Thursday, 29 December 2016

People Don't Like Change(ing) - Part 1

fbb well remembers the hype generated by the opening of the Tyne and Wear Metro in 1980.
With the opening came a dramatic re-think of the area's bus services.

When the Metro opened it was claimed to be the hub of the UK's first integrated public transport system. Metro was intended to cover trunk journeys, while buses were reoriented toward shorter local trips, integrated with the Metro schedule, to bring passengers to and from Metro stations, using unified ticketing.

Much was made of Metro's interchange stations such as Four Lane Ends and Regent Centre, which combined a large parking facility with a bus and Metro station
Passengers complained that Metro integration was pursued overzealously, and for example, bus passengers to Newcastle Upon Tyne from the south would be forced to change to Metro in Gateshead ...
... for a short trip, rather than have the bus route continue for a short distance into Newcastle.
Slowly but surely, and rapidly accelerated with privatisation, buses returned to City Centre access. People simply didn't like the hassle of changing.

And so to Sheffield.

Following a parliamentary act in 1985 authorising the scheme, the Supertram line was built by the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) at a cost of £240 million, and opened in stages in 1994/95. It was operated by South Yorkshire Supertram Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary company of SYPTE.

Soon after opening it was obvious that the system was on the verge of being a complete disaster. It was a "political" line, designed to promote urban regeneration; this meant that its services were initially non-commercial. For example, buses from Halfway were quicker than the tram.
The decision to route a "main line" via Norfolk Park came at about the same time as the City Council was deciding to demolish all the tower blocks that would provide its passengers!
The continental-style ticket system with sales from unreliable machines or nearby retailers and tickets which needed validation before boarding, was unpopular from the start. Many Sheffielders enjoyed a free ride!
In December 1997, the operation was transferred to Stagecoach for £1.15 million. Stagecoach gained the concession to maintain and operate the Supertram trams until 2024. Patronage has grown from 7.8 million passenger journeys in 1996/97, to 15.0 million in 2011/12. In 2014/15 it carried 11.5 million passengers.

Stagecoach introduced a "normal" ticket system with conductors and, very soon, added their first Supertram Link bus service. This ran from the Middlewood tram terminus (in the north west of the city) to the town of Stocksbridge ...
... where it looped through the main housing estates. It competed directly with the long-standing Sheffield route 57 ...
... leading eventually to First Bus' capitulation.
Stagecoach's replacement 57 now runs via Worrall before joining the main road at Oughtibridge.
Recently the Stocksbridge Supertram Link service has changes from a ten minute frequency round a one way loop to every 20 minutes alternate ways round.
Some evening journeys have also been extended in Sheffield to run from the tram terminus, alongside the tram route terminating at Hillsborough shopping centre.
The "good thing" about this Super Tram Link, however, is that it does stop right next to the trams at Middlewood.
Interchange could not be easier.

Less helpful, however, is Stagecoach's journey planner. It does not recognise traditional estate names ...
... and makes you wait an unnecessarily extra ten minutes at Middlewood.
The connecting bus is at 1543.

But the easy interchange probably means that you won't bother with a journey planner.

Information on through fares is decidedly unhelpful!
But the hardest thing is to find anything about Supertram Link on the Supertram web site. Unless fbb is being thick (again), you have to go to "Sitemap" and peruse a long list.
Perhaps this difficulty is one reason why people are less than keen to interchange?

Tomorrow we look at Links 2 and 3.

P.S. Embarrassing correction?  In fbb's Stagecoach journey planner example (above) fbb had typed Easy Whitwell. A comment writer (below) thought fbb was being a bit unfair expecting Stagecoach to find a non-existent place.

But it cannot find the corrected Eastt Whitwell either!
 Christmas Calendar 
Gospel writers Mark and John do not have any reference to the Nativity story. They both leap on to the start of Jesus' ministry some 30 years after the first Christmas. Mark begins with the arrival of Jesus cousin, John (The Baptist) and his call for repentance.

So John appeared in the desert, baptising and preaching. “Turn away from your sins and be baptised,” he told the people, “and God will forgive your sins.”
Many people from the province of Judea and the city of Jerusalem went out to hear John. They confessed their sins, and he baptised them in the Jordan River.

Clearly, the "do something" message implied that people needed to "do something" to make things better.

John's Gospel also begins with John (the Baptist) but he writes with a more "theological" message. For John, it is the image of light that is important.

God sent his messenger, a man named John, who came to tell people about the light, so that all should hear the message and believe. John was not the light; he came to tell about the light. This was the real light; the light that comes into the world and shines on all people.
The challenging question, however, is how does this change happen. How can God-on-Earth 2000  (plus) years ago make things better in 2017?

We need some very wise men to help us.
 Next "changing" blog : Friday 30th December 


  1. Easy Whitwell, fbb? Give Stagecoach a chance!

  2. Whoops! Thanks anon. But a correctly spelled East Whitwell doesn't work either! I inadvertently uploaded the wrong screenshot. Corrected in a P.S. above

  3. Traditional place names are problematic, and companies can't be expected to know what locals call every estate in the country. Even Google struggles to find East Whitwell without quotation marks, and generally leads to results for Whitwell or Stocksbridge.

    Where I live can be spelled as two words (usually the older residents) or one (usually the younger), and there is some debate as to where one suburb traditionally ends and another begins. The terminus is referred to by the bus company using the same terminology as the council. But the locals still refer to it after the name of the now-closed pub next to the bus stop.

    Would I expect to find my stop using local parlance? Probably not.

  4. It is technically very simple to link a wide range off stop names to one timetable location. This was done crudely in xephos and is done more tidily in GoTimetable. This any name can be used to identify journeys and times. NaPTAN is currently a big burden which hampers search unnecessarily.

    1. Technically simple, yes, but that still means someone has to investigate local names for every estate (and bus stop?) in the country.