Friday, 29 May 2020

Compass Bus Calling Point Conundrum

Mega Panic
O, this is the challenge of updates; it springs
All from Monday 1st June. O GoTimetable,
When pressures come, they come not single spies
But in battalions. First, from Stagecoachbus:
Second, from First; and both with violent changes
To improve the service: passengers muddied,
Thick and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers!

Lovers of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" may well remember King Claudius' anguished speech in Act 4 Scene 5, where he was overcome with sadness at the tragedies the surrounded him. 

On Wednesday last, fbb received details of Stagecoach's timetable uplift from Monday (1st June). There is a huge amount of stuff to wodge into GoTimetable. Then yesterday another heap arrived from First. There are over 40 services to update which means 80 sets of timetables, one for each direction. Ideally they should all be in place over the weekend.

Two working days, and the weekend? fbb will try, but will almost certainly fail. 

Every month the fbb's distribute an A4 (folded to A5) leaflet to maintain contact with the 30 or so "seniors" that join them every month for Sunday's Best, a Christian get together with a yummy tea.

About 2 days work - to be ready for distribution in the middle of next week, recognising that the monthly meeting would have been on Sunday 7th June.

To assist this "batallion" of pressured process, fbb may well have to curtail his blogging activities for a few days.

Work on the model railway will have to stop.

Compass Bus Bus Stop
No 3 Son has photographed an "interesting" bus stop in Paddockhall Road Haywards Heath ...
... apparently served by Compass Bus.
According to Google Maps only their service 39 calls.
The stop is near Muster Green ...
... and is on one side of the road only - so it might be assumed that the 39 is on some sort of one way section. Compass have a local map of their services in the town ...
... which suggests that there are far more buses along Paddockhall Road than just the 39. Compass' key routes in Haywards Heath are 31, 33 and 39. 

Fortunately No 3 Son was more diligent in his happy snapping and photographed the frame, almost engulfed in greenery.
There is the 39 (Monday to Friday) at the bottom ...
... above which is the 31 (Monday to Friday) ...
... and above that is another 31 - possibly Saturday.
The picture is taken through less than pristine glass (plastic?) so is not too clear. Checking on Compass' own web site, there should be a Saturday 39 with a bright red header ...
... but nothing matches that inside the frame at Paddockhall Road. Maybe the Saturday 31 ...
... has just faded.

But there is another problem with the photographed stop. It is not mentioned anywhere on the Compass timetable. Checking Traveline's all-stops offering we find the buses travelling northbound that might use the Paddockhall stop ...
... don't. They use Perrymount Road, calling at the Jireh Court bus stop where No 3 Son omitted to get a picture of the Compass Bus frame (remember?) ...
... then stopping at the main Perrymount Road shelter ...
... opp Budgens before continuing to Sainsburys.
Check the map again.
In the opposite direction buses call at Perrymount Road (outside Budgens), Jireh Court and off to the Hospital along the full length of Perrymount Road.

fbb is pretty sure that NOTHING now stops at Paddockhall Road, certainly nothing operated by Compass.

Unless anyone out there known anything different.

In the meantime, fbb recommends that you don't try waiting at the stop! You could have an even longer wait than for a "full" virus "social distancing" bus!

Which brings fbb to a key question.
Why does the screen show "Bus" Full? What else might be full? What is wrong with "Sorry Full" - you could make it bigger.

Hey ho! Back to GoTimetable Sheffield.

Now what is the difference between a new 57 and a new 57a?

 Next Variety blog : Saturday 30th May 

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Out Of Lockdown - Metrobus (2)

No 3 son, currently trapped in Haywards Heath (not a pleasant fate!?), sent fbb pictures of a bus stop near the station.
The stop is labelled (good!) "Jireh Court" ...
... which is a private road serving a block of flats of which there is a great proliferation in central Haywards Heath.
Two operators are shown, one of which is Metrobus whose "main line" services to East Grinstead (270) and Crawley (271 and 272) call thereat. 

Timetables (presumably pre-virus) are posted in the frame but covered with new notices. One tells you that something has happened.
It is better than many, however, as, in addition to the usual website/app exhortatation, it gives a company phone number. WELL DONE METROBUS.

The bus operators is always the information source the most likely to be accurate and up to date. happily and sensibly, Metrobus does not hide behind Traveline which, in some areas is weak and in others is palpably useless.

The second notice is, potentially, even better as it tells you what is happening in general terms, but clear enough to give a realistic warning to any potential customer.
South Yorkshire PTE please note.

But there is nothing about service improvements from 1st June; the notices were pictured with less than a week to go.

Wisely again. no mention of Traveline.

As of yesterday Traveline had no mention of the 1st June frequency uplift - but we are advised on both notices to use the Metrobus web site - which we will!

The on-line home page doesn't muck about; before any promotional clutter you are hit full in the face with this:-
fbb would prefer that the small print ...

Special timetables are in place across our network. A service increase is taking place on 1st June - full timetables are available.

... were about five times bigger - but it says it how it is. WELL DONE METROBUS.

One click takes you to the heart of the matter ...

... with a simple choice between current and forthcoming tables. No clutter, no waffle, no long train of clicks to follow; and no pre-virus times to confuse us.

Click on the June 1st text and you get a quick summary ...

Service increase from 1st June

From Monday 1st June we will be increasing our services and operating at 80% of our standard service. This is part of our continued effort to support social distancing as more people return to work.

Please note Routes 21, 22, 84, 273, 280, 281 and 318 have been re-instated.

Routes 11 and 300 are still suspended.

Route 400 is not changing.

