Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Times of Buses - Yah Boo, We Won't Tell You!

That's Travel South Yorkshire!
First are really keen for you to use their buses this Christmas ...
... which is why South Yorkshire has the worst holiday bus service of any of the large urbanised districts in the UK. Here, for example, is Birmingham

Christmas Eve
Saturday timetables will operate. 
From lunchtime onwards some high frequency routes will be reduced slightly. 
Normal evening timetables will operate but night buses will not operate. 

Christmas Day
No buses will operate. 

Boxing Day
Sunday timetables will operate until approximately 18:00. 
Some routes will operate until late evening but night buses will not run.  

Tuesday 27th December
Sunday timetables will operate and night buses will run. 

Wednesday 28th - Friday 30th December
Saturday timetables will operate with extra early journeys on some routes. 
Night buses will operate. 

New Year's Eve
Saturday timetables will operate. 

New Year's Day
Sunday timetables will operate until approximately 18:00. 
Some routes will operate until late evening and night buses will operate. 

It's not just that Sheffield's service is the worst, the biggest problem is that the key bus times are a total secret.

Here is the very pretty Travel South Yorkshire on-line "leaflet" for Sheffield.

It tells us that there are no buses on Christmas Day (fair enough) and special services on Boxing Day and New Years Day, Timetables are provided for these two special days and fbb will take a look at these later.

We are also told, that, as is a faitly common policy, services will not run on the evening of 24th or 31st. So, returning to First's seasonal publicity, this means that going car-less to your knees up is impossible. This is a really positive way to discourage drink driving by having no buses on the big party nights.
O.K., you can't blame the bus companies if services at these times lose money, but you can blame the corporate woolly thinking of the disconnected agencies which don't bring into their calculations the total cost to society of having no reasonably-priced means of getting home.

But, so be it. We are where we are. We need to plan our visits to Aunt Aggie etc for the afternoon, a nice tea and one of the last buses home.

But when are the last buses?

Here is Stagecoach's web site for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
There are NO TIMES for the Christmas Eve shut down.

But there is a link to the TSY non-leaflet which customers can download; because we cannot be bother to provide a printed leaflet.

And, as we might guess from the Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster leaflet reviewed yesterday (read again) ...

Christmas Eve - Saturday 24 December 2016
Bus - Saturday service on most routes with last departures between 1800 and 1930 with the following exception: Powells - Last journeys on service 87 between 1400 and 1600.
Tram - Saturday service with early finish around 1800.
Train - Saturday service with last departures between 1900 and 2000. Certain journeys between Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport will be amended. Please check your journey before travelling.

... the on-line non-leaflet is no help whatsoever. The non-information for New Years Eve is equally "non".

Heaven help the passenger who wants to use Powells service.

Last journeys on service 87 between 1400 and 1600.

fbb has absolutely NO IDEA what that might mean and, he suspects, neither does the compiler of the "leaflet"!

In case you wondered, there is nothing at all on First's site. Christmas, it would appear, is cancelled.

fbb is almost lost for words - but not quite!

It is a disgrace that the Sheffield Bus non-Partnership is so cavalier with its customers. The idea that you would make a drastic alteration to the timetable AND THEN KEEP IT A SECRET is indicative of the gross incompetence of all concerned.

Partnership heads (i.e. Travel South Yorkshire!) should roll - but they won't because senior management neither understands nor cares.

It is highly significant that Stagecoach Supertram (do we run buses as well?) ...
... and T M Travel ...
... neither of which is a member of the bus partnership, have both published more helpful information. fbb understands that the tram publication is (or will be) available as a real printed leaflet (a jolly good idea, Sheffield Bus non-Partnership) but does not know about T M Travel.

fbb has winged a request for "proper" last bus times to First and Stagecoach and, to their credit, First have responded promptly. thanks all concerned.

Perhaps this information will eventually appear on the company web site?

And thanks to some really hard work by the GoTimetable Sheffield team all the data currently available will be in place very soon, hopefully tomorrow. A few "display" issues are outstanding but a couple of screenshots will illustrate what will be available.

Timetables for Boxing Day and New Years Day will be added ...
... and times for the Christmas Eve and New Years Eve early shut down will be shown in the index display.
It would appear that GoTimetable Sheffield may be the only place to find these early shut-down times.

This blog is shorter than originally planned because fbb's input to GoTimetable involved busy tapping and typing from 0800 to 1700 leaving less time han usual to complete the past. The omitted bit is a few comments on the actual level of service on Boxing Day and New Years Day.

