Thursday 26 September 2013

fbb Goes to University [4]

We left our worthy blogger contemplating the delights of York Sport Village in heavy rain. His aim was to transfer there to the competitive University route, namely Transdev's 44. Thankfully, there was shelter but little useful infomation.
Note the helpful busted blue timetable frame and the flag; neither of which admitted to routes 14 and 44. A closer look at the "UB1" revealed nothing of any more assistance.
Was this a replacement for the 44? Or had the 44 replaced the UB1? Fortunately a 44 duly appeared leaving fbb to ponder a perusal of available information once back at the B & B. It's a good thing he didn't wait experimentally and expectantly for the UB1 as it only runs during Uni term times!
Fortuntely (?) Transdev (operator of the mystery missing motorbus) has details on line including a helpful Google "overlay" map.
But the line on the map doesn't get to Sport Village (top right). Neither does the map on the on-line Transdev leaflet ...
... but neither does the friendly duck ...
... nor the friendly timetable!
Thus, whilst everyone agrees that it runs every 30 minutes Monday to Friday during Uni term times, nobody seems to know where it runs. And that includes fbb!

But the 44 duly arrived at Sport Village awaiting the crowds ...
... of just one; viz fbb. OK, it was vacation time and driver did suggest that "all hell would break loose" when the students came back. The bus was liberally plastered with publicity for the 44 service.
The map was correct, fares were well promoted and the driver carried a rack of leaflets. Hooray! It gave both term-time and vacation timetables; unlike ...
... the bus itself which was certainly economical with the truth; every 15 at best during the vacation!

Nevertheless fbb remained in splendid passenger isolation past the previous terminus, the Ron Cooke "Hub".
Confidently expecting some weird statuary based on huge bicycle parts, fbb was disappointed to see yet another University block of ... what?
The Hub is a £20 million, 7000 sq ft 'melting pot' for engagement. Its design encourages discussion and interaction, bringing people together across disciplines and sectors, from within and outside the university, providing space for new, value-adding ideas and partnerships to blossom.

fbb is no nearer!

But once back to the traditional older campus, passengers joined, about 15 in all, and mostly with some kind of multi-journey pass. The Management of Transdev has done a deal with the University which labels the 44 as "In Partnership with the University of York".

Number 44 is operated by Transdev, the University of York's preferred transport supplier for both students, staff and visitors. The Unibus service is specially designed to enable easy links between the two main campus sites, York City Centre and York Railway Station. Unibus will provide the free ‘Hopper’ service between Heslington East, Wentworth roundabout.

Pictured are
Adam Jones, Unibus Liaison Officer, Transdev York
Martin Gilbert, CEO, Transdev Blazefield
Kallum Taylor, President, Students’ Union
Elizabeth Heaps, Pro Vice Chancellor
Jon Meacock, Director of Campus Services
Jim Wallace, Commercial Director, Transdev Blazefield
Keith Sykes, Operations Manager, Transdev York

An impressive line-up to cement a good deal all round; lets hope Jim Wallace has got his sums right! Travel is free within the campus areas (as is the destinationally deluded UB1); but, fear not First Fans; Fearnley's folk are on the warpath as we shall seen later.
Taunton Bus Station
 fbb was, you may remember, terrified by the warnings of death, danger and disaster that welcomed him to Taunton Bus Station (read again). A blog commetator reports evidence of change:-

But, sadly, the museum piece ...
... has also gone.

But could it be that the lads at Taunton read fbb's blog? Certainly, the appearance of the bus station is already much better. Let's hope that any replacements are more customer friendly.

When fbb visited yesterday, a little mystery presented itself. What was this FirstBus "Inspector" doing at Castle Way ...
... when no First buses are scheduled to call there? More to the point, why were all departing First buses stopping at Castle Way and opening their doors?
And was this bloke (below), high-viz jacket adorned with "Car Park", a spy from W*bb*rs ...
... or was he just going home for his tea on Webbers route 15?
He did not take a seat, but stood next to the driver as the bus departed.

Both were present for over 45 minutes; fbb was unable to stay much longer after "Car Park" left. The Firstbus inspector (who remained on duty) was kitted out with fare tables booklet and radio, but used neither; nor did he make any notes.

The thot plickens!

Summat's up!
 Next Bus Blog : Friday 27th September 


  1. No First buses are scheduled there??? Surely their registrations will say all stops on route???

  2. Replies
    1. First buses use the Bus Station - all other services do not stop at Castle Way.
      First are intentionally interfering in the operation of Webbers' services in doing this, which is clearly the intention.
      How many more months do First have left in Somerset?

    2. ^sorry - should say 'all other services don't stop in the Bus Station' (those not provided by First) and that only First ones use the Bus Station.
      Thus, a Webbers' passenger waiting for a 15 would not expect to see a First bus stopping on the Castle Way stop - so you've uncovered an anti-competitive practice by First here.

