Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Right Image - Part 2

The Positives of Partnership?
In the current issue of Buses magazine, Julian Peddle (eminence grise of many an independent bus operation) extols the virtues of Partnership. He references Bristol, Leigh (of guided busway fame) and proposals in Leeds.
He doesn't mention Oxford, where Stagecoach have begun the break from cosiness with GoAhead and introduced a competing service to Woodstock ...
... with all the now obligatory extra "stuff".
Stagecoach Oxford have also stepped outside the joint ticketing chumminess by introducing their own electronic card-type thingey.
Nor does he mention Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley.
In all the South Yorkshire communities, the Partnership has delivered reductions of service and yet another raft of day, week and monthly fares offers to befuddle passengers. In Sheffield a new and unpopular network of services began in 2015.

It is hard to see any of this offering a tangible benefit to passengers.

One opportunity that "working together" might bring, you would have thought, is better quality publicity. The main protagonists in the deal can, when they put their minds to it, print some very attractive leaflets.

Here is Stagecoach's offering from Cranbrook, a "new town" development for Exeter.
And here is the equally attractive front of First's leaflet for their new service 5 in Weston-super-Mare.
The ludicrous decision of South Yorkshire PTE to stop printing any leaflets at all has thrown the problem back to the operators. So how is the partnership managing?


Here is a Stagecoach leaflet for the service between Sheffield and Eckington.
These rarely appear in Sheffield because it is a Stagecoach Chesterfield route and the folk from the town of the crooked spire begin to panic when they cross the border from Derbyshire. The leaflet is folded to A6 size.

Here is a Stagecoach leaflet for the 265 Sheffield to Barnsley route; apparently not par of the Sheffield or the Barnsley Partnerships.
It is folded to ⅓ of A4. These have been seen in Sheffield, but were not so evident in Barnsley after the change on 29th January.

Now, this is also a Stagecoach leaflet for the X19.
It is folded to A7 size but does contain a very simplified map and some season ticket prices.

And this is also a Stagecoach leaflet.
It claims allegiance to the Sheffield Bus Partnership, is folded to ⅓ of A4 and offers no map or fares information. Service 88 is operated by Stagecoach alone, nothing shared with First.

It contains some really silly information. The heading says the buses run to Bents Green (they do) but the timetable says they terminate at Brincliffe, about a mile and a quarter short of the terminus.

fbb as repeatedly reported this nonsense to Stagecoach and the PTE. A very senior Stagecoach manager responded in an off-hand matter, "Oh, I thought they had sorted that out." They still haven't. The PTE man (a lesser minion) offered the feeble excuse that the PTE "had to publish what Stagecoach registered." It doesn't "have to"!

Potty again.

So far, then, in our trawl of the Partnership provision of publicity, we have FOUR Stagecoach leaflets in four very different shapes, sizes and styles.

Not to be outdone, here is a First Bus leaflet.
Again it is A7 size and pink (for First Bus) with a blue partnership logo. It has a good map and (whisper only, in case anyone is listening) a full fare table. The routes are exclusively operated by First, no involvement of Stagecoach at all.

One bonus is that it does show the service as terminating at Sheffield interchange ...
... whereas the PTE/TSY on-line version tells you that the Interchange is unreachable.

And, to complete the collection, here is another A7 mini-leaflet.
It is in partnership blue and shows First and Stagecoach as "joint" operators. It was produced by First Bus, has a good map but no fare table. Why no fares?

Simply because this is a joint route but with both operators free to charge different fares for the same journey - and they do!

fbb has been invited to several meetings in Sheffield to discus publicity and, latterly, to promote GoTimetable Sheffield. At all these meetings, neither PTE nor operators have seen any major problem with printed or on-line publicity. Promised "improvements" have never happened.

Indeed, one of our Sheffield correspondents writes thus:-

(a) It seems to be standard practice, now, to have printed leaflets available after the services have changed and never before.

(b) Once initial stocks are exhausted (usually after just  a few days) nothing is available.

(c) Some of the timetables in the leaflets are wholly misleading, especially where "repeat patterns" are given. The 83a, for example has a six minute variation hidden within at "at the same times each hour" panel.


fbb does not usually deal in rumours but the word on the street in Sheffield is that, whilst the Partnership has improved First Bus' profitability, Stagecoach is still struggling within the city. Will any of our readers be placing bets on the survival of the cosy (?) relationship? 

fbb reckons the Sheffield Partnership will collapse before then end of 2018.

Tomorrow, we take a look at a Sheffield bus leaflet that shouts quality and reliability. It doesn't even mention "partnership"!

 Next right image blog : Wednesday 22nd March 

1 comment:

  1. Stagecoach have just put up publicity on buses announcing a fare rise from 2 April.