Monday, 2 November 2015

Partnership or Pottiness?

Joint Press Release : Friday 30th October
fbb brings you extracts plus comments.
Changes to Sheffield’s bus network and cheaper tickets will be introduced this weekend (1 November) as part of a package of improvements by Sheffield Bus  Partnership.

From the SOED, The Shorter Sheffield Oxford English NEWSPEAK Dictionary: Improvements (noun) - reducing frequencies, changing routes arbritrarily to suit financial targets, removing up to 50 buses from the streets of Sheffield, making many journeys more complicated. Not issuing any printed information in good time.

Passengers can check for changes to their service and get timetables and route maps online at

Get timetables? To download a full set you will need 244 pages of A4 paper. Great move Partmership; get the customer to pay for your publicity. What percentage of bus passengers routinely use the internet (if available) to find bus times? fbb guesses about 15%.

Information is available at bus  stops,
True, it is information; but it's not much use. Correction; it's no use at all.

... in Interchanges ...

There's been NOTHING at Arundel Gate all week and a few leaflets given out grudgingly at Pond Street Bus Station Central Bus Station Sheffield Interchange. Both are soon to be renamed SIBH - Sheffield Information Black Hole because nothing can escape from the gravitational pull of the PTE's "we won't give you anything in print" policy. UPDATE : most First exclusive leaflets had made it to the interchanges by 1430 on Friday last. Three of the Partnership leaflets (joint services) ditto but nothing from Stagecoach. ALL were promised for Sunday 25th.

... on-board buses ...

Apparently large versions of the confusing and misleading bus stop "posters" are posted on some vehicles. No timetables. Some buses have been carrying racks of maps.

... and in leaflets sent to Sheffield addresses. 
If you're lucky! Lacking clarity and maps, the best that can be said for these is that they warned people that something was happening.

Sheffield Bus Partnership has worked together to join-up and co-ordinate city bus services to improve journey times ...

OLD Sheffield to Lodge Moor - 29 minutes
NEW Sheffield to Lodge Moor - 33 minutes

OLD Graves Park to City - 24 minutes
NEW Graves Park to City - 30 minutes

OLD Wisewood to City - 17 minutes
NEW Wisewood to City - 41 minutes

But lets be fair. fbb has found ONE improvement

OLD City to Charnock - 31 minutes
NEW City to Charnock - 29 minutes

But the new route simply misses out a traditional and very long standing part of services via East Bank Road. For a 2 minute saving? fbb will keep looking for more dramatic improvements in running time!

... provide more links to new destinations ...

A euphemism for swapping all the routes around so there are, indeed, new routes to new destinations; BUT existing passengers will often be inconvenienced. Will passengers from Bradway realise that all their buses now run via Queens Road and away from Highfield, Moorfoot and Moorhead shopping areas or will it come as a pleasant surprise (NOT) when they fork right at Heeley traffic lights?

... and cut congestion.

fbb does not know how many vehicles pass through the centre of Sheffield on a typical working day. But to suggest that removing 50 will "cut congestion" is unrealisitc. It will hardly be noticeable even at the busy stops on Arundel Gate and in the High Street.

Lower price multi-operator tickets will be launched to complement the new network as a direct result, making it easier for passengers to get on the first  bus that comes along.

 New CityBus Day (£4),

This is pottiness in the extreme. Why, why, why do we have to pay an extra 10p to travel on another operator's bus. Is this a partnership or isn't it? (Answers on a postcard to the usual address, please.) Does that 10p really make a difference to the whole finances of the "partmership". Of course it doesn't.

7 Day (£14) and 28 Day (£49) tickets from TravelMaster that can be used on any bus in Sheffield, and reduced price CityWide Day (£4.30),

And and extra 30p for the privilege of using a Stagecoach tram instead of a Stagecoach bus. Pottier and pottier. Talking of potty, it is rumoured that a new PTE Director General has been appointed. Is the first picture of the new incumbent to be published?
Fares continued:-

... 7 Day (£15), 28 Day (£53) and Annual (£560) tickets from TravelMaster that can be used on  any bus and tram will offer a discount of up to 23% against the nearest existing  ticket. Prices are frozen until April 2017.  

