Tyne & Wear Public

Transport Users Group



By Kevin Alderson, Jul 17 2016 12:41PM

A number of passengers have been injured on buses, mainly as a result of leaving their seats while the vehicle is still moving and not yet arrived at the stop.

Passengers who leave their seat and are injured in this manner are not necessarily covered by the bus company's insurance regulations. Passengers are expected to remain seated while the bus is in motion and the driver is also expected to wait until the passenger has alighted from the vehicle before moving off.

The common response is that: "drivers won't stop unless you get up and indicate your intention of leaving the vehicle". However, Arriva, and Go North East deny this and repeat the safety regulation as stated above. Stagecoach has not signed up to the safety regulations. We are waiting for them to clarify their position on the issue.

TWPTUG's advice is that passengers should remain seated until the bus stops and press the nearest bell to them, to indicate their wish to alight. If the driver fails to stop the vehicle, take the bus service number and time, and make a complaint. Also ask for the drivers name and licence number and if refused, record that.

By Kevin Alderson, May 10 2015 09:31PM

From the Surveyor Transport Network Newsletter

Edinburgh launches 'UK's first travel app for visually impaired'

17 April 2015

New features on the Transport for Edinburgh mobile app will help blind and visually impaired bus and tram passengers navigate more independently around the Scottish capital.

In what could be the UK’s first travel app for visually impaired people, the new features have been developed in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the Royal Blind School.

The free app (available on Apple and Android Smartphones) will now include VoiceOver technology to allow blind and visually impaired customers to benefit from next stop announcements and walking directions to a bus or tram stop spoken to them.

Once the app is installed a customer can point their phone at a tram or bus stop and it will announce the name of the stop and where services go from there. It also uses GPS to produce real-time departure information and announce the next stop even if the phone is locked and in the passenger's pocket.

Cllr Lesley Hinds, transport convener and chair of Transport for Edinburgh, said: ‘We are committed to providing accessible travel for everyone in Edinburgh, and this app will further enable passengers to make the most of the services on offer.

‘This is one of many innovations by Transport for Edinburgh to create a modern, integrated network for the city, allowing us to provide one of the most accessible public transport services in Scotland.’

Professor Stephen Gilmore of the QUANTICOL project at the University of Edinburgh, who helped come up with the app, said: ‘Unfortunately, the technology needed to make a mobile phone app accessible to a blind person is too little known generally. In fact, most people would be puzzled as to how a blind person could use a smartphone at all.

'The answer is the phone can synthesise a human voice so that a blind user can hear information being read to them as opposed to seeing it with their eyes in the same way in that a sighted person can.

'In addition to that they have included an absolutely unique feature called “Stop Radar” which allows a blind user of the app to use the built-in compass of the phone to identify which bus stops are around them in various directions.

‘Transport for Edinburgh have advanced the concept of accessibility to an unbelievable extent. I hope that other transport companies all around the UK — and indeed in every country in the world — will follow their lead and use the new Transport for Edinburgh app as an inspiring example of how to make visually-impaired passengers' experience on public transport better, easier, and safer.’

Around 15,000 people are registered blind in Edinburgh.

By Kevin Alderson, Jan 14 2015 11:24PM


Recently, Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group (TWPTUG) has received an increase in the number of complaints from travellers who rely upon the Metro, about the increase in delays and disruption to the service across the entire network.

We have also seen the recent hike in fares. People must be very angry at the poor service they are getting for their hard earned money. However, at the heart of this issue is the need for reliability and every user, whether travelling to work, school, shops or to care, just cannot rely upon the service at present. Transport, like NHS, is a vital social service.

TWPTUG took these concerns to Nexus who agreed the situation was serious and shared our concerns about the delays travellers were experiencing. We began by discussing Monday 12th January failure of power supply to the system for a second time in a week. Nexus advised this was due to problems with the private company who hold the franchise to supply power to the system. Nexus agreed they need to hold the company to account and also, improve their recovery systems and speed of communication with the public, when there are serious delays.

So the problem here lies clearly with two areas:, the metro trains are too old and need replacing. We need to bring forward government investment required to replace them (with spending per person in London twenty four times North East). Secondly, we the passengers have to rely on NEXUS being enabled to ensure these companies deliver what they are contracted to do and what we the tax payers are paying for.

TWPTUG have concerns about the imbalance between the interests (profits) of the shareholders of these companies and the needs of the public who rely on the service; in this case, the Metro passenger. We would ask here which is coming first, the shareholders of DB Regio and the power company or the public who rely on the service. Nexus need to ensure that the travelling public are put first and the contract they have with these companies can demonstrate this.

Happily, we have seen a huge increase in the number of people using the Metro in recent years. This is a success story, if we are serious about tackling climate change, traffic congestion and air pollution. So it is vital that the service they receive is reliable, safe, comfortable and integrated well with other public transport. It is not that at present. All the trains are too old and need replacing (internal refurbishment has not affected mechanical side of trains).

We would urge passengers who read this to lobby their councillors and MPs to call for this investment as a matter of urgency.

