Xplore Dundee bus change from 3rd January 2017

With thanks to Suzy Scott at dundeebuses.info, here is an Xplore Dundee bus change from 3rd January 2017 affecting the West End :
 
Services 5/9/10 (Barnhill – Ninewells and Outer Circle) (timetable is Monday to Friday only – no change to Saturday or Sunday) – Service 10 at 20.40 and 21.40 from Ninewells Hospital will divert to pick up at Tesco’s call centre in Baird Avenue at 22.06 or 23.06, running five minutes later through to Ninewells Hospital.    
 
As a result, Service 5s from Ninewells to City Centre at 22.30 and 23.30 will run five minutes later as a result.

Bus Service 203 – diversion from next Monday

I previously advised of the changes to bus routes for Xplore Dundee services whilst the current roadworks on part of Perth Road are taking place.    
 
From Monday (23rd), the Sinderins junction itself will be resurfaced (this will take up to a week).    This will require a diversion for bus service 203 and Xplore Dundee advise it will follow the diversion below:
 
Normal route to Perth Road, then left into Roseangle, following on to Magdalen Yard Road, right into Windsor Street, Perth Road, Hyndford Street, Blackness Avenue and then Seymour Street.
 
The route will be followed in reverse when heading towards the City Centre.

203, 204 and 204a bus service diversions during Perth Road roadworks

Earlier today, I advised of the changes to bus routes for Xplore Dundee services when the roadworks on part of Perth Road start next Monday.     However, the poster did not include details of the services tendered by the City Council (the 203, 204 and 204a).     Xplore Dundee now advises the following with the 204/204a services :
 
Service 204 (to the City Centre)
Normal route to Corso Street, then left into Blackness Avenue, Sinderins junction, left into Perth Road and then normal route from Nethergate.
 
Service 204a (to the City Centre)
Normal route to Newhall Gardens and Perth Road, then left into Glamis Road, right into Blackness Road, right into Blackness Avenue Sinderins junction, left into Perth Road and then normal route from Nethergate. 
 
Service 204 (from the City Centre)
Normal route to Nethergate, then carry on to Perth Road, Sinderins junction, right into Blackness Avenue and then normal route from Corso Street.
 
Service 204a (from the City Centre)
Normal route to Nethergate, then carry on to Perth Road, Sinderins junction, right into Blackness Avenue, left into Blackness Road, left into Glamis Road, and then normal route from Perth Road. 
 
Phase 2 (the Sinderins junction closure – third week only – not until 23rd May) will affect service 203 – but Dundee City Council is still considering which option to go with, once a route viability test has been carried out on some of the streets in the Blackness/West End area.

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 :

Meeting with Xplore Dundee

Yesterday, I met with the Managing Director of Xplore Dundee and two of her colleagues about local bus services in the West End.
 
The good news is that, from 24th April, Xplore Dundee is issuing revised timetables for the 9/10 service which, with additional resource being added into the service, aims to tackle reliability issues and will hopefully ensure the service runs to timetable at all times.    The new timetable for the 9/10 will be a combined timetable with the 5 service which, given the partially shared route, will be of assistance to passengers.
 
We also had a useful discussion about inter-operator bus ticketing, likely to come to Dundee this summer, which is good news from passengers and a step towards the Saltire Card functionality becoming a reality, which, in later phases, will allow cash to be put onto a inter-operator card and use on other modes of transport.

Xplore Dundee Bus Service 10

I have received a number of constituents’ concerns about the reliability of the Xplore Dundee Service 10, particularly running from the Technology Park.
 
I took up the matter with the Managing Director of Xplore Dundee who has responded as follows :
 
“We are actively working towards a solution to the No. 10 Service, we are aware of the issues and are also unhappy that our customers are having problems with the service. We have had a number of staff monitoring the service to identify specific pinch points along the route to allow us to be sure any fix resolves the issues permanently.
 
We have had issues around a number of areas on the back half of the route, road works, faulty traffic lights and problems traversing the Forfar Road. All of these have simply compounded our passengers difficulties. 
 
Our scheduler is currently working on a resolution which should alleviate the problem long term.
 
Despite recent press suggestions we do not care, we have offered to engage with customers who have issues with service provision and always respond to complaints. Our aim is to resolve the issue permanently however we can not guarantee to increase levels of service in areas where there are insufficient customers to make a service viable.
 
