Public Transport Improvement Program: Dundee City Council
Area and population
A4.149 Dundee is situated on the north bank of the River Tay. It is the fourth largest city in Scotland with a population of 143,000 within the city boundaries, but serves as a regional centre of around 400,000 people.
A4.150 With development constrained by the river, over the years the city has developed along the shore of the Tay. As a consequence the city today is approximately 9 miles long but only 3 miles wide, with the city centre not in fact being central but located near the river's edge. Dundee City Council's boundary in the main hugs the edge of the urban area.
A4.151 Like many other urban areas, Dundee has an ageing population, large numbers of students, areas of high unemployment and low income households. This manifests itself in low car ownership - roughly half of all households have no car. Therefore a large number of people in Dundee, of all ages, currently rely on public transport (mainly buses) to provide for their travel needs. These are generally short distance trips to work, shops and hospitals. Key destinations are the city centre and Ninewells Hospital, in the west of Dundee.
Nature of case study
A4.152 This case study concerns two large-scale initiatives by Dundee City Council to improve their "conventional" public transport. These are "Bringing Confidence into Public Transport ( BCPT)", a programme of information and infrastructure improvements in the city centre and at one key interchange, and "Smartbus", which deals with bus stops, information and bus priority outwith the city centre. Whilst focused on public transport generally, a core requirement of these improvements was for them to make the public transport system more accessible for disabled people.
A4.153 The 'Bringing Confidence into Public Transport' ( BCPT) and 'Smartbus' projects have the twin aims of addressing the needs of those without access to a car, and encouraging those who do have cars to use bus travel more often, by providing high quality bus passenger facilities and a step change in the quality and availability of public transport information to the travelling public. Details of both projects are given below.
Project 1: Bringing Confidence into Public Transport ( BCPT)
A4.154 Implemented between 2002 and 2005, this project has brought about a step change in the quality of bus infrastructure at major interchanges and in public transport information and its availability. Also vehicles have been modernised by bus operators in partnership with project: the main urban operator now has a 100% low floor fleet.
A4.155 As a result of Dundee's geography (being a long narrow city), almost all bus services pass through the city centre, with 70% of the 15 million annual bus passengers boarding or alighting there. Almost all bus routes in Dundee pass around three streets in the heart of the city centre (Union, Whitehall and Crichton) and interchange should be an easy option. A further 1 in 10 of all passenger journeys target Ninewells Hospital which is the primary regional health care centre.
A4.156 BCPT recognises this and concentrates on providing two key components to bring a new sense of confidence in the use of public transport:
High quality bus passenger facilities at the major interchanges - City Centre and Ninewells Hospital
A4.157 The main features of the city centre interchanges are:
- Shallow saw-tooth bus bay arrangements with accessible kerbing;
- Innovative architect-designed curvilinear shelters with leaf shaped roof using high quality materials and internal and external lighting;
- Real-time information, static information panels and audio information for the visually impaired;
- Acoustic absorbent panel to reduce noise pollution;
- DDA compliant shelters.
A4.158 Key elements of the Ninewells interchange include:
- Concrete carriageway; saw-tooth markings and clearly defined areas for taxis, service vehicles, car drop-off and buses;
- Continuous glass frontage to provide an 'indoor' environment for passengers immediately upon alighting from the bus;
- A light internal design with modern materials and appearance;
All facilities DDA compliant;
- Real-time information, static information panels and audio information for visually impaired people; and
- Departure board and interactive journey planning terminal within the hospital foyer.
Figure A4.10: High kerb and Figure A4.11 Information panel
Fig A4.10 - High kerb
Fig A4.11 - Information panel (including audio on far right)
Figure A4.12: Bus at high kerbed stop in city centre
Figure A4.13: Whitehall St before
Figure A4.14: Whitehall St, after
A comprehensive "step change" in transport information using interactive on-line mapping and journey planning, on-street information kiosks, printed material, display screens and links to real-time information.
A4.159 The Public Transport Information System ( PTIS) has been implemented and has achieved a step change in information provision. Features include:
- Innovative internet journey planning web site ( www.dundeetravelinfo.com ) and journey planning terminals at 13 locations in and around Dundee;
- WAP mobile phone journey planning (wap.dundeetravelinfo.com) and SMS bus information specified for real time information;
- Information 'wedges' incorporating electronic departure information, paper information and a journey planning terminal on approaches to the main city centre bus hub;
- Large electronic information boards at Ninewells Hospital and Dundee Bus Station;
- Real time information at individual stances in the city centre and Ninewells Hospital;
- Highly visual and informative static paper information, including 'overground' style city bus map and spider diagrams at bus stances.