Routes that have schoolday and non-schoolday variations are running to a non-schoolday service.

Full details below:

... then follows the timetables in route number order delivered as downloadable and printable PDF files.

For some services the uplift is dramatic. Here is the current 270 (full timetable) ...
... and below we have times from 1st June (extract only).
There will be a full hourly service throughout the day Mondays to Fridays.

In passing, here is Traveline's offer for 1st June, downloaded yesterday lunchtime.

How is the County Council web site coping?

Badly - badly to the point of uselessness.

There is a network map ...
... but the detailed town diagrams are not available on-line and the published map is not up to date. The "interactive map" draws its data from Traveline ...
... so will only be of use from 1st June if Traveline is eventually updated. Obviously, there is no facility for looking into future times.

As far as timetables are concerned ...
... it is back to the unreliable Traveline.

When fbb last wrote critically about lack of reliable timetables, he was upbraided (at considerable length) along the lines of concern for hard working, over-stretched local authorities in the approaches of bankruptcy. The "anonymous" went on to suggest that fbb needed to live in the real world.

Frankly, that is not the point. If local authorities cannot maintain their data for whatever reason, they should stop pretending, stop referring people to Traveline and insist that commercial operators update e.g. their own bus timetable frames.

For tendered services, the provision of bus stop and printed information should be part of the tender.

Rather than going for every possible bell and whistle on complex web sites, they should just supply a map, a list of services and a link to each operator's PDF file. A dead cinch to keep up to date.

Who needs a journey planner anyway?

There is simply no point in having a national journey planner service if, for whatever reason, it is not kept in good order.

Does the 271 go to Kemp Town, as suggested by Traveline?
Of course it doesn't. It goes to Brighton and on to Brighton Hospital!

Compass Bus 37 ...
... goes to Kemp Town.

And, talking of Compass Bus, their services 31, 33 and 39 serve the Jireh Court stop and fbb reckons their timetables are on the other frame on the same pole.
Unfortunately, No 3 Son omitted to photograph "the other side" (SLACKER!!) so fbb is not, at the moment, able to contrast and compare.

Will any printed material be available for Metrobus' uplifted services from Monday?

Unlikely but, in Metrobus' case, IT IS ALL ON LINE!

 More uplift, possibly uplifting, blog : Friday 29th May 

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Out Of Lockdown - Metrobus (1)

As we have seen already in these blogs, bus companies are aiming to return to about 80% of their normal service from June 1st (probably). This may be interpreted in different ways, but the emphasis will remain in providing buses for essential use focussing on "commuter" travel on Mondays to Fridays.

fbb is keen to show examples of how this "recovery" is delivered in practice - and invites blog readers to send in examples for their area; pictures of bus stop  information, scans of printed material (you must be joking!!) and any other ways the frequency uplift is publicised.

Material to:-

Please do NOT send huge sized pictures as they will clog up fbb's hand cranked internet service out in the wilds of Seaton.

Because No 3 son has been "trapped" for the duration at a chum's house in Haywards Heath, he has provided a simple spur for this starter blog - his pictures will appear tomorrow.

Will it be Metrobus the Magnificent or Metrobus the Minimalist?

Now - a bit of history:-
In February 1981, the Orpington & District bus company collapsed due to financial difficulties, and the Tillingbourne Bus Company, based in West Surrey, took over their operations, setting up Tillingbourne (Metropolitan) Limited.
In July 1983, Metrobus Limited was formed when two directors, Gary Wood and Peter Larking, purchased the subsidiary.
Later, under GoAhead's ownership, the London operations were transferred to GoAhead's London subsidiary.
But, as Arriva contracted in Sussex, Metrobus expanded. Despite a new network in the Crawley area in 2000 ...
... Arriva sold out to Metrobus, by now owned by GoAhead, in March 2001; and the newcomer moved into the old Arriva depot which became the new HQ.

Goodbye Arriva ...
... welcome Metrobus.
A highlight of the Crawley area is, of course, the "Fastway" services (routes 10, 20 and 100) with guided busway ...
... and some impressive bus priority schemes.
Several eons ago, whilst Mrs fbb was having a meeting at Peas Pottage ...
... more usually Pease Pottage ...
... (not, please note, IN Pease Pottage) ...
... fbb rode the Fastway from Crawley to Gatport Airwick and back. It was efficiently un-memorable; the only disappointment being the poor facilities at the airport.
Utterly underwhelming!

In 2009 Arriva quit Horsham, selling out to Metrobus. Once again, goodbye Arriva ...
... and welcome Metrobus.

This brief summary leaves Metrobus (Crawley) with a substantial route network.

From Epsom, Sutton and Banstead in the north ...
... to Worthing and Brighton in the south.
The red route numbers are a selection of routes operated by Brighton and Hove, which handles the management of Metrobus.

Routes stretch from Horsham in the west ...
... to Tunbridge Wells in the east.
The company sure has moved on from a few routes in the Orpington area!

So, tomorrow, we travel (virtually, not "doing a Dominic") to Haywards Heath; and from there we look at plans for frequency uplift from 1st June.

The Gates Bill (Not Bill Gates)
fbb has created a nice little "bower" for Peterville War Mamorial ...
... but it needed some sort of gateway, But what?

In real life you would expect something distinguished, wrought or forged, to reinforce the dignity of Remembrance. Unusually for fbb's casual approach to modelling, the old man felt that a bit of platic kit left-over would simply not do.

So he ordered one tiny laser printed "forged gate" at a painful £2.
But it will be ideal.

As long as he doesn't lose it or Mr Tubbles doesn't eat it!

 Next Metrobus blog : Thursday 28th May