Time scales for any permanent change will however be subject to legal constraints or at short notice if supported by Dundee City Council.”

Kirsty Semple Way – one day closure – bus diversions

Further to the update I gave earlier this week about the one day closure of Kirsty Semple Way in the Ninewells Hospital grounds this coming Saturday (24th October), Xplore Dundee has advised that the closure will affect the buses on Saturday as follows :
 
Saturday 24 October 2015 for 1 day affecting Services 5, 9,9A,10,10A
 
Service 5, 9 / 9A – To Ninewells 
 
Normal route to Perth Road then via Tom McDonald Avenue, Explorer Road, Mallaig Avenue, Spey Drive, Charleston Drive, to James Arrott Drive
 
Service 9 / 9A – From Ninewells  
(will not be serving the Technology Park during this diversion – please use Service 5 or 10)
 
From James Arrott Drive, then via Charleston Drive, Spey Drive, Mallaig Avenue, South Road and normal route.    
 
Service 5, 10 / 10A – From Ninewells
 
From James Arrott Drive, then via Charleston Drive, Spey Drive, Mallaig Avenue, Explorer Road, Tom McDonald Avenue, to Perth Road and normal route
 
Service 10 – To Ninewells  
 
Normal route to South Road then via Mallaig Avenue, Spey Drive, Charleston Drive to James Arrott Drive.
 
Customers wishing to travel to the Technology Park on Service 10 will be required to travel to Ninewells Hospital and disembark in the Technology Park on its route into the city – no additional ticket purchase will be required.
 
We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused during this one day diversion.

Bus services to the Technology Park – an update

Last week, I updated residents about the problems the recent Xplore Dundee bus changes had made to people working in the Technology Park and the fact that I had contacted the bus company about this – specifically seeking an improvement in evening services.
 
I was pleased to have been advised by Xplore Dundee management that, following a meeting between Xplore Dundee and HMRC who have over 600 staff working in the Technology Park, the bus company has applied for registration for the following evening services to be re-routed to cover Explorer Road in the Technology Park:

It is hoped to be able to start these services from Monday of next week.   The bus company advises :

 
“We are aiming for October 26th. Our scheduler is checking daily for the go ahead from the traffic commissioners so once this is received we will implement the change.”

Bus services to the Technology Park

I have been contacted by a number of people who work in the Technology Park about the recent National Express Dundee (now Xplore Dundee) bus service changes and how they detrimentally affect services to the Technology Park.
 
As one person put it :
 
“I am currently employed by HMRC at Sidlaw House in the Dundee Technology Park, part of a team of approximately 650 people.   Unfortunately recent changes to the bus timetables & routes servicing my workplace have been reduced, and during some times removed.   Both myself and my colleagues have been detrimentally affected.    I am now concerned about those of us with mobility issues to reach the nearest bus stop, and concerned over the personal safety of colleagues making the same journey.”
 
I have already pointed out the negative impact of removing the Service 5 from the far west part of Perth Road and this also impacts on services to the Technology Park.
 
I appreciate the detailed points the staff have made, particularly the safety issue in the evenings, and contacted the Managing Director of Xplore Dundee about this.     She has confirmed that a meeting between HMRC and Xplore Dundee has taken place to discuss the concerns and the bus company is “currently putting plans in place to address the main issues.”
 
I have asked to be advised of the detail of these once available.

Bus changes affecting the West End

There will be changes to National Express Dundee bus services from Sunday 13th September (and the company will be rebranding locally as Xplore Dundee this autumn too).

 
I am grateful to Suzy Scott of dundeebuses.info for the detailed breakdown below (in which I highlight only the changes as they affect the West End) – these are now in the public domain, having been published by the Traffic Commissioners in their weekly Notices and Proceedings.
 
There are significant changes across the city but the changes that particularly impact on the West End are as follows :
 
Service 5, X5 – Ninewells Hospital to Balgillo (and Outer Circle between these places) :
 
•        A revised timetable, with all buses running as Service 5. 
 
•        All buses will run to and from Ninewells Hospital via Perth Road and Tom McDonald Avenue. Technology Park to be served by the Outer Circle, with Gowrie Park served by the 29.    Please see my comments below about the negative impact on the very far west part of Perth Road.
 
•        The daytime service of every 7-8 minutes during the day (some as Outer Circle) Monday to Saturdays continues, with buses doubled between the City Centre and Ninewells Hospital, as almost all buses will now run through. 
 
