Thursday, 9 November 2017

Stagecoach Supertram : Stocksbridge Suffers (2)

Back on Monday, fbb outlined something of the history of bus services in Stocksbridge, a small ton to the north west of Sheffield on the "Woodhead" route to Manchester. (read again).
This post was provoked by a contributor to a Sheffield forum who was bemoaning the decline in through buses from the City from four and hour to one. Said contributor seemed unhappy with the concept of using the Supertram Link to connect with trans at Middlewood. As introduced the "link" ran every 10 minutes, meeting all trams (in theory!) and service Stockbridge's hillside estates in  one way loop.
And the hills are long and steep as the slope of the land indicates in this shot. For much of its like the SL1 operated a one way loop, which was not really satisfactory in that it gave you convenient travel in one direction only with no easy way to get back.

This was resolved by the opening of Fox Valley Retail Park on part of the former steelworks. The SL1 became every 20 minutes each way round.
So now you could get from East Whitwell to Fox Valley and back.

Enter a revised timetable on the tram. To improve the service and attract even more passengers, Supertram in reducing its base frequency from every 10 minutes to ever 12. Yes, it does sound potty, but the ability of the bus/tram industry to attempt to sell a reduction as an improvement is a dubious feature of modern omnibological newspeak.

The public is not fooled; neither is it fooled by "consultation" either. But Stagecoach are consulting about the Supertram Link.
From 28 January 2018, Stagecoach Supertram will be making some minor changes to their timetables to make journeys more punctual and reliable. To coincide with this, we want you to help us shape the new SL1 timetable so that we can continue to provide people with the best possible connections to their Stagecoach Supertram at Middlewood.

Minor changes? Big reduction!
For the 12 minute service, Stagecoach offers all buses one way round ...
... or all buses the other way round.
But what about alternate ways round?

A bus every 12 minutes, running alternate ways around Stocksbridge and Deepcar (as current SL1 and SL1a)?

Buses will operate clockwise around Stocksbridge at these minutes past the hour: 00, 12, 36. Buses will operate anti-clockwise around Stocksbridge village at these minutes past the hour: 24, 48.

Given time Stocksbridge folk might get used to it.

We did investigate running buses alternating routes one way then the other, but this resulted in a timetable that may be difficult to remember for customers boarding on the Stocksbridge loop.

However, we know that having a local link that travels both ways around Stocksbridge is important to our customers.

If running both ways round is "important to our customers" why bother with the other two options? But a small cheer to Uncle Brian's minions for realising that a bus alternate ways round every 24 minutes would be self destructive.

But the consultations doesn't end there.

In the evenings and on Sundays there is now no 57 at all. Garden Village and Unsliven Bridge are served by the "link" buses BUT the timings are too "tight".

Stagecoach's suggestions are, to say the least, unhelpful.

Changes to the evening service

We realise the need to improve timekeeping and punctuality in the evenings on the SL1 and SL1a services. We believe that either of the following options will help to resolve these issues.

Option : Evening services no longer serve Garden Village
Option 2 : Evening services no longer serve Unsliven Bridge 

Yet again we have the answer to the bus industry's problems. Stop running buses - it's all far to difficult. It's those pesky passengers again, getting in the way of an efficient service.

The Forum contributor (he who provoked these two blogs) suggested that there might be a case for a return to "proper" through services from Sheffield City. The SL3 at Killamarsh did not last ...
... and the SL2 to Stannington was withdrawn in January this year.
It is now time to "consult" on one additional option. Ditch the "link" with Supertram and run two services, each at a 30 minute frequency; and promote the new services with plenty of dedicated livery, good printed publicity (see City Zap) and some attractive special offers.
The route called SL (for comparison purposes) would run round the estates and to Fox Valley, returning the same way.

There would be some additional operating costs, no doubt, but with the novelty of running buses where the passengers wanted to go (Oh no! Surely not!) there might be a fighting chance of re-growing the business.

fbb leaves Stagecoach and/or First bus to do the detailed work!

It won't happen, of course; there is no vision in Sheffield. Maybe Transdev might like to set up an operating base on spare industrial land in Stocksbridge. fbb even has a good name for the new service;


Now there's an idea.
Northampton correspondent Alan has been on his travels, this time to Lincoln. He had an opportunity to take a look at progress on the new "Transport Hub" - i.e. bus station.
It looks impressive.
Will it be big enough? Alan was there to support the preserved Northampton Corporation Transport buses at the Lincoln running day.
But tomorrow, a surprise ...

 Another ZAP service blog : Friday 10th November 


  1. The service reductions may also follow the retail trends in the city centre. From a study by Marketing Sheffield:
    "Sheffield City Centre's retail position is also below that of the other eight English Core Cities, ranked 20th in the CACI Retail Footprint and substantially below Meadowhall which is ranked 14th."
    So perhaps Stocksbridge Zap needs to head for Meadowhall, rather than the city? Though Hillsborough would probably suffice for day-to-day needs.

  2. No, it's just that SYPTE want to force people on to the toy train set that is Supertram, and as it is financially advantageous for Stagecoach to do this (double concessions for a linked trip), they are simply following the party line. I used to drive the 'Stockys' as they were known, and the 15 minute frequency couldn't cope in the peaks. Simply, death by a meddling PTE and serious business development issues by First/Stagecoach over the years.