Friday, 8 September 2017

Cowley Bridge Put Back

Kept Alive By Service 5
The current (from Sunday 3rd September) route map that concluded yesterday's blog shows, in simple terms what has happened. Service H now runs no further than St Davids Station and the "Cowley Bridge" estate is served by bus number 5.
Whereas the H was an Exeter city route, maintaining the tradition of lettered services that goes back to Exeter Corporation Transport days ...
... perpetuated by Devon General ...
... then by Harry Blundred's minibuses ...
... the 5 is a country bus running in from Crediton. Here is one at the stop close to the Cowley Bridge roundabout.
Some years ago, routes via Crediton (50, 51 and 315) were re-packaged as the 5 group.
Letter suffixes were added as follows:-
Four buses and hour ran between Crediton and Exeter ...
... but this was cut back to three an hour in a subsequent re-jig.
One an hour went via St David's station.

So this is what Stagecoach staff were reminded of in their newsletter.
We shall look at services to Pinhoe in a later blog; but for the time being, just note the phrase "diverted to serve Cowley Bridge".

The information for the public, c/o the Stagecoach Exeter web site, is a little more helpful.
Route H will now finish at St David’s Station. Route 5 will serve Cowley Bridge (Wrefords Lane / West Garth Road loop) and route D will continue to serve the University. Customers can also catch routes 5, 55 and 155 from Cowley Bridge Road.

But the new service 5 (group) timetable does not help at all.
If, having lost your service H to Cowley Bridge, you were looking for its replacement on a timetable, which journeys would you expect to provide a bus at the junction of Wrefords Lane and West Garth Road?
Simple? The 5A/B and the 5C serve Cowley Bridge and the 5 doesn't.

But the bus that runs via the Cowley Bridge (estate) loop is actually the plain un-suffixed service 5, the one bus in the group that is NOT timed at "Cowley Bridge".

The 5 and the former H refer to very different bits of "Cowley Bridge" but fbb would have thought that a time point at Wrefords Lane would have been essential to avoid confusion; combined, perhaps with the addition of the word "roundabout" to the "other" Cowley Bridge.

Not also that the 5 (replacement for H) does not run via St Davids Station but goes straight along New North Road.
From the stop outside Wetherspoon's "Imperial" ...
... you walk down Howell Road, cross St David's Hill and there is a footpath to the station.
Quite a trek if you want to "interchange" with a train.

Some months ago, Stagecoach instituted a "consultation", garnering opinions as to what the passengers' need were withing the City of Exeter. Now we all know that such an exercise, espoused with enthusiasm by today's bus management, usually means that cutbacks will follow.

For the residents of Cowley Bridge (H version, not 5) they have lost a link to St David's Station and had their service reduced from every 30 minutes to hourly.

Do turkeys vote for Christmas?

Bus back in Sheffield, newshound Roy has sought out another piece of "promotion" for the revised "Sheffield 2 Barnsley" (guess the new route number) bus service that started on Sunday.

In a galaxy far away, well, Sheffield Lane Top to be precise, lurks one of those rarities of 21st century life. It is a public phone box
It is there, honest, outside Iceland.
Opposite are the remains of "The Pheasant" and a little further north, down the hill towards Ecclesfield. used to be the Essoldo Cinema, formerly the Capitol.
Just to the right of the picture palace (now a carpet shop) ...
... was Sheffield Lane Top bus terminus - now occupied by a block of flats.

But back to the phone box.

Here it is (courtesy of Roy, thanks again) advertising the new bus service and snapped, appropriately, with a service 2 to Barnsley passing by.
Has anybody found any timetable leaflets yet?

 Next trams and trains blog : Saturday 9th September 


  1. The new timetable has a timing point at West Garth Road top, clearly served by the 5s. Surely this fulfills the need described in the subsequent paragraph - especially because it is exactly the same description as used on the old H timetable?

  2. I have read both parts of this blog twice... and I'm still not sure what the point is. Everything seems perfectly well explained to me, and I know almost nothing about buses in Exeter.

    perhaps FBB could enlighten us as to what, exactly, he is complaining about?

    I seem to recall using a "base number" without suffixes is fairly normal usage in Stagecoach Devon, and locals presumably know that.

    1. His blogs rarely have a point. Its just a lot of pent up frustration that the world moves on but he doesn't understand why.

      In FBB's world everyone else is wrong.

  3. Out of interest (whilst trying to work out why FBB consistently puts Cowley Bridge in inverted commas, when this notation is used by both Stagecoach and Devon County Council for the area in question), I came across the following two links:
    The headline doesn't match the reality, as it appears the Uni subsidise the D rather than the H!
    Extensive response to a Lib-Dem councillor by Stagecoach's Commercial Director. He explains at length that DCC's early release of half the information didn't help matters, and that passenger flows to the University from Cowley Bridge are actually quite low, "a small proportion of a low number", in fact! Note also the clear explanation of numbers, and the reference to the "5 and 5 group", reenforcing my point above, as well as the explanation as to why the 5 was chosen to divert: not just willy-nilly, but well-thought out as to which service in the group would be best diverted.

  4. The point (which clearly I did not make correctly) is that Cowley Bridge on the 5 summary is not the same as Cowley Bridge on the H. This problem is always present when District names are used on different routes.

    1. I see... a bit less bold italics, a bit more clarity?

      It is a problem, but given the degree of service changes, I doubt any bus user with a modicum of common sense would turn up at the previous bus stop and expect nothing to have changed other than the route number. A certain degree of taking responsibility for yourself has to come into play.

  5. Personally I commend Stagecoach for communicating these changes well in advance both in timetable and map format. They even attended the protest meetings to explain though admittedly their representatives didn't actually know their own routes in the case of the Pinhoe meeting. What's interesting is the H now gets a huge turn round time at St David's on weekends which would be long enough to serve either the uni or Cowley. Certainly reliability on the new routes already seems better so it's not all bad. They even agreed to look at reinstating one of two early morning Pinhie buses they cancelled though I dont see that happening unfortunately. Compared to changes elsewhere in the country this change was exceptionally well managed and advertised on all buses.