•        Sundays will have two buses an hour from Ninewells Hospital to City Centre, with four buses an hour from City Centre to Balgillo.   Evening service is part of revised Services 9A/10A.
 
Services 9-12 Outer Circle :
 
• Service much simplified, with buses now showing 9 Clockwise Mon-Sat daytimes, 9A Mon-Sat evenings and Sundays, 10 Anti-Clockwise Mon-Sat daytimes, 10A Mon-Sat evenings and Sundays.   Two morning buses will continue to by-pass Douglas as Service 9C. Monday-Saturday services will be every half hour, with a Sunday half-hourly service between Ninewells and Balgillo, and hourly elsewhere on the route.
 
• Between City Centre and Ninewells Hospital, buses will operate direct along Perth Road and Tom McDonald Avenue.    Blackness Avenue, Balgay Park, Pentland Avenue and City Road will now be served by Service 17, and also served by Services 51, 203 and 204. Glamis Road and Elmwood Road will still be covered by Services 204A and 205. 
 
Services 15, 17 Whitfield to Technology Park :
• Between City Centre and The Friary, Service 17 is rerouted via Perth Road, Sinderins, Blackness Avenue, City Road, and onto Tullideph Road.   This replaces the Outer Circle section between Sinderins & The Friary.
 
• Most daytime buses on the 17 will now terminate at Ninewells Hospital, with some peak time buses extended to Medipark and Technology Park. Gowrie Park will now be covered by Service 29 all day, while the off peak buses to the Technology Park will be provided by the Outer Circle.
 
• Service 17 will run every half hour on evenings and Sundays, as now, thus then providing more buses to Blackness Avenue and Pentland Avenue.
 
Services 28, 29 Douglas to Charleston :
 
• Service 29 no longer serves Asda Myrekirk Road.  Service 28 will continue to do so.   No effect on West End part of the route (Lochee Road).
 
• Bus times are now standardised, Monday to Friday, at the same times.   Service will be gradually converted to only double deck buses.
 
Commentary :   There are clearly significant changes for the West End (and, indeed, across the city).   In particular, the 9/10 service no longer serving Blackness, Pentland, Tullideph areas but instead going right along Perth Road as far as Tom McDonald Avenue;  the 17 no longer serving the Lochee Road area but instead picking up the Blackness, Pentland, Tullideph areas that the 9/10 used to serve, and the 5 no longer serving the very far west end of Perth Road west of the roundabout at the bottom of Ninewells Avenue.   The latter area will continue to the served by the hourly Stagecoach 16 service.
 
Prior to the changes becoming public with the submission to the Traffic Commissioners, I met with the Managing Director of National Express Dundee and with the company’s Operations Manager, to discuss the proposals.    
 
Many of the changes across the city are positive with increased frequencies and simplified timetables.     However, some of the changes are disappointing – back in 2012, I organised a petition (that hundreds signed) against the removal of Service 5 from the far west part of Perth Road and the Technology Park – a decision that was thankfully reversed – so it is disappointing to see the areas around Millbay Terrace, Millbay Gardens, Clovis Duveau Drive and the far west of Perth Road losing National Express Dundee services (although the Stagecoach 16 service will continue to cover the area).
 
There are also changes to the timetable for the X7 hospital bus service (between Royal Victoria Hospital, Ninewells Hospital and Perth Royal Infirmary) from 17th August.  You can download the new timetable here.

Meeting with National Express Dundee

Yesterday, I had a useful and constructive meeting with Elsie Turbyne, the new Managing Director of National Express Dundee (see right).
 
In particular, I was keen to emphasise the need for low carbon buses particularly on the 28/29 and 17 routes that cover Lochee Road, given the air quality issues on part of the route.
 
Ms Turbyne indicated that National Express is investing in new fleet this financial year which will bring in significant new/newer buses in the city.   This will ensure all buses the company uses in Dundee are at least Euro 3 compliant.    
 
This is a good step forward but I would like to see the low carbon vehicles that are already used on Service 5 also being used on other West End services.

National Express Dundee Open Day and Harris Academy PTPA Strawberry Fair

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending National Express Dundee’s Open Day, a great day with lots of activities and vintage vehicles.   See below:
With Phil Smith yesterday
And … it was also an opportunity to speak with Phil Smith, Managing Director of National Express Dundee and we had a good chat about bus matters, including my request that, when National Express Dundee next purchases new buses (and particularly hybrid-electric buses) it considers doing so on the 28/29 and 17 routes, given that these very regular services use the air-quality hotspot of Lochee Road.  
 
