President's Blog - Meeting First Bus

My job at RGU:Union is to make sure I listen to students feedback, and try my best to make the best changes that I can. One area where we regularly get feedback is with regards to transport. Due to the location of RGU in Garthdee, the majority of students have to take the bus to uni each day. Over the past few years, class representatives and student Presidents have worked really hard to make as many improvements as possible, and to get the best deal for students. Recent changes have included the introduction of the student carnet ticket, and the 1A direct service.

Following on from student feedback, I met with management of First Aberdeen today to raise student concerns and look at improvements for the future. This is my second meeting with First, after I shared several complaints with them last semester. Since then, feedback seems to show that the service is improving, and my aim is to make sure that it keeps improving. Today's meeting covered a number of areas and was a chance for First to update us on any changes, and for us to share our feedback with them. These are the various points that were discussed:

Updates on Current Issues:

  • Bus Capacity: The biggest issue this year is difficulty getting on the buses, as full buses keep passing. First told us that they now have twenty-five new double decker buses for the 1, 1A and 2 routes, which provide more seating space (and possibly in the future WiFi capacity). During peak times, they put the maximum number of buses possible, which leads to a bus every five or so minutes. Therefore, although full buses may pass stops, there are as many buses as they have out there. They are continuing to make this better, and have staff on the streets to manage bus flow, and have put extra coaches on at times to deal with the volume of users.
  • Holburn Street Queues: Due to how busy queues are on Union Street, by the time buses reach Holburn Street, it is exteremly hard to get on them. To counter this, First shall be introducing buses that arrive empty along Holburn Street during peak times to ensure these passangers can get on the bus.
  • Changes to No. 2 Frequency: There is a reduction in the number of buses on the Number 2 service, unfortunatly, as the physical buses are now used for the 1A service. This was a compromise to try and give students a better option for the 1 and 1A service

Future Improvements:

  • Peak Time Management: For the coming year, RGU is going to work with First to provide timetabling information to highlight when the most clases start and end each day to plan for peak travel use. This means that First can plan the service around the university timetables.
  • Area Mapping: RGU is also reviewing information on where students and staff live in relation to campus. We'll use this information to highlight to First whether there are popular areas where staff commute from that may require new routes.
  • Awareness: RGU:Union is looking to work with First Aberdeen to keep students better informed on the updates and changes made. Students should know that their feedback is being listened too, and that changes have been made. Through social media, and possible the First App, we will look to provide service updates and feedback to students.
  • Monthly Payments for Academic Tickets: Another request I made was that First look to whether Academic tickets could be paid monthly. First were going to look into it, and I also asked that there is (at the bare minimum) a freeze on the price of tickets, and that tickets should decrease, at least to the same level they were a year ago.
  • Extended Expiry for Carnet Ticket: A few years ago, RGU:Union helped introduce the carnet ticket, which is great for student infrequently traveling to campus, such as students on placement or only in for a short time. The expiry date should be as long as possible, so that students on placement for a semester may only need to come in ten times in a few months, but the carnet may expire and journeys are wasted. I have asked that First look to extend the expiry date for these tickets.
  • Night Bus Service for 24 Hour Library: My big ask at this meeting was to explore the possiblity of running a night bus service (included in student passes) for the times when RGU, (and UoA) have 24 hour Library around assessments. I had asked for this for the January exams, but because they need three months to change their service and staffing schedules, e.t.c. Unfortunatly, there is still not enough time to do this for May 2016, but we will be looking at it for January 2017. The 24 Hour Library service is important for students, but as there is no transport home from RGU from midnight to 6am, that makes it difficult to say unless you want to walk home in the dark and cold. A regular hourly service running from St. Machar to RGU is what we are hoping will be introduced, but need as much feedback as possible!

I am passionate about doing what I can to get the best transport options for students. I will continue to meet regularly with First Aberdeen to do what we can to improve the service. I'd like to ask if anyone has any feedback that they would like to share, then please speak to your class representative, or feel free to e-mail myself (prescd@rguunion.co.uk). My job is to represent you, so remember, if there is anything you want to see changed at RGU, then please let me know!

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