(UK, News) Bus Users Share AgeUK Concerns On Rural Travel [23July2013]

 

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Bus Users UK, an independent group which champions the interests of bus and coach users and campaigns for better bus and coach services, says it is concerned by the findings of an Age UK report into the effects of cuts to rural bus services on older people.

Despite having free bus travel, the report points to growing isolation among older people as services are reduced and in some cases cut completely. Many older people in rural areas rely entirely on bus services to access healthcare, social activities, community events and shops, as well as visiting friends and family.

The report also concludes that reduced services mean that many people now face a fairly long walk to their nearest bus stop. Delays, cancellations, long waiting times and cold bus shelters add to the problem and make bus travel for older people even more challenging.

Gillian Merron, Chair of Bus Users UK said: “Older people in rural areas face the double challenge of having many services and amenities centralised in towns and cities that they now can’t access because they simply can’t get to them. It undermines the whole idea of providing free bus travel when there’s no bus to travel on.”

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The AgeUK report calls for greater consultation on local services to ensure they meet local need.

Gillian added: “Free bus travel for older people has been a great success and has enabled the millions who use the concession to lead active lives. Older and retired people make a huge contribution to society, undertaking volunteering and providing vital childcare support to family members who wouldn’t otherwise be able to return to work.

“What this report proves is that when bus services are cut it isn’t just older people who suffer – we all suffer.”

Bus Users UK,which describes itself as ” the voice of bus passengers”, is an independent not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve bus services across the UK and get more people on board.

 

London MEP Visits Ballymena To See New Bus In Build 30/01/2012

MEP Marina Yannakoudakis on the platform of the New Bus For London at the Ballymena factory

 

PRESS RELEASE

London MEP visits factory building New Bus for London and other hybrid buses

Ballymena, 30 January 2012 – “Green transport will help London meet its obligations on EU air pollution regulations,” said London Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis on a visit to the Wrightbus factory today.

Marina visited the vehicle factory in Ballymena, Northern Ireland which is currently constructing the New Bus for London, inspired by the iconic Routemaster. The bus, as well as being a new design classic for London, will use some of the most advanced hybrid technologies in the world making it more than twice as fuel efficient as conventional diesel buses and 25% more fuel efficient than even other London hybrid buses.

Marina said: “Standing on the platform of the New Bus for London today gave me a real thrill. The bus is a beauty and I’m pleased to be here in Northern Ireland to see how the best of British engineering can deliver a first-rate, hi-tech new vehicle for the 6.5 million passengers in my London constituency who travel by bus every day.”

“The bus doesn’t just look good, it will also emit less than half the NOx (oxides of nitrogen) levels of a conventional diesel double-decker. Costs of the bus are comparable to another hybrid double-decker, yet the technology used is extraordinary; this is the first British bus to use fibre reinforced plastic normally used in yacht racing.”

Marina Yannakoudakis upstairsin the new bus.

“I have also seen other green buses being put together here in Ballymena. Hybrid buses not only improve fuel efficiency making them cheaper to run, but they are also less polluting. Green transport will help London meet its obligations on EU air pollution regulations.”

“I look forward to seeing the New Bus for London on the streets of the capital later this year. Mayor Boris Johnson has kept his promise to deliver a 21st Century version of the Routemaster while improving air quality for Londoners.”

Wrightbus supplies approximately one-third of the double-deckers in London. In 2002 the Wright Group received £680,000 of EU funding from the PEACE II programme to back a dedicated automotive centre of excellence, focusing on Research and Development activities. The project allowed Wrightbus to improve its R&D capacity over the past decade.

Minister Dempsey on 2009 Transport Spending

AllAboutBuses.com)

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey (photo: AllAboutBuses.com)

GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE
Ministers announce €3.6 billion for Transport (Budget 2009)
  • €1.27 billion on improved Public Transport
  • €2.1 billion on National, Regional and Local Roads
  • €40 million on Road Safety
  • €35m for Aviation Sector and development of Regional Airports
  • €48 million for improved activities of Coast Guard and Maritime Safety
Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey TD, today outlined plans for a €3.6 billion investment package in transport for the coming year following the publication of Budget 2009.
Speaking today Minister Dempsey said; “The €3.6 billion in this year’s transport budget underlines the Government’s continued commitment to investing in key transport infrastructure projects. A word class transport infrastructure is critical to our economy’s competitiveness. This funding will allow me to continue rolling out Transport 21 projects such as Metro North and the new Dart Interconnector, both of which will provide the backbone of an integrated public transport system for Dublin.

