Wednesday, 26 April 2017
Better, Bit By Bit (3)
Brave New World
One of the overriding perceptions from fbb's visit to Weymouth is of a First Bus company that is trying very hard to do a good job. Obviously that "good job" has to focus on profit, but as Roger French wrote in his Buses article, "delight the passengers and the profits will follow!"
But, in order to "delight", you have to be brave and innovative. The bus industry, plagued by Government pressures and the rule of the accountant, has become risk averse. Indeed the "old" pre-Fearnley First bus was so rigidly controlled by profit margin diktat from Aberdeen that all initiative and inventiveness was effectively stamped on with great venom.
So fbb's open top 501 runs all weekends and bank holidays from Easter to May 20th ...
... then daily until the end of September, enhanced to hourly in the peak summer (school) holidays. The bravery was seen last Saturday in poor loading on the 1210 and, as fbb supped his mugga and enjoyed his cheese scone, the 1410 passed by completely empty.
This season, a new route from Bowleaze cove is open top and starts on 20th May and runs till the end of the School summer hols.
This is in addition to the 503 ...
... which has a very long season and in enhanced to every 20 minutes from the end of May to the beginning of September. The area has the massive Waterside caravan park ...
... the Riviera hotel ...
... and the not very fantastic Fantasy Island.
Shouldn't the 500 be merged with the 503 and go 100% open top?
The other "brave" innovation is service 510; brave and slightly mystifying.
Our knowledgeable reader will recognise that this route looks a bit like the existing hourly X53.
On the map it is the DARK MAROON line running from Weymouth via Abbotsbury to Bridport and on to Axminster. The new 510 follows much the same route with a diversion via the picturesque National Sailing Centre and nearby container yard ...
... then nipping in to various holiday parks before setting off into picturesque countryside.
Thereafter it is almost an X53 ...
... with just a minor diversion to the Sub Tropical Gardens at Abbotsbury.
The other "thing" about the 510 is that it is the only route which does not accept OAP passes.
Old crusties will have to pay £6 single - OUCH. fbb and his cronies will undoubtedly stick to the X53!
Not brave, but interesting, is the new service 5. Last Saturday, fbb left the Mrs at Crossways for her prayer and bible study day and proceeded to Weymouth by train. But from May 20th he could go by bus.
This is not, despite first impressions, a brave new commercial service started to garner much fine gold from the residents of Dick O' Th' Banks Road. Although Crossways has expanded in recent years, it is hardly profitable bus territory.
fbb guesses that it is a replacement for Damory 101 ...
... won on re-tender by First. Apart from the first trip, Damory currently runs hourly as below.
From May, First's 5 offers a similar hourly service between Crossways and Dorchester but extended to start from Weymouth.
At the Weymouth end, new route 5 joins service 4 from Preston into town; an evening 4B provides "short workings" to Warmwell.
So when fbb takes the good wife to Crossways again, he will be able to trundle into Weymouth or Dorchester by bus.
Over the last few years fbb has noticed a steady improvement at Weymouth, First is slowly recovering from a disastrous and largely pointless strike and shows every sign of picking up Roger French's mantra and "delighting the passengers".
Three rousing cheers!
Or perhaps only two rousing cheers. Service 501 to Portland is currently only running on Satudays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. But according to the First Bus web site ...
... service 501 501 is running on Mondays to Fridays until further notice. Aren't we all glad that everything is on-line?
Next EMT blog : Thursday 27th April