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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!

How Young People Around the World Travel

How Young People Around the World Travel

Trains, planes, automobiles and much more… there’s loads of ways to travel! And whilst cycling might suit one persons’ journey, another person might have to rely on a car to get around. It can all depend on the distance they are travelling, the cost, where they are going and how good the local public transport is. Walking is the most popular way to travel for Scottish students – at school, college and university. After that it’s catching a lift in a car, going by bus and cycling. But how do other young people travel around the world?

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The subway is the most popular way to get around in Tokyo. Young Japanese students and workers are a significant part of the eight million people who use the metro every single day. Shinjuku Station, in particular, has over 3.6 million daily passengers making it the busiest in the world. We’ll never complain about having to stand on the bus again!

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Train is the most popular way of getting around in India. The rail network is the fourth longest, and most heavily used by the country’s 1.3 billion people, in the world. Eager to avoid the commuting chaos, most Indians prefer to walk, cycle or use traditional tuk-tuks.

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Nomads spend their entire life travelling. There are communities all over the world who never settle in one place permanently. Lots of children in these communities learn a mix of academic and traditional skills on the move which they continue to use into their adult lives.

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In Scotland, most of the travelling we do is to get to work or school, visit friends or to have fun. But in many countries, people need to travel just to survive. Nearly one billion people need to travel to access clean water. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women and children travel on average six kilometres every day to collect fresh water. The more time spent travelling for essentials like water means less time spent at school or working.

Most of us are lucky enough to live relatively close to our schools, places of study and work. But for some remote communities around the world, travelling every day involves an obstacle course of rivers…

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…jungles

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….and mountains.

The Pick&Mix Project will help all people make all types of trips from getting to school or uni, through to making their first commute. Tell us about your opinions and experiences of travel.

Public transport networks and tickets around the world

Public transport networks and tickets around the world

Public transportation can trace its routes back to ancient Greek mythology which depicted early forms of water ferries carrying corpses with coins underneath their tongue to pay the ferryman for their travel to Hades. However, the omnibus of Paris is believed to be the first organised system within a city like the thousands of networks found today across the world from Abu Dhabi to Zurich. But how do these public transport networks differ from each other over thousands of miles across continents and over borders?

Zurich, Tokyo, Munich, Singapore and Seoul (Korea) are seen by many to have the best transportation systems anywhere in the world; vast networks with multiple transportation modes which are clean, reliable and easy-to-use. Meanwhile, Sao Paulo (Brazil), Manila (Philippines) and Mumbai (India) are voted as having some of the worst systems in the world where overcrowding, inefficiency, disconnection and overpricing are experienced by many in their day-to-day use of these systems. Prices for public transport tickets can also vary significantly from city to city.

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Image Source: Social Cops

Caracas in Venezuela, South America, is a notable example of this: it is an oddly expensive place for tourists to visit but the government there have been successful in keeping the cost of public transportation wildly affordable for the masses. Caracas’ modern underground network has a flat rate ticket price equaling just 9 pence for a single trip. Compare that to Copenhagen where the price of a single bus, tram or subway journey costs 36 times more at roughly £3.25. This is likely one of the contributing factors for Copenhagen’s status as king of the cycling cities where 17% of all trips in the city are made by bike. This has also been helped by the Danish government investing €373m since 2009 in cycle projects and infrastructure like Copenhagen’s enviable bike sharing network, Bycyklen.

Other examples of cities which differ from the norm include:

  •      Beyoglu in Turkey which has an underground funicular railway that climbs 60 vertical meters over half a kilometre from the seaside to the street;
  •      the maglev train in Shanghai which uses the negative forces of magnets to hover along a rail at a frictionless 431 km/h instead of traditional wheels on a rail track;
  •      And finally, the cgo yong (literally translated to the robotic cow) of Cambodia and Laos which is a kind of engine-on-a-welded-frame-cart-bus.

Image Source: Readers Digest

Meanwhile, Scotland’s public transport network is made up of all of the local bus services, express coaches, Scotrail national rail services, ferries, Glasgow’s subway and Edinburgh’s tram route. In addition to these traditional public transport networks in the last decade Scotland has seen the introduction of Glasgow and Stirling’s public bike sharing schemes, a number of car clubs (car sharing) around the cities and towns of Scotland and the introduction of services such as Uber and Gett in Edinburgh and Glasgow. However, in many cases linking up these networks, services and information related to them has not always been easy. This has paved the way for an integrated transport platform which can offer a new Mobility as a Service model to the people of Scotland.

Pick&Mix is a project which exists to develop the first Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platform in Scotland and it will be launched in 2018, aimed at 16-25 year olds, as a real and viable alternative to car ownership.

 

Featured Image Source: diplomacy and trade Europe