Sunday, 19 August 2018

Collection of Bits (2)

Anton? Antonbus?
It appears at Knights Enham, but through the town it is not much more than a trickle.
Still trickling, it even gets a name board on a bridge near an industrial estate.
But it soon broadens out, and by Goodworth Clatford it has become a presentable river, popular with trout fisherman.
It eventually joins the River Test, just upstream of the appropriately named Mayfly pub.
fbb had never heard of the River Anton; Anton du Beke, terpsichorist, yes; Anton Rogers, thespian, yes; but not the river.

The town, of which the map above shows part, in Andover.

And why the "public transport" interest? Not yet more inane ramblings of the elderly mind? 

Not quite. While perusing the interwebnet for "stuff" about Stagecoach's service 7 (see last Friday's posting) this popped up.
A brief (?) entry into the branding game by a pre-privatised Hampshire Bus. Stagecoach did not continue the experiment!
Does anybody know how long the "brand" lasted and whether it ever appeared on buses?

The Newbury Link
In review the complexities of bus operating companies in Newbury, fbb omitted to mention "The Link" which (he thinks, hesitantly) was once service 78. It was, for a while a joint service between Stagecoach ...
... and Newbury Buses, then a thinly disguised Reading Buses.
Under various past disguises, the service have never been more than hourly.
Correspondent Roger was thus surprised, on a recent visit to Newbury, to read this roundel on one of Uncle Brian the Bearded's re-re-branded single deckers.
Impressive, thought he, a doubling of what is essentially a rural link.
But it isn't and it doesn't.
The through route remains hourly Monday to Saturday with no Sunday journeys. On Mondays to Fridays (only!) the service runs half hourly between Basingstoke and Kingsclere, continuing to Newbury every hour.
So it is "up to" up to Kingsclere. Whilst the "up to" roundel is technically correct (albeit over only part of the route) some might accuse Stagecoach Hampshire of some "optimistic" marketing.

fbb is always wary of any label that says "up to" with a frequency; it is often only a half truth in practice.

T M Travel Trim
Bus watchers were surprised when T M Travel upped their hourly service 218 between Sheffield and Bakewell to every 30 minutes. Never in the long history of the route(s) has it ever been even hourly pre T M T! Not only that, but for the Summer season, traditionally the whole period of British Summer Time, it became half-hourly on Sundays as well.

But not any more.

Without a specific announcement (other than a note about timetable adjustments to improve reliability - i.e. a few minutes additional running time) the winter reduction comes in on 2nd September. two months earlier than previously.
Will the 30 minute headway return? And when?

Delightfully Dotty Day
Yesterday was the annual Imberbus knees-up. Imber was, before World War 2, a delightfully remote village in the middle of nowhere on a road from Warminster.
But, like the Monty Python Parrot, it is no more - annexed by the military so that the soldier-boys could fire their big pop guns at it and around it. Today's map of the area is blank.
Occasionally the roads and the village are opened to the public.
Yesterday was one of those days, when an expected 23 London buses operated a frequent route 23A on a licence held by The Bath Bus Company, part of the Paris City Transport company!
23A was, long ago, the route number of the real bus service to the real live village.

You have a London style "Panel Timetable" which you don't get in London any more ...
... and you have a London-style route map which Transport for London won't let you have any more.
And you have a steady parade of London Buses, often driven by senior London bus manager and ex-managers with proper conductors, proper fares and proper tickets.
To cap it all, you have big red London buses whizzing down what are little more than farm tracks, taking their excited passengers to the ghost village (a much rebuilt ghost village) of Imber.
The church, thankfully, remains out-of-bounds to the military.
Now an annual event it can only be described as an enjoyable example on British eccentricity.

Tomorrow we are off on our European travels again.

 Next Bavaria blog : Monday 20th August 

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Collection of Bits (1)

T.O.W.I.E. With Isn't!
Thanks to correspondent Keith for spotting this in Colchester. But first, some background. Colchester has a splendid Park and Ride site; by public transport standards shiny and relatively new.
It is just off the A12 to the north of the town, lying opposite the JobServe Community Stadium.
In passing, note the name "Mile End" opposite the hospital at the foot of the Google aerial view.
Essex county have a jolly little leaflet ...
... with a map which implies that the site is to the west of the town.
It also serves the Hospital which is opposite "Mile End" on the aerial map.
Arriva runs the buses on behalf of Essex County Council and, surprisingly, they show "Park and Ride" on their electronic "blind" display.
The route follows a loop through the town as wrongly shown on the leaflet; it also serves the two railway stations, also wrongly shown on the leaflet.

They are on the "loop" as per this old Essex bus map (top left and bottom centre).
So not very helpful, Park and Ride Map!

Colchester has some jolly pretty "real time" (unreal?) signs round the loop. So what do you look for when seeking out your Park and Ride Stop for the Park and Ride Bus, showing Park and Ride on its blind?
No mention of Park and Ride - that would be silly. It is shown as service "P" to Mile End ...
... and to be even more helpful, it runs ...
... via Colchester!

But the best news of all is that the signs show the Arriva logo (silly) and if you take along your step ladder and "powerful binoculars" (German, of course, as per TV's "Allo Allo") you will spot that Arriva is a DB company - essential information for those returning to their limos somewhere a good distance beyond Mile End.

