Road repairs – little progress by York Council

The Councils Executive committee will discuss the vexed question of highways maintenance next week.
Foxwood Lane

If there is any basic public service likely to raise public ire,  it is the number of potholes and cracks in roads and footpaths.

 The conditions simply reflect many years of under investment in maintenance work.

The new Council was elected on a manifesto which promised improvements. They quickly moved to allocate an additional £1 million budget although half of this was earmarked for new cycling and footpath projects.

School Street

The expectation was that the, all too obvious, major problems would be quickly identified and a programme agreed for repairs. Anyone reading the report will be very disappointed.  There is no refreshed list of roads that will be resurfaced this year.

Officials even plead for existing policies to continue.

Councillors have had long enough to get a list of repairs on a ward by ward basis. With only 6 months to go in the current financial year, contracts for these repairs needed to be issued quickly.

Ideally this should have been done before ice took a further toll on the vulnerable surfaces of poorly maintained surfaces.

Morrell Court

The report talks of an annual condition survey. The survey details condition of every highway. All are graded between 1 and 5 with 5 being those in worst condition. (Grade 1: very good, • Grade 2: good, • Grade 3: fair, • Grade 4: poor, • Grade 5: very poor)

Over 13,000 stretches of highway are categorised as grade 5

That is little help.

A more detailed assessment is needed if the worst roads are to be prioritised.

The list is available for download from “open data” click here It is unfortunately categorised by ward names which were superceded over 15 years ago.

Walton Place

Still we can say that streets like Foxwood Lane and School Street are amongst the worst in the City. The 50 year old potholed access roads to Spurr Court and Morrel Court are graded at 4 (poor). Footpaths in streets like Walton Place don’t even get a mention.

We hope that Councillors will ask some searching questions next week.

All is not as it should be with highway maintenance operations at the York Council.

Councillor revives threat to number 12 bus service

“Use it or lose it” message for bus service users from transport chief

Just days after the number 12 bus service was reprieved, residents are being urged to make full use of it after falling passenger numbers left the long-term future of one section of its route in jeopardy.

Service 12 runs between Foxwood, the city centre and Monks Cross, but the section of the route between Alness Drive and Foxwood Lane has suffered a decline in patronage, This summer, bus operator First York announced its intention to withdraw the service that it provides along that section of the route on the basis that it is no longer commercially viable.

However, City of York Council stepped in to provide the funding required to continue operating the service in its entirety, but only up until 31 January, 2020. This will allow time for a tendering process to be carried out in a bid to find the most cost-effective, long-term solution. A decision about the future of the service will be made once that process is complete.

Councillor Andy D’Agorne, Executive Member for Transport, said: “It’s positive that the council has agreed to provide the funding needed to ensure that bus service 12 can continue to operate between Alness Drive and Foxwood Lane in the short-term but, as we work to identify a longer-term solution, it’s really important that local people make full use of the service.”

We think that the threat is ill timed. Details of the reprieved service weren’t generally circulated until over a week after the decision was taken.

Bus stop timetables similarly weren’t undated.

We think that Council should get its own house in order before preaching to passengers, many of whom are vulnerable.

Do bus passengers get a fair deal in York?

After several stable years, we have seen some criticism recently of some bus services in the City. Changes to the number 12 service were poorly publicised following a late decision by the York Council to step in and save part of the service

Passengers in west York have criticised for a long time the lack of “real time” bus arrival information screens in the area.

Bus reliability stats, provided by tracking technology, are not shared with passengers, although a “one off” sample survey – due to be conducted in a few days time – does produce a snap shot of reliability.

One area that the York Council can help passengers with is the “bus stop experience”.

Unfortunately bus shelters, provided by the Council around 10 years ago, are now looking distinctly shabby.

The Foxwood Lane bus shelter has been re-purposed as an Arboretum. Weeds dangle from the gutters, and strangle the interior. The shelter is never cleaned, the perspex is opaque and the paint continues to peal.
The nearby shelter on Askham Lane is no better. At least the sight lines from the shelter are better this year as the Council actually cut part of the adjacent hedge in the spring. You can just about still see if a bus is on its way. Unfortunately they didn’t trim the hedge at the back of the shelter making cleaning and routine maintenance impossible. It is now very scruffy.
At least the weeds are held at bay on this Windsor Garth shelter. But it is rusting badly and also sports opaque windows.

Speed limits and accident levels in York

The media are today reporting a move to extend the use of 20 mph speed limits in the City. In reality most residential roads already have such a limit. Some, including the 20 mph limit in The Groves part of the Guildhall ward, were introduced about 20 years ago.  

Most were introduced 5 years ago at a cost of £600,000. Their supporters claimed that this would result in a reduction in accident levels.

In reality the numbers killed or seriously injured on our roads has remained stable at about 60 per year.

Most of the accidents occur outside residential areas with many on roads with 60 or 70m mph limits. A lot of information is shared on the Councils “open data” pages. This includes the background to each accident and details the type of vehicles involved, driver characteristics etc.

Paradoxically, average speeds on some roads actually increased after 20 mph limits were introduced. The road covered by 20 mph limits can be downloaded from the Councils web site click

So should we be worried about accident levels in the City?

