Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

£50 litter fines for schoolchildren

In a move which many will hopefully applaude, Secondary school pupils in Glasgow run the risk of receiving a £50 fine if caught dropping litter, in the latest phase of of the city’s Clean Glasgow campaign. Enforcement officers will be on patrol, targeting 12 to 16 year old pupils, and will issue the fines retrospectively, by post to the offender’s home, with a letter to their parents.

In the event that the fine is not paid, the offender will be requested to undertake community work, with failure to comply resulting in their being reported to the Children’s Reporter, which hears child protection and youth justice cases.

A Glasgow Council spokesperson said their hope was that the number of fines actually issued would be very low.

You can read more details and comments regarding the Enforcement Phase on Glasgow Council’s web page.

Your scribe thinks this may be a forlorn hope, with the evidence of the children on the streets of the east end of the city indicating their contempt for both litter laws and the police.

At lunchtimes, the secondary school pupils flood out of the school and commandeer all the fast food outlets, bakers, sandwich and chip shops, together with all the small shops that have taken to selling soup, noodles, and any other fast food that can be boiled up quickly, or zapped in a microwave. Even though there are usually a few cops on foot patrol at the time, the kids simply pour out whatever liquid or slops they don’t want from their purchases on to the pavement. Anything delivered in a paper bag or plastic wrapper is usually out of its wrapping by the time they reach the shop door, and the wrapping dropped without a thought as soon as they reach the pavement. Plastic cups and the like are also just dropped as soon as they are finished with, all without a thought or even a glance to see if there is a rubbish container or bin nearby. Why the shopkeepers bother putting lids on the cups is just a mystery, they get tossed first. The police are too few to deal with such a relative triviality, and are usually needed to move the kids on from the shop doorways, and allow the adult and elderly shoppers access.

After the school lunch break is over, and the kids have gone back to school, the main street looks like a rubbish dump, with discarded food littering the pavement, and paper bags, plastic cups, and cup lids blowing along the length of the street.

The shopkeepers should be included too, as they are responsible for handing out the litter in the first place, so they can sell the it, and its contents, as fast as possible in the time available.

Maybe… one day…

15/02/2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scottish ‘First’ for bus travellers

MyBustrackerBelieved to be the first such system available in Scotland to provide real-time information for passengers to view online, BusTracker uses satellite navigation (GPS) and Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology to follow some 530 buses around the Edinburgh area using real time information. The system will allow users to find out when their next bus is due to arrive, using their computer or mobile phone.

Using positional information relayed from buses, the effects of heavy traffic and roadworks can be taken into account when arrival times are being estimated, providing users with more realistic information, and showing the required route on a Google map, complete with each stop pinpointed by a marker. The site also provides details of each route as a pdf.

Developed by the Edinburgh City Council and Lothian Buses, the system will complement the success of BusTracker display screens, currently installed at hundreds of stops in Edinburgh, East Lothian and Midlothian.

Similar technology is already in use in a number of applications around the country, with GPS AVL systems in use in Scotland for several years. Aberdeen was the earliest, followed by an award winning system operating in Dundee, and across Angus.

Glasgow is also reported to have a has a slowly developing system as well, and the evidence can be seen on numerous bus shelters around the city, which sprouted antennas and digital dot-matrix displays announcing the arrival of the next three buses… and the time.

This undated document (which closes with a reference to the system being operational by 2004) from the Glasgow archives describe the system:

The Bus Information and Signalling System – BIAS

The Bus Information and Signalling System (BIAS) consists of 2 computer control systems. The first is an Urban
Traffic Control (BIAS-UTC) Computer System that will provide public transport vehicles with progression through
the City’s traffic signals on the Quality Bus Corridors. The second system tracks those vehicles using a satellite
based Global Positioning System (GPS) and provides the travelling public with up to the minute information on the
arrival of buses at those bus stops along the routes.

A three-year contract has been awarded to 2 companies to design, install and commission these 2 control systems.

