Friday, 10 July 2015

The Sheffield Partnership Question [3]

It's The Wonder of Woodhouse Yet Again
Back in the early swinging sixties Sheffield Transport route 32 ran to Manor Park and 93 to Stradbroke. Later diverted via fill-in housing at Spinkhill the 93 was pushed through to Woodhouse to avoid a reverse at Hardcastle Road. Despite the joys of privatisation and competition, this service has remained much the same. But these two inexorable forces did push the former 32 through to Woodhouse via Stradbroke Road with competition!

Roll on to the Sheffield Bus Partnership inauguration and things looked like this:-
The 22 is operated by First at every 10 or unfathomably every 11 minutes.
It is linked with the Nether Edge service once numbered 97 and 98 (and before that 61 and 63 ...
... and before that 'twas a tram service!).

The 25 has a similar chequered history.
What began as competition between Mainline and Yorkshire Terrier begat competition between First and Stagecoach with recent Partnership chumminess now advertising a joint 10 minute service.
Now here is the latest cunning plan.
The 22, 25 and 25A are to be presented as 4 and 4A but each will run every 12 minutes instead of (roughly) every 10.

From Manor Park Centre through the city and on via Chesterfield Road the six minute frequency continues replacing every 10 on the 25/25A and every 10 on the 53.
At its southern end, the 25/25A ran to Bradway Bank via Greenhill Parkway with  Firsts 25 finishing at Old Mother Redcap ...
... and Stagecoach's 25 dipping into the housing on Longford Road.
The 53 terminated at Low Edges.
The latest cunning plan leaves things roughly the same routewise ...
... with 4A (rerouted via Low Edges) replacing the 25/25A and 4 replacing the 53. But Longford Road loses its 20 minute service completely. Not nice. Becasue we are given only broad-brush frequencies, the totality of this and other re-jigs is not yet completely clear; there may be more shocks to come! The pale pink line M17 is an occasional circumferential service which doesn't go anywhere near anywhere that is much use; hardly a replacement for a 20 minute frequency into the city.

It is more difficult to calculate how many buses are "saved" by this cut, but at least four seems likely. 

And what has happened to historic Nether Edge of tram, 61, 63, 97, 98 and 22 fame?
It becomes service 3 running through to Firth Park and Meadowhell replacing the partnership Mark I revised route 76 in the north of the city. The map above also shows us where the gnomes of PTE-land have pinched the number 4 from.
The TM Travel tendered service via Psalter Lane to Bents Green and Ringinglow is to be renumbered 24 (and 24A for the evening and Sunday option).

We conclude that the new 4 and 4A are different but yet contain something of their predecessor's flavour. This approach is repeated with most long-standing cross-city services. They will present an overall reduction of frequency along the main corridors and, in many cases, a different cross city link. Whilst the percentage of passengers travelling further than the city centre is statistically small, there will be a significant number of folk whose whose current simple one-fare journeys become more complex and more expensive.

It would be tedious for non-Sheffield experts for fbb to trawl through the whole lot; and it would continue to hurt the old man's brain; but one or two snippets will form the basis of a further blog next week.

Suffice it to say that the whole exercise begins to look less like giving Sheffielders a better bus service and more like saving money and increasing profitability. Whether this is (to quote Sellar and Yeatman**) a "good thing" or a "bad thing" depends on where you stand. A profitable bus company may be less inclined to push up fares but there is always the danger of poorer returns from a reduced service. Lets hope the Partnership hasn't taken a step too far.

 ** In "1066 and all that" (a comedic history of our sceptred isle) ...
... the authors insist that all historical events are "either a good thing or a bad thing"; an unhelpful but realistic comment on the Sheffield Bus Partnership?

fbb also plans to "keep a weather eye" on this topic and will report any notable examples of a "pitchforks at dawn" response from savvy sheffielders. If this is really a "consultation", there should be changes in the final scheme. fbb thinks it is a safe bet that there won't be!

 Next bus/rail blog : Saturday 11th July 


  1. Surely you can't measure everything in buses per hour?
    A typical Oxford thing pre partnership was to have competing 10-minute services timed closely together. Post partnership a coordinated 7/8. So twelve per hour becomes 8 but in reality offers a better service to the public.
    Using your Woodhouse example, look at Manor Park to Sheffield - as you say the 22 appears to be every 11 minutes; the 25/25A run at 00, 10 etc, but only from 1050 to 1400. Surely the same argument applies if, opn the ground, Manor Park gets a joint 6 minute headway - fewer buses, better service?

  2. I wonder about the PTE's role in this 'partnership'. Should they be providing a smokescreen for First and Stagecoach to reduce services all over the city by pretending it's all about 'improving co-ordination'? Or should they be speaking up for the travelling public, and trying to prevent such cuts. A sign of the fighback suggested is the launch of a campaign to 'save the 70' and keep a link between Dore, Ecclesall and the University/schools/hospitals - one that has existed for many years.