I am meeting council officers (both transport and environment) in the near future, along with a representative of Friends of the Earth, to further discuss the air quality issues in that part of Lochee Road (around Polepark Road to Tullideph Road).
 
Thereafter yesterday, I enjoyed a visit to the Harris Academy PTPA Strawberry Fair.   It was great to see that a good number of residents from the area of the school’s current decant in Lawton Road supporting the event as well as parents and carers.

Rethink needed on new bus service timetable

I have called on the City Council to look again at the bus timetable for the new 9, 10, 11 and 12 service recently introduced by National Express Dundee, with subsidy support from the City Council.   This follows complaints by constituents in parts of the route around Tullideph that the timing of the bus is badly aligned with the only other nearby bus service, the 17.
 
Constituents in Tullideph are rightly complaining about the rather bizarre timetable for this new service.  The 9, 10, 11, 12 service is in itself a very welcome development giving communities evening and weekend services where these were previously lacking, but residents are rightly complaining that the timetable is badly aligned to other services.
 
The biggest problem is that the bus from the Tullideph area travelling into town is at 25 minutes past the hour and the 17 is at 26 minutes past the hour.    Both are half hourly services and passengers – many of whom are elderly – have to wait at least another 28 minutes for the next bus.    Many other areas of the city enjoy far more frequent services, some enjoying a 8 to 10 minute service.
 
It would make far more sense for the 9, 10, 11, 12 service to be spaced equally between 17 buses so Tullideph and adjacent areas got a 15 minute service.
 
The City Council’s Head of Transportation advised me:
 
‘As you will be aware a large percentage of bus operations in Dundee are commercially operated, of which we have very little say in frequencies they propose to operate.
We will, if necessary look to subsidise any areas that we feel are disadvantaged by some service withdrawal decisions made by the operators, as in this case, we have subsidised the 9/10/11/12 evening service and Sunday services.
I am aware that service 9/10/11/12 operates all around Dundee and has a running time of two hours which means that this service cannot run in between other services in all areas of Dundee. If the service was to operate evenly on Tullideph Road it would not operate evenly between buses in other areas of Dundee, and this was a decision that National Express have decided to operate.’
 
I responded saying that as the 9, 10, 11, 12 service is a subsidised service, the council should be able to influence the timetable and it would make a lot of sense to look again at the service timings.
 
The new service is welcome but it has to be appropriately timed to maximise the benefit for local communities such as the people living in the Tullideph area.    I have asked the Head of Transportation to look at this issue and it would make sense to discuss it with the operators, National Express Dundee.

Launch of Dundee’s new hybrid buses

This morning, along with fellow councillors, the Lord Provost, the city’s MSPs and other invited guests, I had the pleasure of attending the launch of nine brand new hybrid-electric double decker buses by National Express Dundee.   See photo from the launch at Dundee High School below:
It is great to see these Scottish-built, environmentally friendly vehicles being used on the Number 5 route that serves much of the West End and it was fitting that the party was taken on one of the buses to the University of Dundee’s Botanic Garden, where there were speeches by the Lord Provost and Phil Smith, Managing Director of National Express Dundee.   Phil is pictured giving his address (above right).
It was also good to take the opportunity of the visit to the Botanic Garden to speak with some of the team from the Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden who are setting up for their plant sale tomorrow – see below.   It is on from 12 noon to 3pm at the Botanic Garden tomorrow – don’t miss it!

Photocall at the Botanic Garden

This morning, I had the pleasure in taking part in a photocall at the Botanic Garden, along with Phil Smith, Managing Director of National Express Dundee and Frances Tait, Chair of the Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden, to mark the fact that, henceforth, Number 5 buses will include in their electronic displays the Botanic Garden as a destination.
On behalf of the Friends, I approached National Express Dundee about this and the bus company responded extremely positively and is also looking to help the Botanic Garden in other ways through garden tickets being made available for sale at the Dundee Bus Shop and also advertising the garden on Number 5 bus timetables from the next re-print onwards.
Frances, myself and Phil at the Botanic Garden this morning

 

Monday activities …

Yesterday, I had a very useful meeting with National Express Dundee’s Managing Director and External Communications Officer following my raising issues about the recent bus fares increase.   We discussed the reasons behind the increase in some depth and it is clear that a number of the factors behind it are outwith the direct control of the bus operators, in particular the Scottish Government’s cuts to the Bus Service Operators’ Grant.      Although not linked to the recent bus fare rise, there are also concerns about Scottish Government’s cap on funding the concessionary travel scheme and the potential situation for 2013/14.
 