    3. Ah bless. First have been there for years, then along come Webberbus and register pretty much copy cap routes. They don't offer evenings - so nothing new. What's more, the don't offer Sundays, but First do. First do precious little about it for a long while, but the suddenly wake up to the Webberbus competition which is aided by their publically funded bus stops being between the town and the bus station that First pay to maintain, including the waiting room and information shop. Finally First have an awakening and start stopping in Castle Way too on their way out of the bus station. Have Webberbus considered paying to use the bus station??? That's what competition is all about - surely Webberbus are man enough to accept that they've had a good run of no resistance from First in which to build their competitive business.

    4. I do agree, First have been here for years.
      But it isn't like they've been doing any commercial development is it now? The 1999 batch of Dart SLFs are still plying their trade, and we should perhaps be grateful that First honoured that Cawlett order for those 6 Darts, else who knows what we'd have had.
      In the 14/15 years of First ownership we've seen three bouts of competition on the mainline corridors, with an identical First response - bang up frequencies, fares cuts, they also introduce vehicles from elsewhere all of which are shifted off elsewhere when the threat recedes.
      They've been taking subsidies for services that 'aren't commercially viable', withdrawing those said services when the council withdraws the funding but amazingly these same services are commercially viable when Webberbus commence a commercial route along the line of service. First hardly offer a comprehensive evening or Sunday service in Somerset anymore, following Somerset budget cuts. A prudent operator would spot an opportunity to gain the upper competitive hand and act accordingly but First just withdraws the service and blames someone else.

      The customers have seen it before - and are now voting with their feet for an alternative. Every time I see a Webberbus it is never empty but I see plenty of empty First buses running around.

      I will repeat my comment about the stops at Castle Way. First have no business on those stops, they're used by independent operators and also by Stagecoach, whose 99 terminates at Musgrove Park Hospital. A link, First seem uninterested in providing yet one that a lot of customers do actually want.
      Anyone waiting at Castle Way has already made a decision to not catch a dirty old First bus and thus First's interference here is most unwelcome.
      Come 18/24 months when DDA kicks in I think we shall see who will be left here, and my money's on First baling out. Over half the Somerset fleet is not DDA compliant. Webberbus operate a 100% DDA compliant fleet - all of which is modern, clean and tidy at attractive fares, going where people actually want to travel.

      It is for First to offer, and maintain a similar quality product - they've not done so in their 15 years.

      I doubt very much First would have welcomed Webbers into Taunton Bus Station, but for the Competition Commission ruling on access - maybe that avenue is being pursued already but there's no need to have access when the focus is Musgrove Park Hospital.....

      I assume you're an anonymous First insider - well, please take this reasonably constructive comment on board, take a long hard look at the service you're providing (and I don't mean another PVR cutting exercise), also take a long hard look at the fleet you're providing and either invest in the area with some decent vehicles providing services people want to use, or admit it cannot be done, announce your closure and put your resources where they are better destined to gain a decent return for your masters.
      As a customer I deserve much better. Maybe I would sell my car too if my local bus operator provided me with a decent service that I wanted to use?

    5. I'm a customer like you. I travel on Sundays when Webberbus don't run. Firsts first low floor double deckers arrived at Taunton yesterday according to drivers with more promised to follow soon. The drivers seem much more upbeat about things saying the bus station is about to be revamped, buses tidied up, and that much more is being done behind the scenes ready for big improvements. As you say, customers vote with their feet, so presumably theres no problem with First buses stopping in Castle Way as no-one will get on them. I use the 15 and the 21. Believe me, i'm not the only one whos fed up with no shows on the 15 from Webberbus. Im glad they both now stop in Castle Way because its good for customers. I don't care if Webberbus don't like it. Ill vote with my feet like you will. we have a free market and competition. If we didn't Webberbus wouldn't be able to run in competition with First. they can so they should just get on and play their own game.

  3. The plot thickens (2) Has anyone noticed that like the bus station losing the signage, lots of the buses in Taunton and Bridgewater have lost all their First logos?

  4. Well this little entry from N&P is interesting.....
    Maybe the events above and this call up have a connection?
    Public Inquiry (47295) to be held at Jubilee
    House, Croydon Street, Bristol, BS5 0GB, on 22
    October 2013 commencing at 10:30(Previous Publication:(2487)
    PH0000132 SI
    Director(s): JAMES THOM
    PSV - Sch.3 - Consideration of Transport
    Managers Repute under Schedule 3 (The
    Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981)
    PSV - S17 - Consideration of disciplinar
    y action under Section 17 (The Public
    Passenger Vehicles Act 1981)