Monday, December 15, 2014

X7 hospital bus problems - a solution needed

Some weeks ago, I updated residents about the impending change to the Dundee-Perth 333 hospital bus service - now the X7.    

The new bus's timetable is an improvement on the 333 timetable but as my Perth councillor colleague Cllr Willie Wilson pointed out in the Courier last week, the type of bus being used, with hardly any downstairs seats, is a huge disappointment.

Here in Dundee, I have had many complaints, just as Willie has had from his Perth constituents.    As one of my own West End constituents pointed out :

"The new bus is no doubt top-of -the range if you are going Perth-Aberdeen, but not so suitable for anyone with mobility difficulties.    Two seats only behind the driver for people like myself (at 91) who find stairs difficult.  

Last week a young disabled girl at the South Street (Perth) bus stop said to me that if the two seats were occupied when the X7 came she would have to wait for the country bus to Dundee, taking an hour, as she was unable to climb stairs."   

I have had a fair bit of correspondence with Stagecoach, NHS Tayside's Chief Executive and Dundee City Council about this concern.     The Managing Director of Stagecoach East Scotland has written to me as follows :

"The service does not just serve the hospital and like any successful route it has a myriad of users and demands. The X7 element of the route has only been running for just over three years and the 48 seat vehicles were already proving to be too small at certain times of day, so the increase in size of coach was required. 

Depending where the constituents live, from Ninewells we have the Tayway 73 service running every 10 minutes in to to town, the 16A running every hour to Perth in one direction and to town in the other, as well as the hourly 77 service and the X42 - all of these are operated with low floor vehicles without steps in the front area of the vehicle. 

We will of course continue to monitor and review the performance of the service and the complaint levels."

I really do think an urgent rethink by Stagecoach is required.   The coach-style vehicle is simply not the appropriate sort of vehicle for a service that links hospitals.