Project 2: Smartbus
A4.160 Smartbus, which is being implemented between 2003 and 2006, aims to bring about a step change in the quality of bus infrastructure and public transport information and its availability throughout the city. Smartbus takes the high quality achieved at the major interchanges in the city through the BCPT project and spreads this city-wide. Facilities are for the urban area i.e. within city boundary only. However, bus services serve both the urban area and the rural hinterland - a total population of approximately 350,000. Also modernising of vehicles by bus operators in partnership with the project is improving the overall public transport offer and improving its accessibility for disabled people.
Figure A4.15: Smartbus shelter
A4.161 The broad aims of the project were to provide throughout the city facilities that will improve passenger waiting comfort through infrastructure improvements and information provision, passenger safety, both on-bus and off-bus, accessibility to bus services (the latter as part of the Council's overall aspiration for a "barrier-free city").
A4.162 Smartbus has already seen all buses operating in the city fitted with CCTV and will expand high quality facilities city-wide by April 2006. The Smartbus project will provide:
- 300 bespoke high quality bus shelters (from a total of 920 stops within city) that will include real time information displays, good quality paper information and CCTV capability. Every bus that enters Dundee City centre stops at one of new shelters.
- 550 quality new bus poles each incorporating solar power to light good quality paper information.
- Accessible kerbing at all bus stops and shelters. This is the major improvement that will benefit people with disabilities, but it is scheduled for early 2006.
- Bus priority at all traffic signal junctions within Dundee.
- All stops to include 29 metre clearway markings
Parties involved in planning, funding and operation; costs and subsidy
A4.163 The parties involved in BCIPT are Dundee City Council, the two bus operators (Travel Dundee and Strathtay), Tayside NHS Trust, the Scottish Executive and (for the maintenance of certain bus shelters) the company Adshel. BCPT received £2.31 million in capital funding from the Scottish Executive Public Transport Fund ( PTF), and £100k from Tayside NHS Trust. The £6.77 million capital cost of Smartbus was entirely funded by the Scottish Executive PTF. Also over the past 4 or 5 years, as part of a voluntary Quality Partnership, the local bus operators have invested £20 million in new buses, with Travel Dundee now being the first major UK operator to have a 100% low floor bus fleet.
Current ridership figures
A4.164 There are approximately 15 million passenger transport trips per annum made in Dundee (source - bus operators). CPT statistics state that there has been a 9% increase in passenger trips in the last year. The precise proportion of users who travel on a disabled concessionary pass is known, but this figure is not particularly helpful since many people who qualify for a concessionary pass on grounds of age will also have some kind of disability.
The extent to which the schemes are part of a co-ordinated strategy for improving accessibility.
A4.165 The projects form a major part of Dundee's Local Transport Strategy to improve accessibility for all to health, education, employment and leisure facilities. Although a non-statutory document, the LTS informs much of the work that Dundee City Council carries out in transport generally. There is no question, therefore, that BCPT and Smartbus are fully institutionalised within the overall transport strategy of the Council.
Outcomes, user feedback, and trips facilitated
A4.166 The projects were developed with the help of considerable amounts of public consultation and participation. A stakeholder workshop was held to develop both bids to Scottish Executive. This involved Transport Providers, the Scottish Executive, neighbouring Local Authorities, and Interest Groups (including disability groups). A similar stakeholder workshop was conducted after the PTF money was awarded. Prior to implementation, the project was further developed by undertaking a comprehensive public consultation exercise concentrating on how the historic city centre streetscape could be enhanced with architect-designed passenger waiting facilities.
A4.167 Focus groups (including disabled people) were also held to define the journey planner functionality and follow up test groups helped to ensure that the system supported this functionality, and that it was simple to use and understand.
A4.168 A before and after study involving 2000 bus users and 1000 non-bus users was carried out to evaluate the success of the project. The data from these surveys is currently being analysed, and data related to disabled participants is not yet available (but may be within, the timescale of the overall SE Public Transport for Disabled People project).
A4.169 Interim results from the user survey do show a marked increase in customer satisfaction regarding information provision, quality of bus shelters/bus stops and overall quality of bus services in Dundee, since the improvements have been made.
Table A4.3: Changes in user perceptions of facilities
Standard of information provision in city centre/Ninewells
Standard of public transport information provided elsewhere in city
Quality of bus shelters and bus stops in city centre/Ninewells
Quality of bus shelters and bus stops elsewhere in city
Quality of buses within Dundee
A4.170 In the first six months since release in April 2004 the journey planner kiosks had over 250,000 hits. Monitoring figures show that of these over 40% have achieved a completed journey result, and fewer than 13% of users have cancelled or requested on-line help.
A4.171 There are no data available to demonstrate whether trips by disabled people have been facilitated as a result of this project.
Success factors and transferability
A4.172 Careful project management and consultation with partners and other representative groups has been key to the success of the scheme. The Council do not see there to be any particular barriers to the extension of the scheme to other areas, although it has been dependent on developing and maintaining a true partnership with the major bus operators in the city.