Tuesday, 20 May 2014

It's Hard to Believe, But ...

From his correspondent deeply embedded in South Yorkshire PTE's [Passenger Transport Executive] innermost hallowed halls ...
... fbb is able to bring you an extract from the minutes of a high-level policy and planning meeting held in mid-April. The main topic on the agenda was "Publicity, How to Save Money." fbb has added a few explanatory notes to the published minutes for the benefit of those less familiar with the PTE and its policies.
Present :

Acting Director General Ben Still  B  :-
Acting Deputy Director General David Young  D  :-
Ben Still and David Young will share the Director General responsibilities until such time as a permanent appointment is made to fill the top post. Ben is to become Interim Director General and will also continue to fulfil his current duties as Chief Executive for the Sheffield City Region. David, as Interim Deputy Director General, takes on more operational responsibilities. He was formerly SYPTE’s Director of Customer Experience.

ICT Manager Tim Rivett  T  :-
Tim joined the IT department of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive in 1996, having previously had roles in IT consultancy. He is now part of the organisations senior management team and is responsible for the development and delivery of paper and electronic information products as well as provision and support of technology services including systems in use by bus operators.

Also present in an advisory capacity, Aggie Tate (office tea lady)  A  :-
 B  Welcome all. Have you brought the survey figures Tom?

 D  Now this is from street interviews with bus passengers?

 T  Yes. The percentages are as follows.
      89% of passengers use one route regularly and others very rarely
      93% of passengers never use our leaflets for daily information
      38% of passengers will obtain a leaflet for their local route
      11% of passengers use their computer for routine information
      3% of our passengers use Traveline on a regular basis

 B  So, gentlemen, at a rough glance it would appear we are spending XXXXXXXX (redacted; financial confidentiality) on publicity which is used regularly by barely one tenth of our passengers.

 D  It would seem, then, that there are savings to be made. Mrs Tape?

 A  Aye your Directorship?

 D  Now you travel on the buses, don't you? [sharp intake of breath and mutters of disbelief round the table]

 A  Aye M'lud?

 B  So how do you find out what times the bus runs?

 A  Eee. Ah guzz t t'stop an' wets fu next-un.

 T  Don't you use our leaflets, then? [Mrs Tate lives at Darnall]
 A  Eee.  Ah cant mek n' sense o' they things. It addles me brain, tha noahs.
 A  Anyroad. Theres ollus one 'long in a minnit, int they? [Pause whilst interpretation is debated].

 T  [sulkily] They're very good leaflets. They've won awards. [for the best leaflets in South Yorkshire? - fbb]

------------------------- discussion omitted ----------------------

 D  So we agree, in principle at least. We stop printing leaflets and concentrate on other media.

 B  Which will encourage people to use the Traveline phone service which costs us  XXXXXXXX (redacted; financial confidentiality) annually. By the time callers have explained their problem and our operators have explained a whole leaflet we should be coining it in.

 T  [defensively] Might there not be some backlash from the media?

 D  Probably; and there's that awkward [b------- expletive deleted] blogger who keeps denigrating your excellent work, Tam; you've got a point.

[pause whilst attendees look perplexed]

 A  Ay oop yer majestizs! Waa doesn't tha gi'it a goa; ex perry mentul like; someweir weir it dorn't matter su much.

 B  Brilliant. We'll do just that, Mrs Tite. You deserve a bonus for that perceptive response. Sadly we cannot afford to give you one, budget cuts, you know. But very perceptive, none the less.

 A  Nah then thee. I ain't perceptive nu mooer. Doctor giv me them pills.

 B  Of course Mrs Tripe, of course? 

 D  [excitedly] Then, when there are only a few complaints, we can spin the story as satisfying over 90% of our regular customers.

 B  Make it 95%; no-one will ever challenge the figures. What's more, the ITA [Intergated Transport Authority; the PTE's political masters] will love it. [aside, sotto voce : might boost our bonuses by a few grand?)

 T  Just one small point, gentlemen. [sighs of frustration elsewhere] What about the Partnership?
 B  Partnership? What Partnership?

 D  Oh, yes. There's something coming up in Rotherham. I don't quite understand it.
 D  Maybe if we keep quiet, the operators won't notice. [mutters of approbation from all]

 T  The operators certainly won't notice; they're too busy fighting among themselves. [chortles all round]

 A  Is thee ready for't tea nah? Ahll gooun mash. Nobbdee teks suger, sept me. An' I'm got thee sum o' Baldy Garry's biskits from't canteen. Thems orl rayt, tha noahs.
This it was that on Monday 12th May things changed at Meadowhell interchange enquiry office. The staff remain for personal callers ...
... and there is plenty of literature ...
... extolling the wondrous works of the PTE. BUT ...
... the racks, wherein were stocks of timetable leaflets, have been stripped bare. The "experiment", we are told, will last for eight weeks. What next? How about removing all departure lists from bus stops? Switching off "real time" information screens? fbb gathers these ideas are on the agenda for further discussion (?)

fbb's heavily disguised investigator was brave enough to ask for information. How silly; information from an information office! Came back the chorus loud and strong, "TRAVELINE".

So fbb was definitely not joking!


And, so far, it would appear that the partnership was not involved in this decision.

Partnership? What Partnership?
On a happier note!
Richard's Tram Blog (here) records the re-launch of Sheffield tram No 510 at Crich last Saturday (17th), complete with a selection of older buses and the modern heritage twosome.
 Next ferry blog : Wednesday 21st May 


  1. I have a sneaky feeling that those minutes fail to mention another invitee from the local authority - Little Boy Blue a graduate in "theoretical business practices and how to introduce them" from the alternate university of West Muddilands. He now works for the Business Development (Destruction) Unit of the council and is tasked with implementing Better Ways of (not) doing business.

    To prove this policy works he will interview a wide selection of about a dozen members of the public in the car park at Meadowhall and surprisingly none of them will have had a problem in obtaining bus information on their visit. There will also have been no official complaints as most members of the public will have assumed or been told that the publicity was out of print. So all printed publicity can now be removed and enquiry offices closed. Little boy blue gets a pat on the head and a gold star for making savings etc.

    If only it wasn't so near the truth of what seems to be going on in some parts of the industry and local government!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. It just possibly might not be too bad if TSY produced a map so people had a clue of where things go so they could ask PTE staff/Traveline/the man in the moon about timetables.

    But they don't.

  3. No doubt SYPTE will make sure train timetables continue to be available.

    These, after all, are vital to the commuting classes, enabling the likes of Acting DG Still and Acting DDG Young to reach SYPTE Towers from their residences outside of South Yorkshire.

    Bus timetables are a different matter, clearly a waste of money as the average bus passenger is considered by SYPTE to be too stupid to use them.