Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Sheffield Partnership Question [1]

Collusion or Partnership;
What's the Difference?

An official report from 2011 contains this paragraph.

The evidence seen by the Commission shows that this segregation was brought about by extensive communication between certain Large Operators, signalling, retaliation to entry through competitive responses on other routes, and the sale and acquisition of rivals’ assets. The evidence has been gathered from company documents and from hearings with past and present executives of the companies involved. Similar patterns of behaviour, most clearly retaliatory conduct, have also been identified in other areas.

So how can First Bus and Stagecoach produce a joint plan for their supposedly competing routes in Sheffield? Giles Fearnley (First) and Robert Montgomery (Stagecoach) have not been arrested ...
... yet!

The Sheffield Bus Partnership is OK under legislation (?) which allows South Yorkshire PTE to broker bus schemes which show substantial community benefit. If you are really excited about the minutiae of this particular scheme, you can download/read the 128 page agreement  (here).  No, don't bother! It is a document that is less than fun-packed.

So all the partners sit down round a posh table in SYPTE's opulent office block and decide what to do with PTE officials ensuring fair and legal play.

In theory the plan has should be devised by the PTE, but fbb can't see the gang at the Dixon Lane HQ ...

... being clever enough or having the planning resources. Perhaps someone has paid vast bucks to consultants?

Over the next few months there is a series of "road show" type meetings and a feedback form available on-line and (shock horror!) in hard copy. The basis of the proposals provides a "before and after" list of services ...

... with the new daytime frequencies for Monday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Helpfully "proposed" versions of the now-standard north and south route maps are also published; this extract being from fbb's former stamping ground.
Ah ... Happy memories of teeing off at "The Hallamshire". At their prices, you must be joking; happy memories, though, of gorgeous views across the golf course and down into the Rivelin Valley.
But, at first glance, it would appear that fbb's former routes have not changed. Likewise, frequent routes to Crookes [52] and Walkley [95] (former tram services!), and even the "little bus" to Lower Walkley [31, 31A] still look like they always did.

Another unscathed area is services changed last year as part of the Rotherham Bus Partnership.
Likewise, inter-urban routes to Penistone, Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley, Castleton, Bakewell, Chesterfield and Matlock are not touched.

But, as fbb rather cynically opined yesterday, the majority of City corridors have been ravaged by the combine harvester of bus scheduling. The resulting reconstituted bus service bales of straw are very different from their predecessors.

But, tomorrow we begin by looking closely at some services that appear to be unchanged in route but have had their frequency "tweaked". Therein lies a clue to the possible purpose of this fiendishly complex exercise.

Will the public understand it all? Possibly. Try this for a start!
THREE 72s? Easy peasy lemon squeezy? Or not?
Journalists and the Railways
Last night's "File on 4" looked critically at Network Rail's recent poor performance. Although the programme was reasonably correct, some of the phrases used might have made the listener uneasy. fbb spotted this one from the reporter, Allan Urry.

"Here comes a Pacer; three carriages with a diesel engine on the front."
Oh No, Not Another fbb!
Northampton Alan sends this picture to amuse fbb and his reader.
It once looked like this ...
... and has a significant registration!
 Next "partnership" blog : Thursday 9th July 


  1. "....extensive communication between certain Large Operators, signalling, retaliation to entry through competitive responses..."
    If that is really from an official report in 2011 then I hope that the authors have gone back to grammar school in the intervening 4 years. Or perhaps they missed the "Commas and Capitals" lesson.

  2. The pte hq is on broad street west NOT Dixon Lane

  3. I can assure you FBB that SYPTE do indeed have sufficient planning resources to undertake a network review – especially as it will have been done with the SBP partners. It was one of the few areas to be unaffected by the latest round of redundancies (50+). The ‘consultation’ is only until the end of July (not over the next few months) and little or no publicity has been produced. Indeed, the most fertile ground to garner responses to previous ‘consultations’ has been the now closed Information Centres. A visit to two of the closed facilities yesterday showed that there was no such publicity.

    The proposals should be seen as a ‘done deal’ which follows the pattern of the last ‘consultation’ that discussed the proposed closure of the aforementioned ICs, withdrawal of paper timetables and replacement of both with ‘self-serve’ capabilities (the Internet). This ‘consultation’ was worded such that you could hardly argue against the proposals and was not promoted with any enthusiasm. I understand from a friend who used to work there that there were something in the region of 600 responses from the whole of South Yorkshire – Sheffield alone has a population in excess of 500,000.

    For SYPTE to suggest that this is related in some way to recently devolved powers is utter rubbish – Government doesn’t work that quickly. This is another ‘stitch up’ for the decreasing numbers of public transport users in the city (don’t believe the SBP figures – SBP does NOT include Supertram) and panders to Stagecoach who are seeking further consolidation of a well run outfit and First who conversely appear to think that ancient, dirty vehicles, ever increasing fares and disinterested, largely unhelpful staff is an acceptable way to run a business.

  4. I suspect that anonymous above may well be right in part : but I do not fully accept his final anti-First sentence. In my own (albeit limited) recent experience of Sheffield I have noticed a significant improvement in their vehicle quality. Fare REDUCTIONS nationally have contribute to a significant INCREASE in passenger numbers.

    It is, of course, utterly unacceptable that the PTE has closed enquiry offices and withdrawn printed material; not just unacceptable but plain and simply DAFT.

    1. "Fare reductions nationally"? Not in the great Socialist Republic! My single fare into to town with Worst Bus has increased by 10p per year for the past 4 - weekly tickets maybe reduced but that does not help multi operator travel.

      Yes, Worst have deployed around 50 Streetlites and a handful of 'deckers in Sheffield but we still have to put up with 13 year old TfL cast offs!

  5. "In my own (albeit limited) recent experience".....

    You should have stopped there. What you don't know could fill a warehouse.

    1. I take it you are an expert on everything?

    2. No dear, I am not.

      Therefore I don't write a blog pontificating and pulling companies and individuals to bits over things based on "limited experience", baseless opinions or just a poor grasp of the facts.....not to mention an axe to grind with the world (often with a bible verse at the end????)

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