Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Wondering and Wandering at Wantage [3]

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Blog postponed!
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fbb was at a family funeral gathering in Wantage recently and blogged slightly more positively than previously about the availability of bus information at the Tourist Information Centre cum Museum. See Wondering and Wandering at Wantage [1] (read again) and [2] (read again).

fbb wondered, however, how things might be when the little Wantage area timetable booklet goes "out of stock", "out of print" or "out of date".
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The question posed was thus, "How well are services advertised at the town's main central bus stops?" This delayed blog offers an answer.
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Going Looking Up the Pole
There are two shelters outside "The Bear" at Wantage Market Place. The front one (right hand) is for services towards Grove, Abingdon and Oxford. It has "real time" information on the other side of the "flag" for some services [31, 32, 36 and X30] and, on both sides, a list of all services calling there.
Unfortunately for the potential passenger there is no information anywhere, neither in the frame on the stop nor on a panel in the shelter for  A1, N30 and N31.
The A1 is a council-run route providing "socially necessary" services to a umber of otherwise unserved villages on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It is, of course, in the Wantage area timetable book ...
... but remains a dark and mysterious secret at the stop.

So do Stagecoach night routes N30 and N31. On Friday and Saturday nights, late buses run as N31 from Oxford via Abingdon, Marcham and Grove to Wantage following daytime route 31 ...
... and return to Oxford via the X30 route but numbered N30.
None of this information is available at the Market Place stop. Because being "early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise", fbb cannot confirm or refute the existence of these trips on the "real time screen".

Oh, and by the way, the "wealthy" bit hasn't worked.

So far!
The rear stop is less helpful. There is information in the frame on the stop pole for services 38, 67/67A/67B and X47. Logically, however, service 38 ...
... ought to be with service 32 on the front stop because most of its custom will be for Grove. It loops round the village in the opposite direction to the 32.

But of the 107 ...
... there is no mention. Were you to have an honours degree in thermonuclear physics you might be able to understand the timetable for the service 83 and 84, the Stanford-in-the-Vale Community bus.
The table in the frame doesn't quote route numbers, but then neither does the bus itself ...
... so we have to "hit and hope". Despite the numbers on the stop flag, the uneducated observer has no idea what the 83 or 84 might be. Presumably local Vale inhabitants know what is happening; Geoff, the driver, will keep them right.

Despite what the stop may say, there is no service 82, BUT, despite what the stops don't say, there is a service X33. This is an X32 between Oxford and Harwell which, instead of going to Chilton, turns into a pumpkin route 32 into Wantage.
Only the bus's operator, Thames Travel, seems to know it exists. It is certainly NOT in the Wantage timetable book!

So, without the aforesaid book, printed information on services A1, 107, N30, N31 and X33 is simply unobtainable anywhere in Wantage. At least there is some information at the stops for the rest, even though much of the data displayed in the form of unhelpful departure lists; despite there being plenty of room to stick up a proper timetable.

Poor effort : could do better!

Despite Oxfordshire's delightful and comprehensive printed booklets, there is no timetable information on the county's web site.
Sadly the booklets are not there either, to view or download. All that is on offer is a useless list of bus services in route number order.
There is, however, a link to Traveline.

Which is OK if you trust Traveline ...
 Next blog : Wednesday 11th April 

7 comments:

  1. "Despite what the stop may say, there is no service 82.."
    I'm not sure why you say this, as it appears on the Oxfordshire County Council route list as a Wednesdays only service between Wantage and Great Shefford operated by Barnes Coaches. It is also listed in the West Berkshire 'Getting There' Transport Guide, published April 2012 - so is presumably still current.

    Given the above, I'm surprised the 82 doesn't get a mention in the Wantage and Faringdon area bus timetable book - perhaps it has only started very recently ?

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  2. I was relying (foolishly) on the Wantage Book, which I believed to be complete. You are, of course, correct. The point remains, however. If there is no timetable on the stop OR in the booklet OR in leaflet form, how are the burghers of Wantage expected to find it.
    Thank you for the correction!

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  3. Of course, as the 82 consists of a single weekly return journey from Great Shefford and Lambourn into Wantage, it exists almost entirely for the residents of West Berkshire - so it could be argued that it is of little value to the burghers of Wantage. Not that that is any excuse for leaving it out of the Wantage timetable book and having no timetable at the stop. Given its frequency, being able to check the return time could be crucial for the West Berkshire burghers !

    Regarding the X33, although it does indeed exist, it has only the single journey from Oxford at 0800 which you have shown in your extract - and there is no return journey from Wantage. That being the case, I think Oxfordshire can be forgiven in this case for not including the number on the flag and not displaying the timetable.

    However, you didn’t mention the X36 in the blog, which operates 5 afternoon journeys from Wantage to Didcot. It is a variant of the 36 (though taking an entirely different route between the termini). However, you would have thought it might merit a mention on the stop flag, particularly as both 67A and 67B do, even though the latter only runs once a day.

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  4. Yet a further fbb failure! At least the X36 appears on a paper timetable posted at the stop - you will possibly be aware that the 36/X36 is, arguably one "circular" route changing direction in the middle of the day.

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  5. The N30 times from Wantage should be on the X30 timetable at the stop. Late night buses in Oxfordshire are nearly always shown with the main daytime service. The N31 arguably shouldn't be on the stop as it only terminates there (like the X33).

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  6. The X33 route (as well as being somewhat rare) is very new. Quite possibly newer than the timetable booklet, in fact (I have a copy to hand somewhere).

    That list of services on the OCC website is also out of date - as you know,the 36 (and X36) is (thankfully) no longer operated by RH Transport Services (and their collection of rickety rusting buses and doubtlessly underpaid but in any case often quite discourteous drivers), but by the immeasurably more professional and competent Thames Travel. I think that changed in mid-February.

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  7. The timetable for the 36/X36 at the "Bear" stop two weeks ago was still that produced by RH Buses!

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