Monday, 9 January 2017

What Goes Round, Comes Round?

News broke last year that First Bus planned to close its Midland Road depot in Rotherham.
This seemed a bit odd, because, over the years, First had moved a number of Sheffield services to operate from the Rotherham base,  It is huge.
Even with the Sheffield stuff it was far from fully occupied but "The Management" was there. The plan, it appears, is to move almost all of the work to Olive Grove in Sheffield.

Once known as "East Bank" this depot has looked very tired in recent years.
It is smaller that its Rotherham associate ...
... less than half the size but does have parking at the rear. It has less office space ...
... most of unused and deserted when fbb attended some meeting there last year.

How will it all work? Will all the management fit in? Unless First have found some overnight parking space in Rotherham, there will be an awful lo of expensive "light running" to get vehicles to their routes. Sounds expensive to fbb!

But the first signs of the change have appeared in the list of bus timetable changes from 29th January.

But we need just a little bit of background. When South Yorkshire PTE was formed a decision was taken to created one list of route numbers for the whole area. The scheme was (broadly) as follows:

  1 to 100 : Sheffield City services
101 to 149 : Rotherham
150 to 199 : Doncaster
200 to 299 : inter-District
300 to 399 : Barnsley

Although Yorkshire Traction, part of the National Bus Company, was not part of the PTE, their bosses were "persuaded to accept the county-wide scheme.

400 to 499 : Assorted schools
             and service from West Yorkshire
500 to 599 : Express services
             (White Rose which kept their "X")
600 to 699 : Schools
700 to 799 : Early morning buses
800 to 899 : Colliery services in Barnsley
             plus other bits
900 to 999 : Night buses

The scheme didn't always work out. Doncaster eventually ran out of numbers and had to use 400s for routes to Edlington; meanwhile Rotherham to Worksop kept its East Midlands 19.
But what was to be done about blinds. Sheffield Transport and Yorkshire Traction could show three numbers,
but Rotherham only two.
The gap between the two 7s is solid. The solution was to buy narrow numbers, based (so he claims) on a suggestion from a youthful fbb.
Thus 39 became 13 9 etc. Doncaster buses never had number blinds and often did not show them anyway. So new blinds with new numbers were installed.
But with privatisation and onwards it all fell apart until on about the year 2000 (not sure exactly when) even the dominant First Bus started using a separate two digit series for Sheffield, for Rotherham and for Doncaster.

A co-ordinated scheme no longer exists with three service 72s running into Sheffield ...
... and a fourth in Doncaster. 

It is a right mess.

But, from the end of January it is back to the future. Presumably to avoid duplication and to keep the confuser systems happy, all cosily conjoined at Olive Grove; guess what?

Many Rotherham routes run by First are having 100 added to their numbers.
So the former Corporation's 39 became 139
First renumbered it to 39
First are now re-renumbering it to 139.
Is this the beginning of a sensible county-wide numbering system?

OF COURSE NOT! Stagecoach 44 remains 44.
Is First's policy consistent?

OF COURSE NOT! 66 remains as 66 ...
... and Rotherham's 72 remains as 72 despite there being three more 72s in the county.

Will leaflets be produced for routes where the number has changed but the timetable remains the same?

 Next bus blog: Tuesday 10th January 

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