Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Sheffield Partnership Question [2]

Will We Notice Fewer Buses?

Some services also operate a different timetable during school or university terms (please see individual timetable leaflets for details)

The original partnership scheme for what became the 120 was for First to run from Fulwood ...
... joined by Stagecoach at Hallamshire Hospital ...
... whence both operators contiued via City.
First Bus journeys terminated at Crystal Peaks shopping centre ...
... whilst Stagecoach journeys continue via Halfway.
The route wiggles via Waterthorpe, Westfield and Halfway (that's the estate) before terminating at Halfway ...
... tram terminus which was, until expansion of the Mosborough townships, the real Halfway.
Here is the same view today with the terminus to the left at the roundabout. The old Rotherham Road is an entry to a few cottages between the phone box and the left hand street lamp.
So the current frequency is every 4 minutes over the long common section.
Sheffield is one of the cities where services are trimmed a little in the Summer. The pruning is slight on fbb's former local route (once 60, then 40, now 120; three cheers for consistency) ...
... with a reduction from 8 and 4 to 10 and 5. It is the Summer frequency that the new Partnership plan is proposing to be permanent; possibly with a further reduction next Summer. From every 4 to every 5 will hardly be noticeable; even from every 8 to every 10 is not going to be a big hardship. Indeed a Sheffield chum who still lives near the Fulwood terminus reports that reliability is poor; so definitely a barely noticeable chop.

But it saves a bus or six; saves a penny or two and adds a bit more to to the First/Stagecoach piggy banks.

Not far from the blue plaque residence where dwelt your obese and opinionated one is Crookes ...
... where service 52 has been similarly reduced in Summer. Every 4 and 8 becomes every 5 and 10.
Again this is the "proposal" for the new network.  But it saves a bus or six; saves a penny or two and adds a bit more to to the First/Stagecoach piggy banks.

One disappointment, however. Long-term readers will remember that the 52 has two different routes at the Woodhouse end. See "The Madhouse at Woodhouse". (read again) Follow the red lines below and you will see the problem.
This means that at Woodhouse Station and on Badger Road (the central wiggle) buses to City use stops on both sides of the road, thus encouraging passengers to dash lemming-like** in front of the "wrong" bus to hop on the "right" one. Why not at least sort out the route numbers this time. A 53 is wasted on a non-event of a route at Hillsborough in the grand plan.
The new 53 is just a shuttle from the Hillsborough "Interchange" (aka bus station not served by all buses) to Wisewood. The traditional Wisewood route number (13) is available!

Not all services with no route change have had the pruning; the 95 (map above) and the 51 (also an fbb local) retain their 10 minute headway. But we can begin to see a pattern emerging. 

Remember that critical phrase in the PTE press release ...
... this is how "excess services" are being removed. The companies together will have saved significant numbers of buses on the 120 and 52 alone. But the PTE is hinting at "the reinvestment of services to improve access to employment and training sites". Truth or Twaddle?

But there aren't many routes that escape un-renumbered and unscathed. We will look at a sample tomorrow.

** Lemmings.
fbb does know that lemmus lemmus does not actually run to a mass suicide off convenient icebergs. It is a myth. But the lemming idea sticks.

 Next partnership blog : Friday 10th July 


  1. Did not something similar occur in Oxford? OxfordBus and Stagecoach Oxford co-ordinated timetables on common sections of routes, thereby marginally trimming frequencies to something more sustainable.
    The trade off was the use of modern (hybrid? low emission?) buses, and the establishment of a daily / weekly / period ticket valid on both operators' services.

    At the risk of upsetting t'old chap over his breakfast mug'n'wad, these proposals in Sheffield sound like an outbreak of common sense has occurred. Much better that the upcoming fiasco that is expected in Nexus-Land (of which all has gone quiet recently).

  2. I will restrain my urge to reply until after tomorrow's blog. But thanks for the thoughts. I understand from an anonymous contributor that one problem with Tyne and Wear is that the financial justification for the political "take-over" of public transport turns out be be more questionable than at first appeared. No surprise there, then.

    I did enjoy my mug and wad"!

    But I certainly agree with the concept of anon's second paragraph!

  3. Sorry, greenline727's second paragraph!

  4. I notice the consultation documents issued by the 'partnership' (actually by SYPTE?) state that 'the Sheffield Bus Partnership is made up
    of the organisations responsible for bus
    travel in Sheffield - First South Yorkshire,
    Stagecoach in Sheffield, Sheffield
    Community Transport, Sheffield City
    Council and South Yorkshire Passenger
    Transport Executive'. It seems strange therefore that the consultation maps show services operated by Hulleys, Tates and TM Travel, some of them commercially. Are these to be taken over by operators within the partnership? I doubt it.

    One of the main selling points of the SBP network when it was first launched was the (semi) integrated ticketing - in fact the ticketing changes were probably more dramatic than the network changes. This time nothing is said about the ticketing, but this may be crucial if for example the role of operators outside the partnership were to increase. As nothing is said is there in fact some bad news which is yet to emerge?

    Nor is anything said about which operators will run which services, or what (if any) investment will accompany the revised network. Currently, two of the highest profile services - as already mentioned - are shared by First and Stagecoach, with alternate buses operated by each operator over common sections. This is a virtual guarantee of 'bunching', which of course is what happens. On both services Stagecoach normally use their hybrid double-deckers which have impressive acceleration and soar up the hills, while First run older diesel double-deckers on the 120 and Streetlite single-deckers on their journeys on the 52. Not only that but First's ticket issuing machines are appreciably slower than Stagecoach's, so readers of this blog hardly need to be told the inevitable result. So, back to the question 'Will we notice fewer buses?'. Yes we certainly will unless this problem is overcome - perhaps by the operators 'agreeing' that one will take the 52 and the other the 120? And what would the competition authorities have to say about that?

    A final thought prompted by an earlier observation about vehicle quality. Stagecoach also have former London double-deckers running in Sheffield, but these were not mentioned by the correspondent (admittedly there are far fewer of them). However, the level and standard of refurbishment undertaken by Stagecoach and the generally higher standard of presentation means that their age is not an issue and that they could pass for far newer vehicles.