Deputations - Kingswells Bus Services (Public Report) - CHI/17/057
Please note that a confidential report relating to this item is included within the private section of this agenda.
The Committee had before it a redacted report by the Interim Director of Communities, Housing and Infrastructure which provided information on the current position regarding bus services for the Kingswells area and which identified options for ensuring continued public transport provision in the area. An exempt report was considered with the press and public excluded from the meeting (Article 53 of this minute refers).
As agreed at article 5 above, the Committee heard three deputations from Mr Jim Henderson, Mr Ian Cox (Kingswells Community Council) and Ms Jaclyn Philip (Great Western Pre-School) in the following terms:-
Mr Jim Henderson advised (a) that he was a local Kingswells resident for ten years and was one of five residents who raised a petition back in September 2016 when they heard about the threat to the bus service in Kingswells; (b) that it was not so many years ago that First Aberdeen was running up to four X40 and three number 11 service buses per hour around the village of Kingswells and there was no talk of commercial viability; (c) that based on timetables available at this time, it was anticipated that the number of bus visits likely to service Kingswells in future would only be 72, an apparent reduction of 50%; (d) that at present there was 58 services which run via Dobbies, Woodend Hospital and Foresterhill, this will now be reduced to 12, a reduction of 80%; (e) that under proposed timetables, staff at local businesses such as the Co-op, the Great Western Nursery as well as student teachers on placement at the primary school would have great difficulty in getting to work on time; (f) that visitors who travel by bus to Kingsmead Home, which is located in the centre of Kingswells, would need to walk from the Park and Ride or be very fortunate in catching a timely link at Foresterhill; and (g) that social travel by bus out with work hours would be all but impossible.
Mr Henderson outlined an assessment of proposed Stagecoach services including that the number 218 and the proposed 220 service would offer a lack of peak hour services which were essential to get residents to work and to educational establishments in town and in Kingswells. Also the costs in service affect not only the quantity of buses but also the quality of buses, as Stagecoach were well known for providing a range of bus types, some of which were unsuitable for town commuting.
Mr Henderson also outlined a number of potential solutions including the persuasion of Stagecoach to provide a greater frequency of service round the Kingswells village; an amended and extended route to the number 23 operated by First Aberdeen and an extension to the current number 94 which is operated by Central Coaches but funded entirely by the Council.
It conclusion, Mr Henderson intimated that failure to provide a quality and reliable bus service would alienate residents in Kingswells, drive more cars onto the road at all times of day, put pressure on city centre parking, add to pollution and increase the risk of accidents.
In a response to a question from the Convener, Mr Henderson advised that although he had not been in touch with First Aberdeen directly regarding one of the potential solutions above, he had attended a drop-in session, but did not receive a response from them in this regard.
The Committee then heard from Mr Ian Cox, who advised (1) that the proposed number 220 service provided by Stagecoach was inadequate and falls far short of what could best be described as a minimal service, which would create an unacceptable break in service; (2) that of the eight services per day by the only bus service to go around Kingswells, the number 220 bus service would only link with the city centre twice; and (3) that the 220 service would not cater for people trying to get to their work at peak times, pupils attending school in the city, workers or pupils returning to Kingswells, evening or weekend travel and those travelling to the local shops.
Mr Cox referred to proposals from Council officers, but sought clarification on the specific details. He indicated that the extension to the 94 bus service would be a good short term solution, however a longer term solution should be investigated to provide evening and weekend services, and to extend peak time services in terms of duration and capacity which could be financially viable.
In conclusion, Mr Cox intimated that without this basic service, it would be very difficult, or impossible, to live in Kingswells. The nearest bus stop is at the Park and Ride which was approximately 1.5 miles walk from any homes and greatly exceeds the 400 metres distance in guidance, which could add 30 minutes each way for a reasonably fit person, but out of the question for many.
The Committee then heard from Ms Jaclyn Philip, who did not want to duplicate what others had said, but advised that she had been working at Great Western Pre-School nursery in Kingswells for 20 years and indicated that there were approximately 40 members of staff employed within the 100 place nursery, many of who rely on a bus service to get to and from their work. She explained that she had real financial concerns if employees were unable to travel to work on public transport. She intimated that she had difficulties in recruiting staff at present and there were concerns for potential growth in the business due to the uncertainty with the provision of an adequate bus service in Kingswells.
The Committee resolved:-
to thank Mr Jim Henderson, Mr Ian Cox and Ms Jaclyn Philip for their deputations and contribution.