Thursday, 15 August 2013

Loitering Ruefully in Lyme Regis [3]

Getting Stuck [Part 2]
Lyme Regis Square is the location of the westbound bus stop in the town. It is almost exactly half way between the two eastbound stops at the Post Office and Anning Road. It is here that fbb and Mrs fbb arrived significantly early to catch the 1344 service 31 back to Axminster.

Those determined blog readers that are following this series will remember that their arrival had been  15 minutes late ; as it turned out, an ominous omen for ongoing omnibological opportunities.

Nevertheless those few minutes allowed the chubby one to spot Lyme's two other bus routes. In addition to the 31 (Weymouth, Lyme, Axminster) and the X53 (Poole, Weymouth, Lyme, Exeter), there is a local service in the town. It runs on a basic hourly cycle ...
... visiting most parts of the town once or twice each hour. The route is convoluted and seemingly incomprehensible to an outsider.

Presumably locals get to know by experience or blind guesswork. This educational process is not helped by a sideways timetable page in a very dirty frame at the square!
The other timetable was dated 2005 and was for the Axe Valley service 899 which doesn't run to Lyme Regis!
The 71 passed the Square a couple of times on its magical mystery tour, operated by Damory Coaches, Wilts and Dorset (sorry, More; or even Red in disguise). From time to time the Charmouth Road ...
... park and ride bus turned up, performing a fairly lethal reverse into the little car park entrance, scattering visitors and locals in its wake. 
Next to use The Square bus stop was ...
... Herr Steinbauer's left hand drive right hand entrance coach collecting its complement of Deutscher Urlauber, whose access to the coach was impeded by passengers for the X53 to Exeter and the consequent chaos thereof.
Notice the queues of traffic joining in with the holiday fun! Never mind, the X53 was already  20 minutes late 

Next to pass by was the eastbound 31 due at 1337 ...
... arriving in its dedicated livery NOT   17 minutes late 

By now, the fbb's had been enjoying the delights of Lyme Regis Square for roughly 40 minutes; and still no sign of their 1334 back to Axminster.

It did arrive; it wasn't missing, broken down or cancelled!
It was just late!

 45 minutes late 

Arrival back in Axminster was 50 minutes late, some 45 minutes after the fbb's car park ticket ran out! Fortunately, the man in the peaked cap had not yet checked ...
... and the fbb's sped quickly and furtively off to Seaton. Mrs fbb was less than impressed with Public Transport!

fbb did query this performance with a First Bus manager, who expressed no great surprise. "Do you think," he mused, "that the local authorities would be happy to install a bus lane between Weymouth and Axminster?" The fbbs' journey between Axminster and Lyme Regis was on a busy summer Saturday; extending running times would waste resources on quieter "normal" days and might well make the whole route financially unviable.

A dilemma for First's management?

But what about connecting with trains?
Yesterday, fbb went on an exciting ride on a Welsh narrow gauge railway. The weather was less than clement. Here is the view of the gorgeous Welsh mountains from the carriage window:-

Readers may speculate which line he visited; a full account will be blogged next week

fbb's elder grandson, rapidly approaching his role as a stroppy teenager, has come up with an adjective which, he believes, accurately describes his blogging grandfather. "Pops," he avers, "suffers from severe FACTULENCE."
 Next Bus Blog : Friday 16th August 


  1. From what you say the operator realises and accepts that services will be delayed and running 'late'. This is on a summer Saturday and presumably the same thing happens most weeks in July and August (if not longer).
    What view would/does the Traffic Commissioner take of this situation?
    Wouldn't it be better to put in some additional running time so that passengers have some reasonable hope of a bus coming around the time they expect it?

    :) the blogs are 'good' as ever FBB

  3. To be realistic, it is probably impossible to attempt to calculate how much extra running time would be required to allow for traffic congestion of this nature. It's also worth bearing in mind that an extra bus positioned on standby at each end of the route should at least enable the journeys to start punctually; whereas a significant amount of extra running time on a long route would almost certainly cost more than two extra buses.

    I can understand the First manager's frustration - local authorities tend to be quick to complain about poor service by bus operators, but they do little to improve the infrastructure to help buses to operate punctually. On the other hand I'm not sure if it's so easy in this case, but sometimes there are relatively simple measures that can help.

    I suspect that Herr Steinbauer's Urlauber were Österreichisch rather than Deutsch - he hails from Rosenau am Sonntagberg (Sunday mountain) in Austria. He seems to have just a small fleet:

  4. Whoops - remember now, there was an "A" EU plate thingey.

  5. It would be possible to have extra buses at each end on stand by. But who then instructs them to operate? Its rare these days to see any inspector/controller around monitoring or managing such matters. That would be an extra expense which the bus companies have usually removed. I don't know the route in detail that's just my observation on what I have seen elsewhere.

    Another option would be to schedule those extra buses to go into service anyway and drop the arriving bus back - but that can be difficult to schedule particularly on such a long route.

    My question was intended to emphasise how does the Traffic Commissioner view these circumstances and what would they expect?

    As a passenger I would feel like giving up if a bus hasn't arrived some 15/20 minutes after its scheduled time.

    I have recently been re-scheduling a number of peak buses to take account of growing traffic congestion which can vary from day to day. Averaging the times based on actuals has worked well and the buses are now usually there within a minute or two of expected times - but those routes are shorter.

    I may be wrong and sometimes its often different horses for different courses.