29 June 2009

Targeting Derriford


at first glance this seems like a win win situation for everybody?

Target Travel Y36HBT A shot I wouldn't normally use but I have realised I do have a bit of a gap in my photo collection when it comes to Target Travels pink solos. I am also pretty sure that this particular bus has now been lettered up for the new service 60. Hopefully I will get up to Derriford next week and start to update my photo collection!

News release from Plymouth City Council recently caught my attention:
A new bus service to Derriford Hospital is being launched as part of a £750,000 package of improvements at the George Park and Ride site. The service will start on Monday 6 July. The new number 60 bus link, operated by Target Travel, can be used by members of the public as well as hospital staff and will run every seven to eight minutes during peak morning and afternoon travel times. Buses will run every 20 minutes throughout the rest of the day and a return ticket will cost £1.20.
Plymouth City Council has extended the car park at the site to provide 250 dedicated spaces for NHS staff using the service as well as an additional 60 spaces for members of the public. The NHS car park is accessed by barriers which are opened using special passes issued to hospital staff.
There is also a new, second entrance on Plymbridge Road, meaning that motorists approaching the park and ride from Derriford no longer have to drive up to the roundabout near Tesco and back down Tavistock Road to access the site. Councillor Kevin Wigens, Cabinet Member for Transport said: "The George park and ride terminal was a design first for the Council, combining some of the latest eco-friendly features with high-quality facilities for customers. Ever since it was launched in 2006 it has been enormously popular with passengers, offering a reliable, comfortable and efficient bus service into the city centre. "This second park and ride bus link will provide a hassle-free way for staff and visitors travelling by car to get to and from the hospital, helping to reduce congestion around the site and alleviating some of the pressure on its car parks. "We are also really pleased to be responding to the needs of our customers and improving access to the park and ride site by providing a second entrance on Plymbridge Road.”
Andrew Davies, Facilities and Environmental Services Manager for Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust added: "The Trust has been a supporter of the George park and ride ever since its conception and has seen it as a viable alternative for staff, patients and visitors. "This extension is the culmination of over two years of working in partnership with Plymouth City Council to meet the needs of those that use the Northern Corridor routes. The Trust is also pleased to be working in partnership with Target Travel, who will provide a direct and regular service from the park and ride to the hospital for all staff, patients and visitors who have chosen to use the facility."
The Council will be carrying out landscaping improvements at the site later in the year. The new-look park and ride site and hospital bus link mark the start of a programme of improvements planned for the city’s Northern Corridor (the main transport route from Woolwell into the city centre) this year and next year. Other plans include new off-bus ticket machines at the park and ride, a new bus lane at Derriford Hospital, a new bus and cycle lane on Tavistock Road (between Charlton Road and the Crownhill flyover), road resurfacing, improved pedestrian crossing facilities, better road signage and road layout changes to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.
A leaflet has been published by the Council with details about the Northern Corridor improvements and will be available soon from community centres, local libraries, doctors surgeries along the route. It will also be sent out to everyone who took part in the Council’s 2007 consultation exercise on improving transport links from the north of the city. If you would like a copy of the leaflet call 307751.

As far as the Park and Ride site at The George is concerned this is great news. The new entrance is something that is long overdue and I am sure will be very popular. We certainly used to use the Park and Ride quite a lot but got fed up with having to drive up to the Woolwell roundabout just to get in, and then have to go back up again to get out. We never did understand why this wasn't designed in to the site in the first place, but better late than never!
The new Derriford staff parking is also very useful and has been heavily promoted within Derriford Hospital. If used by staff it should free up more parking for patients which will be welcomed by many people. So at first glance this seems like a win win situation for everybody?
Well I am not sure that First Devon and Cornwall will be seeing it quite that way.

The extra peak time buses will be very useful and I would imagine be quite popular. Off peak  “Buses will run every 20 minutes”. This is made to sound like a new facility, but seems to forget that First already operate a bus every twenty minutes during the day along this route. The 7 continues to run every twenty minutes between Derriford and The George, but the new Target Travel 60 will now be departing from The George 3 minutes before the 7! If this new service is going to be as popular as it is hoped then this has the potential to be a significant loss of revenue for the route. I am all in favour of extra competition but you cant help but think that it could have been timed to run ten minutes after the 7 so that you can then tell Derriford staff that there is a bus every ten minutes. It is noticeable in all the publicity put out within Derriford that the 7 does not get mentioned at all. I can imagine that the 7 does cost more than the 60 as Target is generally cheaper but I am sure a deal could have been done with First for a special fare on this section?
I am still not sure to what extent Target are getting subsidised for this new service. It is noted that the service is not supported by the council yet it does appear in their list of subsidised services (although it might just be the 60A that is supported?). I am sure that First will be watching revenue on this route very carefully over the coming months!

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