Monday, 24 April 2017

Better, Bit By Bit (1)

Perceptions Perplex
A letter in the current Buses magazine bewails, amongst other things, the lack of consideration to and consultation with "the passenger".
And we all know that "consultation", in business-speak, means we're telling you what we are going to do; please feel free to comment; but we'll be doing it anyway.

The main drift of the letter is that buses are too slow because they wiggle round estates to squeeze the last drop of revenue from their customers.
But surely, the big groups have progressively withdrawn from "wiggles" and thrown their resources at "services which offer an opportunity for business development." (Translation : to make more profit for our shareholders.)
Likewise the big groups are now dumping whole networks which don't make enough money.
As one (anonymous) executive confided to fbb "Bad for the passenger, but good for the business." Very true.

Then, on Saturday, one of the pray-ers and studiers got into conversation with Mrs fbb and fbb (the latter invited to join the "monstrous regiment of women" - John Knox - for tea an cake after study day had ended.)

Her granddaughters, although earning good money, couldn't get on the property ladder because the wealthy Londoners were buying up everything in sight as second homes; so the government should ban second homes! fbb mentioned that economies in lifestyle can help, like getting rid of the car and using public transport.

This provoked another outburst. "Well, you would lose your job if you had to use public transport where we live", she railed.

"And which rural backwater of the UK might that be?" thought fbb.

Answer:- Bath!

Back to Buses mag and the "Inside Track" comment column, this month by Roger French ex. big chief of Brighton and Hove buses.
His theme, in general, is that MPs do not have a clue abut buses. He has been listening to the debate on the forthcoming Buses Act.
But no MP was willing to explain how the new world of the Buses Act provisions would be funded.
His conclusion is what you would expect from the former Brighton supremo; the residents of Sheffield might not agree!
Most people, passengers and managers alike would agree with the last sentence.

So how were fbb's perceptions in Weymouth on Saturday?

Varied, but mostly good. On arrival by train, he found departure screens and town centre map, plus plenty of blue "pedestrian" signs to the main bus stops.
The lack of a list of departure stands at Kings Statue caused fbb some short term grief and he recommends that this list be displayed in all the shelters.
Crazily, there were no timetables displayed at the Kings Statue terminal, but at least the departure screens were all working.

On the positive side, however, there were posters promoting several key services. The 24 hour service on route 1 ...
... now runs all night on Thursday/Friday in addition to Friday/Saturday and Saturday/Sunday. Can any other medium sized seaside resort claim a 24 hour bus service of any kind?

Service 10 and service 4 also have posters ...
... as do all the Summer Seasonal services that have started earlier than in previous years.
As if to emphasise quality, routes 2 and 10 are operated with vehicles adorned by a coloured "wedge" matching poster and timetable publicity.
Then there's the excellent company timetable book. Sadly, it is a timetable book with a snag. There is no obvious place to obtain one. On Saturday, fbb found his box of delights on the service 501; but it was simply a cardboard box plonked unceremoniously in the luggage rack. It wasn't even labelled "New Timetable; Help Yourself".

Later in the season, when the tourists begin to arrive in droves, how will they discover where they might be tempted to travel?

As Roger French wrote

"There are still many things to be done." Too right buddy!
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Four-Track Ferroequinological Fantasy
The historic display of trains past, present a future paraded north of York yesterday was a superb event. Thanks to a correspondent on Twitter, fbb can reprint a superb photo of the four abreast, and in brighter colour than the aerial films shown on most TV news programmes.
The train of the future has been dubbed Azuma by the PR people. Apparently this is a Japanese word; but fbb prefers the anglicised version. "Travel on the East Coast Main Line in A Zoomer - our new train"
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 Next Weymouth blog : Tuesday 25th April 

4 comments:

  1. Your comment in re bus timetable books is apposite . . . . I've visited Weymouth over some years, and have always struggled to find any printed timetables.
    The old TIC would never display them, but a battleaxe would grudgingly rummage in a cupboard and let you have one copy (with many hundreds of copies visible!).
    The new TIC isn't . . . now just a display rack at the far end of the Promenade and not worth the walk.
    The Library disclaimed all knowledge of bus times, even though a rack in the entrance would take up no space at all.
    Nothing available at the station . . . again, a rack would be easy to manage, just across the road from the Bus Garage!
    Something of an own goal for FirstBus, I'm afraid . . . great to produce a quality book, but useless if they're hidden away. Perhaps fbb could mention to Mr F at HQ?

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  2. Just along the coast at Poole, morebus services n1 n2 to Bournemouth, Castlepoint and Southbourne run overnight six days a week. In fact the overnight gap between end of service Sunday arrival at Castlepoint (0112) and the first departure from Castlepoint Monday (0418) puts these services almost marketable as 24/7.

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  3. My perception is opposite. The concentration of profitable services seems to have been on high frequency things going round the houses (nothing wrong with that in itself) but at the expense of faster 'straight line' services, hence the perception that buses are very, very slow. Maybe this springs from obsessions with revenue per mile. If a service is fast it has no chance!

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