This will now appear tomorrow.

Last journeys on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve have just appeared on the Stagecoach Sheffield web site. Hooray! Travel South Yorkshire please note.
But nothing for services operated by Stagecoach Chesterfield and Mansfield.  That leaves Stagecoach service 43, 44, 50, 53, 70, 71 and X17 shrouded in mystery. Perhaps you have to go to Chesterfield to find these?
Advent Calendar
So the gift of "free will" seems to bring the consequence of "bad stuff"; and for however many thousands of years passed from pre-history to the end of what we call The Old Testament there is a roller-coaster ride of Good News and Bad News, Success and Failure, Progress and Regression.

Time and time again, holy bog guys (the prophets) poured out their vision of a better future. Here is Isaiah again:-

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decode by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
And in a challenging vision of Peace on Earth ...
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopards will lie down with the goat. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Surely this vision is totally unrealistic. There is certainly no sign of it in today's' world.

The world will never be like this - it is just unnatural and beyond belief, surely? Unless, of course, Isaiah and his like were looking far beyond conventional human existence?
 Next Seasonal Service blog : Wednesday 7th December 


  1. In 1988 and 1989 SYPTE paid for an extensive Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve services, with good publicity. Use on 24th in particular was minimal. As long as this wretched government pursues its austerity policies and squeezes PTE/CA and other local government budgets, this is hardly the best use of cash.
    What is more surprising is that,now that for better or worse Boxing Day has become an extension of the Christmas shoppathon, that commercial services are still seen as such an impossibility-
    daytime custom on at least some Sheffield services last year was healthy.

  2. Agreed Dennis - but how does Birmingham manage? According to a local contact the Eve evening services are loaded much as weekday evening services - i.e not packed, but adequate. Ot is it a case on bus operators policy forcing custom away "by tradition".

  3. Can tell you were really struggling for an angle on this but pleased for you that you found one in the end.

  4. In regard to your stop press, the Chesterfield times are now also available as of 13:00. I think you may have jumped the gun a bit with this series (although granted, still nowt from First).

    I think we have to remember that buses are not (yet) automatic. They need a driver. And maybe that driver might like to be at home with their family on Christmas and New Years Eves? Or will only work for drastically increased wages? Or those volunteers are too few to provide anything more than the odd bus here or there? Without knowing what Sheffield is like, I wonder whether the high levels of diversity in the West Midlands means there are many more drivers willing to work, and work for everyday wages (not treble time at normal fare levels)?

  5. Lies - if the information is not available anywhere how have Go Timetable managed to get their hands on the info? Open data platform perhaps?

  6. I'll attempt to be balanced....

    Clearly, some businesses are better at clarifying their proposals in advance than others. Giving 3 weeks notice should be achievable and sad that firms not just in South Yorkshire fail to do so.

    Getting rather bored of the FBB puff pieces for his own app. Seems to be very much taking a particular angle in order to justify self promotion. Barely interesting the first time, certainly not the fourth, fifth or sixth time.

    Some firms can justify commercial operation on Boxing Day but who knows the local arrangements on each and every operator (and their trade union partners).

    Lastly, if FBB wants to incorporate a bit of religious knowledge at the end of his blog, then fine. We all know FBB is a devout soul and it is easily avoided for non believers. I may take issue with some of the intrinsic beliefs of the Public Transport aspect (especially that life was inordinately better in the eternal sunlit uplands of the 1950s) and that having a printed bus timetable booklet is on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. However, I can live with FBB's sharing of Christmas history - you never know, you may learn something

  7. VOSA (aka the Traffic Commissioners) requires just 21 days notice of special timetables that operate only over the Festive period (and this has been ever so since 1986).

    There is a fine balance between giving adequate and excessive notice to Joe Public, since JP doesn't often read to the end (or even from the start).
    We gave six weeks public notice of a timetable change once ('cos the Boss wanted us to), and promptly received a complaint that the bus didn't turn up!! We explained that the start date was actually five weeks hence, and were roundly reamed out for causing confusion!!!

    I've always reckoned that 2-3 weeks notice is about right, so for changes during the Festive week, details should only now be creeping into the public domain.

    We operate commercially on Boxing Day (with a special timetable 0830-1830) as that seems to be when reasonable numbers of passengers want to travel. We used to operate a full Sunday service, but the buses were quite literally empty after c1900 for the rest of the night. Interestingly, we've found that fewer passengers travel on New Years Day than on Boxing Day, so we're running the same special timetable on NYD as well - we'll review after operation.

    Horses for Courses, frankly!