By Kevin Alderson, Jan 11 2015 11:13PM


Passenger Group Say No to Rail Fares Increase

Who Benefits from the latest increase in Rail Fares?

Dear sir/madam,

Tyne & Wear Public Transport Users Group (T&WPTUG) condemns the recent increases in rail fares of 2.5% as bordering on extortion and has little to do with the maintenance or improvement of a public service. It is the direct result of Government policy which is using public money to subsidise the private sector. UK rail fares have risen above inflation again this New Year, and the same Government policy has meant an incredible rise of 27% in rail fares since 2010. Have wages in the UK risen by this amount? No.

Comparison of rail fares between the UK and other European countries highlight the

unfairness of this. For example, Italian and Spanish commuters pay 6% of their salaries, Germans pay 9% while here, in Britain, the rail user is charged over 17%.or £4.6 billion pounds in fares more than their French counterparts. Isn’t it time people began to ask why? We in the Tyne & Wear Public Transport Users Group suggest the answer lies in the fact that all our rail franchises are with private companies, which exist to make a profit for the shareholders who invest in those companies.

A further example of the government’s policy of privatisation is the gift it has just made of the East Coast line, formerly owned by the taxpayer but now handed over to the private sector; despite being run very efficiently and contributing £1 billion to the public purse since its bail out in 2009, when the last National Express jumped ship. Isn’t it time we asked whose interests this government actually serves for it certainly is not the rail user or the people who depend on that service?


As a Tyne and Wear Group that represents over twenty community organisations and groups with an interest in developing and improving all forms of public transport, we are totally opposed to the new introduction of fare rises by the major rail companies. This has happened at a time of so-called austerity, while the vast profits that go to the shareholders of the rail companies are being maintained at the expense of the ordinary travelling public. Many of those rail travellers will now no longer be able to afford the already high fares, which will mean more misery for many not being able to travel and visit families and friends, and higher costs for those who have to work away from their families in Tyne and Wear, and commute back at weekends.

T&WPTUG is researching and campaigning for an integrated publicly owned transport system on behalf of the travelling public, who need a reliable, comfortable and cheap system of buses, metro and rail. The private rail companies, just as with the buses, are subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of £4 billion a year so why are their fares so high? Answer, because this government supports them making such vast profits.

UK rail fare rises are a scandal, and it’s time passengers stood up and had their voices heard. Make yours heard today. E mail ;- public.enquiries@hm-treasury.gsi.gov.uk. This is the way to complain to the Treasury department of the Government. In addition please write to your M.P.

Yours sincerely,

Vicki Gilbert Chair Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group

By Kevin Alderson, Dec 6 2014 02:51PM

Lets Tackle this Pollution Paul Baker’sletter printed in Journal and News Guardian on 27th nov.

According to a recent report, ‘Public Health in England’ April 2014, it was estimated that approximately 500 people across Tyne & Wear die each year from illnesses where the particulates from diesel fumes was a causal factor in their contracting the particular disease. The main illnesses linked to air pollution are: heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and asthma. Other ailments identified to have a link with diesel pollution are: men’s sperm count is lowered and where pregnant mother’s are exposed to high levels of these pollutants, smaller babies can result.

Areas of high density of pollution have been identified in Newcastle, such as Swan Roundabout, Salters Rd, Gosforth , Shields Road ( Byker) and the Western By-Pass. According to Professor Margaret Bell from the ‘Transport Operations Research Group’ at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne “unless the volume of cars is reduced and the congestion removed, pollution will not fall significantly”.

On a recent BBC television programme ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’ another key area was identified to be outside every school gate where parents’ using diesel fuelled vehicles either to drop their children off or collect them were creating high levels of air pollution for their own children and others. The programme makers also advised that the interiors of cars caught in slow moving traffic congestion and where drivers were breathing the fumes of the vehicle in front were also a serious risk. Our homes are not safe either, if they are situated next to or near a busy main road.

Why are all of us (including the drivers of diesel fuelled vehicles and their passengers) being subjected to such dangerous and unnecessary risks?

What is required here is a complete change of behaviour in how we travel around Tyne & Wear. We need investment in a public transport system which is integrated and meets people’s journey requirements in a way that is as near to the comfort and convenience of a privately owned car. We need regulation of diesel fuelled vehicles and where they are allowed to operate. This will take political will and leadership, something that is lacking at present. As I write I can tell your readers that the money currently awarded to ‘One North’ will mainly be targeted at roads and will result in more traffic (50% of which are diesel) and therefore more pollution.

This is a nationwide problem for across England, it is estimated that one in twenty deaths are from air pollution and that 50,000 people are dying as a result of diesel particulates and other gasses emitted from diesel fuelled lorries and cars. But we can start to do something here in Tyne & Wear, particularly now our councillors have voted for the introduction of a quality contract scheme and bus regulation. We can start by asking school governors to do something about the vehicles stopping at their gates and we can start by asking our politicians up for election shortly on what their plans are to safeguard our children and families health?


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