Thursday, 22 November 2012

Happiness in Harrogate [2]

Yesterday, Minister Norman Baker was in Sheffield for the formal signing of the Bus Partnership which actually started on 28th October. Spin overrules the calendar! Sadly (or gladly?) the pre-prepared political propaganda was somewhat hi-jacked by a "little old lady" (Mrs Mary Foden) protesting about the poor quality of the original pre-partnership Optio Orange route 120 to and from Fulwood.

Guess what will be the headlines in today's local press?
Clue : It won't be Norman Baker!

A video of the confrontation can been seen (here) but it is a bit slow to download. Be patient, it's worth it! A good housepoint to said Minister who was able to manage a well considered riposte without a professional speech writer to tell him what to say. A rarity indeed.
Back to Harrogate:-
A touch of the Curate's Egg.
The term derives from a cartoon published in the humorous British magazine Punch on 9 November 1895. Drawn by George du Maurier and entitled "True Humility", it pictures a timid-looking curate taking breakfast in his bishop's house. The bishop remarks with candid honesty to his lowly guest: "I'm afraid you've got a bad egg, Mr Jones." The curate replies, desperate not to offend his eminent host and ultimate employer: "Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!"

Once upon a time all buses from Harrogate were run by Harrogate and District [H&D], privatised successors to West Yorkshire Road Car. Over the last few years all the fringe services have been "lost" to other operators via the tendering system.

This has let to very mixed messages in the bus station. For example, the only map of local routes on display is for Harrogate and District services ...

If you want to "get around Harrogate and Knaresborough" to Pannal Village, Wedderburn, Claro Road or Duchy Road (all former H&D routes) you can't; certainly not by map!

On the other hand, these "fringe" services, now run by "Connexions" (aka Harrogate Coach Travel), are the only routes to have timetables displayed at the stands.
H&D customers have to put up with the usual confuser derived departure lists. This might just be acceptable for the shorter town routes, like Jennyfield (service 3) ...
... but to provide no intermediate timings (apart from those requiring some pretty nifty mental arithmetic!) for the prestigious 36 to Leeds or the now infrequent X59 to Skipton ...
... is poor indeed.

And as for Eddie Brown ...
... who latterly won the tender for the complicated "village" routes in the Boroughbridge direction (also ex H&D), this is all that is displayed at the stop.
But this is just part of the timetable to which this abbreviated and utterly useless departure list refers.
Presumably the passengers understand? Really?

There might just be some redemption from this mixed up situation. This unassuming hut at the end of the bus station ...
Is open for long hours, offers a rack of leaflets and information from a real person.

Look carefully : Sundays 1000 to 2330!

Sadly, Harrogate and District haven't quite grasped the 24 hour clock yet. The idea is that you don't need "am" and "pm" anymore, chaps. Actually 23.30 pm is 11.30 am the next day, i.e. 23 and a half hours after noon.

After a pause for our reader to recover from the shock of the extended opening hours, we need to point out that there might be a snag. This hut is the home of the H&D bus station supervisor and the only "foreign" leaflet on show was for the Airport services. Surely a deal could be struck whereby the non H&D services could have a tiny little corner of the rack. They are not competitive with any H&D route and two slots would do.

One slot could be vacated by the Yorkshire Coastliner booklet as those routes do not pass through Harrogate at all!

Fat Bus Bloke's Bible Blog
grapples with some embarrassingly larger numbers (here)

 Next Bus Blog : Friday 23rd November 


  1. There is one service that competes directly and that's the X70 run by Harrogate Coach Travel. Runs 5 minutes in front of the 770 daytimes Monday to Saturday.

  2. The use of bus stations not owned by public authorities was one of the issues raised by the Competition Commission, and with a 30 November deadline looming, there is a spate of Orders setting out the terms of access appearing on many operators' websites e.g. which suggests that "publicity facilities" are part of the deal of 25 pence for every departure.

  3. Thanks anon. As there was no obvious publicity for that, I am surprised that anyone uses it. I did not check all the departure stands, though.

  4. Minor operators are generally unable to supply data files that allow production of stop-specific info, so improvisation had to be made.

    Each stand at Harrogate BS has one standard display case; the 56/57/58 timetable is that complex it would occupy a disproportionate amount of space, possibly to the exclusion of other services on that stand, so the info had to be severely trimmed.

    Fbb mentions the line diagrams on stop displays and elapsed times - these have been in use since 2006 without complaint from customers. Before that there were manually compiled departure lists. Someone travelling from Harrogate would probably only need to know how long their journey takes, and the line diagram tells them that, and more easily than them doing a calculation themselves from a conventional matrix timetable! In Harrogate they won't need to know the time from Bramham Drive to Blubberhouses Church, but even on a matrix timetable they'd have to do a calculation!

    There isn't a one size fits all solution, but in general the stop-specific displays work well. X59 may look sparase but that's beacause there are good distances without stops between Harrogate and Skipton. If a '36' display had been show it would show more intermediate points.

    Looking at local circular services, where there is a loop working, these are dealt with as 'out' and 'back' with a suitable overlap around the loop, which makes things clearer than a matrix timetable displayed at every stop ever could, so customer are not tempted to wait/board on the 'wrong' side of the road.

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