Wednesday, 8 October 2014

U's a Clever Boy, then? Part the Third

For the 2013/2014 term the students of Falmouth University had their dedicated U1 service running every 15 minutes.
There was also service 41 between Falmouth, University Penryn, Redruth and Camborne, every 30 minutes ...
... and service 88 between Falmouth, University Penryn and Truro, also every 30 minutes.
That meant that eight buses an hour ran between Falmouth Moor and the Uni, of which 4 ran via the Falmouth Wood Lane campus, numbered U1 and only operating Monday to Friday term time.

By the time fbb experienced his "royal route-learning progress" in Cornwall earlier this year, the new U1 had finished and an hourly service via the Falmouth Wood Land campus was provided by routes 88 and 41.
The above crude past-up shows one 88 from Truro each hour running via Woodlane and Earles Retreat and turning into a 41 to Redruth.
fbb's 88 did just that but the unhelpful departure information back at Truro remained entirely secretive about the academic diversion!
So, for the start of the 2014 Autumn Term a whole new deal was negotiated. The old, exclusive U1 was consigned to omnibological history and the Wood Lane loop'n'link became a term-time feature of all 88s and all 41s.

So we have all 88s from/to Truro running via the Falmouth campus ...
... and ditto all 41s from/to Redruth. This arrangement applies Monday to Friday during term time. There is a Saturdays and Sunday hourly "Uni" loop, also during term time. Vacation time brings a reduction to hourly Monday to Friday and none on Saturdays and Sundays.

What is particularly clever on the part of First's schedulers is that the vacation timetable is, in every way, identical with the term-time version everywhere except at the Falmouth end ...
... meaning that the "normal" non-student passenger does not need to wonder whether it is term or vacation. The diversion does add 4 minutes to through journeys but does not, generally, impede an possible onwards connections at Falmouth Moor.

A summary of the Unibus services (U1 and U2) can be viewed (here). Click on " U+ ". This is an unofficial site under development.

The student single fare has gone up a whopping 25% from 80p to £1 but, as one of the Uni web sites explains:-
For political and consistency reasons, the revised 88 and 41 have been renumbered U1 and U2 respectively.
For the record the U3 is one Monday to Friday trip provided to cope with the anticipated student "rush hour".
Seems a bit early for the average student?

Those of our readers who, like fbb, are entering their years of maturity/decrepitude, may be confused by the idea of a University at Falmouth and further befuddled by the addition of Exeter University to the publicity.

It all started with Falmouth School of Art ...
... which expanded on to the current Wood Lane site, then expanded a lot more to a massive campus at Penryn ...
... which also houses bits of Exeter University. Falmouth became a proper stand alone University, specialising in "The Arts" and the two academic institutions share a common management structure which handles, amongst many other things, tenders from the bus services. They, needless to say, have their own logo and name (FXplus) to confuse outsiders!
Sadly, if you look this up on line, there is a real danger that you will find the old U1 service near the top of the list ...
... but then, nobody actually believes the internet search engines!

Do they?

We are also promised Unibus branding on the uni buses but fbb has yet to receive tangible evidence thereof.
And talking of First Kernow (First in Cornwall). The company has also won he contract for supplying buses to Truro College, another massive development near Threemilestone, just outside Truro.
Formerly showing route numbers in the 900s ...
... but now services 211 to 243 (with gaps!), 29 dedicated contract bus routes bringing students in from all over Cornwall and, according to "an informed source", they all leave full after courses at the end of each day.
Student Travel is big business for First and may well have contributed to the turn-round of the company from "basket case" to viable business. Well done First!
Awards ceremonies are many and various, but often they expose the strange and devious ways of the National Public transport mind. The winners of the "best train company" have been announced and this year the glowing citation puts First Scortrail at the top of the list.
Governments of various hues have promised to "reward excellence", to offer longer franchises to encourage investment and NOT to award on price alone. So today comes the news that the new Scotrail franchise has gone to a foreign nationalised train operator. Dutch State Railways will be running the trains in Scotland.
This is a typical on-line comment:
Insane! We have an SNP government that claim they are the protectors of Scotlands national interest. The SNP fought for power's to be clawed back from Westminster. This month they get the power to bring railway's back in house and to create a not for profit company as it has just been devolved in the post referendum settlement. They can't nationalise it as it's not allowed under E.U law. (so technically Abellio is illegal as it's Dutch State railways quango!) So instead of creating a not for profit company that is self financing as it reinvests all profit in improving services I.e network rail or East Coast model. Or giving it back to First group who have created lots of jobs and invested in Scotrail. The SNP think it's better to hand all of Scotrails profits 20 million last year to the Dutch taxpayer. This equals loss of jobs as a Scottish company has lost the contract, loss of taxpayers money to a foreign government and a total loss of any credibility the SNP ever had!

This would be daft it it were done by DaFT; it's even dafter as it's been done by Scottish politicians.

The formal announcement is due today, but it has been widely leaked.
 Next Convenient blog : Thursday 9th October 


  1. I was wondering how much of the Truro College traffic was 'new business', and what effect this may have had on other services and operators?

  2. I don't think it was new, but the scope has been extended and the contract is secure for a number of years.

  3. The bus users of Penryn do not share the enthusiasm of FBB from his armchair in East Devon for the 'bus schedulers' employed by First - since the introduction of the new timetables from the beginning of last month it is impossible to catch a bus from Penryn to Truro between 8.15am and 10.15am as the buses are packed with students and fail to pick up passengers waiting at stops in the town. Bring back the old U1 for students and the old 88 for people who have to pay the very high fares charged by First

  4. I hope that I wasn't enthusing about the consequences of the service. The aim was to convey the scheduling and philosophical skill of the new scheme. If Anonymous is factually correct, then First should be providing additional vehicles, of course. If they don't they deserve all the flak they get. As a matter of fact, First's fares are not particularly high when compared nationally but, I agree, that they load occasional fare payers (as opposed to weekly/monthly ticket holders) unfairly. Sadly bus companies are in business to make a profit for their shareholders and a full bus is better business than running empty duplicate trips!

  5. Unibus branding has been applied to at least some of the E400s.