Thursday, 6 November 2014

fbb and a Bohemian Vibe [1]

Or ... a Trip to Newquay
fbb has never felt a "bohemian vibe" (or any "vibe" for that matter!), so as well at enjoying First Bus' new services, the chubby one can add another exciting experience to his declining years. But there it is, in black and white pale blue in the leaflet for the new routes competing with an ailing Western Greyhound.
Surely every cafe is "unique", not just in Newquay?

So to business. Before we can check our bus times, we need to plan the train journey. The earliest barely sensible schedule is:-
But that's before the off-peak return is available so the only fare option for the return journey is a painful:-
Not quite as painful as it might be because "senior" discounts are unrestricted within the Far West. All prices quoted are, as usual, for fbb-type old crusties.

The best the much vaunted "Tickety Split" can offer is £31.75 by stringing together four single fares. Three of them are "off-peak" and one, from Axminster to Newton Abbot is at the "anytime" price. But, as Chris Tarrant was wont to say, goading contestants to risk financial oblivion by attempting the next question on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire', "... we don't want to give you that!"

Firstly, we check where off-peak fares start and it is, indeed, Newton Abbot depart 0835. So the fb-bitty-split fare is off-peak return £10.55 from Newton Abbot to Truro and £9.85 anytime return from Axminster to Newton Abbot, total £20.40. 28% discount by rebooking. If only Tickety-Split did returns, it might be useful.
Yes, rail fares are utterly bonkers. See also "Good News for Rail Passengers?" (read again).

The 0656 from Axminster was cosy and warm and fbb was looking forward, as always, to the luxury of a proper train, and HST with comfy(ish) seats and a good view out of most windows. O foolish, foolish one. How wrong he was. The 0814 from Exeter was a two car class 150!

Announced repeatedly as "on time" ...
... it actually arrived at 0818 and left at 0820. (Yes, fbb has fiddled the signs 'cos every time he snapped the "shutter" the indicator changed from "on time" to "Platform 4". It was as it it knew it was utterly useless and didn't want to admit it on camera!. As well as being a totally unsuitable train for 2.5 hours of inter-city travel, the 150 was packed to the eyebrows from Totnes to Plymouth ...
... and draughty with a chilling blast of icy breeze ...
... via a constantly rattling and ill-fitting door shown in the "open" position courtesy of an fbb applied foot!

By contrast the bus rides were luxurious.
fbb was the only passenger between Truro and Newquay but, all credit to the driver, he pulld in to every stop where passengers waited and gave them to change to board. None did. The journey did, however, carry two local passengers within Truro. fbb has never been to this part of the principality so was overjoyed to have a double decker for his first trip. The sea at Perranporth looked deceptively inviting as the bus descended the hill.
In Newquay the 87's do a short working to Morrisons and back before returning to Truro.
Newquay bus station is hardly a town centre facility and will get a fuller review tomorrow; but First has made a good effort of publicising the new network.
Distinctive branding in the shelters, real timetables plus a departure list giving passengers the best of both worlds.
There were correct route numbers on the flags ...
... but, please Mr First, why are they so small? We need BIG numbers that make best use of the rectangle available. Ditto company logo. And there was a man ...
... with a pocket-full of timetables and plenty of good advice. fbb does wonder whether he should have been at the town centre stop which, generally, is busier than the out-of-the-way bus station.
The 91 arrived as a 21 which fbb was informed was standard daytime practice and vice versa. As the 91 is a variant on an existing service, fbb expected it to be busier than his 87 and it was.
Incidentally these two buses were originally with First London where, amongst others, they operated on route 91! Way back then, they were registered Txxx KLF.
Truro bus station was plastered with publicity for the new Newquay network with no lack of booklets ...
... racks of booklets ...
... and stacks of booklets ...
... plus a plethora of pinky-purple posters!
Clearly something was happening. There was even a queue for fbb's next trip.
Almost forgot. Whilst waiting, fbb enjoyed another experience; a footlong with turkey and ham plus a cardboard cuppa!
(Location chosen less for its food, more for its view of goings on at Truro bus station.)
In fact the 90 is not new but a variant of the former 88 introduced as recently as September 2014, as part of the conversion of 41 and 88 into Unibus branding.

The panel in the booklet extolling the virtues of Newquay referred to the bohemian vibe of the place. By the time fbb arrived back, cold rain was falling so a chilly chubby chap alighted at the Newquay station stop. Here the minimalist train to Par was about to depart ...
... on this most basic of lines. Another visit needed! Refreshment was required to stave off the hypothermia but all the bohemian vibe (aka multi ethnic cafe tat) had stopped vibe-ing for the winter. So it was to that notable Newquay time point, the Great Western Hotel, ...
... where in a deserted "Steam" Bar ...
... fbb was encouraged to warm his cockles with a pot of tea and a cake. He did all three! Then back out to the stop for the last bus of the day ...
... to St Austell and the train home. Another double deck for fbb but a vehicle variation was spotted en route.
There was good evidence that first had added their timetable frames to most stops and on the 21, unlike the 87, there were plenty of near intelligible "21" stickers on the flags. It was dark by the time St Austell bus station was approached but, again, the network posters and full timetables were in evidence.

From the hillside bus station, the day ended with a delightful and spiritually uplifting view of  Holy Trinity Church and the cross of Christ brightening the gloom of a broken world.
Talking of a broken world, the train back to Exeter was another 150! Boo.
Well, most of the above is good news for First. But tomorrow ...
... is another story.

And apologies for an over-long blog; but there was no obvious place to split it up into more manageable chunks.

 Next bus blog : Friday 7th November 

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