York Council seeks views on new “Clean Air Zone” for York’s city centre

Fuel cell bus under test in London. Zero tail pipe emissions. Still no sign of the technology reaching York

City of York Council is seeking views on the proposed introduction of a Clean Air Zone in York’s city centre, to help tackle traffic pollution which can be harmful to people’s health.

As part of this consultation, a drop-in event is taking place on Monday 23 July between 3- 6pm at West Offices, where officers will be on-hand to answer any questions and provide more information about the proposals.

Unlike other parts of the country where a Clean Air Zone is a mandatory requirement, the council is proactively looking to introduce the new zone.

This will help to reduce the amount of traffic pollutants in York’s city centre, which are mainly caused by diesel vehicles.

The council is looking at many ways to improve air quality in the city centre. One of these options is by working with bus operators to apply the proposed Clean Air Zone to local bus services.

The authority knows (through York’s Third Air Quality Action Plan) that local bus services make up three per cent of the traffic but cause 27 per cent of the main pollutants in York.

The survey is available to complete at www.york.gov.uk/consultationsAlternatively  ask for a paper copy at West Offices.

To find out more about which bus services could be affected, or for more background on this proposal, visit: http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=733&MId=10195

Those reading the background  reports may be disappointed by the lack of information on pollution trends in the City (Euro 6 standards are already prompting improvements) while auto idling devices are fitted to all new vehicles.
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York bus services back in the firing line?

New Rougier Street bus shelter

The York Council, as part of a “Clean Air Day”, is claiming that users of 75 cars could be accommodated on one double decker. Maybe so, but if they choose to wait at the new bus shelter on Rougier Street they will find that the real time information about bus services has disappeared.

Failure to roll out the electronic information screens to more stops has been a failing of the Council.

There are none at bus stops on Tadcaster Road which accommodate the, otherwise successful, inter city services.

Busy stops in the Acomb area have never had them.

They may be needed more and more as, following a good year in 2017 with high passenger numbers and record-breaking approval ratings in surveys, the service quality seems to be falling away again. This is mainly down to reliability with some buses being dropped without warning.

Back to the “Clean Air Day” and the Councils frankly disingenuous “on line” survey. The survey purports to ask residents whether they favour the use of lower emission buses on, and within, the inner ring road.

No prizes for the likely answer to that question. Might as well ask if residents would prefer have hemlock added to the  water supply!

Generally, air quality in York has improved in recent years with cleaner vehicles making their way onto the streets. York already has some electric buses operating on Park and Ride routes. This will reach 100% shortly following a government grant decision.

The latest Euro 6 specifications substantially reduce emission levels on new diesel buses. However, Euro 6 buses cost £250,000 each meaning that upgrading just the First fleet in York would require investment of £17.5 million.

Having raised the possibility of access for only the least polluting buses by 2020, the Council singularly fails to tell residents how much a forced modernisation programme would cost and who would pay?

One of the questions implies that the change could mean a substantial increase in fares.

Another option for bus companies seeking to pay for the minimum £15,000 per bus cost of modifications to just exhaust systems, would be for them to withdraw services from less well used routes.

The Council can’t fund additional social bus services, so the consequence would be dozens, perhaps hundreds, of more cars on City streets.

Quite the reverse of what the Council hopes to achieve.

The Council needs a well thought through and costed modernisation programme for public transport in the City.  Sloganising simply clouds the decision making process.

Summer evening Park & Ride service from Askham Bar

 

Users of York’s popular Park & Ride service will be able to enjoy the attractions in the city centre for longer this summer after it was agreed that the timetable should be extended into the evenings for a ten-week trial period.

City of York Council and bus operator First York have agreed that Service 3 buses from the Askham Bar Park & Ride site will operate until 10.20pm on summer evenings.

The move will give visitors to the city more time to enjoy its diverse range of attractions, as well as making it possible for those attending Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, which will be open next to Clifford’s Tower from Monday 25 June to Sunday 2 September, time to catch the last bus back to the Park & Ride site after evening performances.

