Thursday, 22 March 2012

Trains, Tite, Trams and Transit [a preview]

Disappointment or Dymanic with One Month to Go?
Eclipse, the Bus Rapid Transit service between Fareham and Gosport starts on Sunday 22nd April.

Eclipse is Hampshire’s new priority bus network, designed to raise your bus travel experience to the next level. The Eclipse network will ultimately link key towns and destinations in south east Hampshire, providing a viable alternative to car travel. Bus services that already serve the Gosport peninsula will use this traffic-free busway for part of their journey, to avoid the regularly congested A32 and improve reliability.
Passengers using Eclipse services can expect ...
a lot more from their travel experience:
High quality waiting facilities
Real-time bus arrival information on-board, online and at bus stops
Local information at major bus stops to help you plan onward travel
Comfortable seating, lighting and closed-circuit TV at major bus stops
Bus priority measures for more reliable journey time
The sleek new, low-emission buses have:
     Striking purple and gold Eclipse livery
     Individual leather seats
     Wood-effect floors and under-seat lighting
     Infotainment screens displaying local news as well as real-time arrivals
     CCTV
     Wi-Fi
But you don’t pay more:
Eclipse delivers more but that doesn’t mean you have to pay more. Fares are in line with those on regular bus services.
Welcome aboard!
Our experienced, uniformed drivers are ready and waiting to welcome you.
For those unfamiliar with the geography, Gosport lies on the western side of Portsmouth Harbour whilst Fareham is to the north west. The main road joining the two towns is the A32. Once upon a time there was plenty of open space between the two settlements but now it's built up all the way.
It is less than half of the former railway line that has been converted to a busway. And, to understand how things are changing, we need, yes, you've guessed it, an fbb map!
The orange arrows show where a bus can leave /join the busway from "ordinary" roads.

Pre-busway 82
diverted via Fareham Station and the Busway and numbered E2
Frequency increased from every 20 to every 15
Pre-busway 83
  see with 82 above  
No change in route
Frequency reduced to every 30 from every 20
Pre-busway 85
No change
But service 86 withdrawn from Nobes Avenue area so effective frequency there is reduced from every 10 to every 20.

Pre-busway 86
 see with 85 above  
Diverted via Fareham Station and the Busway and numbered E1
 see with E2 above  
Frequency increased from every 30 to every 15
No longer serves Nobes Avenue but serves part of the estate between the end of the busway and Brockhurst

Pre-busway 88
Monday to Friday peak hour journeys numbered X88 and diverted via Fareham Station and part of the Busway.
In previous "Eclipse" publicity, 88 and X88 were shown as E3.
Frequency remains every 30 min

Disappointed?
1. The busway section is really quite short.
2. Look back at the E1 and E2 timetable and you will see that although the buses leave Fareham at every 7 and 8 minutes (eight an hour), they arrive at Gosport at almost exactly every 15 minutes because the E1 is slower that the E2
3. The fastest bus between Fareham and Gosport [off-peak] is the unchanged 83, not via the busway with a running time of 30 minutes, whereas the E2 takes 32 minutes. Bus not-so-Rapid Transit?

Dynamic?
1. The number of reasonably direct buses between the two towns has increased from 6 an hour [82 and 83] to 10 an hour [E1, E2 and 83].
2. Avoiding congestion on the A32 must be good news.
3. There's lots of fancy stuff to encourage new customers to take the bus rather than the car.
4. 8 buses an hour from Fareham Station [plus X88s] to Gosport should encourage intergration.

fbb will be "over there" in England on Monday 23rd April (preaching commitments on Sunday 22nd!) to observe, report and bore the pants off blog readers in the days following.

And then there's the new 4, 4A and X4 between Southampton and Gosport (4), Fareham (4A & X4) and Portsmouth (X4).

"Trains, Tite, Trams and Transit" continues in April.

 Next Blog : due Friday March 23nd 
A final look (pro tem) at Pont Hafren

3 comments:

  1. I note the buses on the new "Eclipse" services will have "under-seat lighting"

    Pardon my ignorance, but what's that, and why do we need it? Surely not so we can check if the cleaner's swept the bus out properly!!

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  2. The idea of bus priorities and bus-only roads (whether guided or not) should be seen in a positive light, as they clearly have the potential to help buses overcome the disadvantages that they are perceived to have in comparison to using one's own car. However, those bus-only roads and priorities do need to be in the right place in order to be effective.

    In the case of the Runcorn Busway, the new part of the town was planned around the Busway, but the more recent examples - Cambridge Busway and this South Hampshire scheme - make considerable use of the trackbeds of abandoned railways, and one is bound to question whether the bus priorities are in the right locations. It is probably worth remembering that the railway wasn't closed because it was overloaded with passengers! Judging from reports about Cambridge, it would seem that subsequent developments since the closure of the railway mean that its route is nonetheless an effective alternative to a congested main road; but I do wonder if the same effect will be achieved in Gosport? Looking at the maps, I would have anticipated that for travelers from Fareham and points along the route to Gosport, whose eventual destination is Portsmouth (via the Ferry), the main congestion affecting them would have been in the Gosport/Rowner/Brockhurst area - i.e. where there is no Busway! Given that the original plans for this route in the 1980s included a tunnel between Gosport and Portsmouth, I presume that travel to/from Portsmouth is a significant part of the market.

    Of course, given that the development between Gosport and Fareham already exists, a Runcorn-style system would be very difficult to create, but I cannot help but wonder if the trackbed of the railway has been used 'because it is there' (and therefore enables the project to be undertaken relatively cheaply) rather than because it actually offers any real benefit? Naturally, it would be good to be proved wrong!

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  3. Re 'disappointed 2'
    Reminds me of changes to the main Plymouth to Tavistock service a few years ago, where a 20 min frequency was replaced by a bus every 15 min from Plymouth but two buses arriving in Tavistock together every 30 min

    ReplyDelete