The City’s partners in this scheme are West Dunbartonshire Council and the bus operator First who hope to equip
460 of their 1,000 buses with the BIAS AVL equipment initially with further expansion later.

BIAS AVL and Real Time Information System

The new system will be housed in Glasgow City Council’s Traffic Control Centre in Elmbank Street with control
terminals installed in each of First Glasgow’s Depots at Larkfield, Scotstoun and Parkhead. Each BIAS equipped
bus will have an on board computer unit (OBU) which interfaces to the bus’s ticket machine, vehicle odometer, and
a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. The on board computer holds the daily schedule for the bus and
compares its actual position on the road with that expected. The bus then transmits any deviation to the Central
Computer system via the bus radio.
The central system monitors the bus fleet’s positions and transmits the actual expected arrival to Real Time
Information signs installed at the Bus shelters along the Quality Bus Corridor.
Where the bus is running late the bus will automatically request priority at traffic signals. This will allow the bus to
traverse the traffic signal intersections with minimal delay. The BIAS UTC System will then optimise the traffic
signal timings to ensure that the transition back to normal conditions is as smooth as possible. The BIAS UTC
System uses a vehicle actuated traffic control system called SCOOT (Split, Cycle, Offset, Optimisation
Techniques), which was initially developed in Glasgow and is now in use throughout the world.

BIAS UTC System

The Urban Traffic Control system will be installed within the Traffic Control Centre and interfaced with the BIAS
AVL system. Traffic Control facilities will also be provided in the Council’s main Traffic Operations Office and West
Dunbartonshire Council offices in Dumbarton.

An overseeing Integrated Management Facility will be provided as part of the UTC system to ensure that the
system operators are given a comprehensive overview of the new BIAS Systems and Glasgow’s existing CITRAC
(Centrally Integrated Traffic Control) traffic control facilities. This common Graphical User Interface (GUI) will
present information to the operators and engineers using Graphical Information System (GIS) dual screen
terminals. On these terminals the operator can view not only the road network conditions but also monitor the
progression of the buses throughout the quality bus corridors.

Additional on-line facilities will also be provided to evaluate the overall performance of the systems and to report
faulty equipment directly to the Council’s maintenance contractors.

Meeting the Quality Bus Corridor Objectives

The main objectives of the Quality Bus Corridor initiative are to support social and economic development and the
environment. The BIAS facilities will assist by:

Giving Priority to Public Transport; Reducing bus journey times; Making the bus service more reliable and; Providing better passenger information.

BIAS will be an integral part of the Council’s Quality Bus Corridor solution to the increasing traffic congestion within
the city and its conurbation and will assist in the Council’s objectives of increasing the shift to greener modes of
transport. The first installations will be operational early in 2004.

Interestingly, your scribe lives on one those Quality Bus Corridors referred to above. Causing much local uproar and an assortment of protest meetings when it was proposed (especially from traders on the route), it developed into nothing more than a means of permitting the buses to block all other traffic when they stop to drop and uplift passengers. Instead of having to pull in to the pavement to reach the stop and allow passengers to embark and disembark, all that was done was to build out the pavement so that the nearside lane (the roadway is typically four lanes wide over the route) was eliminated. This means that buses stop in the offside lane, with the result that ALL traffic in the road stops when a bus stops, meaning it has a clear passage once the passengers have been collected or dropped off. Since their route is always clear once they have completed this service, the operators are able to report that they have gained a few minutes operating efficiency over the previous journey time.

It seem an interesting, if slightly perverse way to improve journey times for a selected transport segment, but clearly works to the benefit of the bus operators. It also avoided the complications that were being proposed initially, with various ‘Bus Gates’ and other restrictions being discussed for non-bus vehicles travelling or stopping on the route, none of which materialised in the end. Most of the shops are still there too, so there was no mass exodus of traders either.

The ‘Digital Bus Shelters’ are handy too, as you can always find out the time from them if you’re out for a walk.

15/02/2008 Posted by | Civilian, Maps, Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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