme is fully operational the design of a DRT system that meets the needs of the main user groups, while still being deliverable within available resources, will become the main focus of activity.  
As I am sure you understand the task of meeting the diverse range of needs presented by stakeholders provides us with a considerable challenge.  Meanwhile work continues to find out if there is an appetite in the city for developing the concept of a social enterprise or community transport managed system to complement/augment the more traditional in house/contracted route.  I will also be engaging with NHS Tayside colleagues in relation to DRT and the need increase mobility options for people with restricted mobility.    
I am confident that taken together all of this activity continues to maintain progress towards the council’s strategic aim of delivering a range of transport networks.”
 
It is very clear from this that there is a policy vacuum on Demand Responsible Transport from the council administration and a lack of political will and momentum to see it happen.   
 
Whilst the taxicard scheme is helpful for those who qualify, it provides only the most limited sort of service.   People with mobility difficulties and the elderly who qualify for taxicard are given the equivalent of only two single journeys per week which is hardly the sort of service that allows people to get out and about every day.
 
There are good bus services across much of Dundee, but there are numerous communities in the city that have limited or no service.   Demand Responsive Transport – Dial A Bus – provides a possible cost-effective solution to give these residents a bus option.    It will particularly benefit those with mobility difficulties and elderly residents, but the pilot proposal needs some real momentum behind it and it is very concerning that the council is making such poor progress.

Park and Ride proposals – public exhibition

I have previously updated West End residents on the proposed Park and Ride facility at the land west of Wright Avenue.
 
A public exhibition is taking place on Thursday (8th November) between 2pm and 8pm at Dundee Contemporary Arts in Nethergate in order that all interested residents can view the proposals and make comment.
 
You can read the technical report on the proposal here.

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.

Concern over council’s lack of progress on Demand Responsive Transport

I have today criticised the City Council’s alarmingly slow progress with the provision of Demand Responsive Transport, to fill gaps in bus service provision across Dundee.
 
Back in 2008, as the then Planning & Transport Convener of the City Council, I discussed with the then Dundee Accessible Transport Action Group (DATAG) bringing in pilots of Demand Responsive Transport to improve public transport both in Dundee and across Tayside/Stirling for those with accessibility problems in terms of existing provision.  
 
As the then Chair of TACTRAN, the Regional Transport Partnership, I moved forward a consultation exercise for its buses strategy and, within this, specifically, community transport and demand responsive transport.    Two pilot projects were agreed – an urban one for Dundee and a rural one for Perthshire/Stirlingshire.    I am disappointed at the slow lack of progress since the SNP administration took over control of Dundee City Council in 2009 and took the chairmanship of TACTRAN.
 
Demand Responsive Transport – or ‘Dial a Bus’ – will help bring some form of bus service to those communities across the city that have no or poor services at the moment.   With flexible routing and scheduling of small or medium-sized  vehicles operating with pick-up and drop-off locations according to passengers needs, it would be a boon particularly for elderly people and those with mobility difficulties.
 
I’m frustrated with the City Council’s lack of progress on the issue over the past three years.    There’s a need for some momentum into the process and I don’t see that happening.
 
TACTRAN advised me in July 2011 that:
 
“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.”
 
This DRT introduction has still not happened and, last week, the City Council’s Head of Transportation advised me:
 
“The options of community and social enterprise delivered DRT have presented extraordinary challenges in terms of capacity and legal/procurement matters.    We have been looking at further operational models and are looking to bring forward solutions early in 2013.”
 
I have long been of the view that if the City Council could not move Demand Responsive Transport through a community-based model, it should move it forward by tendering for the service to get a commercial partner involved, which would also ensure the DRT pilot was delivered at the lowest possible cost, tendered on the open market.
 
There are good bus services across much of Dundee, but there are numerous communities in the city that have limited or no service.   Demand Responsive Transport – Dial A Bus – provides a possible cost-effective solution to give these residents a bus option.    It will particularly benefit those with mobility difficulties and elderly residents, but the pilot proposal needs some real momentum behind it.

Dundee West Park and Ride update

Further to my article last month about possible future Park and Ride facilities sited in the west of the city and the subsequent decision by the regional transport partnership TACTRAN to progress the proposal for siting the facility at Wright Avenue, I sought, on behalf of constituents, some reassurances from TACTRAN about the facility.

