Tuesday 21 August 2012

It Does Really Get Worse

Access to Abergynolwyn [2]
Yesterday we examined bus information at the stops in Abergynolwyn and found it barely adequate (read again).
Despite there being a splendid Community Hall, Cafe and Post Office all located in one recently built block, no copy of the service 30 bus timetable appeared to be posted on any notice board in the village.

For today's blog, we are privileged to have a contribution from Dai Laffin, local poet and satirist, known as the Tease of Tywyn. Thanks Dai for these thoughts ...

A likely bus rider to Towyn
Might like to know where he's goin'
Scan timetable frames
Play guessing games
Details? There's no way of knowin'

fbb could not spot any source of information in Tywyn and declined to explore fully due to an outburst of Welsh Coastal monsoon. But the "domestic authorities" had a small shopping list to be dealt with so it was a hie and ho and on to Dolgellau. (English spelling was Dolgelly). On the list were opal light bulbs small screw (unobtainable), haggis (you must be joking), toilet rolls (O.K., thankfully) and paracetamol (no problem).

fbb, of course, visited the Tourist Information Centre ...
... to purchase a copy of the excellent Gwynedd county comprehensive timetable booklet.
"They don't do one any more", said the helpful lady, "you can look at our master copy; or we can sell you a leaflet for 20p each service."

Pause for angry outbust, held back because it's not the TiC's fault. But this is a major tourist area, popular with walkers and more "mature" visitors; many of whom are used to planning a day out by bus, choosing destination according to weather and personal preference.

A complete set of timetables would cost 60 times 20p, i.e. £12. That's £12 before you can even begin to plan where you might want to go.

Says the TIC at Dolgelly [1]
Leaflets? Not on your nelly!
We've got just the job,
A page for four bob [2].
Or just stay at home with the telly.

A couple of notes on Dai's text. [1] Dolgellau is the Welsh spelling; Dolgelly was the anglicised version used by the Great Western Railway and adopted by English published maps. [2] "four bob" aka four shillings in pre-decimal money is now 20p.
The decision by Gwynedd Council to abandon publication of its excellent book seems utterly potty. With communities desperate to increase visitor numbers, with concerns over high levels of car traffic on inadequate roads and in response to the overall desire for greenness, the cost of the booklet is small change. Hyper-daftness all round!

Gwynedd don't know what the fuss is.
Timetables? Don't waste your cusses.
Once keen as mustard
Our budget's now busted
So don't bother to ride on our buses.

Of course it is all available on line. You can always print out the 126 pages of the timetable booklet that would have been available if Gwynedd could be bothered to provide it. And that would be a  really quick and easy task amidst all the other preparations or the holiday. "Sorry we're late, but the printer ran out of ink on page 45 and the paper jammed at page 98."

The unwary might quiz the ever helpful hopeless Traveline. Here you need to know the service number of your bus before you can get the times. Even then the site does not deliver a full timetable, just bits. Here is Gwynedd's service 30 from Towyn via Abergynolwyn ...
... and here is the best that Traveline could deliver.
A few missing journeys?

To use Traveline you should psych
Yourself up if you like.
You will be bamboozled
And very confuselled
So go out and purchase a bike!

Dai's final stanza should be imprinted firmly on the forehead of all of Gwynedd's public transport staff (if they've got any left).

In Gwynedd, avoid getting sniffy
Bring laptop and printer and wif(f)i
Then journeys by bus
Are really no fuss
But without them, decidedly iffy!

But there is some good news!
Lloyd's Coaches now operates the former Arriva network based on Machylleth. And, joy of ecstatic joys, they produce a network timetable booklet which is absolutely excellent. Of course, fbb found one by accident almost lost in a large rack of tourist information inside the Abergynolwyn Village Hall.

Timetable booklets top left in this overwhelming display.

Now all we need to do is to encourage the TiC in Dolgellau to keep some copies and get the lads from Gwynedd council  to trot round and stick a few enlargements into bus timetable frames and there is just a chance that people might be encouraged to travel by bus. Possibly house-to-house delivery? Now wouldn't that be a good idea?
 Next Blog : Wednesday 22nd August 

1 comment:

  1. and another one bites the dust (stops producing timetables)............

    I worked for a large shire county after deregulation and at that time the organisation was happy for us to start producing maps and some area timetable booklets. Many of the PTG staff were not 'enthusiasts' and dismissive of those who obviously were and wrote in for timetables. In our case the package was quite large, a mixture of operators leaflets and ours which was time consuming to put together and costly to post. They almost reached the point of covering the whole county with county booklets but then budget and staff costs saw everything cut back (I moved on). The booklets were gradually reduced to none and now even the area/town maps are rare to find.

    The 'answer' to them is that it is on the web etc. Like FBB I do not however see why I should have to wear out my printer to get reams of stuff I can't easily carry round.

    The TIC's and libraries here do their best and usually have some (but rarely all) timetable leaflets of the big two operators, but the other operators are hard to find. Its the usual 'tell me where you want to go to or what the service number is' response.

    The booklets by 'Here to There' are a welcome innovation but by comparison dearer than most people would feel is acceptable (the publisher can't help that due to their costs of production and printing).

    I have said it before but one interesting survivor from the past is a monthly diary/advert booklet by Adams of Rye which includes all rail and bus timetables. Couldn't others follow the same course?