One issue I had flagged up at the time of the announcement of the fares increase was the disproportionate impact of fares increases on low income working age families and therefore it is good to learn of the Westminster Government’s month’s free bus travel proposal this month for jobseekers.   More details can be found here and I was pleased to learn that National Express is supporting this initiative.
 
Later yesterday, I met with the City Council’s Director of Corporate Services and with the City Architect regarding both the Olympia and Blackness Library projects.
 
With regard to the Olympia project, the officers emphasised their commitment to work with the contractor to ensure the revised contract timetable that would deliver the new facility is open to the public by June is achieved.   However, the officers said they feel it is inappropriate, given contractual confidentiality, to comment on the specifics of the reasons behind the delays in delivery of the new Olympia.    I reiterated my view that, whilst appreciating commercial confidentiality issues, the City Council should be open and transparent.
 
On the Blackness Library project, I was advised that the increase in the project timescale to 29 weeks was largely because of steps being taken to obviate noise disruption when the library is open to the public, keep one upstairs meeting room open for as long as possible during the works and the need to construct parts of the works on-site given the limited size of the site.
 
I am anxious to ensure that during the six weeks that the library is likely to be completely closed during the works, there are adequate alternative arrangements for the groups who use the facility and alternative library arrangements, whether that be use of the mobile library or a temporary alternative site in the West End.
 
Also yesterday I was updated by the Director of City Development regarding the remaining work on the pavements of part of the Perth Road shopping area that was delayed over the Christmas shopping work disruption embargo.    He advised:
 
“The SSE works were suspended as the works entered the Christmas embargo and it became apparent that they would not be completed without causing further disruption on the lead up to Christmas.  The SSE works recommenced today 7 January 2013 and are programmed for completion on Sunday 13 January 2013.”
 
Yesterday, with the start of the new school term, I held the first of my West End Ward Surgeries of 2013.   I hold surgeries every week during school term time as follows:

+  EACH MONDAY AT 4.20pm PROMPT : Mitchell Street Centre (in the Base)

+  EACH MONDAY AT 4.50pm PROMPT : Harris Academy (at the school reception area)

+  EACH THURSDAY AT 6.15pm PROMPT : Blackness Primary School (in the staffroom – ground floor)

Meeting with National Express Dundee over bus fares increase

As reported in yesterday’s Courier and Evening Telegraph, I have highlighted my concerns about the hike in National Express Dundee bus fares due to take place at the weekend, pointing out that these are well-above inflation and fail to recognise the government’s cancellation of the fuel duty increase that had originally been planned for the New Year.
 
I highlighted that the bus fares hike in Dundee is significantly above other price rises – the adult daysaver ticket increase to £3.40 (20p increase) is an increase of 6.25%.    The latest consumer prices index figures released by the Office of National Statistics on 18th December show CPI inflation at just 2.7%.
 
Speaking with West End constituents, it is clear that there is concern about the level of National Express Dundee’s bus fares increase.   Whilst those with concessionary passes will obviously not be subject to the fares increase,  it will particularly adversely impact on working age adults who are on a  low income.    
 
Dundee has a lower level of car ownership than average and very many Dundonians rely on local bus services.   The level of the bus fare hike is disappointing and I am meeting the Managing Director of National Express Dundee early next week to discuss the issue.    
 
I have also asked if the bus company will consider some form of fares concession to those Dundonians who are on low incomes and aim to discuss this and a number of West End bus service issues at next week’s meeting.

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

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.

Service 5 bus – west end of Perth Road

Earlier this month, I highlighted the concerns of local residents and myself at the decision of National Express Dundee to re-route the 5 bus service so that it no longer covers the very far west end of Perth Road – west of the Ninewells Avenue roundabout.   This means that residents in that part of Perth Road, Millbay Terrace, Millbay Gardens and Clovis Duveau Drive can no longer catch the 5 service near their homes, nor can visitors to the Riverview Nursing Home use the service anymore.

I am very grateful to the local residents who have kindly offered to collect signatures on the petition I have started – see below.    Any resident wishing to sign the petition, please let me know – 459378 or buspetition@frasermacpherson.org.uk – many thanks.

