Sunday, 8 October 2017

Has Anything Changed?

Yep. This is fbb's 2,500th published blog.
It all began in March 2010 with the suggestion from sons that their old man should share his knowledge and experience with the wider world. Would anyone ever read it? There was great excitement when the number of views reached 30. A few more now click-in day by day in 2017.

How have things changed over the life of this blog?

There has been  growth in fare-paying technology with a huge variety of local names ...
... but we are a long way from a universal and national payment card. Oyster is still the best by far, but the aspiration is that the ordinary bank card may replace the whole lot. The costs to the bus operator are far too high at the moment and there are concerns about touch-in and touch-out on the national rail network.

There are also some who fear that the criminal world will devise a method of filching lots of small sums from people's wave-and-pay plastic money pots.

The mobile phone has become bigger (and thus a bit less "mobile") and much more powerful. As comment writers on this blog keep telling fbb ...
... this is the future. Well, it will be until the internet goes pop (very possible any day now) or the Rocket Man starts jamming the signal. But is accessing bus and train information on a mobile the be-all and end-all that some may think?

Here is the sequence of information on South Western Railway as of 1400 yesterday, taken from fbb's phone.
The knowledgeable will tap the graphic to check their journey.
Tap the arrow to find out more; a typically unnecessary extra prod! But "finding out more" means reading a lengthy screed all about the wrong kind of leaves; but ...

... the right kind of leaves for the trees!
Having had two yellow buttons exhorting the user to "buy tickets", blog readers will not be surprised to be encouraged, yet again, to buy tickets ...
... THREE TIMES on one panel. Then there are lots of other things you might want ...
... and things you possibly wouldn't do on the phome because they are too fiddly.
But nowhere are the timetables that the anguished traveller is exhorted to check.

Users of a "proper" computer will find plenty more about what is happening ...
... and the revised "leaf fall" timetables are there, although it is not clear which routes are changed. Is this general note is good enough?

Trains towards London Waterloo will run earlier between the stations shown below.
Services will be altered Monday to Sunday unless shown.
From Guildford to Hinchley Wood.
From Guildford to Bookham (Sunday only).
From Reading to Sunningdale
           (also Longcross Monday to Friday).
From Windsor to Sunnymeads.
From Dorking (earlier start from there only).

... and so on. But fbb's line seems completely unchanged, even down to trains to SAILSBURY (sic).
Or is it? South Western Railway tell us:-

Altered train times are shown in green type in the current timetables except for the following re-issued timetables. These are available from staffed stations on the affected routes or can be downloaded from the links below. 

Does this make sense? There follows a full list of ALL SWR timetable leaflets.

Is fbb's local timetable current or re-issued? Guess!

Although it looks "normal" (Salisbury normally misspelled!) there ARE changes with some morning trains running three minutes early ...
... to give them time to skid a bit on the leafy grease on the rail head. But, thankfully, these adjustments will not affect Seatonians.

Is this all easy to find on a mobile phone?

But let's be positive. Sheffield correspondent Roy sent a picture from Marple station of a timetable rack WITH BUS LEAFLETS.
So it can be done - perhaps! More about Marple tomorrow.

This poster was photographed on Brough Station (thanks Roy).
Clearly it is of immense help to the travelling public. There are no buses outside the station entrance but the "Onward Travel" poster (on-line, fbb doesn't know if there is one at the station) gives services "correct at August 2016" (click to enlarge the list).
A comparison with the list indexed on Traveline is "of interest".
But which is right?

Over the years we have had a logo ...
... a commission ...
... conferences ...
... campaign groups ...
... and impressively named local authorities.
But have we had integrated transport? Hardly - with some minor exceptions, mostly in the big cities.

More "independent" operators have fallen by the wayside and big operators have often cut back, withdrawing from marginal routes and from evening and Sunday operation. Local authorities have reduced their spend on buses and the government, always anxious to reduce congestion, has cut back its various grants for bus travel.

Rail travel has grown year on year despite the increasing complexity of the fares "system". Rail companies tell us they want to offer is the cheapest fare available; which is a complete lie. Meanwhile thousands of passengers each month are paying more than they need because they simply cannot understand how to manage the tsunami of information that engulfs them.

Since fbb started blogging, diesel engines have fallen out of favour and, in response, the Government has largely abandoned the electrification of our railway network.

And fbb dare not mention the lack of printed publicity because he has oft been branded out-of-date, living in the past, not with it etc etc.

One thing is absolutely certain; the straightforward availability of basic public transport information, viz a timetable, is far worse now than in 2010 - and it was poor back then.

Hey ho! Here's to another 2,500 blogs?
Probably not!

 More from Maple blog : Monday 9th October 


  1. Out of interest how many views do you get on a typical day

    1. If FBB was a bus operator, he would be perfectly entitled to say that this information is commercially confidential and I don't have to tell you, thank you very much.

  2. it varies - anything between 900 and 2000. Not up to Huffington Post standard - yet!

    1. Still, impressive figures I would say... that would suggest to me that while there is a vocal minority who say FBB lives in the past, there are plenty who agree with the gist of your daily comments and are interested to read what you have to say. Keep up the good work and long may your efforts continue, and continue to be appreciated by the silent majority!

  3. Congratulations. Always a daily read for me.

  4. Come now, another 2500 blogs takes less than seven years. A young man like you should last well beyond that. You may need to sacrifice those fry-ups you so lovingly photo. ;)

  5. Daily reading for me too - - - I usually (but not always) agree with fbb's comments; but debate is always worthwhile and sometimes changes minds.

    Keeeep ooonn Blogging!! (with apologies to Tess'n'Claude).

  6. Congratulations Peter - always a daily read for me too,

  7. Daily read for me too. Thanks for all your hard work.

  8. Congratulations, and thanks for the time and effort you put into daily blogging - an every day read for me. Perhaps some of your critics, instead of sniping, should have a go at producing their own offerings.