Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Secretive Somerset Service Shuffle [1]

News Running a Little Late!
A few days ago, fbb discovered that the excellent "independent" web sites for Buses of Somerset and First Kernow had disappeared; both operations now being swallowed up into the far less helpful First Bus "national" web site. A Somerset "blob" has re-appeared.
So much for hiving of the Taunton business to give it a new identity and distance it from the evils of Aberdeen management.

What has also disappeared in Somerset is the company's excellent PDF timetables, namely the pages from their very non-First timetable book. Instead we have the white space and multi-dashed wonderworld of First Bus standardisation.
And all this happened before Webberbus imploded so the company cannot use that as an excuse. For the record, the emergency timetables covering the independent's demise have now appeared ...
... although signs of panic still remain with buses numbered 37 in one direction (see above) and 375 in the other.
Good timetable pages do remain in Cornwall, however, but only links for Summer services starting on 29th May from the "home" page ....
... and from a sub-click on the timetables menu.
Existing tables are in standard "national" (for want of a better word) style. It perhaps matters less in Cornwall where many tables are intrinsically incomprehensible. fbb was asked to produce easier ones but after a meeting agreeing the revised presentation it was all dropped.

But it is beginning to look as if these "independent" First Bus areas will soon revert to corporate everything.


But back in Somerset, it gets worse. As fbb was perusing the Taunton site for information about the Webberbus demise, he noticed that things had happened. What fbb had not noticed was any press release for these changes.

This was the old network map. Sorry about the poor photo.
Once upon a time this map used to show a service 375 between Bridgwater and Wells ...
...  but, as that service was operated by the nattily named First in Bristol, Bath and North Somerset, the timetable never appeared.

But, let us look at the new network map, this time downlaoded in screen-shot sections from the First Somerset section of the national web site.

A 73 has appeared striking off towards Wells but getting no further than Woolavington.
An hourly 77 has sprung up from Yeovil to Wells ...
... and a 55 running as the current 54 to Somerton then striking north, also to Wells. Wasn't it but a few months ago that an hourly additional service 54 to Somerton was withdrawn after an abortive attempt to pinch some business back from the ill-fated Webberebus?

Then in the remote north of the company area something else has changed.
A puce-coloured line labelled 20 appears to have replaced through journeys on service 21 between Burnham-on-Sea and Weston-super-Mud.
This was the route that fbb failed to find when he visited Weston some time ago,
So fbb turned to Buses of Somerset ...
... to review the "news and updates" about these changes.

All will be revealed (or not!) tomorrow.

 Next Somerset surprise : Thursday 19th May 


  1. Andrew Kleissner18 May 2016 at 07:14

    If you really want a confusing time table, Madeira service 81 is the one to go for. This has a central "spine" to Curral das Freiras along a narrow valley, but numerous possibilities of deviations to outlying villages. When we were there on holiday last year I gave up making head or tail of it - we took a tourist coach trip instead! See: (there is some English at the bottom).

  2. Here's a good one. Transdev Harrogate's 1A. Completely different ways to get to the same destination! Make sure your on the correct bus!

  3. "But it is beginning to look as if these "independent" First Bus areas will soon revert to corporate everything.


    Rubbish. Nothing could be further from the truth

  4. To anon at 1014 above. It is NOT "further from the truth" as, from an internet point of view, it has already happened to the detriment of service to the public. More will be revealed tomorrow.

    1. Given that Giles Fearnley himself (or maybe it was Alex Carter) said that the the new busKernow identity and livery were to be revealed on the new buses this Summer, followed by a repaint programme for the existing fleet I think we can safely conclude that "corporate everything" is not taking hold. However, I do agree that it's a shame that the independent websites have gone.

  5. I think First said at the time that the bespoke sites were a temporary thing until they could get their sites incorporated into the group site. I don't think it's a sign of things going backwards.

  6. Well Peter, I'm quite excited to discover what nugget of evidence you will be releasing tomorrow to prove that corporatism is sweeping through Cornwall and Somerset. It's almost akin to waiting for Boris to announce his next reason to support Brexit!!!
    However, there's no need for you and your readers to wait until tomorrow. I can assure you that the Buses of Somerset brand and the future localised Kernow presentation are all very much alive and kicking.
    The websites were indeed planned as temporary - in the case of Somerset because the old Firstbus site wasn't able to easily carry a BoS branded section - in the case of Kernow because we had an urgent need to create a separate site after the sale of Devon, but this sat on top of the roll out of the new Firstbus sites and couldn't be accommodated in the immediate term.
    We've always planned the migration to the Firstbus website, as the information drives the journey planner and m ticketing apps, and will in future drive other information.
    Your illustrations above show that both BoS and Kernow have retained their own branding within the new Firstbus site, and the URLs still work and direct to the local sites within the Firstbus site.
    It's fair to say that the Kernow identity is taking us longer to conclude than we originally envisaged, but that's because we want to get it right, but i'm sat here typing with a set of livery images next to me!
    At BoS we've taken a lot of extra buses in since the end of last year, and expect a significant number more this year, so we have a fair amount of painting to catch up on, but the events of last week have given us more clarity and certainty in Somerset, and that allows us to make firm plans to move forward with BoS.

    Marc Morgan Huws
    First South West

  7. Who is Peter?

  8. The Buses of Somerset web pages did seem to be very quiet about the May 8th change. However it is on the First Bristol planned changes as it is mainly a route swap between the two. It was also put on the BoS Facebook and Twitter feeds, which can be quite active.

    The changes left a hole for the Polden hillside villages with Webberbus 37 using the A39 direct. This obviously delayed finalising things while the county council sorted out a solution. The 37/375 timetable was the Webberbus temporary fix, but now without the change of bus from 37 to 375 at Street as one bus does both.(See Webberbus News page for details).

    You would have been pleased that Buses of Somerset had got new paper timetables on to stops along with posters and stickers. The new timetable books arrived just in time and the maps in them were on the web pages a couple of days later.

    The timetable books choose not to show the term time only college journeys. The book only gives the 14 as Bridgwater - Cannington. The online national one includes route 15 term time from Minehead and thus lots of white space. With the demise of Webberbus 16/24 the 15 is now a vital peak hour service to Bridgwater and needs to be included and so usefully on the web page.

  9. The poor unsuspecting passenger might still be at the roadside waiting for a bus that never comes if he/she relies on t'internet for information. The Webberbus website is still alive and kicking . . .