Monday, 2 January 2017

People Don't Like Change(ing) - Part 4

Supertram Link 3
fbb and other "bus watchers" were surprised when SL3 started. It seem an unlikely candidate for success from the start. It linked the Halfway tram route to Killamarsh. Now the tricky piece of info is that Killamarsh is in Derbyshire (where be dragons) and is not part of South Yorkshire.

The area was a collection of small mining villages with, at one time, three railway stations!
For donkey's years it had service 26 to Sheffield via Manor Top. This became 262 in the PTE renumbering scheme and later 260 as services were reorganised to serve the growing new town of Mosborough. The former sign from Sheffiel's Central Bus Station, adorning fbb's garden fence, had just recently blown off in high winds.

Killamarsh also grew with new housing filling the gaps between the old communities of Westthorpe, Upperthorpe and High Moor spreading down to the old road to Sheffield viz Station Road.

So it was that the tram terminus was only just "up the road" from Killamarsh yellow blob, top left).
So the Stagecoach SL3 was a bit of a surprise because, instead of being a one-bus (possible two-bus) shuttle from Halfway it needed an expensive four buses to serve Crystal Peaks, the areas shopping centre.
Clearly, Stagecoach was hoping to get good business from Killarmarsh's shoppers as they enjoyed the B and C-list shops.

But it didn't just serve Crustal Peaks; the tram connection was at Moss Way, one tram stop back from the shopping centre.
Interchange was not as obvious or as convenient as SL1 at Middlewood and the later version of SL2 at Malin Bridge. Here is Moss Way "interchange" stop ...
... and you can just make out the tram shelter in the top left behind the undergrowth.
When fbb tried the route, he spotted the waiting bus as the tram crossed Moss Way, he alighted in a sprightly fashion and nipped slickly to the main road, just in time to see the "connecting" bus drive off.
The route serves new-ish housing in the Sothall "township", also served by  T M Travel service 30 every half an hour through to Sheffield.
From here the route moves to Rother Valley Way ...
... an area of scrub land and light (very light!) industry. The major employer is Stagecoach who have their depot there (entrance on the left of this shot.
The route is completed by a loop of the main housing areas of Killamarsh. 

So the second surprise was that the SL3 ran every ten minutes!
The non surprise came in November 2015 as part of the great Partnership Improvements (i.e Cut-Backs) when the service dropped to a two bus service 72 every 20 minutes.
The route was unchanged.
At the same time, it lost its Tram Link designation and, apparently its through fares. When fbb travelled on the original SL3, he was one of two passengers to Killamarsh and the only one to transfer from the tram. His return route at about 1600 ...
... was also a taxi for one and nobody for the tram. The November 2015 changes would seem to mean that any idea of tram/bus integration was an utter failure.

The reduction in frequency and the lack of integration on the revised 72 would seem to have been a "death-knell" policy. So bus watchers were not surprised with the announcement that the service was being withdrawn from the end of January 2017.

Needless to say this news has been greeted with apoplexy by the local press and a few well-chosen and vociferous residents.
The number 72 bus which connects Killamarsh to the popular Crystal Peaks shopping centre will be cut from January 29. The announcement has left dozens of residents disappointed and angry.

Resident Peter Howarth, 61, of Nethermoor Lane, Killamarsh, said: “This bus is absolutely vital for the community. It is absolutely paramount. It has been well used - there is no two ways about it. It is particularly the elderly that I am worried about. There are a lot of elderly people who rely on this bus to get around. It is a lifeline for the community.”

Stagecoach replied as you would expect.

John Young, commercial director at Stagecoach Yorkshire, said: “After looking carefully at all the options available to us, we can confirm we will be removing the current service 72. This is regrettable and the decision was taken as a last resort. Unfortunately the service has not been viable for some considerable time. Last year we revised the service to operate every 20 minutes, using two buses instead of four, but this was insufficient for it to be able to cover its costs of operation.

But the withdrawal is not complete. There will still be a service 72 after the end of January.

But that must wait for another blog later this week.
APL Coaches, who operate buses in Wiltshire and are based in Swindon, ceased trading at the end of December. Because of the holidays, details are sparse at the moment but fbb is on the case. More tomorrow, hopefully.
 Next bust Bus blog : Tuesday 3rd January 


  1. Do you mean APL Travel?

  2. County Connect who were based in West Kent also ceased trading in mid December. They operated two school services to Tunbridge Wells and various shopping services to Bluewater, Gravesend and Maidstone. Information is sketchy but the shopping services do not appear to have been replaced.

    1. County Connect were advised by Kent County Council that Kent Freedom passes would no longer be reimbursed following an issue with a driver on one of their schools services.
      CC then took the decision to stop operating.
      They recently went to PI, but they have stated that this is unconnected to whatever decision was taken.
      The people running CC are teenagers, and they've made some classic mistakes in their inexperience. No doubt the new TC will take a fairly dim view of these events when she calls them back in.

  3. From Faresaver Buses news:
    "Following the announcement on 30th December that APL Travel has ceased trading we will take on the operation on the 33/X33 service between Devizes and Chippenham." ... with no changes.