Thursday, 25 April 2013

Studying at St Andrews [4]

An anonymous blog commentator upbraided fbb for moaning about overbearing security in bus offices compared with "the good old days". "Have you never heard of crime and terrorism?", he challenged. Of course fbb has, but yesterdays "Peace Report" shows that such horrors are significantly reduced in the UK.
What has increased, of course, is 24 hour "rolling news" which always reacts spectacularly to the rare horrors, leading to an increase in mis-placed paranoia. Just for the record, paedophilia has not increased at all since records began, so our children are no more at risk from attacks from "funny men" than they ever have been. Despite increases in traffic they (and we) are no more at risk on the roads.

So why do we panic?

Or is the reduction of risk a consequence of heightened paranoia?
In less contentious vein, fbb continues his delve into the dynamics of local buses in St Andrews, Fife.

All is revealed on fbb's redrawn version of this Fife Council map ...
... but not quite! So lets start with the 99s themselves, but using the fbb redraw of Fife's map as a basis.
99A? Pretty straightforward, eh? A large clockwise one way loop, out via Town and St Mary Street, wiggling via Tom Morris Drive and Morrisons and back via Bogward.

Tom Morris Drive?
Thomas Mitchell Morris, Sr. (16 June 1821 to 24 May 1908), otherwise known as Old Tom Morris, was a pioneer of professional golf.
He was born in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, the "home of golf" and location of the St Andrews Links, and died there as well. His son was Tom Morris, Jr. (died 1875), best known as "Young Tom Morris."

A season timetable reader might now be looking for the route in the opposite direction. But what makes St Andrews interesting (or impossible!) is that there isn't one! So we move on:-
The 99B runs via the Town Centre, then Langlands Road which is totally ignored on the Fife map. Looping round via Morrisons, the bus return to town via St Mary Street.

The 99C rusn out via Bridge Street and the Botanic Gardens on Canongate ...
then runs to the Bogward roundabout and back before returning to the Bus Station on the same route as a 99B. This means that there are no buses from town direct to Kilrymont

Finally, the 99D nips out of the bus station, up to the town centre and back, then off to Boward sort-of direct.
Continuing via the inevitable Morrisons and Tom Morris Drive, it re-enters town via Bridge Street as the outward 99C.

Most roads get at least two buses an hour, one in each direction, but often at uneven intervals. Bogward gets 3, Morrisons and the Hospital get 4 an hour and Langlands Road, Lamond Drive and Kilrymont are unidirectional. fbb presumes that Stagecoach have done their homework and that this is really the best way to serve the town; BUT it is not an easy network to understand. Would Stagecoach earn more pennies if the routes were simpler? Are they partly tendered by Fife Council?

For the record, in the evenings theres is only an hourly 99A and 99D and these two stalwarts are joined by an hourly 99C during Sunday daytimes.

Of course, fbb has ignored the non-Stagecoach 92 ...
... which runs from Tayport sporadically to St Andrews then via Longlands Road to the Hospital ...
... again not shown correctly on the Fife map.

And he has ignored the Stagecoach 92 which is quite different.
This is not on the Fife map because it doesn't run from Leuchars which is where the diagram is displayed. Now how wonderfully helpful is that! Two completely different 92s.

There is a 94 on the Fife map, shown as serving the hospital; but fbb can find no journeys on any timetable except for some school oddments which don't appear to serve the hospital

Then there's the 9B, again operated by Moffatt and Williamson:-
It does yet another version of a Morrisons loop, giving the unidirectional Lamond Drive residents their direct service back to town. And, of course, the 9B doesn't enter the dragon-infested world of the bus station; that's Stagecoach territory, pardner! And, of course, the 9B is not on any map.

Surely there is an opportunity to tidy things up here, to make it easier for a potential new customer to understand and, hopefully to generate a modicum of extra moolah.

But, to recover from an aching brain, let us gaze lovingly on a magnificent Stagecoach vehicle on one of the Fife Express services that so successfully criss-cross the Kingdom.
It is about to turn left into the bus station. Before we leave St Andrews, however, a quick tour of its terminus facilities is in order.

 Next Blog :  Friday 26th April 


  1. I think you have made a slight error by describing 99A as running in "a large anti-clockwise one way loop" - in fact the 99A runs Clockwise and the 99C runs Anti-clockwise.

  2. Old age and senility strikes again! Error niw corrected, thanks.

  3. Isn't that daft? The 99*A* runs *C*lockwise, and the 99*C* runs *A*nticlockwise?

  4. Colly405 - yes, they do seem to have missed an opportunity there. Newport Transport used to use A and C suffixes to distinguish Anti- and Clockwise variants of their routes to some estates - Gaer and Bettws if my memories of about 35 years ago can be relied on.

    More generally, I'm inclined to think that Stagecoach have done a pretty good job with this network. It's all very well for enthusiasts and professionals to look at it and say 'complicated and confusing network', but from the passengers perspective I suspect it's rather different. They appear to have given most parts of the town a direct bus to all other parts of the town, and to Leuchars and Dundee - without changing. That's important (particularly for internal journeys within a town as small as St Andrews), though some people seem to forget that. I would be very surprised if it were actually possible to design a simpler network without either reducing the number of direct journey options, removing service from some roads altogether, or incurring vastly increased costs due to the need to operate more buses.

    Whatever one thinks about Stagecoach, the politics and beliefs of its founder, its competitive practices, it does generally seem to have its eye on the ball when it comes to providing what the customer requires. For Mrs Jones in Tom Morris Drive, does it really matter if the bus to the town centre goes at 25 minutes past the hour, while the bus to the hospital leaves at 47 minutes past? Passengers will obtain information about the buses that they need to use; while a so-called 'simplified' network, but adding extra changes, or even making people walk further to their actual destinations, will, in practice, be of little or no benefit at all.