Sunday, 11 June 2017

Sunday Oddments

Carnival Chaos Confusion
Yesterday (Saturday 10th June) was the date for the annual Northampton Carnival. fbb was often taken, in years gone by, to enjoy this spectacle by his devoted Maiden Aunt.
By today's opulent standards it was quaint and amateur with a mixture of trade floats, community efforts and individual "fancy dress".
There were bands as well.

Bus services were disrupted as the floats passed, but drivers just tagged on to the end of the parade and peeled off as soon as the roads were clear. The inspectors on Wood Hill sorted it all out with skill and experience.

Yesterday, apparently, things were different. the route was quite simple. Starting from near the old Racecourse on Kettering Road, the parade moved into town ...
... where it performed a loop.
Young fbb used to sit on a wall at the junction of Derngate and York Road. The wall is still there!
The jollity now returns to its star point via the Wellingborough Road although the loop has changed and no longer passes the young fbb's temporary pedestal.

Here is Stagecoach's notice as forwarded by Northampton bus watcher Alan.
For those unfamiliar with the geography of fbb's former home town, these arrangements are explained on  map.
Each of these termini is something over ONE MILE from  the town centre.

Are they having a laugh? Why cannot the buses be diverted round and across the worst of the route, controlled by experienced inspectors like in the olden days.

fbb is sure his readers can supply the answer. If not, just re-arrange this well known phrase or saying.


The Superb Smell of Steam
Remember that mixture of oil, grease, steam and coal that filled our lungs as we waited eagerly for our train? fbb remembers with some affection.
There was something special about the experience; to which could be added coal smuts in the eye as we peered out of the window. Now you cannot even peer out of the window.

First First Customer Service Improvement Director
A press release appeared on Thursday last announcing a positive new appointment by First Bus.
The news continues with a soundbite from Elaine herself.
Whilst fbb is encouraged to see a move to better customer service as part of a bus company's plans, there is a slight fear when he reads "quality First Bus multi-channel" in the above quote.

When Ms Rosscraig was with Stagecoach, this report appeared.
Was this the short-lived ICE scheme?
Will the lovely Elaine ensure that First South Yorkshire produces SOME publicity instead of the present almost nothing at all? Does "multi channel" include printed timetables and maps? Or will her efforts all be lost in the mire of electronic on-line delivery?

And managers are getting younger every year!

Super Stop Signs
At the conclusion of a recent Cornwall branding blog (read again), fbb asked if any of his readers had any piccies of the new livery and stops for real. Correspondent Roger was way out west recently and sent a whole batch.

Roger obliged.
His ride was from St Ives bus station ...
... on service A3, formerly 300 but now hourly seven days a week. Here he spotted the first example of Atlantic Coaster stop branding ...
... alongside Tinner, replacing former route 18. A typical flag was snapped at St Just ...
... and the bus continued through from Lands End to Penzance as an A1 (formerly 1A).
Here is a branded stop at Porthcurno ...
... and a combo stop back in Penzance; this time with the "Mousehole" branding for the No M6 bus to - erm - where does it go?
Roger's tour ended at Penzance where th bus station is having a make-over.
Roger reported that the route and the buses were all branded and the whole lot was very tidy and professional. One or two stops, he noted, were either incomplete, blank or had faded to blank. Mayeb they ran out of vinyls?
He did not report on loadings, but the pictures suggest that passenger numbers were not great. But it is still early days for this brave and positive development.
But many thanks for responding to the fbb appeal for photos.

 Next Wantage Update blog : Monday 12th July 


  1. What happened for several hours yesterday afternoon in Northampton, and what the Stagecoach traffic notice failed to make clear, was that buses ran to and from the bus station by diversionary routes as follows (for those with a street map)

    Kettering Road routes – Barrack Road, St. Georges Avenue, Kingsley Road, rejoin route at White Elephant p.h.

    Billing and Wellingborough Road routes – Drapery, Bridge Street, Victoria Promenade, Bedford Road, Rushmere Road, Park Avenue South, rejoin route at Abington Park.

  2. I happened to travel through Royal Wootton Basset the other Saturday, carnival day. On boarding the Stagecoach West 55 at Swindon boarding was quite slow, but it soon became apparent that the driver was warning 'Bassett bound passengers that he may have to divert (we were due there at the time the carnival was expected to move off, and there are various different diversions depending on where the parade is). The lady ahead of me in the queue presented her concessionary pass, the machine bleeped its approval and the driver asked where she was travelling to. "Wootton Bassett" was the reply (she didn't need to add 'what's it to do with you, young man' as the tone of her voice said that!), to which the driver asked "where in Wootton Bassett?" Indignantly the passenger replied "well, the High Street!" The driver then explained about the carnival and the possible need to divert, which brought a "harrumph" from the passenger. I exchanged a knowing "busman's glance" with the driver and presented my Explorer ticket.
    And off we went, in heavy rain, to Binknoll (pronounced Bi-noll) Lane where a Stagecoach Route Supervisor was sheltering from the downpour. He flagged down the bus, explained the current situation to the driver and as we went to the roundabout and did a 180 the Supervisor explained to passengers on both decks why and where we were diverting. He then left the bus at the stop opposite where he boarded to wait for the next one. Our arrival at the High Street was a little early having missed part of the route, but rather than waiting time there we were moved on by a Police Officer lest we get trapped by the road closure. We waited time at the next available lay-by to keep the TC happy.
    Now, you might recall that Swindon Corporation, now owned by GoAhead and renamed "Thamesdown, Swindon's Bus Company" is running a competitive service to Royal Wootton Bassett, and just like Stagecoach they had a Passenger Information poster on every stop. But they didn't appear to have anyone on the ground with several R1 buses visible trapped by road closures as we swept past on parallel roads.

    1. Big tick for Stagecoach, but to be fair they've been running the route for ever and have the experience to draw on.
      Little tick for Thamesdown, but it's their first year, and they'll learn and do better next year.
      No tick at all for Mrs Bucket (pronounced Bouquet), but then we're not really surprised, are we?!