The park and ride proposals have been largely welcomed by local residents but householders who live to the north of the preferred site have sought assurances that the facility would be properly screened.    Residents who currently enjoy excellent views of Riverside Nature Park, Invergowrie Bay and the River Tay to the south rightly do not wish to look out to a car park in the future.

TACTRAN’s Project Manager has updated me as follows :

“As the Wright Avenue location has been approved by the Tactran Board we will now be taking forward the detailed design, in partnership with Dundee City Council through the City Engineers.  

As you’ll be aware the outline design was carefully designed to complement the landscaping of the surrounding park.  In particular it was designed to be adjacent to the existing trees as they will provide good screening.  

In progressing the design there will be an environmental assessment undertaken and this will include visual amenity for those properties that have a view of the site and I will ensure that appropriate provision will be made for any additional screening that may be required at the site.”

There is no doubt that the provision of park and ride facilities will bring significant benefits, not just to the drivers concerned, but to relieving parking problems in parts of the City Centre and the West End.   However, it is important that a facility is properly screened and I am therefore pleased at the assurances given by the regional transport partnership in that regard.

TACTRAN quarterly e-newsletter

With the permission of TACTRAN, our regional transport partnership for Tayside and Central Scotland, you can download the latest quarterly e-newsletter from TACTRAN by going to http://tinyurl.com/tactranautumn2011.

Subjects covered in this edition are :
  • progress on improving rail services through Tay Estuary Rail Study (TERS) work;
  • approval of  the Tayside and Central Scotland Health and Transport Framework;
  • progress on Travel Planning support for public and private sector employers;
  • development of plans for a Freight Consolidation Centre in Perth;
  • progress on the delivery of TACTRAN’s revenue and capital projects
Having chaired TACTRAN between 2007 and 2009, I am hugely supportive of the need for strategic regional transport planning and projects and it is good to see TACTRAN’s continuing progress.

Park and Ride proposals for the West End

Tonight’s West End Community Council meeting featured a presentation from representatives from the City Council and TACTRAN (the regional transport partnership) on their proposals for park and ride facilities in the west of the city.

The briefing note you can download at http://tinyurl.com/dundeep-ride describes the process undertaken to identify possible Park and Ride sites.  As you see from the report’s conclusions, two sites have been highlighted through an option appraisal process, the sites are to the west of the Landmark/Swallow Roundabout and at Wright Avenue, just off Riverside Avenue. 
Tonight’s speakers indicated that the Wright Avenue option is significantly more affordable in both capital and revenue terms.  They explained that it is likely that if Dundee West Park and Ride was to progress, Site 6b (Wright Avenue) would be the preferred location.  

Implementation of Park and Ride in the West End will bring significant benefits, not just to the drivers concerned, but to relieving parking problems in parts of the West End and the City Centre.

TACTRAN e-newsletter

I was Chair of the Tayside and Central Transport Partnership (TACTRAN) from 2007 and 2009 and maintain a close interest in transport matters across the region.    I was therefore pleased to see the recent launch of an e-newsletter to update on TACTRAN developments with news about the development and implementation of the Regional Transport Strategy and other related activity. 

With the permission of the TACTRAN Director, you can download a copy of the newsletter by going to http://tinyurl.com/tactran.

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.

Wednesday meetings

This morning, following the meeting about pedestrian safety at the Tullideph Road/City Road junction that local residents’ group Community Spirit and I had with City Council officers on 2nd February, we had a follow-up meeting at the junction.  

It was a useful discussion about safety at the junction and City Council road safety officers have offered to attend a future Community Spirit meeting to discuss concerns with local residents.

I then attended a meeting with Education officers about the building programme for the replacement Park Place Primary School, St Joseph’s Primary School and Park Place Nursery School.

Thereafter, I attended the Dundee House Project Board, where I raised a number of questions and concerns about that project.   I then attended the City Council’s Scrutiny Committee, at which I raised questions about numerous matters on the agenda.  

I am disappointed to learn about the lack of progress on the time it takes Dundee City Council to let vacant council houses.   The SNP administration has gone on at length about its so-called ‘enhanced relets’ policy.  This has cost council tenants a fortune and the net result appears that – thus far – the time taken to let houses has actually and incredibly worsened.   