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.

Dundee bus fares increases

Dundee bus services operated by National Express Dundee see fares increases from Sunday (8th January) and I have been in contact with the Managing Director of National Express Dundee about this.

Specifically, in the new fares structure, although the cost of weekly tickets (both adult and child) has been frozen, and student fares will not increase during the current academic year, which is welcome, the cost of 4-weekly and annual passes increases, including the cheapest method – direct debit – does increase, along with single fare charges.   So, for example, a 4-weekly direct debit pass increases in cost from £37 to £39 (its non-direct debit equivalent increases in cost from £41 to £43).

I have suggested to National Express Dundee that the increases in 4-weekly and annual pass costs make the purchase of these (particularly by Direct Debit) less attractive and an incentive to buy these by freezing charges should be considered along with the welcome freeze in weekly pass charges.

School bus withdrawal concern

Last night’s “Evening Telegraph” reported my concerns and those of many West End constituents about the proposed withdrawal of the 4S School Bus Service from the start of the new term this month.    The 4S serves parts of the West End Ward (eg City Road, Pentland Avenue, Scott Street, Glenagnes Road, Blackness Road, Peddie Street, Hawkhill, Perth Road and Nethergate) and takes pupils to St John’s High School.     

Following concerns I have received from parents of St John’s pupils about the service withdrawal, my office at Tayside House sought clarification from National Express Dundee and I paste below the response received :

“I refer to your email regarding the 4s service which currently serves the St Johns High School.   As you will be aware Councillor Macpherson had a meeting with Mr Smith regarding services in the west end just prior to going off on his holiday and at that time he was informed that we had carried out a review carried of all the services which we currently operate and decisions were taken regarding those services which were no longer viable for us to operate on a commercial basis.     The 4s is one such service and was not a decision that we took lightly but I can advise that the pupils who do use the service are still able to get to school and home again albeit their journeys will be slightly longer.

From the 14th August the new revised 26 service will depart from the Seagate at 0754 and from Whitehall Street at 0800 heading towards Ninewells Hospital and should arrive at the school at approximately 0840.   For the return journey they have two options: one being the 26 service at 1545 towards Ninewells Hospital arriving into the City at 1627, the second option being  to board the 10s leaving St John’s at 1532 arriving at the Hospital at 1551 where they would then be able to catch a 5, 17 or 22 to their destination.”

This is a considerably longer and less direct route to/from school and parents are rightly concerned about it – particularly when the darker mornings and late afternoons are upon us later in the year.

As one concerned parent advised me :

“The current 4S, travelling twice a day, is usually well used, but if the company say that it makes a loss then they could at least provide the details to the council to demonstrate this fact.  The 26 route is considerably longer and will add at least 30mins on to the school day by my reckoning.  My daughter is likely to walk as this will actually be quicker – even though that walk will take half an hour.”

The Director of Education has advised me :

“Sent: 26 July 2011 09:41

To: Fraser Macpherson

Subject: Re: School Service Number 4S

Fraser
Thank you for sharing this information with me. A letter was issued by the company to the school and my understanding is that the headteacher issued a letter advising parents of the changes. The letter reads:
8th June 2011
Dear Mrs McLagan,
Bus Service 4S
I am writing to inform you that from the start of the next academic year in August 2011, bus service 4S will no longer operate.  This service currently serves your school from the Peddie Street, Scott Street and Pentland Avenue areas of the City.
The service has been reviewed, along with other school services we run, and the passenger numbers do not justify the ongoing supply of the service.
I would be grateful if you could bring this to the attention of pupils that use this service.
We have a number of other services that run close to your school and these can, of course,  be utilised by these pupils to access the school.
Yours sincerely…..
We have been in discussion with the bus company but they are clear that the usage was such that it was not economical to operate the service. The headteacher (Fiona McLagan) will monitor the position from the start of the new term.
Regards
Michael
Michael Wood 

Director of Education

Dundee City Council”

I have asked the City Council’s Head of Transportation for usage figures.    The impression I have is that the 4S was a well-used service by St John’s pupils who live in the West End and I am very concerned that the alternative arrangements to be very unsatisfactory, particularly when the winter months are upon us.


(Incidentally the 28S service is also being withdrawn – this does not affect the West End Ward but will affect pupils in Barnhill, Douglas, Happyhillock and Claverhouse who attend St Paul’s Academy).

