Saturday, 30 July 2016

Some Things for the Weekend

A random collection of oddments that do not justify a full blog.

Something at Seaton
A chum from the Isle of Wight visited fbb yesterday to travel on the open top single decker which sadly does not run of Fridays; to it was off to Colyton by tram. The outward journey was pleasantly uneventful but coming back tram No 6 was on duty.
This is the oldest and one of the smallest trams in the fleet being originally designed for the much narrower gauge when operation was based at the Crumbles in Eastbourne. Readers can gain an impression of the diminutive size of the vehicle by the giants seated on the top deck.
It's the getting up there that is a challenge. Here is the bottom step.
Still no idea of scale? OK here are fbb's delicate podiatric appendages snapped on the outline of a typical step.
The folded piece of A4 paper is an accurate representation of the step size. The top deck starts at about chest height and the gap through which the chubby one has to squeeze his corpulence is just (but only just) big enough.

Nevertheless a pleasant top deck ride was enjoyed complete with admiring congratulations of some other top deckers. "If he can get up there, so can I!"

One of the joys of a visit to East Devon!

Something at Axminster Station
Photograph taken of the closed ticket window at Axminster Station at 1156 yesterday when collecting said chum.
The ticket office sales person was in the waiting area "looking out for a disabled passenger" due on the next train. "Will you be opening up then?" queried a worried-looking passenger.

"No Way," said the young gel with Stagecoach orange hair, gleefully, "I've bust my machine!"

Readers may amuse themselves trying to work out what it means.

Whilst waiting, however, an onward traveller might check on the bus from a timetable helpfully glued to the wall in a dark corner.
Helpfully it shows the half hourly service to Lyme Regis and on to Bridport. It also shows journeys on X53 via Colytion and on to Exeter. How very refreshing to see such a public-spirited posting of pertinent particulars.

Except that the X53 ceased on 7th May 2016. The timetable is two months out of date.

Something Outside Axminster Station.
A while ago fbb reported that one of these had appeared.
It has now been switched on. It shows the times of the next five departures.
So far so good. After a few seconds the desplay switches to the next five destinations but without times.
So all you have to do is work out what the destinations mean.

Don't worry, the all-knowing fbb will explain it.

 South Station  is, of course, Dorchester.

 Marine Place  is, as all arriving passengers will know, Seaton.

 Exeter  is, unbelievably, believable

 Kings Statue  sits impressively at the bus terminus at Weymouth

 Axminster Millw, Rail Station  is equally easy. "Millw" is a bit of Millwey Rise but the text does not scroll. And, in case you are really confused, Rail Station is where you are standing, more or less, looking attentively at the sign.

Does it make sense? NO.

Was it worth installing? PROBABLY NOT.

The one at Seaton isn't yet operational, as illustrated by this excited group of holidaymakers.
What will it tell us when it starts working?

Something in the West Midlands
Our Northampton correspondent sent this picture which he entitled "The Travel West Midlands Invisible Bus". Note the sign on the door ...
... and notice the bus parked on the red tarmac area at the stand.

Isn't technology wonderful?

Something at a London University
NOT the London University! No 1 son works for the University of the Arts and recently he posted this picture on his Twit site.
Yes, it is Lego. Yes, it is all white. Is it all right?

Apparently it is an aid to discussion and "white Lego works best".

Well, it is a University of the Arts!

Not Something at Hinkley Point

EDF Energy has awarded preferred bidder status to ‘Somerset Passenger Solutions’, a 50/50 joint venture between bus operator First Bus and family business Crosville Motor Services, to provide bus services to the proposed Hinkley Point C power station.
Somerset Passenger Solutions revealed today some of its plans for bus services to the site. They will operate high frequency services to Hinkley Point from dedicated Park and Ride sites, staff campus accommodation sites and from surrounding towns and villages for employees living across the area. The joint venture will also provide internal site shuttles and transport for visitors from airports, railway stations and hotels. First and Crosville also said they expect to operate up to 160 brand new, high spec, environmentally friendly buses.

Maybe not?

 Next bus blog : Sunday 31st July 


  1. These confusing destinations on electronic displays must be catching. That at Lancaster bus station has recently changed so that buses now go to "stop name" (town name in brackets following). It's now possible to see three buses heading almost simultaneously to "Bus Station": one going to Preston, another to Morecambe and a third to Keswick!

  2. When I was an employee at Axminster Stn, I tried my hardest to provide onward travel bus timetables in the station racks, with no help from south west trains, I might add. Devon CC were happy to send a supply of their excellent books, and stagecoach forwarded a parcel with leaflets for their 380 (now 4). However first and Dorset were a different matter. After numerous phone calls to Taunton enquiry office they sent some photocopies of the 30 timetable (because they only had one proper leaflet) via the driver of a service bus (!), but I could never get anything from the other part of first for the 31 (x51), and though Dorset CC had literature, they had no postage budget so refused to send me any supplies, they asked if I could drive to bridport in my own time to pick them up! Such was the contrasts in how easy stuff was to get hold of!!

    On another note, Weymouth and bridport drivers are of course currently involved in a long running dispute/strike over pay, so reduced services are running... Or not at all in some cases...... Have these details been transferred to the paper or electronic displays provided I wonder???

  3. I think Seaton Tramway is missing a revenue trick with that tram. They should seek sponsorship from Weight Watchers. I've a feeling I climbed those stairs many years ago, and your piece brought some of the trauma of squeezing upstairs. Nonetheless, the tramway is a brilliant day out and is recommended to people of all ages who make the effort to visit beautiful east Devon.

  4. The Devon Real Time system is just being rolled out so they will be on the same learning curves as we went through in Poole in 2005 and to a lesser extent in Weymouth in 2012. I don't know who the supplier is but it is likely that they will need all the services in a central data base from which to populate the signs. The system will then communicate with the operators own tracking data or with adjacent systems such as Dorset through what is known as a Siri feed, which will allow the real time predictions generated elsewhere to reach the signs. If the system is being populated with data files sent by the operator in Transxchange format then there is an export field called Dynamic Destination which can carry a sepcific destination over ride that applies to each stop en route, and can be changed mid route if needed. If the data files do not contain dynamic destinations then the Naptan short name will display such as South Station or Kings Statue. In this case it should be possible (again depending on the system supplier) after import for the Devon data manager to modify the ultimate destination to be Dorchester or Weymouth before updating the signs.
    I know from managing the data for Dorset County Council that the export files from First do not carry destinations so I maintain those destinations in the datafiles I use for Traveline and it is these that populate the system in Weymouth. I have no doubt that once testing is under way there will be a defined destination list to take account of the different signage in use.
    The Axminster sign looks like a Bann flag which has 23 characters of which 3 are needed for the service number then a space then 14 for the destination and a space then 5 for the time. If you cannot reduce all destination names to 14 characters or less then the sign can run in paging mode which shows service number and destination paging to service number and time. Any name longer than that will simply curtail itself.
    Tne Seaton sign looks like a standard Shannon type which should be able to display everything in one line with a destination length of 18 or 19 which is the Naptan standard.
    In Dorset we standardised all destination names at 15 characters or less as that was the maximum available on the Ferrograph signs used in certain areas of Dorset.
    Commissioning an RTI scheme can be a long frustrating process in nailing down the final detail so it will be interesting to see how it looks in three months time.
    Ken Traveline (and RTI) Dorset

  5. The Seaton destination thingy worked for a few weeks and now it has stopped. Goodness knows why??