Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Right Image - Part 4

It is a lovely run from Sheffield to Buxton
Eyam Church is famous for its rector, William Mompesson, ...
... who saved much of the north of England from the plague. The bug arrived from London in a bundle of cloth and despite the high chances of death, our Will persuaded the villagers to stay put and die, rather than flee and take the plague with them.

The church has another claim to fame. It is where Giles Robin Fearnley (yes him) was Christened.

Great Hucklow is an equally lovely little village. On of its heroes was Lawrence du Garde Peach (1890 to 1974). 

He was an author and very keel on AmDram; to such an extent that he bought a disused mine building and turned it into a Theatre. Here is a programme from the 25th Anniversary ...
... showing the rather spartan premises! Inside the programme is a pictures of the stage ...
Sold to the Scouts as a residential activity centre, it was used by fbb and the Mrs for New Year Holidays for his Bible class. It is now trading independently of the scouts.
Then comes Tideswell, and equally splendid sandstone village with its magnificent church ...
... known as "The Cathedral of the Peak".

T M Travel's bus route 65 (formerly 208, formerly 84) links all these typical Peak villages. But starting on Monday 27th March, there is an intriguing change to the timetable. Certain journeys are to be operated by High Peak Buses.
It appears that, when T M Travel lost the contract for the 66 (Chesterfield to Buxton), it lost a journey which formed the first 65 bus from Buxton to Sheffield. Rather that have a very long positioning journey, T M Travel did a deal with High Peak to cover two round trips.

High Peak evolved from Trent and competing CentreBus.
A new jointly owned company was created to operate the former Trent depots; including a couple of high profile ex Trent routes.
Transpeak runs all the way from Nottingham to Manchester.
According to Sheffield correspondent John, High Peak produces an excellent timetable book; although fbb has never seen a copy. But therein are a number of routes with fares interavailable with T M Travel.

But (and we get to the point at last), for the 65 timetable change, the companies have produced an excellent joint timetable leaflet. As well at the timetable (obviously) there is an adequate but simplified map (split in two to fit the blog) ...
... details of places to visit and some sample fares.
It is folded to ⅓ of A4 and looks really good!
The leaflet exudes quality and the operators deserve to attract passengers to this long-standing (albeit renumbered) bus route.

Frankly it makes the weird collection of different designs and sizes issued by the members of the various South Yorkshire bus "partnerships" seem off-hand and amateurish. It almost looks as if they don't want to encourage passengers to travel!

Are passenger numbers in South Yorkshire growing? Interesting question.

And is this excellent leaflet available from Travel South Yorkshire enquiry desks in Sheffield - in good time for the revised arrangements form Monday coming?

It certainly wasn't on Tuesday last.

It is hard to believe that the operators have not bothered to let TSY have any. Anybody know where they are?

 Next mystery tram blog : Friday 24th March 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Right Image - Part 3


 Thursday 20th October 1927 

Sheffield Tramways and Motors (later Sheffield Transport Department) acquired the business of Hancocks and included in the package was their bus route between the city and Buxton. It was numbered 84, with short workings to Tidesell showing 83.

 Monday 3rd October 1928 

The route became joint with the North Western Road Car Company. In 1934 journeys were diverted to serve the village of Great Hucklow. Here is a timetable from 1952 (click on the tt to enlarge).

 Friday 27th March 1959 
The Sheffield terminus was moved to the embryo Pond Street Bus Station ...
... although buses had started to call there on their way from Victoria Station in 1955.

 Wednesday 31st December 1969 

This was the last day of operation by Sheffield, the route being wholly North Western from that date. Sheffield's Joint Omnibus Committee (JOC) was being "wound up" ("wound down"?). The JOC was a very clever cunning plan to ensure that Sheffield Corporation kept control of buses run by the railway companies.

City routes were defined as Category A, wholly owned and operated by the city. Category B was for outer suburban routes (Dore, High Green, Beighton etc) which were jointly owned and operated by City and the Railway companies. Half the vehicles belonged to the railways; revenue and costs we split 50/50. Longer distance routes (Buxton, Gainsborough, Bradford) where wholly railway owned and designated Category C.

Sheffield Transport took control of the railways' share of the B routes and the C routes were disposed of to the appropriate geographical bits of the of the state owned bus companies.

Hence North Western got the 84.

 January 1st 1972 

Most of North Western was sold to SELNEC (later Greater Manchester) PTE and rebranded as SELNEC Cheshire.
Most of the rest was tagged onto Crosville (the original, operating throughout the north west and north Wales). But Buxton and Matlock depots were handed to Trent.

Things now get confusing, so, if fbb has got the sequence wrong, please forgive and correct!