Frozen fares, that is a benefit. Pause to break open the Bollinger.
We have actually found a tangible benefit from November 1st.

Of course the crunch question is what happens when the frozen fares thaw. If the inflation then catches up it will be very ouch-making.

Back in the pre-competitive days of Sheffield Transport a major network change took place in October 1968. It reduced the number of buses on the road and there were some vociferous complaints. BUT most people hardly noticed the change. A comprehensive timetable book was published plus leaflets and press adverts listing the main changes. From fbb's misty moisty memory, full details were readily available at east two weeks before the big day.

Yesterday marked, possibly, an even bigger change and, today, fbb guesses, several tens of thousands of bus passengers will not have had a clue when their bus will leave of where it will be going.

The members of the partnership should hang their heads in shame.

Remember this press release after the first Partnership re-organisation?

Sheffield bus passenger numbers continue to rise. 01 July 2014
- 4.65 million more fare-paying passengers (9.6%) in 18 months 
- Reverse in long-term decline of the city’s bus market 
Passenger numbers for overall journeys as part of the city’s ground-breaking Sheffield Bus Partnership have grown by 740,000 (0.9%) in the first 18 months. While fare-paying passengers have risen sharply by nearly 10% at an increase of 4.65 million.

fbb wonders what will come later in the year.

Sheffield bus passenger numbers
fall dramatically.
"We simply don't understand it,"
say bus managers.

long-drawn-out nostalgic sigh
Talking of the nostalgia of the future, correspondent Roy (Wilson of that Ilk) sent fbb pictures of the last service 53 bus to Bradway on Saturday evening and the first (the very first, to boot!) 24 to Bradway from City at 0632 yesterday. The piccies were on fbb's email before 0900 yesterday. Give that man a carrot for dedication to duty! The pictures will feature in a Bradway blog, probably later this week. Thanks muchly, Roy.
 Next bus blog : Tuesday 3rd November 


  1. How to prove it all went better than expected?
    Make it (next to) impossible for unhappy customers to personally lodge a direct complaint with the partnership staff by closing enquiry offices and (probably) banning public access to their transport offices. All communication by email (tough if you cannot do that) or to a customer (non) care centre with one phone line manned by people who don't know the area. You'll be amazed (not) at how the number of complaints have dropped - well done lads!

  2. It's worse than that - you can't just email Travel South Yorkshire to register a complaint. Now you have to set up a 'MyTSY' account to ask them to look at anything (IT training not provided) - quite enough to put off all but the most determined, and well beyond the capabilities of a good proportion of bus users.

    I love the claim that the reduced (sorry, 'improved') network will cut congestion. This flies in the face of just about every other public transport authority worldwide. They understand that improved public transport will cut congestion by ensuring that unnecessary car (and taxi) use is minimised, and there's plenty of evidence to bear this out. What research has the SBP done to ensure that its reductions won't be more than countered by an increase in car use? Almost certainly none at all.

    And finally I reported last week that no 'area guide' had popped through this door. Well, on Thursday it did, but it wasn't the one that covers this sector of the city! Having spoken to many people in the area, not just immediate neighbours, it is obvious that the whole area has had the wrong leaflet distributed. Never mind, even the right one (which I have seen) isn't terribly helpful.

  3. The destination on route 24 buses Lowedges to Wood house show. wood house via Lowedges ' city centre.

    Why o why dontt they show intermediate places. Meadow head, woodseats,queens road, arundle gate and others on the other side of city.

    This would have helped stop lots of people having to ask drivers thus slowing service.

    First had staff out in . City centre providing information.

  4. For an organisation that has had to go back to printing some limited and incomprehensible literature after spending 2 years telling us all to 'self-serve' on the web, it attained the ultimate accolade earlier today when the TSY website crashed under an 'unprecedented workload' for more than 2 hours today. Garbage in, garbage out.