Saturday, 21 February 2015

Something for the Weekend - Again

Northampton's New Bus Station : Again!
March 1st 2015 is an auspicious day. It marks exactly one year since Nrthampton's bus station opened. Called Northgate (or North Gate) because it is nowhere near the north gate of the old walled town; it has been a bit of a problem since inception.

It is too small; most services don't use it and it is difficult to get to (by bus) with many junctions and turns. The general view from 12 months before it opened was that any minor happening around the town stood a good chance of causing an unfathomable cloggage.

Well now ...

 Dateline Tuesday 17th February : 0945 

Our Northampton correspondent writes:-

A small section of Sheep Street, opposite where the Salvation Army Citadel used to be, was closed due to a burst water main.
This small hole in the road once again revealed what a disaster for the town Northgate Bus Station is as all traffic stopped and was still like that when I left about two hours later.

A National Express coach took 25 minutes to get from Victoria Street (top right) to Drapery (lower left) ...
... and the 1330 service 41 to Bedford left at 1410. Passengers for Wellingborough and Kettering Road services (1,2,4,7,8,X4, 43, X46, X47) ...
... were being advised to walk from Northgate (at Sheep Street bottom left) to Abington Square (A5123 upper right) to catch their bus which was presumably turning short to avoid and reduce the chaos.
We await some information from our councillors about what they are going to do about this sort of problem; predicted from the very start of the project. A good start might be to give some Northampton drivers a reminder about what a box junction is for.

Meanwhile, thee local press seemed unconcerned about the utter chaos faced by bus passengers, instead focusing on the poor motorists.
Traffic is queuing around Greyfriars, Lady’s Lane, Victoria Street and Sheep Street with motorists at a near standstill.

One driver said it had taken him 25 minutes to get out of the Grosvenor Centre car park. Another said they are stuck on the fifth floor of the car park with ‘no sign of moving’. Maureen Houghton had been waiting for more than 30 minutes in Grosvenor car park. 

She said: “This town is a nightmare."

All together now, "WE TOLD YOU SO!"

Western Greyhound - Again

In a recent blog, fbb reported that a large number of service changes had been registered with the Traffic Commissioners. The chubby one was mis-informed as WG has NOT registered a competitive route to Falmouth - yet.

A local correspondent advises that many of the changes are to time WG buses five minutes in front of the competitive First Kernow (FK) services recently started.

Bodmin – St Austell (FK 27, WG 527)
Bodmin Mount Folly depart xx35 (WG), xx42 (FK)
St Austell Bus Station depart xx15 (WG), xx20 (FK)

Fowey – St Austell (FK 24, WG 524/525)
Fowey depart  xx55hrs (WG), xx00 (FK), xx25 (WG), xx30 (FK), 
St Austell depart xx10 (WG), xx16 (FK), xx40 (WG), xx46 (FK)

Similar scheduling applies to Newquay to St Austell (21/521) and Truro to St Austell (27/527)

Of course, First can now re-register their services five minutes in front of the new WG times and thus the silliness continues to the ultimate detriment of the passengers' sanity.

Past competition - at Mousehole

Peak Vehicle requirement reduces by four buses from Sunday 22 February 2015 with the withdrawal of service 510 (Exeter – Wadebridge) but increases by eight buses from Sunday 29 March 2015 (an overall increase of four vehicles).

An increased vehicle requirement for a company that can't run what it has registered now; sensible competition or commercial suicide?

First Cake - Again
Annotated extracts from a recent press release.
First is celebrating the first anniversary of running bus services from Rusholme since the acquisition of Finglands in February 2014. The celebration was marked today with the now-obligatoy cake. The key highlights of the first year are:

More than doubled customer journeys from under 50,000 per week in 2014 to over 100,000 per week in 2015.

Over £10m investment to improve customer services

New cross-city network

The 42 links the North Manchester General Hospital with Hospitals and Universities on Oxford Road, improving the daily journeys of many Manchester people. 
First has also extended service 41 between West Didsbury and Manchester ...
... to create a new cross-city service to Eccles via Salford. The service has provided a direct connection between Salford University and Wilmslow Road opening access to Salford Royal (Hope Hospital) from South Manchester. 
Value fares initiatives
Driving staff doubled

Pictured cutting the cake are First MD Theresa Broxton and Chair of TfGM Andrew Fender. The takeover of Finglands took First deep into Stagecoach territory and into fierce competition along the Oxford Road

Western Greyhound : Again (again!)

At 0900 testerday, Western Greyhound was working on its new web site. Although why that involves deleting thee old one is not at all clear. Built and test new site off line, then upload, deleting the old; that's the way to do it!

Welcome to our new site!
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer interdum nisl ut mauris ullamcorper, ac suscipit leo accumsan. Nunc fermentum bibendum feugiat. Ut ut dolor et magna molestie tempus non at nulla. Nulla tincidunt, neque sit amet semper ornare, diam tortor blan...

Very helpful.

 Next rail blog : Sunday 22nd February 

1 comment:

  1. The law regarding bus registrations needs to be changed to prevent operators registering services they are clearly unable to operate whilst not operating their present mileage. If an operator notifies the TC they are suspending journeys due to staffing issues then a ban on further new registrations should take place, until they can demonstrate they have sorted their issues. It isn't too difficult to enforce either as it's a reactive response, initiated by the operator.
    VOSA have evidently condoned this programme of journey suspension and WG has consistently failed to operate 100% of its registered mileage for almost 12 months now. Yet nothing has been done by the TC. If this was any other operator they'd be in at PI with action taken against the licence. It open WG up to suggestions that it can do what it pleases whilst the laws are (unfairly) applied to everyone else.
    Western Greyhound must focus on providing the bulk of it's present registered mileage before contemplating further expansion. It might also want to concentrate on fitting proper destination equipment and having a consistent fleet image before it considers further expansion. Passengers care that buses tell people where they are going, can be easily identified by its colour when it comes and that the bus will turn up when the timetable says it will.
    Anything else outside that is just fiddling whilst Rome burns.
    Have they really managed to recruit around 16-24 drivers for these 8 additional buses they will be putting on the road???