The Housing Department has given a commitment to improve on the 98.7 days it took to let houses (on average) last September (it was lower at 74.5 days in September 2009) and it has now set itself a target of 65 days – although it is not clear when they expect to achieve this.   The SNP’s flagship housing policy is not delivering.    

I also asked questions about ensuring that new tenants get Housing Benefit from the start of their tenancies, committee reports on revenue expenditure having better financial appraisals, customer excellence and on other matters.

Conservative councillor Derek Scott asked a very pertinent question about the lack of progress on Demand Responsive Transport (DRT).   As the previous Chair of TACTRAN, the regional transport partnership, I ensured that funding was available for pilot DRT projects for Dundee and a rural pilot in Perthshire/Stirling.   It is disappointing that the Dundee pilot has not moved forward under the SNP, as DRT would help elderly people, people with mobility difficulties and people not living near main bus routes get access to public transport.   At my request, an update report will go to City Development Committee.  This is to be welcomed.

Dundee Railway Station Latest

As City Councillor for the area of Dundee’s railway station throughout my eight years on Dundee City Council, and as the Council’s Planning & Transport Convener and Chair of TACTRAN, the regional transport partnership – both for two years – I have long campaigned for improvements to the station. The people of Dundee rightly feel that the station requires a major modernisation.

During my period as TACTRAN Chair, I met with the Regional Director of Network Rail in Scotland and – in raising the need for Dundee station refurbishment – it struck me that intense negotiation was going to be required with Network Rail, and with other partner organisations such as First ScotRail, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Government. What is clear, however, is that Dundee has not had a fair share of rail capital funding improvements. My entry on www.dundeewestend.com back in April of this year (see http://tinyurl.com/dundeerail) pointed out :

“Network Rail announced plans for a new roof for Waverley Station in Edinburgh as part of a £130 million overhaul of the station. It comes on top of some £190 million announced last May for Edinburgh Haymarket.”

Only yesterday, the Glasgow Evening Times reported in relation to Dalmarnock Station :

“SNP vows £8m station revamp will go ahead.” (see http://tinyurl.com/glasgowrailway)
The SNP Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review failed to commit to improving Dundee Station – a very disappointing outcome. We need to see a commitment from government as well as railway industry to improving the station.

Last week, the media highlighted the City Council’s latest proposals to improve the station. Go to http://tinyurl.com/stvedundee to read a report and see the TV news item from STV – “£10 million Dundee rail station plan revealed.”

As a former member of the Dundee Waterfront Board, I was surprised to see the figure of £10 million being bandied about. I reproduce below an e-mail I have since sent to Mike Galloway, the City Council’s City Development Director. I think we need transarency and answers to the points I have made :

Subject : Rail Station Refurbishment

Mike 

I refer to media reports regarding the “Plans for £10m railway station revamp” (The Courier; 24th September – the Press and Journal and STV reported the same cost figure).

Given that your presentation to the Waterfront Board in Q4 2008 on the station study referred to 2 comparative estimated costs of :

OPTION 1 : £33m
OPTION 2 : £34.5m

I am extremely surprised at the £10m figure now being quoted. Even if the cost of commercial office and hotel building was removed from the 2008 figures, the total cost is very substantially in excess of £10 million.

Can you please give me an indication as to what revised proposals consist of, reassurance that the revised much lower intended cost will actually deliver the sort of quality improvement to the station that everyone in the city wishes to see and that the revised proposals are financially robust?

Can you also indicate to me when a report will be given to all elected members through either the City Development or Policy & Resources Committee?

Many thanks.

Best regards
Fraser
Cllr Fraser Macpherson
Councillor for the West End
Liberal Democrat Group Leader – Dundee City Council

New CCTV for the West End

Residents will welcome the new CCTV provision currently being installed at Sinderins (see above), which will extend CCTV coverage westwards on Perth Road, past its existing end point at the Roseangle junction.

The new CCTV is primarily being provided to improve bus punctuality, but will obviously be of assistance to the Police in terms of crime detection in the future too.

Busy Monday

As I have been in Glasgow today at a meeting with John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Sustainable Growth (in my capacity as TACTRAN Chair), followed by a Residents’ Association meeting tonight.   
 
Little time for a full update until later, but – below – see two great photos of the lovely view at Riverside last Friday, just before dusk.

