Thursday 26 June 2014

Armchair Blogger?

 Tears before bedtime?
A few days ago, one of the many folk who comment on fbb's reasoned and unemotional deliberations (?) was not at all happy. It was this map that aroused his indignation.
All comments are always welcome and fbb is not as naive as to believe that everyone will always agree with him. His point was that the 1, 1A, 1B and 1C complex (appropriate word!) had remained unchanged in concept for at least couple of decades (and beyond) so perhaps, just perhaps, it might be time for a change. Nothing is likely in the next five years as First Bus has just completed detailed negotiations with Cornwall Council to firm up a five years tender award.

Although these services are very important to those who use them regularly, they are unfortunately unable to operate without the assistance of subsidy and the Council has a current annual budget of approximately £5m for this purpose. These supported services are subject to tendering procedures, so whilst the majority of the secured services are run by First Devon and Cornwall and Western Greyhound as the major operators, a further 12 other operators are used to provide services.

The purpose of supporting services is two-fold; firstly to reduce social exclusion by providing a reasonable access to services and facilities for those without private transport. Secondly, to seek to increase the proportion of journeys made by public transport and thus reduce car traffic congestion and pollution by providing an attractive alternative to the private car in terms of the quantity and quality of public transport.

So after spending a hour or two in the foetal position in the cupboard under the stairs, fbb was ready to consider the implications of what was written.
Despite fbb's assuring his readers that the idea was a non-starter for all sorts of reasons, our anonymous commentator felt that your ancient author ought not to be sticking his nose across the Tamar. In one sense anonymous is quite right.

But on one point he is quite wrong; fbb is not an armchair blogger - it's a dining room chair!
Hours spent driving round the area courtesy of Googler Streetview ...
Chywoone Crescent with St Michaels Mount in the background.

... including Lamorna and Chywoone Crescent, perusing old First Bus timetables, carefully examining old Western Greyhound leaflets (WG having recently pulled out of the area) ...
Western Greyhound at Paul

... even researching ancient Western National timetable books ...
... are no substitute for the real thing.

Thus it was yesterday that fbb travelled the 170 miles (car and train) from his base in East Devon to Penzance ...
... but with a change of schedule. He caught the earlier 1344 to Plymouth where a cuppa and a bun was obtained. The 1408 from Exeter was "running a little late". Computer generated announcements on the Plymouth platform were indecisive ...

blah blah blah 14 minutes late blah blah
blah blah blah 9 minutes late blah blah
blah blah blah 6 minutes late blah blah
blah blah blah 8 minutes late blah blah
blah blah blah 12 minutes late blah blah

... and thus unhelpful. There was one helpful human announcement, however, which amused fbb but which would have delighted those for whom it was intended. "Passengers intending to connect at Par with the train for Newquay may be assured that the connection will be made. That's because the driver and the guard are travelling on this delayed departure."

Departure was 15 late and that delay was maintained until arrival at Penzance when, mysteriously the train was only 10 minutes late. Padding! A goodly crowd alighted.

It is some time since fbb crossed the Tamar ...
... into foreign parts; and the line presents a mixture of the old; lower quadrant signals ...
... and the new; LED platform lights being installed at Liskeard.
A particularly pleasant progress with rich and luscious verdure to enjoy, culminating an a sun-drenched view of St Michael's Mount as the train slowed for Penzance.
But there was work to be done before he was settled in his digs on Western Promenade Road.
The aim was to overcome his obvious ignorance (?) and extend his knowledge beyond that achieved in previous visits to God's wonderful County. And, just for the record, the plan for the visit was conceived well before the offending blog was penned. Indeed fbb made it a condition of accepting his remit from First Bus that such a "route learning" visit should be included in the "remuneration package."
Arriving at 1712 (delayed to 1722) allowed for a round trip on the last bus of the day (at 1740) to Lands End; what better way to start the exploratory and educational experience than with the contentious 1 and 1A?

  WiFi at the fbb gaff is weak. 
  A Lands End blog may have to  
  be delayed until a return to  
    Seaton. Watch this space!   

Silly Service 30 Situation
A note from a chum "in the know" re the horrendous diversion of First's route 30, Taunton to Axminster! (see previous blogs). Message dated yesterday 25th June.

So, today was the third day of the diversion, but the road hadn't been physically closed at all. This afternoon the Council announced to us that the works would all be undertaken under traffic light control!

 Next bus blog : Friday 27th June 


  1. FBB. I always thought that you were biased in favour of First Bus, which was due to your connection with Giles Fearnley and not wishing to risk all your various invitations to events. We now know the truth - you are simply the hired help, not independent at all.

  2. Seriously! I have only been reading this blog for a few months and even during that time I'd established that FBB had a role working for First which seems more of an advisor and I don't think he ever tried to hide that and actually I for one think that's a good thing as it gives us some insight into the workings of things and also means First are taking advice from someone who does know a bit about the industry. I agree he may not be local but being local can have drawbacks because being local and advising you tend to advise to suit your own needs not everyones. Given FBB does seem to be using our feedback to inform his work I can't see this issue and then in a way we are all helping to try to improve things which ultimately is a good aim. If you don't like it don't read it but I for one find this blog both fascinating and informative and realising the time it takes to put together I thank FBB for all his hard work and I'm glad First are making use of his knowledge.

  3. Just to clarify things. When I accepted the role of hired hand (a very small amount of hire) I made it clear - and it was accepted - that my blogging would not be affected in any way. The only restriction that I did accept was that I would not use anything factual in my blogs until it was released publicly. If I am over-supportive of First it is because I believe that the company has come along way under Fearnley and needs encouragement. On Saturday (28th) I will be positive about Stagecoach (mostly). I do receive a selection of First press releases; I do not use all of them. They do, however, form the background to some of my researches. I have asked a few folk for a similar feed from their operations, but with little response so far. I have been, and will continue to be critical of First when I feel it is necessary, see tomorrow (Friday 27th). And I haven't even BEGUN to write about the state of the fleet in Cornwall. It is a DISGRACE!

  4. P.S. First know it is bad. Something will be done to improve things as has happened elsewhere e.g. Weymouth. But you can't magic buses out of thin air; even Fearnley isn't that clever.

  5. I think Anonymous @1212 is being a little unfair to FBB and to First. I can't imagine that the previous regime would have invited anybody like FBB to provide an outsiders viewpoint. Somebody has got to work a few miracles to turn FDC around.

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