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.
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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.