Friday, 30 December 2016

People Don't Like Change(ing) - Part 2

Supertram Link 2
Stannington was once  self-contained village up on the moors, above the smoke of the industrial valleys of Sheffield. Over the years it has grown a bit!
Traditionally served by Sheffield Transport routes 7 and 88 ...
... plus a relatively short-lived 87, formerly the 888!
These ultimately morphed into First Bus 81 and 82 with a brief excursion as 11 and 12.
But a competitive Stagecoach wanted a piece of the action and started Supertram Link 2.
Here it is all put together on a PTE map extract.
For the record, the old 87 became part of a much expanded service to Bradfield, formerly 16, now 61 and 62 circulars.

In the grand scheme of things as outlined in the gestation period of the tram plan, the route was due to go to Stannington; but the folk from the village on the hill were vociferous in their rejection of nasty clanging things in their quiet environment. So the tram terminated at an odd little one-stop stub at Malin Bridge.
The previous stop (Hillborough Interchange) is top right.

When the Link first started its connection with the tram was less than ideal. Here is the tram stop ...
... and well back there by the trees was where the "connecting" bus stood.
When fbb travelled on the route a few months after it started, he was one of two outbound passengers and the only returnee. The driver confessed that it was "very quiet" off-peak but busier at peak times Monday to Friday.

Nobody transferred from tram to bus or vice versa.

Later a new layby and bit of bus only road was constructed right next to the tram.
Then came the big Sheffield Bus Partnership improvement plan a k a significant service reductions. As originally announced, the SL2 was to be withdrawn completely, replaced by an unspecified set of "extra buses" on the 81/82.

In the great horse-trading exercise which went on behind closed doors but "brokered by the PTE" (to keep it legal) the SL2 survived. 

The 81/82 stayed where it was with a joint ten minute frequency and the new SL2 was reduced from every 10 to every 20.
Most journey have been extended to the Hillsborough interchange, making the route look more like a local Stanningon shoppers shuttle than an extension of the tramway.

But people do not like to change and it is easier to join an 81 or 82 all the way to or from town than it is to cope with the hassle of the change.

Will the SL2 survive another year? There are constant rumours of further cut-backs in Sheffield; neither of the two biggie groups is making a huge profit and footfall in the City centre seems to be in constant decline.

fbb predicts that the SL2 will not see the new year out.

Supertram Link 3 and its successor finally disappears at the end of January; of which more in due course.

Odd Oxford Outreach
Until a few days ago your Chiltern train from Marylebone to Oxford would have only taken you to Oxford Parkway station. From here you could catch the Oxford Bus Park and Ride service 500 into town.
But from 12th of this month ...
... trains run into Oxford Station - although some would doubt the adjective "central"! No more need, then, to use the 500 ...
... which reverts to its lonely life as Water Eaton Park and Ride Bus. All trains that terminated at Parkway now run though. Here is the former Bicester "shuttle" at Platform 3.
The day before the train change, GoAhead Oxford Bus extended the 500 from Water Eaton to Woodstock, home of Blenheim Palace.
This is in competition with Stagecoach S3 ...
... which runs every 20 minutes Monday to Friday, every 30 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays.
The 500 is every 30 minutes seven days a week.

Our Northampton correspondent, who sent in the details, wonders whether this will be the start of a bus war in Oxford. Up to present a pally partnership has operated - presumably now being a little less pally.
 Christmas Calendar 
Those "wise men" are, by far, the most misquoted and misplaced potentates in the Christmas story. Here is Gospel writer Matthew:-

Soon afterwards, some men who studied the stars came from the East to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him.”
No mention of three - no mention of kings - no mention of assorted racial characteristics. And no camels; this particular ship of the desert was not domesticated at that time. And their names are a later "invention" with no Biblical support whatsoever.

They first went to Herod who was not a happy bunny ...

And so they left, and on their way they saw the same star they had seen in the East. When they saw it, how happy they were, what joy was theirs! It went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. They went into the house, and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped him.

