Thursday 11 September 2014

By Bus It's Hard; Going From Chard [4]

There are two shelters on Boden Street Chard ...
... placed next to the blockhouse wall that is the Aldi supermarket. According to the labels, Stagecoach uses the left hand shelter ...
... or is it the right hand shelter?
No matter, there is a timetable in a frame in the right hand cubicle ...
... and it appears to be the same as the on-line PDF; so well done Stagecoach. A sad looking Stagecoach driver was sitting on the uncomfortable wall of the toilet block ...
... reminding us that in this remote outpost of the Stagecoach Devon empire, crew changes are costly and (presumably) done by car.

In the left hand shelter is an inadequate departure list for Buses of Somerset [BoS] 30 to Taunton.
The times haven't changed since the transmogrification of First into BoS, but neither have any of the contact details posted below in the same frame.
Here, for the record, are the correct and current contact details.
Bearing in mind the wrong-ness of the frame on the Axminster bound stop (outside the Guildhall, see yesterday's blog - read again here) it is clear that the up-and-coming BoS just doesn't care about Chard. Goodness me and luvaduck; it's over 13½ miles away; this is Chard "where be dragons"!

But the best worst is yet to come.

Take a look at the flag up the pole on Boden Street.
One or two problems:-

1. First Bus does not operate ANY of these routes
2. There is no 30A
3. 30 is operated by BoS
Note the re-liveried vehicles. Vinyls, what vinyls?
4. There is no 90
5. There is no 91
6. 99/99A is operated by Stagecoach

7. 202 no longer operates


8. 96 (a school journey) IS operated by Stagecoach

One final niggle. Not that long ago, the 99 and 99A were operated by smart Optare Versas ...
... but fbb saw no such luxuries. Older vehicles predominated on all the trips fbb observed.
What do we conclude?

Public transport information in Chard is appallingly bad. It costs very little to keep timetable frames tidy and up to date and wrong information (BoS service 30 to Axminster) is inexcusable. Both operators seem to be willing to accept out-of-date stuff on bus stop flags. Again, simply unacceptable.

A simple notice directing passengers between the two service 30 stops is essential and please, please, PLEASE, PLEASE send a lad with a stepladder out to sort out those bus stop flags. THEY ARE APPALLING.

What a contrast between Chard on-street information and the attractive posters in a proper BoS bus.
Which Buses of Somerset do you believe?

 Next bus blog : Friday 12th September 


  1. Stagecoach maintain an outstation on Millfield Trading Estate in Chard, going back to Cooks' days so it's not too far to go for crew changes. Unsure how the vehicles get to Exeter, as Wellington depot has closed now.
    Bus stop infrastructure in Somerset is/was the responsibility of the County Council, who have no interest in supporting local bus services, as evidenced by their shameful cutting of the rural bus network.
    They contract out the provision of bus stop flags and timetable case updating to First, which is why Webberbus information does not get updated. That I know, was a major frustration to Webberbus some time back.
    It might be now that there is no contract for maintaining the bus stop infrastructure - Southern National as was would have ensured their services were shown in their cases, but just a generic phone number and operator name on the flag.
    Perhaps there is a lot of sense in BoS having a name on the stop flag and a contact phone number - easy to apply this across the stops and can be left in place longer term without the need to continually visit.
    First did have a member of staff whose job it was to visit the bus stops and ensure they were up to date (he did all of Southern National Somerset at one time, Weymouth took care of their own stuff), timetable information consisted of an Omnitimes OT7 print out for the service, with relevant timing points highlighted. It might be that this member of staff has now retired, and might not even have been replaced.
    Other operators may want to do roadside information, but it was First who used to this, so the question as to why it is not up to date, or why is it not being updated, might be best asked to them or to Somerset County Council. Are you on the BoS customer panel Peter?
    Either way if BoS isn't doing roadside, this is a good opportunity for them to deal with this. As with the fleet improvement and the new image being rolled out, it all takes time to sort out.
    The much derided Traveline will offer a good starting point for ATCO coded stops en route (SW followed the SE bit of Traveline in adding two lists of ALL stops to the PDF timetable), but you'd need to go out and survey the whole lot to discover what flags are there, if there is a timetable case etc if there is no one doing this job.

  2. Interesting comment above. A few weeks ago I was in Somerset and boarded a bus at Wooky Hole. Couldn't believe no timetable info at stop, which is next door to quite a big tourist attraction.

    However it was Webberbus so makes sense with the comment above. A strange thing to outsource timetable displays to a company that probably only serves half the stops in the county.


    1. Applying some logic to the issue of maintaining bus stop flags and displays, one would give that task to the operator who had the staff to undertake this. It's a full time employee's workload here - I suspect Somerset CC have stopped paying this or First's employee has retired, without being replaced.
      As I mentioned above, an operator could deal with this and ensure that the information on the flags, at least, was future proofed to not require a revisit.

  3. My understanding is the Versas are having a big dip in reliability with most of the fleet off the road with various issues. Hence Darts are being borrowed (and ALX200s have been fished out of the disposal line in Exeter)