Browsed by
Author: Philip Ryan

Revisiting my old stomping ground

Revisiting my old stomping ground

Introduction

As an adolescent in the late 90’s growing up in the North East of Scotland I spent a lot of time visiting Dundee & St Andrews. Dundee was one of the closest cities to my home town of Montrose and was always one of my favourite places to explore with my friends. I have fond memories of us making our monthly journey to Dundee by train, proudly showing the conductor our Young Scot Cards to get 1/3 off our fares. This route always has and always will be an invaluable piece of public transport connecting Aberdeen to the major cities of the South.

Upon arrival, we would walk around the shops for hours taking full advantage of the discounts our Young Scot card gave us. It’s great to see that the Young Scot card still offers a great range of deals and discounts, providing young adults with the opportunity to explore their growing independence. As time passed, my studies took me away from the area and I regrettably allowed myself to lose touch with “The Dee”. However, working for the Pick & Mix project gave me the excuse of revisiting the area I grew up in – to travel on the public transport like I used to in my teens.

On this recent trip to Dundee, my focus was to understand specifically how the transport infrastructure had changed and how technological advancements and new infrastructure had impacted the way passengers can interact with, and use, different types of transport.

Dundee has undergone some major changes. It is a different city to the high rises and elevated walk ways of my youth. The V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum) and new Railway Station are, in my view, welcome additions to the newly refurbished waterfront.

 The Railway Station has undergone some major refurbishments since my last visit. The new main building is a far cry from the 1960’s style entrance from my memory.

Dundee Railway Station

The new station will boast hotel accommodation, café facilities, office space, parking access and a new taxi rank; all of which will bring fantastic opportunities to the ever-changing city.

I was pleased to see the introduction of the Bike & Go scheme at the Railway Station, offering visitors the opportunity to explore the evolving city on a sustainable mode at their own pace. However, long-standing connectivity issues still reside in Dundee’s transport infrastructure with the bus station still being at least a 5-minute walk away from the Railway Station.

It is suggested that this may change upon completion of the new Railway Station as plans show a new bus stance situated directly adjacent to the main entrance. I hope this will be used to offer a better connected and more integrated transport hub.

Seagate Bus Station

Seagate Bus Station is an integral part of the Dundee transport network. It offers a broad range of onward transport links to the rest of Scotland and beyond. There is a conveniently located taxi rank and pick up/drop off point, as well as an Enterprise car hire office just next door. The introduction of an electric Co-Wheels car for hire directly adjacent to the main entrance is a great addition.

I decided to purchase my first ever ABC (All Bus Company) ticket. This is a multi-operator ticket which granted me unlimited travel on all Stagecoach, Xplore Dundee and Moffat & Williamson buses in Dundee and the immediate surrounding area for a full day. The Tay Cities Deal plans to increase the ABC tickets coverage to all of Dundee, Angus, Fife, Perth & Kinross

As part of my excursion I really wanted to travel to St Andrews as I spent a lot of time there with my family during my childhood. However, after reviewing the ABC Zone map it was apparent that my ABC ticket was not going to be valid for the whole journey and would only get me as far as Tayport. So, half way through my journey I alighted at Tayport for a quick exploration before getting on the next bus to St Andrews via Leuchars.

Tayport

The bus stops in Tayport did not appear to be numbered. Luckily, I was familiar with the area otherwise I would not have known where to get off – on vehicle announcements or an in-app alert telling passengers where to get off would have been very helpful. There are regular onward transport connections to St Andrews, so it was easy to navigate a link to my desired destination, and the next bus arrived a little over 20 minutes later.The journey to Leuchars was enjoyable with memorable scenery and quaint winding country roads. Unfortunately, I began to feel sick as the suspension on older buses does not cushion passengers from the inevitable potholes.

Leuchars

On route to St Andrews I spotted Leuchars Station coming in to view. As I had never been before I decided to hop off the bus to get a feel for the onward transport links and facilities of this key transport hub.

It was apparent that Leuchars station plays a key role in keeping North Fife connected to Dundee, the central belt and the rest of Scotland. It was very busy with commuters and tourists alike. There were plenty of bus stances enabling passengers to seamlessly start or continue their journeys with minimal disruption. The cycle storage facilities, taxi rank and large car park were all full to capacity hinting at a well-used transport epicentre. I went back outside and waited a short while for the next bus onwards to St Andrews. While waiting on the bus I noticed there were no cashpoints at the station. After some creative googling, I managed to locate a ATM roughly a one mile away. This could cause some difficulty for travellers wishing to continue their journey on public transport if they didn’t have sufficient cash on them.