Busy week back …

It has been a busy first week back following the festive period, including meetings involving TACTRAN (the regional transport partnership), the Dundee Health Central project and various meetings with constituents, including a site visit about traffic safety matters at Miller’s Wynd/Hawkhill. 

Today, a useful meeting of LibDem activists in Perth, which a Dundee LibDem colleague and I attended. I’m pictured above with George Lyon, the leading Scottish Liberal Democrat for next June’s European Election, who delivered the keynote address today. You can read more about George and his campaign by going to http://georgelyon.org.uk/.

And … an equally busy week ahead – council committees start again tomorrow and I also have the Tay Rope Works Planning Inquiry to appear at on Tuesday, together with a residents’ association meeting, a meeting at Dundee Airport, a West End Christmas Week de-brief meeting and various visits to constituents during next week.

TACTRAN publishes transport strategy

TACTRAN, the Regional Transport Partnership for Tayside and Stirling, which I chair, today issued a news release about the publication of its Regional Transport Strategy – I reproduce this below :
NEWS RELEASE :  

“The Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership (TACTRAN) has published its Regional Transport Strategy for the period 2008 – 2023. The Strategy covers the Angus, Dundee City, Perth & Kinross and Stirling Council areas.

TACTRAN Chair, Councillor Fraser Macpherson commented “The publication of our Regional Transport Strategy is the culmination of a huge amount of work by the Partnership over the past two years. Along with our partner Councils, and through extensive consultation with a wide range of key stakeholders, we have developed a Strategy that aims to support economic prosperity, improve access for our citizens and communities, and protect and enhance the environment. Improving quality of life, health and wellbeing, and opportunity in our cities, towns and deepest rural areas lies at the heart of this Strategy. Our priorities over the next 10 – 15 years include pressing for improvements to our strategic road and rail links, encouraging a shift towards more sustainable forms of transport, in particular walking, cycling and public transport, and working with the freight sector to encourage more sustainable movement of goods. Improving integration between transport modes and with other policy areas, particularly land use and health, are also key objectives of our Strategy.”

Referring to the Scottish Government’s recent announcement on the Strategic Transport Projects Review, Councillor Macpherson added “Many of the priorities our Strategy identifies have been acknowledged by Government in the recent Strategic Transport Projects Review. We are keen to work closely with Scottish Government, our Councils, the transport industry and other key stakeholders on bringing forward much needed efficiency, capacity and safety improvements on our strategic road and rail networks. Over the next 15 years we will undoubtedly face many challenges in seeking to ensure that our transport system supports a vibrant economy, whilst at the same time protecting our environment and contributing to Government targets on climate change. We believe this strategy offers an integrated and balanced approach to meeting these challenges and addressing the future transport and accessibility needs of our region and its citizens.”

He continued “We have recently completed work on developing sub-Strategies and Action Plans for taking forward the Buses, Walking & Cycling, Travel Information and Park & Ride elements of the Strategy, and these will be published early in 2009. We are also currently developing our RTS Delivery Plan, in consultation with partner Councils. This will set out the Partnership’s delivery priorities for the next 3 years, from 2009/10 – 2011/12, along with an indicative programme for the years beyond 2012. This is the subject of ongoing consultation with our partner Councils, with a view to publication of the finalised Delivery Plan in spring next year.”

The TACTRAN Regional Transport Strategy can be viewed and downloaded free of charge from the Partnership’s website at www.tactran.gov.uk. Printed copies of the strategy are also available to purchase at a cost of £10 plus postage and packing. Contact TACTRAN on 01738 475775.

Background

TACTRAN is the statutory Regional Transport Partnership covering the Angus, Dundee City, Perth & Kinross and Stirling Council areas. TACTRAN has produced a Regional Transport Strategy (RTS), which sets out a vision for improving the region’s transport infrastructure, services and facilities over the 15 years to 2023.

