Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Ambling Around Abingdon [3]

The Exciting X3 & X13 xcetera.
The main service from Abingdon to Oxford is the X3 and X13 running every 10 minutes Mondays to Saturdays. At least, that's what the timetable says. The "unreal time" display provided by "Oxontime" would not agree.
When fbb arrived it told us that, operating a joint 10 minute frequency the next bus would be an X3 after 19 minutes. After 9 minutes the X13 pictured above arrived at its correct time and departed despite its being omitted from the screens.

On the screen at the next shelter it simply said "Please Refer to Timetable" : only there wasn't one, of course!
Sorry; these things don't photograph well.

The "every 10 minutes" for the X3/X13 is confirmed by the departure list ...
... but (as usual) there is no timetable to tell you when you might arrive in Oxford. Of course, you can do the Maths:

18+15+9+15+7 to the Hospital, that's 64 minutes.

No hang on, the X3 doesn't go to the Hospital so:-

18+15+19 to the Station, that's 52 minutes

But hang on again, the X13 doesn't go via the Station so:-

18+15+15+7 to the Hospital, that's 55 minutes.

Whoops! you've missed the bus while working it out. So check on the leaflet.
That's a bit small, so let's enlarge a bit of it:-
Oh dear, it is a bit of a challenge to the ubiquitous man (or woman) in the street.

Once upon a simpler time, the 13 ran between Oxford and John Radcliffe Hospital via Marston and the Northway Estate. And it still does - every 20 minutes. And once upon the same time ...
... the X3 ran between Oxford and Abingdon. And it still does - every 20 minutes.

But there is an intruder to this simple historic world of easy-to-follow bus routes. This is the X13 which runs from the Hospital via Marston to Oxford then Abingdon every 20 minutes cunningly creating a ten minute frequency at each end, but not a ten minute through service. And the X13 doesn't run via Northway which gets a bus every 20, not every 10.

Except in the evenings and on Sundays. Both "ends" are now every 15 minutes, but, oddly, the X13 does run via Northway at the these times. This produces a timetable oddity in that Northway has a bus every 20 minutes during the day on Monday to Saturday but a more frequent bus every 15 minutes evenings and Sundays.

But what about service 23?  Should this really be part of the X3 timetable? It doesn't run via Marston; it doesn't run via Northway. It only goes as far as Redbridge Prak and Ride on the southern edge of the City.
The map on the timetable leaflet does explain things reasonably but Oxford Bus don't show individual route maps on their web site (why not; they are very useful?) and fbb didn't have access to a scanner when preparing this blog. So a splendid (?) fbb diagram will be an adequate substitute.
And another minor but relevant moan; when opened out, the leaflet is long and thin and it is easy to lose position on the list of stop names when searching for specific times.
Despite these concerns, X3s and X13s chuntered in an out every 10 minutes as fbb observed them. They seemed well loaded despite the Christmas close-down.

In conclusion, then, bus services in and around Abingdon are excellent for a town of its size and appear to work well. Infomation is readily available at the TiC (if the operators can be bothered to supply it!) but not at the stops; where the sort of facts a visitor might need are simply not evident.

And Abingdon desperately needs a bus map. For a small fee, fbb will draw one!

And don't trust the "unreal time" screens.

 Next Blog (Rail!) : Thursday 17th January 


  1. Ah, FBB, you've missed that some peak time X13s run via London Road (the 23 route), not Marston.

    Unlike elsewhere, Oxon time screens exclude buses which aren't being tracked by the system (instead of showing scheduled times) which explains your observation.

  2. Thanks "A Cumbrian" - I did notice that at the time of my visit but forgot to mention it in the blog. There are always good reasons for "clever" timetabling, but I lways wonder how many passengers are put off by "oddities".