 Recent (?) times 

Trent renumbered the route 208 and thus it was in 1985.
For a time the 208 had run through to Stoke, but Potteries Motor Traction had started their own alternative link numbered X23.
This used main roads (not the back lanes of the 84/208) and then via Leek to Hanley.
After a spell as X23, the route then became X18 ...
... in which guise it passed to First Bus ...
... and soon fizzled out completely.
Meanwhile the former 208 found its way, under a Derbyshire tender ...
... into the hands of T M Travel, later owned by Trent!
under the protective umbrella of Derbyshire's contribution, the route has been remarkably stable. Compare departures above in 2010 ...

0925  1125  1325  1555  1730

... with 1985 ...

1000  1200  1400  1600  1800  1930

... and even with 1952.

0925  1125  1325  1525  1735  1955

And now a confession from fbb. In all his years living in Sheffield (1963 to 1984) he never rode on the 84/208; he never went by bus to Buxton. It would have been an ace ride on  T M Travel double deck.
Tomorrow we look at what is happening to the 65 from Monday.

 Next right image blog : Thursday 23rd March 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Right Image - Part 2

The Positives of Partnership?
In the current issue of Buses magazine, Julian Peddle (eminence grise of many an independent bus operation) extols the virtues of Partnership. He references Bristol, Leigh (of guided busway fame) and proposals in Leeds.
He doesn't mention Oxford, where Stagecoach have begun the break from cosiness with GoAhead and introduced a competing service to Woodstock ...
... with all the now obligatory extra "stuff".
Stagecoach Oxford have also stepped outside the joint ticketing chumminess by introducing their own electronic card-type thingey.
Nor does he mention Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley.
In all the South Yorkshire communities, the Partnership has delivered reductions of service and yet another raft of day, week and monthly fares offers to befuddle passengers. In Sheffield a new and unpopular network of services began in 2015.

It is hard to see any of this offering a tangible benefit to passengers.

One opportunity that "working together" might bring, you would have thought, is better quality publicity. The main protagonists in the deal can, when they put their minds to it, print some very attractive leaflets.

Here is Stagecoach's offering from Cranbrook, a "new town" development for Exeter.
And here is the equally attractive front of First's leaflet for their new service 5 in Weston-super-Mare.
The ludicrous decision of South Yorkshire PTE to stop printing any leaflets at all has thrown the problem back to the operators. So how is the partnership managing?

Guess!

Here is a Stagecoach leaflet for the service between Sheffield and Eckington.
These rarely appear in Sheffield because it is a Stagecoach Chesterfield route and the folk from the town of the crooked spire begin to panic when they cross the border from Derbyshire. The leaflet is folded to A6 size.

Here is a Stagecoach leaflet for the 265 Sheffield to Barnsley route; apparently not par of the Sheffield or the Barnsley Partnerships.
It is folded to ⅓ of A4. These have been seen in Sheffield, but were not so evident in Barnsley after the change on 29th January.

Now, this is also a Stagecoach leaflet for the X19.
It is folded to A7 size but does contain a very simplified map and some season ticket prices.

And this is also a Stagecoach leaflet.
It claims allegiance to the Sheffield Bus Partnership, is folded to ⅓ of A4 and offers no map or fares information. Service 88 is operated by Stagecoach alone, nothing shared with First.

It contains some really silly information. The heading says the buses run to Bents Green (they do) but the timetable says they terminate at Brincliffe, about a mile and a quarter short of the terminus.
Potty!

fbb as repeatedly reported this nonsense to Stagecoach and the PTE. A very senior Stagecoach manager responded in an off-hand matter, "Oh, I thought they had sorted that out." They still haven't. The PTE man (a lesser minion) offered the feeble excuse that the PTE "had to publish what Stagecoach registered." It doesn't "have to"!

Potty again.

So far, then, in our trawl of the Partnership provision of publicity, we have FOUR Stagecoach leaflets in four very different shapes, sizes and styles.

Not to be outdone, here is a First Bus leaflet.
Again it is A7 size and pink (for First Bus) with a blue partnership logo. It has a good map and (whisper only, in case anyone is listening) a full fare table. The routes are exclusively operated by First, no involvement of Stagecoach at all.

One bonus is that it does show the service as terminating at Sheffield interchange ...
... whereas the PTE/TSY on-line version tells you that the Interchange is unreachable.

And, to complete the collection, here is another A7 mini-leaflet.
It is in partnership blue and shows First and Stagecoach as "joint" operators. It was produced by First Bus, has a good map but no fare table. Why no fares?

Simply because this is a joint route but with both operators free to charge different fares for the same journey - and they do!

fbb has been invited to several meetings in Sheffield to discus publicity and, latterly, to promote GoTimetable Sheffield. At all these meetings, neither PTE nor operators have seen any major problem with printed or on-line publicity. Promised "improvements" have never happened.

Indeed, one of our Sheffield correspondents writes thus:-

(a) It seems to be standard practice, now, to have printed leaflets available after the services have changed and never before.

