Saturday, 16 April 2016

Talking of Double Dutch ...

... How About Dubbel Gelede?
It was fbb's flat mate, John (later his brother in law, now his brother-divorced but a good friend of 50 long years!), who, in the mid sixties, took a trip to Amsterdam. He spent much time enjoying the tram network and returned home with a book.
The title translates as "From Horse Tram ...
... to Double Articulated." A youthful not-yet-f bb was called in to assist with translation; often unsuccessfully.

Whilst Centraal Station is the transport centre of the City, Dam Square is undoubtedly the municipal and meet-and-greet centre. Trams are now more "gelede" than simply "dubbel" but they still traverse the square, although with less track and less routes than in horse tram days.
The reason  for this snippet, however is another phrase from the very expressive dutch language. Two periods of cut-backs are highlighted in the book; pre and post Word War Two. Writing about these, the author refers to the heady days of trams' running absolutely everywhere as ...

 voor de grote inkrimping 

This translates as "before the great contraction" or, maybe, "before the great cut-backs". Inkrimping was such a mellifluous word that it entered fbb's and John's daily vocabulary as a synonym for any bus network reorganisation that involved service reductions.

 Doncaster - de grote inkrimping? 

We all now know that the Sheffield Bus Partnership's revised network, launched so disastrously last November, was all about cutting costs and increasing profits (or maybe making some profits, at last!). The Rotherham Bus Partnership was ditto but less controversial.

So how is the Doncaster Inkrimping looking? There was "Consultation", tagged by some as "Consulting then Doing What We Want Anyway" ...
... which is well past. 

About 150 bus services will change in South Yorkshire over a couple of weekends in May. The double date is because Stagecoach Chesterfield's changes (in darkest dragon infested Derbyshire) ...
... happen on 8th May whilst the South Yorkshire revisions come a week later.

Of the 150 changes (admittedly that includes all "A" and "B" suffixed numbers) 54 are for Doncaster. The PTE was, as usual, woolly in its announcements.

Proposals to optimise Doncaster’s bus network will go to public consultation this week, as authorities look to progress the public transport aims proposed in Sheffield City Region’s (SCR) Devolution Deal. The proposed bus network will play a key role in developing local transport to better meet the needs of the growing economy and customers by providing a more coordinated, more efficient and better integrated network.

It all sounds very grand and noble but words like "optimise" and "more coordinated" mean very different things when applied to passengers or to bus operators. There is, naturally, no mention of any "inkrimping"!

Nevertheless, fbb will be investigating these changes over the next week or so (when his brain is sufficiently in gear to understand them) but for today, he takes a quick look at trunk route X78, Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster.

fbb wrote three blogs not long ago on this particular service:-

See "The Unchanging Changing X78" [1], [2] and [3].

Suffice it to say that today's route runs every ten minutes Monday to Saturday daytime and every 15 minutes on Sundays. Except when the services is increasing to that level in the early morning, and when it drops back for the quieter evenings, it is very easy to follow.
Ominously, the Partnership proposals were for the X78 to run every 15 minutes (a 33% service reduction!) but would be "co-ordinated" with services 221 and 222.
This is what will happen with Doncaster departures at 03, 10, 18, 25, 33, 40, 48 and 55 minutes past each hour. Arrivals are similar. Well done schedulers.

Apparently, this his would only leave the short and rural section between Old Road Conanby and Thrybergh (where Rotherham local routes join in)  with a noticeable reduction. Of course this always assumes that the passenger has bought a ticket valid for travel with both operators.

But what about the Rotherham to Sheffield Section via the busy and popular Meadowhell shopping complex? Would an every 15 minute frequency be adequate for the bustling crucible of retail excitement that is Meadowhell.

The clever planners at the First Bus depot in Rotherham have solved this problem. The new service runs every 15 minutes between Doncaster and Rotherham and every ten minutes between Rotherham, Meadowhall and Sheffield.

And they don't fit together, do they?

The new timetable seems very silly.
If you are intending to travel for Sheffield past Rotherham, you must learn to juggle with 20 minute gaps and 10 minute gaps; and, if you are unfortunate enough to choose the xx20 or xx50 departures from Sheffield, you can enjoy a delightful 9 minutes sitting in the joyous environment of Rotherham bus station ...

... waiting for a ten minute gap to become a 15 minute gap,

But there is something even sillier.
Every half an hour an extra journey, numbered 22m, runs between Meadowhell and Rotherham. Why? And Who? And Where?

We will be looking at the 22 story in a later blog, but (to keep it manageable for now) the 22m is currently used for buses between Barnsley and Rotherhan extended to Meadowhell.
The blurb on the front of the new X78 timetable (available only on line from the PTE) refers to the new 22m.
Or does it?

Changes will be made to the times of service X78 Doncaster to Rotherham, with journeys running every 15 minutes, journeys from Sheffield to Rotherham will continue to operate every 10 minutes.

The 22m will operate Rotherham to Meadowhall only. No change to route or times.

What you can glean, with care, is that both 22m routes are, indeed, the same; but they run via a little nibble variously known as Deepdale Road or sometimes South Street. 
It is about the fourth attempt anf ourth route number to provide this service which was once a Rotherham Corporation motor bus route (numbered 17) terminating at Deepdale Road,

There is a route description on the new 22m and X78 non-leaflet, plus a not very helpful map.
But surely it should have a separate timetable and route map; its only affinity with the X78 is that it runs from Rotherham to Meadowhall.

Thus we have the cunning plan from First Bus.

1. Introduce flash new buses on the X78
2. Reduce the frequency

3. Increase confusion and delays for through passengers

4. Baffle people by allowing the PTE to publish a daft timetable

And there's still First's own printed publicity to come. fbb can't wait for that!

Well done, folks, for de grote krankzinnig inkrimping.

 Next blog : Sunday 17th April 

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