With this funding I aim to progress a variety of Transport 21 projects particularly in the area of public transport. Next year I also intend to continue rolling out our major interurban motorways which are now nearing completion.”
Speaking today, Minister of State at the Department of Transport Mr. Noel Ahern TD said; “A total of almost €40 million is being provided by this Government for road safety initiatives in 2009. This level of funding for the Road Safety Authority and the Medical Bureau of Road Safety will solidify the key role these organisations play in implementing the Road Safety Strategy. During the period 1997-2007 for example, we have seen deaths of our roads drop by 30% so this funding will help to augment this welcome downward trend.
The allocation of €48 million to maritime transport and safety will allow us to improve and modernise the Irish Coast Guard and continue to invest in maritime safety.”
The main transport programmes that Budget ‘09 provides for are as follows:
Public Transport – €1.27 billion
This will enable progress on a wide range of projects, including:
  • Luas extensions to Cherrywood, Docklands and Citywest;
  • Planning and enabling works on Metro North;
  • Planning works for the DART Interconnector.
  • Improved bus priority measures in Dublin and the regional cities;
  • The completion of the Middleton rail line
  • Phase 1 of the Western Rail Corridor from Ennis to Athenry;
  • The construction of the Kildare Route project
  • Phase 1 of the Navan rail line;
  • The continuation of Iarnród Éireann’s railway safety programme;
  • The start of the Dublin city centre rail re-signalling programme;
  • Continued roll-out of new railcars on the intercity routes;
Other notable projects that will be continued into 2009 are:
  • The Rural Transport Programme (now operating in every county and will provide more than million passenger journeys in 2009)
  • The Green Schools Programme (targeting 140,000 school kids by providing walking/cycling/public transport alternatives to get to school).
Roads – €2.1 billion
Key national routes will be progressed as planned, specifically:
  • The major inter urban motorway connecting Dublin with Waterford
  • The major inter urban motorway connecting Dublin with Galway
  • The major inter urban motorway connecting Dublin with Limerick
  • The major inter urban motorway connecting Dublin with Cork
  • A dual carriageway road within Northern Ireland transforming access to the North West of the Island.
  • The Atlantic Road corridor
  • The M50 upgrade will be completed.
Over €600 million is being made available to local authorities throughout the country for the upgrade and maintenance of regional and local roads.
Road Safety – €40 million
This funding will be aimed at maintaining the downward trend in road deaths. Deaths on Irish roads have dropped by 30 per cent in the period from 1997 to 2007.
Maritime Transport and Safety – €48 million
This allocation will allow us to improve and modernise the Irish Coast Guard and maritime safety to meet the needs of a 21st century maritime nation.
Regional Airports/Aviation Sector – € 35 million
The Department has made provisions to meet contractual commitments on the various regional airport projects and our share of the cost of the City of Derry Airport development.

Budget 2009 – Transport Spending

Figures released by the irish Government relating to transport spending in 2009.

TRANSPORT

Gross Expenditure for the Department of Transport in 2009 is €3,613 million, a decrease of €160 million (€6 million Current and €154 million Capital) relative to the 2008 forecast outturn. The key policy measures and adjustments associated with these resources in 2009 and later years are as follows:-

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

· capital expenditure of over €900 million is allocated to fund public transport infrastructure. This is about €70 million less than the amount made available in 2008, but it is sufficient for progress on a wide range of projects, including:

Luas extensions to Cherrywood, Docklands and Citywest

improved bus priority measures in Dublin and the regional cities

the completion of the Midleton rail line and phase 1 of the Western Rail Corridor from Ennis to Athenry

the construction of the Kildare Route project and phase 1 of the Navan rail line

the continuation of Iarnród Éireann’s railway safety programme

the start of the Dublin city centre rail re-signalling programme

continued roll-out of new railcars on the intercity routes

planning and enabling works on Metro North, and

planning works for the DART Interconnector;

· in addition, €338 million of current expenditure is provided for the operation of public transport services throughout the country. This is €6 million more than the 2008 provision.

