Thursday, 22 September 2016

Would John Betjeman Have Approved? (1)

Not Liking Change, He Might Have Written ...

Come friendly buses, run in Slough
Changing all the numbers now, 
Reorganise, create a wow. 
But will it work?

Come, bosses blow to smithereens
Well known destination screens, 
Will Sloughites cope with what it means, 
You've go to smirk!

Hopper, Lynx or just 1B
Now add to 1 the digit 3
Now route 2 the 12 will be
Creating murk.**

There seems to be a growing trend in today's bus industry to renumber long established routes into a "simpler more easy to understand series". Then there is the "split cross town routes" to improve timekeeping which alternated with the other policy "run buses cross town" to avoid wasteful layover time in the town centre. These schemes seem to alternate every five years or so.
When fbb visited boss Simon Newport in Weymouth a few months ago, he spotted this bus lurking dejectedly near the depot gates.
Here is the same bus running a Weymouth local service ...
... and here, in its former and branded life on home turf back in Slough.
But here is a similar vehicle, also in Slough, also on route 1...
... appropriately branded but named Linx.
Back in xephos days (c.2005) service 1 was every 10 minutes.
Today, and several reorganisations later the scene is somewhat different.
The core services via Buckingham Road and the trading estate are 1B and 2, each running every 30 minutes.
But the dreaded renumbering craze strikes from this weekend. The 1B becomes the 13 and the 2 becomes the 12.
This is how First Bus explains the change.

Route 12: Slough – Burnham

Route 12 replaces the northern arm of the existing Route 5 and combines it with the existing Route 2. Route 12 will connect Slough with Manor Park, the Slough Trading Estate and Burnham.

It will operate up-to every 30 minutes on Mondays to Saturdays only. This service will not operate on Sundays. The new route will operate from Slough Brunel Way and continue via Stoke Road to Manor Park and Essex Avenue. It then will then continue along Bestobell Road and the Buckingham Centre to Burnham, before looping back to Slough.

So nearly the same as the old 2?

Route 13: Slough – Slough Trading Estate

Route 13 replaces the existing Route 1B between Slough and Haymill Road only.

The new Route 13, also known as the ‘Slough Hoppa’ will connect Slough with the trading estate and will operate up-to every hour Mondays to Fridays only.

The new route will operate from Brunel Way to Elliman Avenue, the Buckingham Centre on Liverpool Road and past Burnham Station to Haymill Road and then back to Slough, Brunel Way.

So the same as the old 1B, but not going so far and reduced to hourly. NOT an improvement, then.

To simplify matters for the bus travelling public (?) new route 1 will run to to Britwell, sort of where the old 1B terminated but via a substantially different route.
It currently has numbers 58 and 78.

The new route 2 runs to Clewer, Windsor and Dedworth.
It is currently route 77

Blog readers may be surprised, but the local press ...
... is not impressed.
It is perhaps too much to expect an enthusiastic response from the Fourth Estate; but the article does quote one local voice very unhappy with what has happened to service 1B and 2.

A statement on First’s website reads:-

While the service number may change, routes and frequencies will generally remain unchanged, with some frequencies being increased.

Stuart Stebbings, writing on social media:-

So no service to Burnham after around 7pm. No service on Sunday. And no service beyond Kennedy Park to Lynch Hill and Burnham station which a lot of people rely on, essentially cutting off the people that need it most. Absolutely disgusting.

Another bone of contention is about buses to Heathrow which fbb will examine tomorrow.
Observant readers will have spotted a passing reference to Heathrow service 78 from Britwell and service 77 from Dedworth.
Again it is all change!

** Betjeman note : he actually wrote a poem, lamenting the town's development and first published in 1937, with the memorable first line, "Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough".

 Next Slough blog : Friday 23rd September 


  1. If "lot of people" are indeed reliant on a bus service beyond Kennedy Park I imagine First, or another operator would be running it.

  2. John B would have been proud of you, fbb!

  3. This passion for very low renumberings doesn't make any sense in the context of all the electronic information now available. Search for a route 1 on most operators' or transport authorities websites, and there is a veritable battery of routes bearing the same number, making it far slower to find the route desired than if it had its own distinct (and ideally unique) number - as fbb's own excursions on First's south west website have shown.
    For an extreme example, search for route 1 on Traveline SE/SW/East Anglia/Midlands, and you will be offered more than *four hundred* options.

  4. If I read things correctly in c2005 there was a 10 minute service,this then became a combined 1B and 2 giving a 15 minute service, and now the 1 and 13 give three buses an hour which are not equally spaced? I don't know the area or network so may have got this wrong?

    Is the problem lack of demand or the high level of wages that need to be offered in that area due to its proximity to Heathrow?

  5. The vehicle in Weymouth deopt is LK53 MBX (53052),
    but the one in service in Weymouth and Slough is LK53 PNO (53057) and not "the same vehicle".

  6. Also not knowing the area, but I have a recollection that there was a lot of Section 106 funding swilling around Slough. Perhaps that has now expired, and services are being reduced to a commercially viable rate?