Web(b)erbus : Bus Company Returns?
Despite the evidence of its Twit site, Webberbus went phut in May 2016, having been a thorn in the side of First Bus (Buses of Somerset) for many a weary competitive year.
This is Tom Weber - no connection and less a "b".
He has ignored all advice and failed to take the pills. He has started a bus company.

He has come to an arrangement with Bedfordshire operator Grant Palmer. His shiny blue and black decker ...
... used to belong to Grant Palmer and Grant's "lads" repainted it for him.
And before that it was with Stagecoach in London.
He has got a bus route, which also used to belong to Grant Palmer ...
It takes school kiddies to Sharbrook Academy ...
... and brings them home again!

And he is fully booked.
The problem with schools work, even fully booked journeys, is that it is rarely enough to pay the bills; and finding stuff to do between school runs is not easy.

But all grist to his mill - Tom has made a start.

fbb, former MD of a small bus company, wishes him well!

Badgerline Re-Born
Just a quick note to say that First in Bristol have now had a "formal launch" of the new brand for Weston-super-Mud.
The Great and The Good were all there, including a former director of the original privatisation company. Pity they are obscuring the badger on the single decker.

Buxton Re-Visited
It was a surprise when Stagecoach won the tender for service 65 between Sheffield and Buxton. It was an even bigger surprise that they wanted a route which High Peak could not run profitably! It was a surprise when, via some positioning journeys between Chesterfield and Buxton, Stagecoach became all chummy with Hulleys and their route 66.
But the chumminess is real with interavailable tickets.

Would there be publicity at Buxton, way out on an operating limb? Answer yes. A joint poster in the timetable frame at the Sylvn Park terminus ...
... which includes details of the various day and weekly "rover" tickets.
Terms and conditions are displayed alongside the fares. Please note that £6.50 for a DAY for stagecoach is excellent value, allowing a spiffing round trip from Sheffield to Buxton, then to Chesterfield and back to Sheffield by any of four different routes. Ace!

Thanks to correspondent Julian for sending the poster picture.

 Next "Collection" blog : Sunday 19th August 

Friday, 17 August 2018

Timetable Problems (2)

Correspondent Roger sent this timetable to fbb suggesting that it might need investigation. In one direction, it appears "normal" at first glance ...
It shows three journeys from Andover to Newbury via the A343 (1035, 1335 and 1659) numbered 7 ...
... and three journeys (0850, 1150 and 1450)  from Burghclere Common to Newbury via lots of intriguing places, numbered 7A. The 0720 from Andover joins in with the "villages" route and you might expect it to be a 7A.

But it is still a 7 despite taking a lot longer end-to-end. The service is clearly a "cost effective" (i.e. cheap) way of giving these "villages" a commuter run into the flesh-pots of Newbury.

These are the attractive stops at Ball Hill ...
... and this is the eponymous garage, not easily spotted from either of them!
But did our eagle-eyed readers spot the "intersting" feature of the table for the opposite direction?
the pattern in similar; three trips via the "villages", two along the main road to Andover, and two Andover journeys diverted via the villages. Seemples? 

Well, actually, NOT seemples!

Time runs backwards for the three "local" trips!
For some time, there has been a convention that buses that run backwardly out of order have their times shown with brackets, in a different colour or otherwise annotated. Not so the the 7A!

West Berkshire Council publish a timetable book (presumably also available in hard copy).
Its timetable for the 7/7A shows something understandable for timings TO Newbury ...
... but to get to the "villages" FROM Newbury ...
... you only have the two afternoon journeys which divert there on their way to Andover.

Does a map help? Stagecoach's is no use because it simply fizzles out at the border.
The West Berks book has maps but they are hard to follow, paying only lip-service to geography ...
... and the 7/7A fizzle out at a different border! But good old Hampshire, still one of the best local authorities despite cut-backs, gives us map that begins to make sense.
In essence the 7A is a circular, Newbury, Burghclere, Penwood, Ball Hill and Newbury ...
... with a Monday to Friday and a Saturday version of the "diverted" 7. Seemples - to a point. The service 7 journeys FROM Newbury go "the other way round" but only as far as the A343.
Which leaves two fbb assembled tables for the through 7s; from Newbury to Andover ...
 ... and vice versa.
Again, fbb has not added a MF and S note to the first journey of the day.

Surely this is a better way of doing it? Agreed, it takes up twice as much space, but it is more helpful to the potential passenger.

It does seem that, as passenger numbers decline, bus operators, local authority tenderers etc. in a desperate attempt to save a few clods, all manage to make timetables more incomprehensible and off-putting.

As ever, fbb's design skills are offered free to Stagecoach, West Berkshire, Andover and even Hampshire. The latter reproduces the Stagecoach "backward" timetable ...
... and does tell us it is doing it (note b), but, sadly, it doesn't really explain the circulars.

Traveline, of course, insists that you change buses from the 7A to the 7A at Burghclere.
At least it doesn't make you wait THREE HOURS for the connection!

And, if you have forgotten what this is all about, here is Roger's picture of a service 7A at Newbury bus station ...
... showing that it does go beyond Burghclere, despite evidence of the West Berks Timetable. Hopefully at Burghclere it will change its destination screen to show Newbury via Woolton Hill.

Thanks again to correspondent Roger for provoking this exploration and supplying some of the piccies.

Part of tomorrow's posting will also be from Newbury.

 Next collection of bits blog : Saturday 18th August