ROADS

· capital expenditure of over €1.4 billion is being made available to the National Roads Authority. This allocation is €157 million less than in 2008, and while progress on some projects will necessarily have to slow down, key national routes will be delivered as planned, specifically:

the major inter urban roads connecting Dublin with the regional cities of Waterford, Galway, Limerick and Cork by end-2010;

the M50 upgrade;

there will also be progress on other key national routes, including the Atlantic Road

Corridor;

· over €600 million is being made available to local authorities throughout the country for the upgrade and maintenance of regional and local roads;

· capital expenditure of €10 million is provided for additional carbon reduction measures to target climate change initiatives in the transport sector;

· as a start to the Government’s commitment to part-fund a dual carriageway road within Northern Ireland transforming access to the North West of the island, a capital provision of €13.5 million is being made available in 2009 towards the planning works for this project;

OTHER

· provision for Regional Airports is reduced by €13 million to €11 million in 2009. Annual provision for capital investment in the regional airports is decided according to estimates of likely drawdowns in the year for specific projects. This can vary from year to year;

· overall, the reduced capital allocation for transport will require some rescheduling of projects. Such decisions will be taken by the Department of Transport and its agencies on a project-by-project basis, taking account of their assessment of priorities within the revised expenditure envelope;

· the impact of the reduced current allocation is being spread across a number of areas and principally involves reduced expenditure on road maintenance.

Minister disputes Patton Flyer claims

Comments in Dail by Transport Minister claim operator applied for licence in 2007, not 2006

Patton Flyer links Dalkey to Dublin Airport

Patton Flyer links Dalkey to Dublin Airport

Further interesting information has emerged in the long-running saga of the Patton Flyer coach service in Dublin, which the Department of Transport says is being run without a licence.

The service, which links Dalkey and Blackrock to Dublin Airport via the Eastlink and the Port Tunnel runs hourly and is seen to be carrying healthy loadings. DoT officials say they reported the operator to the Gardai in August 2007 for operating without a licence, though what action has been taken as a result is unclear.

Back in March, we reported on claims that a very long delay in dealing with a licence application had forced the coach company to start the service without a licence. According to the operator, they had submitted an application in 2006, without reply.

Now recent comments on the record of the Dail (Irish parliment) by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey seem to dispute this version of events, as according to the Minister the operator only applied for the licence in early 2007.

Below is the full text of the minister’s Dail response when questioned.

Apart from the date of the application, this answer is interesting in that it confirms that the reason for the licence not being granted is, as long suspected, the prior application for a licence by Aircoach, whose Greystone to Dublin Airport service only meets the Patton Flyer along part of the route.

 23. Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Transport  if he will grant a licence to a bus service (details supplied) to operate a scheduled bus service between Dalkey and intermediary points such as Glasthule, Dún Laoghaire and Monkstown with Dublin Airport which are not served by an alternative bus operator; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32450/08]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Noel Dempsey): My Department received an application on the 20 February 2007 from the operator to whom the Deputy refers, for a licence to operate bus passenger services between Dalkey and Dublin Airport. At that time, my Department had on hands a prior application for bus services on a similar route, and in accordance with administrative procedures, applications were dealt with in date order. That prior application was finalised in December 2007 and a licence has issued to that operator for the provision of bus passenger services between Greystones and Dublin Airport.

In the case of the service referred to by the Deputy, on the 16 July 2007 my Department was made aware that the operator concerned had commenced the operation of an unlicensed bus passenger service between Dalkey and Dublin Airport. My Department immediately contacted that company and advised that failure to cease the operation of the service in respect of which a licence had not been issued under the Road Transport Act 1932, is an offence under section 7 of that Act. It is also a prerequisite before the making of an offer of a licence that in accordance with road traffic and safety legislation the applicant provides my Department with Garda approvals for all proposed bus stops along the route and holds a Road Passenger transport Operations Licence.

