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Transport to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospitals: Glasgow meeting of 22 September 2015

The planning of transport to the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospitals in Glasgow was the topic of the meeting held in Glasgow on 22 September 2015 and was presented by Gordon Dickson, the Bus Development Manager at Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) and Martin Breen, Planning and Project Officer at SPT.

Mr. Dickson outlined the challenges faced with planning transport for the new Queen Elizabeth University hospitals complex, pointing out that it is the largest hospital site in Scotland with some 10,000 staff and catering for around 750,000 patients and visitors a year. There are approximately 30,000 passenger movements per day and an early decision was to place the emphasis on public transport to serve the site.

The new hospital complex replaced the Victoria Infirmary on Glasgow's south side, the Western Infirmary in the north west of the city and Yorkhill hospitals that were situated not far from the Western Infirmary. Parts of other hospitals were also replaced. Glasgow's Royal Infirmary and Gartnavel Hospitals remain in operation. The new Queen Elizabeth University Hospitals opened in phases from April 2015 being fully operational by July when the formal opening took place.

There were a number of constraints on transport provision with limits to the on site parking. There are 3,500 car park spaces available on site, but the surrounding area is a controlled parking zone, with restrictions on business and residential parking. Owing to concerns about "overspill" parking, the aim was to encourage people to use public transport in travelling to and from the hospital.

The first task was to understand the demand for travel to the hospital by staff, visitors and patients. Key factors were the existing transport provision and the likely demand for transport to the new facility. An exercise was undertaken using staff postcode information to identify the staff travel patterns. There are some 8,000 weekday staff of which 6,700 start work between 0700 and 1000. There are 1,700 staff starting work before 0800. In the evenings, some 3200 staff finish work between 1700 and 1800.

The postcode data showed a wide catchment area, with 57% of staff living within 5 miles of the new hospitals and a significant cluster in the west end of Glasgow. Visitor and patient travel demand is spread throughout the day between 0700 and 2000 with around 7,300 visitor/patient arrivals per day. The catchment area is wide ranging.

Key transport interchanges are located at Partick, Battlefield, Shawlands Cross, Govan and Braehead. A section 75 planning agreement with the NHS meant that £2.4 million was available for public transport improvements and it was essential to get public transport operators to "buy in" to the opportunities afforded to get public transport into the site.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport undertook early engagement with the various stakeholders and facilitated weekly transport issues workshops. It also arranged a bus operators engagement session and arranged on-site visits as well as highlighting commercial opportunities for bus operators. The aim was to get as much of the needed public transport provided commercially as possible.

The bus network before the project started had 14 buses per hour passing the site, not all actually going into the existing hospital, whereas the latest figures show that there are 86 buses per hour going into the hospital. As part of the planning process, SPT looked for gaps in the existing network and issued tenders for services to fill these. This resulted in a 4 year contract being awarded to First.

Rail and subway also play a role in transport to and from the new hospital, with the nearest subway station being at Govan, and the bus interchange at the station is being redeveloped. Partick Interchange is a key location facilitating interchange between rail services, the subway and bus services and there are plans for the bus interchange to be redeveloped.

Other modes of transport are also catered for and walking and cycling is being encouraged. There is also SPT's Journeyshare car sharing scheme and tickets such as ZoneCard also makes it easier for travel to and from the hospital.

The Fastlink project is also an important part of the transport provision to and from the new hospital complex and is a bus rapid transit scheme linking the city centre, via the SECC, Pacific Quay and Govan. With funding from the Scottish Government of up to £40 million, the scheme features segregated carriageways, bus lanes, bus advance signalling, bus priority at traffic lights along with other physical bus priority measures. High quality bus shelters with real time information are being provided.

A Statutory Quality Bus Partnership scheme has been put in place requiring participating bus operators to provide vehicles and services to a specified high quality standard. There is CCTV enforcement of bus lanes and SPT's Compliance Inspectors monitor the services. The project's objectives are to provide a 20% reduction in journey times, encourage growth and development as well as improving the environment bus requiring vehicles to be to a minimum Euro 5 standard and encouraging the deployment of Low Carbon vehicles.

After the presentation there was a question and answer session, following which the Scottish Region chairman offered the vote of thanks and presented both speakers with a Scottish Region engraved glass as a memento of the evening.

The Scottish Region would like to thank Strathclyde Partnership for Transport for hosting the event.

Further information on transport to the Queen Elizabeth University hospitals can be found on SPT's website at:
www.spt.co.uk/bus/accesstohealthcare/queen-elizabth-university-hospitals/

For information on the Fastlink project, this can be found at:
www.spt.co.uk/corporate/about/projects/fastlink/

Report by John Fender.

 

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