Monday, 18 May 2015

The Best of Times; The Worst of Times ...

But which is it?
Let's be positive. First Kernow (Cornwall) produces a network timetable book in full colour with network map and a selection of town centre stop-location diagrams. And it's free! But is it as good as it should be?

We shall see; but it's been a busy year!

This was the First Kernow network a year ago.
Then came the inevitable demise of Western Greyhound in February and ...
... even if you don't take in the detail (please click on the maps if you want to see more), it is obvious that spidery lines between Truro and Newquay (route 88) and between Truro and St Austell (route 27) have become significant networks.

Instead of an hourly service 88 at Newquay, we have a comprehensive provision of service ...
... and likewise at St Austell a network augments the hourly 27 and the 101 to Eden Project.
fbb reported on the interim phase when First decided to compete with the ailing Western Greyhound [WG], but now we have a network which is stable until at least March 2016, a stability agreed with and financially supported by Cornwall Council.

Hopefully there will be an investigative trip from Seaton later this year, but, in the meantime, fbb is looking at the on-line version of the new timetable book which reveals further revisions from May 24th. Obviously First's competitive services have been fully merged with the WG versions, but this month sees an all-round renumbering out of  the ex WG 5xx numbers into just two digits.

Interestingly, no attempt has been made to serve the Lost Gardens of Heligan on the 24 ...
once a WG 524/525 variety.
A year ago some timetables were impossibly complex. Here, for example is an extract from the old 39/39A/45 table with huge rivers of white because it needed to run over a page join in the ⅓ A4 booklet.
fbb suggested this be split into three tables, one for each service. The 39 would show 39A journeys over the common section of the route ...
...the 45 would show the matching bits of the 39 ...
... and the 39A could survive on its own. In the forthcoming book, the services are still unnecessarily muddled ...
... but at least the 39A gets its independence. A poor effort. Unnecessary confusion. We have also lost any reference to those journeys which run locally in Helston to Sainsburys and Tesco.  Surely people from Praze-an-Beeble, Townshend and Leedtown etc. might want to shop at Tesco or Sainsburys ...
... but First won't tell you the times of their through buses; you have to look in two places and work it out. A poor effort. Unnecessary confusion.

The full town service 39/45 is shown, quite rightly, on a separate table.
But, again, what a muddle, with ...
... clockwise and widdesrhins times all muxt ip on one table. Why?  A poor effort. Unnecessary confusion.  And that's when the timetable is simple and straightforward. Throw schoolday variations into the mixing bowl and things get really messy.

Better, surely, to show each way round separately but alongside each other.
And before you write in to say the old codger has got the times wrong, please note that the fbb sample tables were prepared in 2014 and NOT from May 24th times.

And, yet again, fbb asks the question, "Where is Bodmin?"
Which of these stops would be the "centre" of Bodmin?  A poor effort. Unnecessary confusion. And is there a railway station in the town, or possibly two; "General" and one other? fbb suggests ...
... to help folk understand.

And, another question.
Look at the 0930 from St Austell Station and the 1235 from Trinity Street. Why the orange and near-invisible purple shading? fbb knows. The table is for Mondays to Fridays, BUT the deprived folks of Croft Farm Holiday Park and the picturesque hamlet of Luxulyan ...
... get no bus service on Bank Holidays. So why two (effectively duplicate) journeys? Why not simply annotate the two non-served places with a concise explanation "NOT on bank holidays". Simple and less confusing.

But, is this the worst timetable book ever or the best?

To answer that question, we need to look more closely at the idea of shading "non-standard" journeys.

 Next bus blog : Tuesday 19th May 

1 comment:

  1. When it comes to shading, the 56 really takes the biscuit (I suggest party rings as the comparison). No less than SEVEN different coloured shadings (yellow, orange, two greens, pink, blue and purple) denoting variations in days and periods of operation. I'm a specialist and I couldn't make head or tail of it. Tough luck if you have a visual impairment or print it in B&W!