St Andrews Bus Station

When I arrived, the station was very clean with a beautiful piano situated in the waiting room for public use (a very nice touch). Live departure boards situated in the main waiting area and a large selection of paper timetables provided onward travel information. The toilet facilities were clean and very accessible. The station, run by Stagecoach East, was very well maintained and a pleasurable place to wait. St Andrews has always been an extremely beautiful place and on my return visit I was not disappointed.

Back to Dundee

After my convoluted yet scenic exploration around the region, it was time to make my way back to Dundee. I caught the next bus heading back and had to explain to the driver that I had an ABC ticket and a return from St Andrews to Tayport. I was slightly concerned that this would be an awkward conversation but to my relief he was very friendly and helpfully informed me that when we arrived at Tayport I needed to go to the front of the bus and scan my ABC card again.

From Tayport the journey back to Dundee was very pleasant. I enjoyed the view coming over the Tay Bridge looking at the ever-changing city skyline. Dundee and Fife really are places of natural and cultural beauty and my only regret was that I didn’t have more time to explore the vast range of activities on offer.

It was fantastic to see providers combining technology with transport through the adoption of the smartcard. Utilising this platform to offer multi-operator journeys really highlights the steps being taken to deliver a more seamless experience for the customer. The practice of revisiting the area highlighted to me that our relationship with how we travel is constantly evolving and sometimes these changes can happen without much notice but fundamentally we are always moving forward.

My top tips to anyone who plans on undertaking a similar journey are – The ABC ticket is great value for money and don’t sit at the back of the bus if you suffer from travel sickness!

Supporting Rural Equality for Scottish Young People

Supporting Rural Equality for Scottish Young People

Rural accessibility is a key issue identified by Pick&Mix’s ‘National Youth Team’ – a group of 16-25 year olds shaping the new mobility service being designed and delivered within the project. When asked about their ambitions for the project, responses included “I want rural communities to be better represented and more accessible for young people” and we need a “better overall way of accessing transportation for both urban and rural settings”.

Around 25% of 16-25 year olds in Scotland are are living in non-urban environments [1]. At the same time there are rising expectation for high school leavers to continue into higher education, seek employment or undergo further training. With social inclusion and the need to ensure equal opportunities for all, high up on the Scottish agenda the importance of delivering accessible transport services across the country has never been greater. However, there is often a difficulty in providing good rural transport options when demand for such services will naturally be lower than for urban services. One of the key inequalities for many young people living in Scotland’s rural areas is reduced connectivity to the transport network. This hinders access to the resources and opportunities that many others take for granted. Young people, for instance, rate commuting as one of the main ‘red flags’ when looking at potential employers or further education opportunities[2].

In some cases, the perception amongst rural young people is that owning a car is the only viable means of transport in their local area. However, with the mounting pressure to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality we must encourage young people to think differently about how they travel and offer them realistic alternative solutions which support access to similar opportunities presented to their peers living in better connected areas. Pick&Mix’s National Youth Team (NYT) will co-design a mobility service which aims to do just this. Co-designing helps the project to foster creativity and develops its capabilities to innovate. The NYT includes a broad range of young people from across Scotland in order to draw in a wide range of insights and deeper understanding of user needs. This will enable the generation of better ideas to deliver more valuable innovation to address the difficulties identified by the both rural and urban young people.

Pick&Mix is still at an early phase, with the NYT’s service recommendations due in the next 6 weeks. As such, we do not yet know exactly what the service will include. However, from the early feedback from the NYT we may expect requirements for: resources which help individuals to choose the best services available to them based on their preferences; easier ticketing and payment; and tools to help in emergency situations . In the longer-term, we hope to see changing attitudes to car ownership; better use of public transport; and reduced inequalities for rural young people.

[1] Including Accessible Small Towns, Remote Small Towns, Accessible Rural and Remote Rural classifications. Source: National Records of Scotland – Population estimates for 6-fold Urban Rural classification, 2002-2014 [Accessed 11/11/2016 at http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/population-estimates/special-area-population-estimates/population-estimates-by-urban-rural-classification]

[2] The intergenerational foundation – No Entry! Transport Barriers facing Young People; 28 May 2013 [Accessed 10/11/2016]