Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Loopy in Gillingham [2]

How to Spin a Reduced Service as Good News!
There will be more frequent buses for many parts of Medway, new or more frequent Sunday services and new links for several areas. Some services will be given new numbers and the existing Services 113/114 and 116 will be combined. 
The 132 is unchanged, but the 113, 114 and 116 are linked to form a huge circular service branded as "The Loop".

Let us examine this particular improvement for the folk of Medway.

 Improvement 1  Hempstead Road now gets a Loop bus every 30 minutes (previously a 113 every hour) but Pear Tree Lane and Hempstead Valley Drive drop from one 114 an hour to nowt, zilch, zero.

 Improvement 2  The top bit of Maidstone Road drops from a 116 every 20 minutes to a Loop every 30 minutes.

 Improvement 3  Deanwood Drive had a 116 every 20 minutes but now has a Loop every hour. This road does still have the more frequent 132, of course.

 Improvement 4  Bredhurst Road and the bottom bit of Maidstone Road had a 113/114 on its terminal loop every 30 minutes; now has a both ways Loop every hour.  

 Improvement 5  The Loop now runs via Twydall ...
... instead of straight along the A2 London Road with the result that through journeys from Chatham and Gillingham to Park Wood, Wigmore and Hempstead Valley and about 10 minutes slower.

 Improvement 6  The whole shebang is called The Loop irrespective of direction or route. To explain this to Joe and Josephine Public, the journeys will be colour coded as shown in the timetable. Here is the anti clockwise version.
In the opposite direction the colours are YEL and PUR.

There will be four variations of route (Blue Loop, Purple Loop, Red Loop and Yellow Loop), two running clockwise and two anti-clockwise, with variations to serve either Wigmore or Parkwood.

The publicity does not explain how these colours will be shown. Will there be LED panels on the screen, programed to show the different colours; or will there be a chunk of plastic balanced precariously in the windscreen? Fine until the "slip boards" get lost or broken. Our frequent commentator "Man of Kent" will doubtless explain all in due course!

Initial on-line publicity is a mess showing apologetic notes for some days now ...
... also claiming that the 116 will still run!
The PDF timetable (of you can find it) is similarly apologetic.
Let's hope the good folk of Medway can sort it out!

And a final thought. In December 2012 the Capstone Flyer appeared replacing what was there previously.

The predecessor was ...
... an hourly circular service. What goes round comes round; but at least the frequency is now half-hourly.
How to Spin a Reduced Service as Good News?
The consultation documents for a rejigged Sheffield network were published yesterday. Initial reactions from fbb is one of mind bogglement. It is as if the Partnership has thrown all the Sheffield bus routes into a large mixing bowl and stirred them up with some sort of hyper whisk!

The proposed changes are absolutely massive.

So what might be happening?

This phrase in the initial press release might give a clue. 
Starting tomorrow, fbb will analyse the documents and try to fathom what exactly is changing and why. Suffice it to say, it is hurting the big fella's brain!
 Next partnership blog : Wednesday 8th July 


  1. Challenge accepted, fbb!

    The original hourly loop was a wholly-tendered service, which Arriva had gained from the previous operator. They came up with the plan for the Capstone Flyer, which although not wholly commercial, did reduce the call on public funds.

    116 has long been a secondary service, partly reflecting that although Chatham is the dominant retail centre, there is some demand to reach Gillingham and indeed Medway Maritime Hospital, between the two. A deal with the Universities saw it diverted through the campus, but given that many students are daily commuters while residential accommodation for the others is on or close to campus, it isn't the moneyspinner that many Uni operations are around the country. It has been every 30 minutes on a Saturday for many years. Arriva has given it a good go, but the commercial reality is what it is.

    In last year's re-tendering, Medway Council actually increased service levels, some in the evenings but more especially on Sundays. We should assume that this has been successful, as Arriva is now following that trend.

    Overall it is an improvement for the majority of people, and should result in more passengers on buses, but as you highlight, some roads will have a lesser service. Hempstead Valley Drive, for example, only got a regular bus service with the December 2012 change - this alteration would suggest that the typically 4-bed-houses-with-a-double-garage territory hasn't taken to it. Deanwood Drive meanwhile sees the 132 lifted from every 12 to every 10 minutes during the day. No verdict yet on the coloured Loops.

  2. Technology! The Shieldsman comment was from Man of Kent!

  3. Thank you! I did say in episode 1 that I was less than familiar with the area. Thus I can only respond to what appears on my screen. My "beef" is that bus companies rarely announce "increased" fares, only "revised" - and rarely announce "this is a reduction but it's the best we can do." Interestingly First's recent withdrawals have been refreshingly honest.