While there is a strong passenger demand for a service between Dalkey and Dublin Airport, my Department would only be prepared to make an offer of a licence to Patton Flyer if that company demonstrates that it would be prepared to operate in conformity with the law.

Patton Flyer expansion to challenge DOT

A pioneering independent bus service challenging the 1932 Act is a thorn in the side of the Department of Transport, but the operator says they only have themselves to blame.

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Fascinating article in the Irish Times today about plans by the operator of the unlicenced Patton Flyer bus service to expand with further routes. (paid registration required to view)

The service which has been running since last summer is, according to the Department of Transport, illegal, and they have referred its operation to the Gardai, though no action seems to have been taken yet.

Now the operator has announced plans to expand with a further 4 routes being designed, which could turn this minor irritation into a head-on challenge to the current licencing regime.

However Trevor Patton says that his company has attempted to comply with all relevant legislation, and has had a licence application for the original Dalkey service with the department since 2006.

From the Irish Times article:

Referring to the Dalkey route, Mr Patton said: “If there was a good reason why there should not be public transport on that route, then the Department of Transport should have been able to determine that reason in almost two years since the licence application was made.”

With publication of the Dublin Transportation Bill promised in December, January, February, before easter, and now “next month” the chances of the root cause of the issue being resolved any time soon are slim.

Minister Dempsey also promises reform of the bus licencing system, but can’t say when it will happen, telling the Dail recently that While it is not possible at this time to indicate a precise time as to when the legislative proposals on regulatory reform of the bus market will be published, applications for new bus licences and notifications from State bus operators will continue to be processed under the provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932, as amended, and the notification system with reference to the Transport Act 1958, as appropriate.”

Which would fine, if the licences were processed in a timely manner.

But again, like the case of the Swords Express and the Dublin Bus 41X licence application, the Department seems unable to make licence decisions in any kind of a reasonable timeframe.

And the losers, as always, are the passengers.

The world we deserve

A grim story from Northern Ireland today about a thug who attempted to set fire to a bus driver who refused to be robbed.

The attack highlights the dangers to bus drivers who have to drive to and through many out of the way locations while carrying cash. The incident happened on a Translink service – their drivers still carry accessible money, as do our own Bus Eireann drivers here in the Republic.

In Dublin however, the practice ended 10 years ago, following an increasingly violent series of robberies of bus drivers at suburban termini late at night. All Dublin Bus vehicles have a “no change” system with fares going down a chute into an underfloor safe. This has kept driver free from robbery, though sadly random assault for the sake of it still happens from time to time.

The Dublin Bus system, which sees “change tickets” issued by the driver frequently comes under attack in the media, usually when the end of year accounts show the amount of unclaimed change. Rarely if ever is the reason for the introduction of the system remembered or mentioned, and when it is, it is still seen as a “bus” problem, rather than a society problem.

Well, I’m sorry, but I have to say this: we get the world we deserve.

If we let our streets be so unsafe that bus drivers cannot carry cash without being attacked, then we have no right to bitch when a “no change” system is introduced, and if the company issues change tickets and we choose not to cash them, we have no right to complain about the amassed revenue.

The same goes for the people of Loughlinstown Park, or West Tallaght, when their buses are withdrawn due to gangs of stonethrowing (or worse) thugs. If we can’t keep the feral members of society under control, than a 20 minute walk through dangerous streets is our consequence.

“Ah, but the people who suffer are not the ones who are to blame” is the frequent hand-wringing answer.

Wrong.

We get the society that we deserve.

There is no magic “them” who should be fixing things for us.

We are responsible for the world that we live in, every single one of us. Even if we are not the ones who have the children who throw the rocks, we are responsible when we look the other way, when we tolerate what we should not tolerate, when we allow violent behaviour to become the norm, when we are complicit in the binge-drinking culture, when we expect “them” to fix everything for us, but fail to vote out governments that don’t change things, or fail to vote at all.

We get the world that we deserve, and and the only way to change it lies with each and every individual.