The RTS has been shaped and informed by analysis of the trends and issues facing the region, and by widespread consultation with key stakeholders. The strategy was originally submitted for Ministerial approval in late March 2007, in line with statutory requirements. In early 2008 Scottish Government Ministers invited all 7 Regional Transport Partnerships to review and re-submit their strategies, in light of the new Scottish Government and Local Government Concordat. At the same time Partnerships were asked to remove specified schemes and interventions and place these in a separate RTS Delivery Plan. These revisions were duly completed during the spring of 2008 and a revised Strategy was submitted for approval in early May 2008. The core vision and general thrust of the Strategy was unchanged from that submitted for approval in March 2007. In late June 2008 the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change confirmed Ministerial approval of the Strategy and the finalised Strategy for publication was approved by the Partnership at its recent meeting on 28 October 2008.

TACTRAN is currently developing the RTS Delivery Plan, which will set out the Partnership’s delivery priorities for the 3 years from 2009/10 – 2011/12, with an indicative programme for the 10 – 12 year period beyond that.

Further information on TACTRAN and the Regional Transport Strategy can be viewed or downloaded free of charge from the Partnership’s website at www.tactran.gov.uk or by calling 01738 475775. Copies of the published RTS are available to purchase at a cost of £10, plus postage and packing, or can be inspected free of charge at the Partnership’s Headquarters, Bordeaux House, 31 Kinnoull Street, Perth and will soon be available at all Public Libraries and Council public offices in the Angus, Dundee City, Perth & Kinross and Stirling Council areas.

Ends”

Busy week thus far!

A very busy week thus far, starting with a day job meeting at Glasgow City Council on Monday, followed by council committees that evening.

Apart from the Planning & Transport Committee I chair, there were a number of committee meetings that night. At the Education Committee, the SNP group came under fire for the failure of the Scottish Futures Trust to deliver capital projects (actually, anything really). Both the Education Convener and I reminded the SNP that Alex Salmond promised to match the previous administration’s building programme “brick for brick” – I pointed out that the SNP Futures Trust has not actually delivered a single brick – Ministers are about to run out of new schools (the projects of the last administration) to open. We in Dundee are anxious to progress further new school projects but we need Scottish Government to get the act together.

On Tuesday morning, I chaired the TACTRAN (regional transport partnership) Board in Perth. This included a presentation by the Director of Network Rail. Later I attended a planning appeal site visit by the Scottish Government Reporter to Balgay Bowling Club. I previously successfully moved refusal of an application for a mobile phone mast here, given the adverse impact on residential amenity. On Tuesday evening, I attended an enjoyable and interesting West End Community Council meeting.

Yesterday was spent on “day job” activity in Edinburgh – at the Scottish Parliament and the Valuation Joint Board.

Today, dealt with numerous constituents’ issues and appeared on STV “North Tonight” on the proposed A90 improvements around Dundee, as proposed by the Strategic Transport Project Review.

STPR Announcement

Today saw the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change announce the outcomes of the Strategic Transport Projects Review. There was some good news for our region in this, and although not every project the Tayside & Central Scotland Transport Partnership (TACTRAN) would wish to see included was there (so far as one can see thus far – it is a huge read), the positives include park and ride for Dundee and improving the A90 around the City. I reproduce tonight’s news release from TACTRAN below :

The Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership (TACTRAN) has welcomed today’s Government announcement of the outcome of the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR).

TACTRAN Chair, Councillor Fraser Macpherson, commented, “TACTRAN welcomes this statement on Scottish Government’s priorities for investing in improving Scotland’s transport infrastructure for the period beyond 2012. We are keen to work with Government and Transport Scotland to ensure that improvements to our transport systems are delivered as soon as practically possible.


“Our region lies at the heart of Scotland’s strategic road and rail network and improving passenger and freight connectivity, by removing bottlenecks on our roads and improving rail and other public transport connections and capacity are key priorities of our Regional Transport Strategy.

“We will be reviewing the detailed information Government has published today. However a number of projects highlighted in the Minister’s statement, including improvements to the A90 at Dundee; improving the A9 between Dunblane and Perth and northwards to Inverness; increased capacity on the rail network with improved connections to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness; and the need for a Park & Ride strategy covering locations including Dundee and Bannockburn, are all identified in our own RTS.”

He added, “We look forward to having further discussions with the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change on the priorities to be taken forward under the STPR in the New Year, and how TACTRAN can play a positive role in assisting this.

 
“It is clearly essential that future investment addresses the needs of all parts of Scotland, including improving connectivity and promoting more sustainable travel choices north of the Central Belt.
 