One of the disappointments of recent years has been the lack of attention given by Executive Councillors to road safety strategy. Too often reports have been tabled along with other issues which have restricted the time given to analysing trends.

 The York Councils famously limp “scrutiny” process barely touches on the subject of road safety.

Unless local leaders engage more positively in addressing issues then we can expect 60 people to be seriously injured on our roads each year for the foreseeable future.

….and changes to speed limits? Technology change means that it will be possible to automatically govern vehicle speeds shortly.  This would allow speed limits to be varied to meet prevailing road conditions.

If speed is an issue in causing accidents (it isn’t in most cases) then technology might provide a new solution.

More than 8,000 local children to take part in Walk to School Week 2019

More than half of York’s primary schools will take part in Walk to School Week 2019, which runs from 14 to 18 October.

The national, awareness-raising event is staged annually and aims to encourage children and their families to walk, cycle or scoot to and from school, rather than travelling by car.

Locally, in excess of 8,000 students from 28 different schools will get involved. City of York Council’s iTravel team will present the Jack Archer Award to the school with the highest proportion of its students walking, cycling or scooting throughout the week, as well as cash to spend on sports equipment, which has been donated by Age UK. The Jack Archer Award is now in its sixteenth year and Age UK has supported the competition since it was first launched as part of its intergenerational work to encourage children to be more active.

Councillor Andy D’Agorne, the council’s Executive Member for Transport, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many local schools getting involved in Walk to School Week and competing for the Jack Archer Award.

“The council is committed to promoting sustainable forms of transport and it’s important that children are encouraged to adopt these habits from a young age. In addition to the health and wellbeing benefits for the children themselves, walking, cycling or scooting benefits everyone by reducing traffic congestion and emissions, and improving air quality.

“Good luck to all the schools taking part!”

Residents of all ages can find out more about sustainable travel options by visiting www.itravelyork.info.

Time to spend the cycle budget

More evidence of neglect of our cycle routes. Two of the direction signs on the cycle link between Thanet Road and Sherringham Drive have been removed.

Time to use some of the Councils large cycling budget to get the signs replaced and to get the white lines repainted?

Missing sign at the Thanet Road junction. Delineating while lines have almost disappeared.
Similar problem at the Wains Road link
Anyone getting as far as Sherringham Drive will find the path still covered in weeds with overgrown hedges making progress difficult.

Number 12 bus service gets better buses

They are 5 year old vehicles
  • Bus upgrade on services 11 & 12 for passengers in Bishopthorpe, Ashley Park, Monks Cross, Foxwood Lane / Woodthorpe Lane
  • Investment will replace existing buses with low-emission services to support Clean Air Zone objectives
“Streetlite” bus

First York say that passengers on bus services 11 & 12 are “set to benefit this month with a bus upgrade providing improved travelling comfort together with lower engine emissions.

The service upgrade will be complete by mid-October with the introduction of eight 5-year old ‘StreetLite’ single-deck vehicles that will replace older buses operating on service 11 (Ashley Park – York – Bishopthorpe) and service 12 (Monks Cross – York – Foxwood Lane)”.

However they fall short of the latest specification buses which the financially troubled Wrights company were selling before they went into administration. The latest version of the “StreetLite” has a Euro 6 emission compliant engine while the “Max” model is all electric.

The number 12 service was saved last week following an 11th hour intervention by the York Council who will now subsidise part of the timetable.

First say that the “upgrade represents an investment of £800,000 and will provide customers with a superior interior including leather seating and lighter environment with more space for customers with pushchairs.

The newer buses are fitted with Euro V engine technology and will be upgraded to Euro VI to meet the Clean Air Zone requirements in partnership with City of York Council & the Government’s Clean Bus Technology Fund.

This investment follows the positive change for customers last month on service 10 (Stamford Bridge – York – Poppleon) with new journeys added and the evening service taken on by First York commercially.

This latest announcement comes in advance of a significant investment in York which will see 21 new electric double decker buses introduced later this year”.

Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director of First York, said,

“We are committed to providing safe, punctual and reliable bus travel for the people of York, so it’s important that we continue to invest in our bus services. With the support of our partners including City of York Council, this investment will also reduce bus emissions on the corridor and support the Clean Air Zone requirements. I’m sure our customers and the local community will welcome these improvements and encourage more people to switch to using bus services.”

Last minute reprieve for number 12 bus service?

Reports are emerging from the Council which claim that the 12 bus service, which was to have terminated in Woodthorpe from next Sunday, will now continue to serve the Acomb Wood Drive, Bellhouse Way and Foxwood Lane loop.

The decision – which is understood to involve a Council subsidy – was taken in a behind closed doors decision. No advanced notice of the proposal was published by the Council.

The service will run on an approximate 40 minute frequency.

The original plan would have left most of the 500 homes on the Acomb Park estate without an accessible bus service for large parts of the day.

A copy of the Mon-Fri First timetable, which will operate from 30th September, can be downloaded by clicking here

A copy of the Saturday timetable, which will apply from 5th October, can be downloaded by clicking here

Changes to service 14 were announced earlier in the summer.