The last Service 3 Park & Ride bus from Tower Street currently departs at 8.05pm from Monday to Saturday and at 6.05pm on Sundays. For the duration of the ten-week trial, there will be additional departures every half hour up to 10.20pm. The buses will also stop at Rougier Street and at the Railway Station in the city centre.
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“Behind closed doors” decision on transport, and other investment, needed for York Local Plan

The Council has sent off to central government its proposed new Local Plan. It brings to an end (potentially) 25 years of agonising about the future size of the City.The plan is a compromise on growth rates with over 850 additional homes scheduled to be built in each of the next 20 years.

One key implications of this “Big City” policy is the impact that it will have on the City’s infrastructure. Health, education, leisure and – crucially- transport systems will come under even greater pressure as the population grows.

The additional homes could wipe out any advantages being seen as a result of the small scale improvements currently programmed for the A1237.

Arterial roads could also reach grid lock unless there is substantial investment.

Hopes for an alternative network of  public transport routes also hang on key investment decisions with part of the resourcing needing to come from  developers.

All the stranger, therefore, that a report on what infrastructure improvements will be needed, and how they might be funded, was take at a private meeting yesterday. The papers on the Council web site give little clue to the assumptions contained in the plan. The Council says that more information may be published on 29th May.

Too late then for any critical input on what may yet prove to be the Achilles heel of the plan

Decision taken just hours before the Local Plan was submitted to central government

Customer Charter for York Bus Passengers

 

York’s Quality Bus Partnership is launching a Customer Charter, which sets out the high standard of service that it aims to deliver to customers using bus services across the city.

The charter will be formally launched at the newly-refurbished bus shelter on Rougier Street in the city centre, which re-opened on Tuesday 8 May following the completion of a package of improvements funded by the Department for Transport. As one of the busiest bus stops in the city, Rougier Street is used by around 750,000 passengers per year. The improvements carried out there were the final phase of a programme of work that also saw bus stops at Exhibition Square, Museum Street, the Railway Station and Stonebow refurbished and enhanced. The new and improved bus shelter features two light boxes that can be used to communicate important service information to bus users, as well as sharing the Customer Charter with them.

The charter contains a series of pledges about the quality of the service that the Quality Bus Partnership aims to provide to bus users in York, from making fares easy to understand, timetables clear and ensuring that buses are accessible for everyone to making bus stops more welcoming, offering real time information and putting good public transport at the heart of planned highway work and new property developments.

As part of the drive to make the city’s bus services even more efficient and user-friendly, contactless payments (by credit or debit card) were recently added to the range of cashless ways to pay. Bus passengers in York have been quick to embrace cashless payments, either contactless or by Smartcard, with around 1,800 customers making the switch every week, according to figures provided by First York recently.

Changes to traffic arrangements near Hospital on Wigginton Road

A meeting next week will consider plans to reduce bus journey times on Wigginton Road. There is a congestion black-spot near the hospital which may be made worse as more homes are built on land next to Nestle.

Wigginton Road mini roundabout set to be removed

A Council report says,

“Observation, analysis of bus journey time data and modelling all indicate that, since the improvements made at the Clarence Street/ Lord Mayor’s Walk junction, the worst source of unreliability for buses on the corridor is found on the stretch of Wigginton Road between the Crichton Avenue bridge and the Wigginton Road/ Haxby Road/ Clarence Street junction.

The delays are particularly severe at Hospital shift start and end times. At these times it usually takes around 8 minutes (and sometimes much longer) for buses to cover the 1.5 km between Crichton Avenue and the Bootham/ Gillygate junction – an average speed of 7mph”.

The proposals involve:

Remodelling the Wigginton Road/ Haxby Road/ Clarence Street junction (as shown in figure 1) to prioritise Wigginton Road traffic (saving of up to 20 seconds);

  • Replacing the existing mini-roundabout at the junction between Fountayne Street, Wigginton Road and the Hospital’s northern access road with a conventional give way junction

A council report says, “(saving of up to 10 seconds); and

  • Working with the bus operators to reduce the amount of time buses wait at the Fountayne Street pair of stops – by making changes to their fares structures and timing points so that vehicles no longer have to wait time at these stops (saving of up to 10 seconds)

Consultation on the plan will take place in the summer with a budget of £250,000 being set aside for implementation later in the year.

One major issue is likely to be the effect that the changes would have on the accessibility of the Hospital

Road users warned of delays as busy Tadcaster Road/St Helens Road junction gets upgrade

City of York Council is warning of severe disruption as it replaces ageing and unreliable traffic lights at the junction of Tadcaster Road and St Helen’s Road from Monday (30 April).