“Improving the efficiency and capacity of the strategic road and public transport networks within and through the TACTRAN region will benefit not only our own residents and businesses, but also those located in the north and north east of Scotland, so should be viewed as high priorities for Government.”

TACTRAN Director, Eric Guthrie added “Earlier in the STPR process we indicated to Transport Scotland a range of improvements we feel should be addressed as national priorities. These included removing existing bottlenecks on the A90 at Dundee, and on other parts of the trunk road network such as at Keir Roundabout on A9/M9 south of Dunblane; safety improvements on the A9 west and north of Perth; improving road and rail access to our ports at Dundee, Montrose and Perth to encourage more sustainable movement of freight; delivering further improvements to our internal and external rail connections; and modernising and expanding the strategic transport hubs at Dundee, Perth and Stirling.

 
“We have recently developed and will shortly be publishing our Regional Park & Ride Strategy, which identifies proposals for introducing strategic Park & Ride sites on the approaches to Dundee and also at Bannockburn.
 
“We are pleased that many of these projects have been identified within today’s announcement and will want to discuss with Government how these and our other priorities, which support the National Transport Strategy, might be addressed within the framework set out by the Minister today.”

Today’s update …

A busy day today starting with my chairing the TACTRAN (regional transport partnership) meeting at the Angus Council Chamber in Forfar.

 

Later on, I also chaired a meeting regarding Travel Dundee’s bus service changes, at which a representative of the bus company met with City Councillors to explain the company’s rationale for the changes and listen to our concerns about some of the changes, which commence on 2nd November. You can download a copy of the new bus route guide by going to : http://td.casionwide.com/news/archived/downloads/routemap_download.pdf

 

Tonight, I attended the monthly meeting of Blackness Area Residents’ Association at the Corso Street Sheltered Lounge.

Al-Maktoum … and Transport Conference

Busy day today, starting off with a useful meeting this morning with Professor Malory Nye, Principal of the Al-Maktoum Institute For Arabic and Islamic Studies, regarding the proposal for a cultural centre on the former Logie Secondary School site.    Although the project has run behind schedule, I was assured of Dubai’s commitment to the project and it is hoped to see progress in future months.   Meantime, I was pleased to hear that a further clean-up of the site will be organised in the next few weeks, including tree trimming where these are impacting on adjacent properties in Rosefield Street.
 
After that, I chaired a meeting at Gleneagles of Regional Transport Partnership Chairs, with Stewart Stevenson MSP, the Transport Minister, about (rather obviously) Scottish transport issues.  Thereafter, I attended the first couple of sessions at the Scottish CPT Conference (Confederation of Passenger Transport UK) and, on return to Dundee, held two surgeries – at the Mitchell Street Centre and Harris Academy.   A long, but productive day!

tactranliftshare.com – a massive hit!

As Chair of the regional transport partnership, TACTRAN, I was delighted to see the report of the growing success of TACTRAN’s liftshare scheme – tactranliftshare.com – in today’s Courier – see : http://www.thecourier.co.uk/output/2008/09/24/newsstory12005763t0.asp to view the full story.
Along with TACTRAN’s Director, Eric Guthrie, I recently took part in a discussion on Tay AM’s “Business Matters” programme, about TACTRAN’s role and the success of the partnership’s liftshare scheme.
You can access the Dundee part of the liftshare scheme at http://www.dundeeliftshare.com/.

National Liftshare Day tomorrow …

Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership (TACTRAN) has added a “Buddy Scheme” to its regional liftsharing site.
This coincides with National Liftshare Day on Monday 9th June and complements the Partnership’s already successful car sharing database, which encourages more sustainable travel across Tayside and Central Scotland. The latest upgrade to the site extends the liftsharing facility for matching up journeys to include anyone who is walking or cycling and also taxi users.

Developed with a Scottish Government grant, tactranliftshare.com is a regional website which includes the four partner local authority liftsharing schemes: Angusliftshare.com, Dundeelilftshare.com, PerthandKinrossliftshare.com and Stirlingliftshare.com.

The http://www.tactranliftshare.com/ website was launched in June 2007 to encourage sustainable travel and highlight the benefits of sharing journeys with others. The site helps people who work and live in the region to find lifts through a database which matches journeys and times of travel.

