Tuesday 19 June 2012

Onward Travel : A Northampton Journey [5]

The doom of stop D
From correspondent Alan.
fbb reported that the Onward Travel information from
Notwork Rail shows bus 22 as the only one stopping at ...
... "Stop D" pictured here.
In fact the 22 is the only bus that DOESN'T stop at
"Stop D", because it turns left using the slip road.
Clever, eh?
So it's even more wrong than fbb suggested yesterday! See "Onward Travel : A Northampton Journey [4]" (read again).

On to today's observations at Northampton station.

Real Time? Real Joke!
Well done, visitor to Northampton seeking to travel onward by bus from the station. You have found your way out of the station's environs and you have found the stops on Black Lion Hill.
There is a frame with timetable information ...
... and whilst searching frantically for the next bus, several zoom past. As everything from this stop goes to the town, this is about the only sort of occasion when fbb would fully support a simple combined departure list. You would still need detailed timetables as well because many routes run cross town.

Then there is the electronic display ...
... which is hard to photograph, so ffb has produced his own cleverly computer cobbled version ...
...complete with fbb bludner. The top line should be service 22, there isn't a service 20! Hey, but nobody's perfect. Anyway, the service 22 runs to "bus station" ...
... shown in all its dismal glory above. The service 6#, however, runs to "town" ...
... a terminus shown with all its architectural magnificence above. Meanwhile the service 5# runs to "town centre" ...
... a very useful interchange point as illustrated above.

Now the more observant blog readers will have spotted an uncanny similarity between the three different destinations advertised on the unreal time displays at the station. Does anyone at Northampton County or Borough Council possess a brain? Apparently not. Correspondent Alan reports that this nonsense is pretty standard throughout the electronic "system". First's route 29 and 30 say they go to  Kings Heath 
whereas Meridian Buses' competitive service 32 terminates at 
 Avon Drive/Church Green  ...
... with the stop occupied by a service 29. Again these termini do look very much alike.

Or you could seek a Stagecoach service 96 which will speed you quickly (?) and efficiently to a simple electronic  North Street  ...
... very helpful indeed; but only if you know that North Street is in Rugby! There is no such road in Northampton.

Faced with this all-pervading confusion, the visitor's confidence is, by now, almost totally eroded. But, insanely, a fit and healthy passenger with time to spare might opt to walk to the bus station, following the ever-helpful signs. But there aren't any.

There's nothing on the station bridge (the missing "L" of "HILL" is a quirk of Google Streetview, not illiteracy on the part of the Highway Authority; well not this time, anyway.)  ...
... except directions to car parks which would lead a walker well astray.
Opposite the exit from the station area the keen-eyed might just espy this sign for cyclists ...
... there on the pole behind the NHS white van. But that's it! If you guess aright and stride off town wards you might, by diligent enquiry of a passing Northamptonian, find yourself directed to the bus station. But don't count on it. On the way enjoy a death defying crossing of five lanes of fast moving, multi-directional road traffic ...
... at the junction of Mare Fair and Horsemarket.
Go up Horsemarket, turn tight into Greyfriars and lo! There in the distance is the bus station (OR "town" OR "town centre"). fbb is not at all sure that you can "officially" get into the bus station via this route; but you can try. Being squashed terminally by a bevvy of bustling buses is the only possible downside.

But things may yet change at Northampton railway station**. Plans are afoot for a brand new building and spectacular development ...
... almost where the pre 1960s building was located. Will it ever happen? Or will it join the plans for the new bus station? The tower in the background is included with huge amounts of "artistic licence" 'cos it's much further away. It's known as the "Northampton Lighthouse" a.k.a. Lift Testing Tower.
Local correspondent Alan has just revealed that plans to demolish the old bus station and extend the Grosvenor shopping centre have been officially abandoned. See plenty of previous blogs, but notably "Bus Station Blunder - Not Big Enough" (read again). What a surprise! Apparently the decision is because of the growth of out-of-town shopping and the huge number of empty shops in the present town centre. Our blog readers could probably have proffered similar advice, for free!

Presumably the proposed (and totally inadequate) new facility will not now be built. Mixed feelings then for those who hate the present gloom-factory and who rejoiced at the prospect of its demolition. Suggestion from fbb for making the best of Greyfriars ...
... it's called "paint". And some of these ...
... apparently known as "lights". It might be cheaper than a rebuild?

**railway station OR train station? Many "oldies" grimace horribly and object vehemently to the current spread of "train station" for the place where trains, erm, station themselves. But surely we happily use "bus" station. Or do those who object to train station catch their bus from a road station?
# service 5 runs "cross-town" to Southfields : service 6 ditto to Westone Estate; so, pedantically, neither of them terminates in the centre.
 Next Blog : Wednesday 20th June 


  1. Ah the curse of the dynamic destinations not being set consistently! Unfortunately Northampton's RTI has never worked well either under Trapeze or their replacements. One problem being GPS doesn't work inside Greyfriars Bus Station and the system could never upate the town centres stops in the time it took the buses to get there after emerging from the gloom and being picked up by the gps.
    I've sent you a picture of the public entrance hdden in the subways beneath the roadways.
    Ken Traveline Dorset

  2. Thanks, Ken, for clarification. I have never spotted this entrance in previous visits. Greyfriars was built after I had left Northampton for a life in sunny Sheffield. Visits home often included a trip to the bus station which I entered conventionally via the Grosvenor shopping centre.
    I will add your picture as a "snippet" to a future blog.

  3. N. Molesworth, form 4B20 June 2012 at 12:10

    Skool swot Fotherington-Tomas say that bus no 28 goes to West Hunsbury where all have big German cars. Bus 22 goes past station.

  4. Nigel hav got better at speling resently. Praps he hav stoped plaing foopball and started to do his lesons. "Stashun", surely Nige!
    fbb is riteing 100 lines "I must chek my faxts".
    Boo chizz for St Custards