"And they went to the house and saw the child". So no cattle shed and no baby. Because Herod ordered the slaughter of the children aged two years and below (based on the information given him by the savants), the inference is that the toddler Jesus was aged about 2.
Importantly, and doubtless remembered by those who have followed these snippets, these "magi" had researched the scriptures and pieced together the prophecies of God's Messiah.

One thing for sure; they weren't Jews. They were probably from Persia and may have been senior "wise men" from the Zoroastrian faith.

But they had not the slightest doubt that they were looking for a world-changing "Messiah".

But the full meaning of Christmas is centred on those three useless gifts.
 Next "Link" blog : Saturday 31st December 


  1. I trust there's a typo in your last sentence!

    The gifts of the Magi may have been unusual, but not "useless"

  2. Re Oxford. It's easy to get all conspiratorial whenever changes like this happen. The obvious thing to me is that the park and ride is providing a link from Woodstock to a another rail station with a direct line to London.

    It's the cheapest and obvious way of doing it, instead of having a bespoke service, just extend the park and ride to Woodstock

  3. I think that there might be a small skirmish coming over Woodstock in the New Year.
    Stagecoach S3 has run every 20 minutes for many years, and has had the road to itself.
    I suspect that the passenger loadings from Woodstock to Oxford keep the service in profit, as loadings north of Oxford aren't usually very good.
    The 500 will be seen as a good idea to provide a link from Woodstock to Oxford Parkway for tourists (especially those who've spent their all at Bicester Village just up the track).
    However, Stagecoach are introducing a new service 7 between Oxford and Woodstock from January, obviously in competition with 500.
    Are there enough passengers to sustain 7 BPH in Woodstock? Somehow I doubt it!
    In the longer term, perhaps 4 BPH from Woodstock, 2 BPH via Parkway and 2 BPH direct, would be sustainable.

    Just a side comment . . . . remember that bus companies aren't allowed to talk to each other concerning route planning . . . . the Competition Commission would have much to say!! In an ideal world, Stagecoach and Oxford Bus would have a quiet chat and reach a sensible compromise. If that still resulted in an overall service improvement, then the CC could be placated and wasteful competition removed. That's an ideal world, though, and we all know that it doesn't exist!!

  4. The current partnership was designed to fulfill OCC's wish to lower the number of buses in the centre. I believe at one point there was talk of banning them all to points such as Gloucester Green and The Plain, rather like Regent Street. It is worth noting that each operator has its own tickets as well as the partnership ones, so it pays to 'compete' on as many corridors as possible.

    The main purpose is undoubtedly to link Oxford Parkway with Woodstock and Blenheim Palace. Interestingly, coming from OXP, the two companies run on a 10-20-10-20 frequency, yet coming back (see below) it is 28-2-28-2. Someone has attempted to provide some sort of equality.

    The main reason for the poor frequency coming back appears to be because OBC are terminating in Woodstock, whilst SC are running up to Old Woodstock, which adds 11 minutes to the round trip (3 out, 3 stand, five back). Conversely, this means the close departure times from Oxford with the S3 once an hour are more spread out coming back - but the 7 only runs two minutes ahead of one S3 journey.

    Reason? This quote from the SC website may tell all: "We have been working on a number of schemes to make our Gold services in Oxfordshire even better to create new links which do not currently exist. A link between Woodstock, Kidlington, Oxford Parkway, Summertown and Oxford City Centre is part of our plans and one of those new links. Oxford Bus Company has beaten us to it.
    We believe that some customers may prefer a service to Oxford via Banbury Road, and, indeed, such a link might prove slightly quicker than the traditional route via the A44, Pear Tree and Woodstock Road. By starting this new service, we will find out and we will be asking customers to tell us what they prefer so that we can plan our any future changes to Gold S3 in the light of customer preferences." Seems like machinations may be SC internal, rather than SC/OBC competitive!

    It is also worth noting that the 7 will replace short workings on service S4 to Oxford Airport, so the overall gain is actually just one bus from SC. (3 S3 and 2 S4 now 3 S3, 1 S4 and 2 7).