The site is free and available to both the general public and private groups. You don’t even need a car to register a match for liftsharing – and any journey mode registered can be regular or one-off. The current regional liftshare membership of 1,500 has collectively saved 1.4 million road miles and 415 tonnes of Co2 so far!

Members simply register and enter their journeys on the site and when suitable matches are identified, they’re emailed basic contact information such as first names and postcode area. The whole process is handled through tactranliftshare and security advice on contacting and meeting potential sharers is fully provided on the website.

TACTRAN Chair, Councillor Fraser Macpherson said :-

“Promoting more sustainable travel is a key part of tactran’s Regional Transport Strategy. Our increasingly popular liftshare scheme aims to cut congestion and reduce the impact transport has on our local and global environment. The introduction of a “buddy scheme” incorporating other travel modes offers existing and potential users further alternatives to drive-alone commuting, which we hope will lead to more sustainable use of the private motor car and provide people with greater travel choice.”

With the extensive movement of commuters across the region for work, study and leisure, the introduction of the Buddy Scheme on tactranliftshare offers new benefits for residents of Angus, Dundee, Perth and Kinross and Stirling as well as people travelling from outside the region.

Other major employers are also supporting the initiative by forming private groups within the scheme. In addition to the partner Councils’ own sites, NHS Tayside, The University of Dundee and Stirling University also operate liftshare schemes. By encouraging employees to car share, a considerable reduction in drive-alone journeys can be achieved. This in turn will help in cutting congestion, which is good for the local economy as well as the environment.

A busy week …

A busy few days have passed – including the following!

* I attended a meeting of Blackness Area Residents’ Association on Tuesday evening. Amongst the matters discussed was the issue of wheelie bins on pavements and I was able to update the group on the steps the City Council is currently undertaking to address the issue.

* On Wednesday, a very useful visit to Scottish and Southern Energy’s headquarters in Perth. The purpose behind this was to see their customer contact centre and, in particular, how they assist elderly and vulnerable people who have suffered a loss of electricity supply. The invitation to visit followed an elderly constituent having a loss of supply recently. It was worthwhile to see how the situation is handled when this happens to a vulnerable person and gave me useful knowledge for assisting constituents further on future occasions too.

* This morning, a photocall to launch new electronic car parking signage. Here’s me at the launch with Eric Guthrie, TACTRAN Director, followed by the City Council news release below (the new signs also got a mention in tonight’s Evening Telegraph – click on headline above to view)

New electronic signage to help motorists in Dundee find available car parking spaces was officially switched on today (Thursday May 1).

The signs provide information about the number of available spaces in 12 car parks around the city’s inner ring road and is the result of funding from the Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership (TACTRAN).

The up-dated signage gives “live” information of major car park occupancy which will help reduce unnecessary traffic going round looking for a parking space.

City council planning and transport convener and Chair of TACTRAN, Councillor Fraser Macpherson said: “There were 12 information signs installed about a decade ago and they have now been replaced by 23 new signs at strategic points along the inner ring road.

“They will help motorists by providing them with information about the availability of spaces in the major car parks around the city centre and there is also improved directional signage to ensure direct links between the inner ring road and adjacent main car parks.”

“As well as helping motorists find a parking space more easily, the new information system will contribute to TACTRAN’s Regional Transport Strategy objectives, by helping to reduce City Centre traffic congestion, improving air quality, and assisting public transport operation, through more efficient management of traffic using the City’s transport network”.

The sign legends have been improved with LED displays of the number of available spaces at the nearest car park as well as the cumulative number of spaces should a motorist continue along the ring road.

The system works by detecting vehicular movement at car park entrances and exits, with the information relayed by radio signal from the car park to a control centre at Tayside House. The information is then relayed to the information signs.

* This afternoon, a thoroughly enjoyable visit to Blackness Primary School to the unveiling of the Primary Sevens’ creative window shutters, based on the theme of endangered species. These look absolutely superb (and my photo below doesn’t do them justice!) – a great result for Primary Seven and for Quality Contact who helped with the project.

* Lastly, tonight I attended the Harris Academy Parent Council, which included a very interesting presentation on pupil support.

And … Tuesday!

I chaired the TACTRAN Board today (regional transport partnership – includes Stirling, Perth & Kinross and Angus Councils as well as us in Dundee) – included very informative presentations on Park and Ride, Demand Responsive Transport, Walking and Cycling and other strategies in the regional area.