The work is expected to last up to six weeks, and will include temporary lights. The council is advising drivers to allow more time for their journeys, consider alternative routes or travel options like Park and Ride!

While replacing the traffic lights,  the council is making changes to the junction which will improve traffic flows, take advantage of new technology and also prove cheaper and more efficient to run.

The changes to pedestrian crossing arrangements were discussed last summer (click).

Work is scheduled to take place from 7.30am – 5.30pm, Monday to Friday and from 9am – 3pm on a Saturday. Evening work will be required during certain phases of the work, this will be kept to a minimum to minimise disruption to local residents.

Bus routes should remain unchanged throughout the junction improvements.

Work will be suspended from Wednesday 16 May – Friday 18 May and on Saturday 26 May due to race meetings at York Racecourse.

The five year traffic signal asset renewal programme was given the green light by the councillor responsible for transport and planning in November 2015.

The total replacement programme will cost £2.62m over five years and will be funded through the capital programme budget and the existing Local Transport Plan budget.

For information on travelling in and around York visit  www.itravelyork.info/roadworks

In a separate development the Council says it is “pioneering intelligent transport technology to tackle congestion on the city’s roads”.

In the first of two Department for Transport projects which could change the way traffic is managed in the UK, the council has installed special sensors from Lendal Arch gyratory and along the A59.

These will pick up anonymous (‘hashed’) mobile phone signals and data from ‘connected’ cars.

The council can then combine this with other data – like real-time bus movements – to give a complete picture of how traffic behaves.

This will help the council to set traffic signals which respond to how traffic actually behaves, especially in events like sudden downpours.

Lendal works to be completed before the end of the week

Station Rise resurfacing contract cost revealed

The delayed contract to resurface part of Rougier Street, Station Rise and Station View will cost £153,666.

Work on the contract was suspended a fortnight ago. https://www.york.gov.uk/LendalArch Work is now expected to be completed by Wednesday

Colas Ltd won the contract on 15th March 2018

NB. The value of the new Park and Ride contract in York  is revealed in newly published contract documents.  Won by First, it is expected to be worth £40 million over the next 8 years.

Audit report lifts the veil on bus pass use in York

Huge use by tourists

An audit report into the use of elderly and disabled persons bus passes in York has been published. It can be found by clicking here

The report says that, “pass usage data for 2016-17 was analysed for trends, possible misuse and data quality.

Of around 160,000 passes used in York, around 70% were used 10 times or less.

By comparison, only 74 were used to make more than 1000 trips during the year.

As CYC has around 40,000 active passes, it is assumed that the other 120,000 passes were issued by other TCAs.

The low average usage likely reflects York’s popularity as a tourist destination. In other words, visitors are using their passes to make a small number of trips while visiting the city.

The most significant finding of the analysis was that disabled pass holders, who make up 10% of all pass holders, were disproportionately represented in the top 20 most heavily-used passes (11/20), suggesting they make more frequent use of their passes than people eligible due to age.

Two disabled pass holders in the top 20 were using passes that were hot-listed (marked as no longer valid) in 2013 and 2014 respectively, suggesting there may be more in use.

Currently, hot-listing (which could result in the pass being refused) is not in effect, so the holders were able to continue using the passes, but there are plans to implement it in the near future.

If this is done without any warning to pass holders, it may temporarily prevent disabled or vulnerable people from travelling freely on York buses”.

The report gives a “substantial assurance” that the system is not subject to abuse.

Bus stop changes affecting Foxwood from Sunday

Several changes to bus timings take effect from Sunday. For full details click here

The 12 service to/from Foxwood is affected with the terminus stop now on Bellhouse Way. It is hoped that this will reduce  bus parking conflicts near the Foxwood shops. The actual route is unchanged.

12/14 Monks Cross – York – Foxwood Lane

  • Buses retimed 5-10 minutes earlier into York
  • The evening journeys that terminated at Elmfield Avenue now extended to Monks Cross
  • All of the buses from Monks Cross now go via the Monks Cross shops
  • The services that previously terminated at Elmfield Avenue extended to Monks Cross (request of customers and drivers)
  • To prevent congestion at Foxwood Lane shops we’ve changed the last stop to Bellhouse Way (the start of the loop)