Update on bus service concerns

Earlier this week, I mentioned my concerns about the future of the Number 4 bus service in the West End part of its route.

Yesterday, I met with Phil Smith, the new Managing Director of National Express Dundee over the situation and Mr Smith confirmed that, although the 4 service will continue on a revised route going to Dryburgh via Hilltown, National Express Dundee intends to withdraw the West End part of the 4’s route (along with the withdrawal of some other services including with the 3/3A and 28S in other parts of Dundee) from August.

I outlined my concerns to the bus company about the effect on many elderly people in the West End.   The 4 service provided a lifeline for residents in the Peddie Street/Logie/Scott Street/City Road and Tullideph areas and I am very disappointed that National Express Dundee intends to cut out the West End part of the 4 service.   

The 4 service, currently coming along Scott Street, is a very useful service, particularly for the people in the north of the Logie estate.   It is also well used by people in the City Road and Pentland/Tullideph/Ancrum areas.   Both Logie and Tullideph have a large concentration of Sheltered Housing and the loss of this service in their area will be a really detrimental step.

I also recently met with the council’s Head of Transportation and from that meeting it is clear that the council will try to fill part of the gap through a restricted subsidised service, but it will by no means fully fill the gap caused by the 4’s intended West End demise.   The new subsidised service (the 204) will only run every 2 hours on that part of its route which is “hardly compensation” for the loss of the Service 4 in the West End.

At my meeting with Phil Smith yesterday, Mr Smith did give a commitment to monitor closely usage of the 204 service because, if it is well-used, that will be a clear indication that a more frequent commercial service could be viable in the Peddie Street/Scott Street/City Road area of the city in the future.   I also raised the decision to reduce the daytime frequency of the Number 5 service in its West End leg from 15 to 20 minutes that I view as a retrograde step.    I also suggested an improvement to the 5 route so that it covered the far west end of Perth Road in both directions – currently the area around Clovis Duveau Drive can get the service in the inbound direction only.

It was worthwhile to meet Phil Smith on his return to National Express Dundee, in particular, in order that I could express my concerns about the re-routing of the Number 4 service.   I will continue to campaign for a rethink by the bus company on this route change that detrimentally affects many residents in parts of the West End Ward.  

Last Friday, I took part in a meeting with Logie residents at the Lime Street sheltered lounge and speaking with residents afterwards, it is very clear that many residents are very concerned indeed at the loss of this bus service.       Last night, I met with the Community Spirit Action Group – the residents’ association for the north of the West End Ward, including Pentland, Tullideph and Ancrum – and the group expressed similar concerns.   They are to be writing to National Express Dundee about the loss of the 4 service going through the area and I am grateful for their support of this issue.

The 4 bus service in the West End

Both the Courier and the Evening Telegraph have today highlighted my concerns over the proposed loss of the West End part of the route of the Number 4 bus service – a service that serves many elderly people.

I understand that National Express Dundee intends to withdraw the West End part of the 4’s route (along with the withdrawal of some other services including with the 3/3A and 28S in other parts of Dundee) from August and I have written to the new Director of National Express Dundee, Phil Smith, outlining my concerns about the effect on many elderly people in the West End.

The 4 service provided a lifeline for residents in the Logie/Scott Street/City Road and Tullideph area and I am very disappointed that National Express Dundee intends to cut out the West End part of the 4 service.    

I am meeting Phil Smith this week to explain why the West End part of this service should be retained.   Last Friday, I took part in a meeting with Logie residents at the Lime Street sheltered lounge and speaking with residents afterwards, it is very clear that many residents are very concerned indeed at the loss of this bus service.    

For many in the area, alternative services – such as the 22 – involve a walk that many older residents find difficult.  The 4 service, coming along Scott Street, is a very useful service, particularly for the people in the north of the estate.   It is also well used by people in the City Road and Tullideph/Ancrum areas.

I recently met with the council’s Head of Transportation and from that meeting it is clear that the council will try to fill part of the gap through a restricted subsidised service, but it will by no means fully fill the gap caused by the 4’s intended West End demise.

I am therefore keen to meet Mr Smith from the bus company this week to impress upon him what a vital service this is and ask the bus company for a re-think on its decision to axe the 4 service.

I will also discuss with the bus company their decision to reduce the daytime frequency of the Number 5 service in its West End leg from 15 to 20 minutes that I also view as a retrograde step.