This afternoon, a useful and productive meeting with one of the local Head Teachers on the West End youth football team initiative, and tonight a meeting with Blackness Area Residents’ Association.

Lastly, a positive response from Dundee City Council following complaints raised by both myself and the Friends of Magdalen Green about inadequate litter bin provision on Magdalen Green.

I’m pleased with the prompt response by the City Council’s Leisure & Communities Department to recent complaints about litter on the Green and, in particular overflowing litter bins and a toilet roll wrapped round the bandstand. I was a bit surprised by the comment of a Council spokeswoman who told the Courier “the bin supply is adequate.”

Although the department empties bins very regularly, it is patently obvious that the existing provision of bins is inadequate. Bins were overflowing yesterday.


I am therefore pleased to have received confirmation today that the department is to “consider an extra few bins strategically placed to accept the overflow” something which I think will be welcomed.

A few other things from last week…

Firstly, football. Last Wednesday, one of the West End Community Council members and I had a really productive meeting with the University of Dundee’s Institute of Sport and Exercise and the City Council Leisure & Communities Department to progress a proposal to establish an Under 11s junior football team for the West End.
The Community Council member has good experience of this prior to moving to the West End and we’re confident of the support of others in the local community including local primary schools, but for this to succeed, access to facilities is vital and we were very pleased with the positive co-operation of the University and City Council. I am now on the trail on a local business to sponsor things like football strips, etc!
Although the Mitchell Street Centre and Blackness Library, for example, are excellent local facilities, it is important to build up the amount of organised popular activities for the area’s young people and this proposal is an excellent one and, I’m pleased to say, one the West End Community Council has been keen to support us with.
Another West End activity I attended last week was the first get-together of the West End Local Community Planning Partnership on Thursday, which started with an initial induction session. Local Community Planning Partnerships are being set up across the eight wards in Dundee to support the development of the Local Community Plans, help address local problems, bring together representatives from local organisations and the City Council and hopefully improve community involvement.
Lastly, yesterday’s Courier also featured an article about moving forward proposals for a Park and Ride facility on the south side of the Tay. You can read the full article by clicking on the headline above. JMP Consulting has been commissioned to do a cross-Tay study by SEStran, the statutory transport partnership of eight councils—Fife, Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Midlothian, Borders and West Lothian. As Chair of TACTRAN, the transport partnership for Tayside and Stirling, I was pleased that we have contributed to the project, as the proposal would not just assist communities in North East Fife but would also bring benefits to relieving traffic congestion in Dundee. As I said,

“I am well aware, as a ward councillor in the west end, of the significant problems caused by vehicles parking in residential areas and a number of local employers, particularly Ninewells Hospital and the University of Dundee, have a lot of staff coming over from Fife.
“Clearly, having a park-and-ride system is something we would greatly welcome.”

Busy Week!

Having spent the first part of the week in London with the “day job”, it has been exceptionally busy on return. Travelled via the new St Pancras International and (despite my dreadful photography attempt) you can see – right – that it’s a pretty impressive rail station.

On return to Dundee on Wednesday, I chaired the regional transport partnership board (TACTRAN) meeting in Perth and later attended the City Council’s Development Quality Forum at which the Depute Director of the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (what we used to call the Reporters’ Unit!) spoke. It was extremely informative.

Yesterday, I attended a Digital UK update at Dundee City Chambers on the digital television switch-over, aimed primarily at housing providers. Most of my “digital TV issues” really lie with Ofcom (as previously covered on this blog) but as the organisation responsible for publicising the analogue switch off, I was keen to raise the concerns I have about the assistance vulnerable people (particularly the elderly and disabled).

Although there is assistance in terms of the cost of digital terrestrial equipment and aerial compatibility for elderly and disabled people, the latter aspect does not apply to people in flats, and given the very large number of people in flats and tenements in parts of the West End, this exception is of concern. Many people in tenements have complex communal aerial set-ups (often installed many years ago) and I consider it vital that elderly and disabled citizens get the help they need to ensure they get continuation of their TV services after 2010.

I am pleased to say that Digital UK confirmed that a flexible approach will be taken to ensure all necessary assistance is given to vulnerable people.

I would have been at the regional transport partnerships chairs meeting in Inverness today, but the weather situation resulted in cancellation.