(b) Once initial stocks are exhausted (usually after just  a few days) nothing is available.

(c) Some of the timetables in the leaflets are wholly misleading, especially where "repeat patterns" are given. The 83a, for example has a six minute variation hidden within at "at the same times each hour" panel.

Partnership?

fbb does not usually deal in rumours but the word on the street in Sheffield is that, whilst the Partnership has improved First Bus' profitability, Stagecoach is still struggling within the city. Will any of our readers be placing bets on the survival of the cosy (?) relationship? 

fbb reckons the Sheffield Partnership will collapse before then end of 2018.

Tomorrow, we take a look at a Sheffield bus leaflet that shouts quality and reliability. It doesn't even mention "partnership"!

 Next right image blog : Wednesday 22nd March 

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Right Image - Part 1

Viva Arriva!
Describe the  Arriva Livery. Aquamarine with a "stone" coloured "swoop"? Answer, yes it is - sometimes.
The logo is also familiar ...
... now with  reminder that the company is state owned but by Germany!

The company has just announced a livery "refresh". The two rings in the logo become three and the company name changes to a trendy font in lower case.
Versions have been designed in blue on white.
Buses have appeared in a different blue, close to a pure cyan ...
... but with "normal" logo. fbb certainly hopes that the end result will be better than that. Surely the three rings on the new logo are both corny and cluttered; very disappointing.

Once upon a time, buses retained the same livery for years but Arriva has often strayed from its original swoop design. Livery and logo are always very subjective but your opinionated blogger is not impressed with either of these trendy new offerings.

Maybe we will end up with something stunning once the ideas have settled down.

Hopefully.

But, talking of Arriva reminds fbb of a tricky incident in his distant past. The great Great Britain Bus Timetable was sponsored by contributions from all the big bus groups and fbb was asked to produce a page listing these. "Can you do the logos as well?" was the boss's request.

"No," replies fbb, "but I know a man who can." That man was No 3 son who had a gift for design and a huge skill at using the Artworks package on the family's BBC derived confuser.
The page was duly created ...
... and the boss was very happy. But a man from Arriva wasn't. He was the company's "brand awareness manger" and he emailed fbb complaining that the logo was not accurate; the font for the word Arriva was incorrect.

fbb replied, politely, saying he would be only too happy to incorporate the correct logo if Mr Complaint would send him a suitable version compatible with the Artworks software. fbb also asked that, as well as concentrating on accurate logos, perhaps it would be a good idea if all Arriva companies routinely sent in timetables for inclusion on the book.

He never heard from the brand awareness manager again.

Spot the difference; GBBTT (ignore the blue tinge to the background and rings; the pages of GBBTT are a little faded and that's the closest fbb can get to aquamarine and white) ...
... and official.
No 3 son did offer to make the top left corners of the A and I slightly rounded but the decision was that the effort was unnecessary.

Protect the Brand!
Companies do go to some ludicrous lengths to protect their brand. The Wellworth store in Dorchester ...
... was told to change its name as it was too much like the shop's former owners (Woolworth) who had gone bust! Wellworths, sadly, eventually closed down.

The Skipton Pie Stop pie shop was ordered to remove its sign ...
... by solicitors for London Transport. Presumably they wanted to prevent Skipton residents from trying to catch an Underground train from the shop. fbb vaguely remembers a cafe in Glasgow being bullied in the same way. The cafe below escapes the wrath of LT, presumably, because it is in France.

Whose Bus?
If a brand or a logo is powerful and consistent, the theory is that, together with the overall design, they should say something positive about the product. This leaflet ...
... even with the company name excised, should convey the bus operator name. As should this, again with its logo removed.
Consistency of design, use of corporate colours and, of course, the all-important logo all combine to promote quality and reliability of service.

Or so we are told.

But ...

We shall explore further tomorrow by taking a trip to Sheffield.

Right Information : Night Information
The Sheffield Night service 952 has started with a lavish two journeys on Saturday Nights (very early Sunday morning). Publicised, fbb believes, only to university students, the journeys at 0230 and 0330 do start from the city centre. Here, thanks to insomniac Sheffield newshound Roy, is the 0230 departure.
Note the large number of passengers, possibly encourages by the route number clearly displayed on the stop ...
... and the timetable clearly shown on the timetable frame.
The internally illuminated frame does not photograph well, but fbb assures his readers, there is no two-journey departure listed on the panel. It doees show, however, a full lit of departure times for the 43, 43a and 44. Passengers joining these buses will enjoy a superb ride all the way from the stop illustrated above ...
... to their terminus a few yards along the road.

Passengers for the 952? Who wants them? Far too much trouble!

Thanks Roy for sending better pictures of the Flat Street stop, uploaded at 0915 this morning.

 Next right image blog : Tuesday 21st March