Sunday, 5 June 2016

In fbb's Back Yard

Yeovil Chard Looks Somewhat Hard
We know that South West Coaches will start running their new (tendered) service 96 from 13th June.
Also appeared recently is the replacement for the former Stagecoach 96, now numbered 96C.
But nothing had heretofore appeared from Stagecoach, current operator of buses between Taunton, Chard and Yeovil.
Until now that is. A Yeovil correspondent sends this snippet.
Stagecoach have withdrawn their version of the Chard Yeovil route from 13th June.. But nothing has appeared on (or, more correctly disappeared from) their web site, the full Taunton to Yeovil times are still shown and neither is there any word about changing the times of the section of route between Taunton and Yeovil.

A look at the present (and presumably continuing) timetable reveals:-

Buses arrive in Chard at xx10, sit around for 33 minutes then whizz back to Taunton where they relax for another 15 minutes at the College.

This would seem to make the service hopelessly wasteful of resources. Once again, fbb wonders whether this route might pass to Buses of Somerset.

Daftness in Dorset
Reducing the 99 (aka 96) to a less usable service can only speed its ultimate demise. A couple of days ago, correspondent Clive summarised the county's potty policy in an irrelevant note on an fbb blog about trams in Paris.
Asking these questions of bus passengers is much like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. It would, as a response to this note said, be better to simply withdraw ALL bus subsidies as is proposed by Oxfordshire. To suggest that Dorset can develop a modern transport network without spending any money is, in a word, nonsense. It cannot be done.

Effectively Electrical Energy Expired
Long term readers will remember that when young Archie Fearnley visited fbb's back-yard model railway, fbb cleaned the track punctiliously, plugged in the doo-dah and not a thing happened. Archie was less upset than his host and well placated by a visit to Pecorama.

Undaunted by his disappointment, fbb started rewiring the layout. Upon completion of this project, he plugged in the doo-dah and ...

... not a thing happened. So fbb took the doo-dah to the model club and asked one of the electrically savvy guys to test it. It was, to use a technical term, busted.

busted doo-dah
The picture below might explain why.
Those two bits of shiny copper wire should not be there. Moreover they should not be touching. And, yes; fbb did try with the two well separated by insulting tape. Still nowt!

Thankfully one of the other club members was able to lend a working replacement.

working doo-dah

Meteorological Mayhem Minimises Modelling
The weather has been decidedly less than clement in East Devon. There has been little opportunity for working on the outside layout. The signalman has been provided with a privvy ...
... the cow man has a nice new caravan ...
... and buses now call at Church Square.
Once the electrics were sorted, all the locos and coaches that had been stored under cover but outside were working perfectly; fbb's "Terrier" was released from its indoor box and chuntered along the track smoothly and sweetly.
After a long hard winter Peterville Railway Coach Preservation Society** is in business for the season.

** All Model Railways need a "back story". New readers may not know this one. The owner of Peterville Quarry donated to land and old railway track to the community for developments as a visitor attraction. It was decided to start a collection of obsolete railway carriages and suitable locos to haul them. Hence the wide variety of trains available|!

Silly; but who cares?

App Alterations 'Ave Appeared
After a lengthy delay (and several First Bus managers DO read this blog) the company's upp has been appdated. Buses of Somerset routes now appear in the timetables section for Buses of Somerset. The app has been showing all the services in Cornwall.
Well done folks! No need to rush, people might be using this app to find things out.

And the route numbers for Cornwall services (no longer available in Somerset!) taken over from Stagecoach are now correct - possibly.
Again, good work - if just a little slow to be of any use. But talking of any use ... this is a timetable search, so why do we have such a mess of duplicated routes and headings. If I am looking for a 95, surely I want to look for a 95; I don't need it mixed in with a 90, 92, 93 or 94 - or even 96.

But try looking at the lowest of the 95s. It says "Wadebridge - Camelford - Bude". Now try finding times for a journey between Wadebridge and Bude.
There aren't any. Another brilliant use of poor technology.

But you can go to ...

St Kew Highway Phone Box
St Kew Highway

DELABOLE Smugglers
Delabole Smugglers

St Teath opposite Post Office
St Teath Post Office

Oh dear. Which St Teath stop do I ask for
if I'm coming from Wadebridge?
A really tricky problem!

... and many more of similar silliness.

As a bus timetable app it is APPALLING.

 Next bus blog : Monday 6th June 


  1. Dorset did all this a few years ago, upsetting most of the local operators who weren't allowed on its BFF list, banning them from bidding and made themselves a laughing stock in the process. So, now they're doing it all again? What fun. Not.

  2. My note was actually a cut and paste of the article in the Dorset Echo.

    Typical modern PR that requires a positive spin - you must never say you are making cuts, but refer to it as more effective use of available resources etc!

    Also new management technique. Be assertive and demand more for less. Don't take no for answer,or believe anyone who says otherwise. If that doesn't work blame the officers and suppliers!!

  3. 30 years ago I worked alongside computer programmers. We took their time estimates for new programs and multiplied by 4. Their program estimate was right but we needed the same again to get it to work with real people, the same again for "paperwork" (help text, user guide, program explanation) and a final chunk to prove the safety critical elements. Today the time and cost is still substantially under estimated and particularly making it work with real people.

  4. Excluding the surrounds of Poole and Bournemouth, ie Christchurch to Swanage ring, Dorset is a very sparsely populated rural area. A high proportion are over 65 and 85% of households have a car/van and over 40% have 2 or more cars. This is not bus territory. The county priority is more to social care than transport. Dorset got out of micro managing individual bus routes and appointed Damory to run and monitor a network. As expenditure has to be cut further a consultation plus Danory's data will prioritize what is left. It may open the way for smaller operators again, but differently and with perhaps more knowledge.

    I think that funding transport at a county / unitary authority level is perhaps wrong and it should be over a wider regional level. Why should Dorset pay to take rural people shopping in Poole or Yeovil.

    I read somewhere that as the world urbanises, it should become a series of garden cities. The "garden" is all the hinterland providing its food, minerals, leisure and wildlife reserve. That means buses to take car less urban people to leisure in the country, but it is paid for by the city not the rural area.

    1. Dorset does not want smaller operators running buses in the county. They favoured the big operators for many years at the expense of the smaller ones when it came to tenders, and the countywide tendering fiasco of 2011 has given Go Ahead an open chequebook to charge whatever price they please going forward. Many of the long standing independents who worked schools are now out of business or severely reduced in size thanks to Dorset's one operator policy.
      Few other operators are in a position to compete at the same level - First is content with it's commercial rump of work and Yellow Buses is content to manage decline and will have virtually no DCC work in the coming year as it is about to lose it's bus services with just the 4 vehicles worth of schools contracts remaining.
      Contrast Dorset's clueless approach with that of neighbouring Wiltshire, where there is an all operator Day Rover ticket and encouragement of the smaller operator to bid for single vehicle workings on services, the result is a healthy competitive environment for tendered contracts and cost containment to the taxpayer.
      It isn't fun being a small operator in a climate where you are expected to invest in expensive kit for contracts as good as their notice period, as Webberbus have found to their cost.

  5. The Taunton to Chard 99 is commercial and therefore available to sell. What it is worth and the cost of Dupe-ing over staff in Chard may make it a challenge to sell. However Stagecoach continuing to run it may be cheaper than redundancies at present. We will see.

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