Wednesday, 24 October 2012

How "Hype" is Hyperlink?

Meanwhile, in Sheffield and just one week before the chummy "Bus Partnership" new network launches, First reduces many of its fares. Significantly this reduction applies only to Sheffield itself; no equivalent discount in Rotherham or Doncaster! But the savings are significant:-
First's network day price of £3.40 is 10p cheaper that the new CitySwitcha60 multi-operator fare for single journeys involving a change of bus (presumably valid for one hour); the same as the current Stagecoach Sheffield "day" price (without tram) and only 20p more than the "revised" Optio day fares, up from £3.00 to £3.20. The new multi-operator (including tram) day ticket is £4.30.

First are clearly trying to encourage its own "network loyalty" as a counter to the benefits of "Partnership". Well done! Here's hoping that the increase in ridership and thus revenue will, at least, pay for the reductions.
But now, off up the M1 to Leeds ...
See also "What is a Hyperlink?" (read again)
First Bus deploys its Wright StreetCar articulated buses on busy service 72 running from Leeds to Bradford via Stanningley. The frequency increases from every 8 minutes (Monday to Saturday daytime) to every 7. Unril Monday 22nd there was no advance publicity on First's Leeds and Bradford web sites. This blog seeks to examine what has appeared this week. The new service begins on Sunday 28th October.
Hyperlink Route 72 is your luxury link between Leeds and Bradford. With newly refurbished streetcar articulated vehicles, striking interior and exterior branding, leather seats, WiFi and On board hosts the Hyperlink 72 really is the best way to travel between Leeds and Bradford.

Plus we are offering a new range of special tickets on this service; just ask your onboard host for a
6Link or 10Link ticket - you can travel on the days you need to. Your usual First tickets, FirstDay, FirstWeek etc. are also available from your Hyperlink host and welcomed on board; and MetroCard & MetroDay are available too.

So we have "Hyperlink Hosts" which once we would have called "conductors". That means a significant increase in passenger numbers will be needed just to pay for the extra staff.

The FAQ section is, frankly, insulting to the average passenger ...

... and the answers are pretty obvious. Why not say "think of Hyperlink as an ordinary bus?" But First don't want you to do that, do they. They want you to think it's special, then they spend pages of FAQs telling you it's normal!

It's easy! Just wait at your usual stop and signal to the driver you wish to board. When the bus stops, board through the front doors, take a seat and your Hyperlink host will come and take your fare or check your pass. When you're getting off, ring the bell and remain seated until the bus has stopped - you can get off using the front or rear doors (some stops aren't suitable for the rear doors – our on board information screens will let you know which ones).

Wasn't the big isea that West Yorkshire County would be improving the infrastructure as part of the "deal". It sounds as if bus stops are not upgraded, yet.

Metro (West Yorlshire PTE) has its usual changes booklet ...
... which includes a whole page "advert" for the Coastliner services to Scarborough and Whitby.
But the booklet is very prosaic when it comes to the Hyperlink 72.
Presumably First didn't want to pay for a "special" page - which is a pity. Will Leeds residents know what a StreetCar is? "Ay-up lad, it's what them yanks calls a tram."

The new fares offers are summarised below. 

NEW 6Link and 10Link tickets
6Link - valid for 6 journeys - £12. Save up to 80p per trip
10Link - valid for 10 journeys - £18. Save up to £1 per trip
tickets will be available from your Hyperlink host from 28th October.
tickets expire 3 months after issue
tickets are also valid on the X6

The headline savings would only apply if you were making journeys at the maximum fare (£2.80) charged on the service 72. As fare tables are not published, it is impossible to assess how good an offer this is; but fbb guesses it might be more beneficial for long journeys on the limited stop X6 than for more local trips made on the 72.

In the previous blog, fbb reported that there was no 72 timetable available on the First Leeds web site. The current timetable is, indeed, still missing completely, but the new 72 in available on the "forthcoming timetables" pages. But, to add to the confusion, this is what appears if you click "service updates" ...
... and, yet again, no mention of the 72. So we can summarise Hyperlink hype as follows

Main First Leeds web site : snazzy panel links to:-
Hyperlink 72 page : basic information only
timetables list : no mention of current 72
service updates page : no mention of updated 72
forthcoming timetables list : new 72 available
Metro West Yorkshire : new timetable only, hype-less!

Overall, the hype lacks punch; it all seems a bit confused and half hearted. Let us hope that the new service delivers a more positive image when it all gets going on Sunday. There is a public "launch" event in the centre of Leeds on Friday.

And finally, clicking on this FAQ banner ...
... produces this:-

Hyperlink - Route 72 operates every 7 minutes, Monday-Saturday daytime, every 20 minutes Sunday daytime and half hourly in the evenings.

But here is what the new Sunday on-line timetable says:-

Now fbb may be old, possibly even a bit on the daft side, but that looks suspiciously like a bus every 15 minutes.


P.S. Fellow blogger Busing heralds Hyperlink on his blog today (read here)

 Next Bus Blog : Thursday 25th October 


  1. "fbb guesses it might be more beneficial for long journeys on the limited stop X6 than for more local trips made on the 72"

    Another guess is whether the tickets are only valid on X6 between Leeds & Bradford. X6 goes on to Huddersfield, but the website is silent on that issue.
    The X6 also doesn't appear in current timetables but does in the forthcoming section.
    Oh dear. Must try harder.

  2. It's not just the 72 and X6 which are missing from the First Leeds site - its 'current timetables' section does not contain timetables for any of the other Leeds - Bradford services either. These are the 670/1 (via Greengates) and the 508 (which skirts Bradford en route to Halifax).
    Curiously, all of these appear in the 'Forthcoming timetables' section on the First Leeds site, so someone must have noticed they were missing and decided to include them.
    As far as the X6 is concerned, this is only shown on the First Bradford site so also does not appear on First Calderdale & Huddersfield.

    I'm not sure if this is down to bus operator parochialism (it's not run by our depot) or due to some sort of 'Leeds-centric' arrogance which cannot imagine why any Leodensian would wish to go to Bradford anyway - so why bother telling them!

  3. On routes where TfL has switched from Artics to DDs, patronage has droped up to 20%. So going from DD to ftr may well be good.
    I went to the ftr media launch today and the bus was attracting a lot of attention. At a mini conference we heard Prof Mackie talk about the Greener Journeys research into the economic benefits of buses which have much more impact then railways.
    It was a very positive event. Some bus prioriy work is in hand and 'ftr' is work in progress. Next year a frequency upgrade is planned and with improved priority the peak service will be improved.
    Some 'customer service hosts' were at the launch and when passengers on the route 4 found they were losing the ftr they many were disappointed. 'Customer service hosts' have recieved chocolates, flowers and even wine from grateful passengers.
    I think some of the cynicism on ftr must be misplaced!
    72 is a better route for ftrs and the visual impact will be huge. Service 4 is getting some useful route extensions now it is using conventional buses.
    Much of the 72 is shadowed by other serivces including X6 which you would use for the full trip. Noone will need to wait long for a bus
    It might be better to use high class single decks at double the frequency but ftr has a huge visual impact and promotes itself.
    25,000 houses will get a leaflet/tt drop and a free ticket to try the service
    We should wait a year before saying htis schem has failed and in the meantime wish it well.

  4. Thank you rw. I have emailed First to ask for copies of the leaflet. When they arrive (if?) I will blog appropriately>

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