Monday, 8 January 2018

Surprise and No Surprise (1)

Happenings in South Yorkshire
fbb was talking with chum on Saturday last about First Bus cutbacks in Slough and Weymouth. They agreed that commercially these were necessary but they also attracted significant opprobrium locally and from the press.

The chum asked, with no hope of a sensible reply, why it was that First Bus seemed to get loads of flak when they took the chopper to a network whilst "another operator" seemed to achieve it without a bucket of venom-spitting.

One reason, of course, is that First has not really thrown off the curse Moir Lockhead philosophy of "don't run it if it doesn't make a stonking profit". The positives of the Fearnley regime (of which there are many) keep being tarnished by the bad news stories.

At the end of January approx 80 routes across the County of South Yorkshire will have timetable "revisions".

Those from First Bus are all about tweaking individual journeys to improve timekeeping and reliability ...
... plus a few to sort our School service problems.
But, in Barnsley, Stagecoach is all about cuts ...
... in this case to both the 93 (top) and the 95 (bottom). Here is the current Saturday timetable ...
... and the same routes from the end of January.
Mapplewell keeps its hourly service; Bloomhouse Green is cut from every 30 minutes to every hour and Kexbrough from every 20 to every 30.
Note. in passing, that the PTE's timetable thinks the buses run to Bloomhouse Green whilst the stagecoach bus and the bus map (also a PTE production) tells us the Terminus is Woolley Grange. 
Likewise the PTE timetable runs to Kexborough rather than the geographically correct Kexbrough.
But this spelling challenge has been a long-standing dilemma ...
... but maps seem to get it right?
Consistency, what consistency?

The service 93 estate (what ever it might be called) is largely built on an old colliery site ...
... where modern housing ...
... sits alongside traditional terraces.
Needless to say, the bus stops short of both new and old, still at the former colliery gates!
The turning circle is at the bottom centre of the aerial view.

Meanwhile the PTE tells us that service 6 is to be reduced from every 10 to every 12 minutes on Monday to Friday ...
... matching the Saturday headway.

But it's that phrase "to improve sustainability" that intrigues fbb. What exactly does it mean? Should not the bus company be honest and say "we are not making enough profit to ensure the long-term future of our business"?

As yet Stagecoach Yorkshire has not published these negative changes on its own web site. It will be interesting to see how thy explain the cuts.

Two recently introduced routes also get a trim.

The Sunday service on the X65 (Barnsley to Meadowhell) ...
... is reduced from every 30 minutes to hourly.
The X65 is an oddity. It runs on Saturdays and Sundays only, except during school holidays when a Monday to Friday service is added.

Will it survive?

The 737 between Sheffield and Finningley Airport also gets a chop. In essence the journeys designed to meet morning flights are withdrawn completely, seven days a week and in both directions.
Will it survive?

What is clear is that the news from Barnsley is all about cut-backs.

How will the local people and the local press react?

fbb and his Sheffield area correspondents will doubtless keep their beady eyes open and ears to the ground to report the flak.

If any!

But we do have a couple of excellent pieces of Stagecoach publicity in the Sheffield area, with both giving mixed messages about what is, without a doubt, a very disappointing service cut.

 Next surprise/no surprise blog : Tuesday 9th January 


  1. Woolley Colliery village was always a problem in that traditionally the only usable road in to the village came from the Barnsley direction, but the colliery and its associated terraces were in what became the Wakefield district of West Yorkshire in 1974. The boundary is the row of dots on the colliery map above. This meant that all the residents were given West Yorkshire OAP bus passes but the bus terminus and the whole of the service to Barnsley ran in South Yorkshire. Special arrangements were made for passes to be valid to and from Barnsley on the local service by decreeing that the terminus stop was in both counties then they were valid through to Wakefield on cross boundary services, as Wakefield was where they had to go to pay their rates pending a solution that allowed Barnsley BC to act as agents.
    Even now almost all the new development is in West Yorkshire as most of it is on the old colliery site but a slightly better access road exists to the north.
    I visited there last year just for a look as I was in the area and hadn't been since the days I worked for West Riding buses between 1971 and 1992 and remember having to sort out this and other issues arising from the 1974 PTE creations.
    Ken Traveline Dorset

  2. Thanks Ken. I was aware of the geography, but the history of bus "responsibility" is very helpful. No doubt the roads to t new housing have not been designed to be "bus friendly".

    1. Actually the spine road that winds up the estate is designed to be bus friendly. In the aerial view above, under the words Woolley Grange can just be made out a roundabout which suggests a hope that the bus service could be extended up there, but the running time currently isn't enough. Off the top of the view a new road skirting the former spoil heaps that have been reclaimed is also to the same standard and there may be thoughts of further building and either extending the route further up even to Woolley itself, or maybe a circular doubling back through Staincross.
      Whilst all the new build is still in West Yorkshire, it appears that a subtle boundary change has pulled the old village in to Barnsley. OS maps show the boundary running north of the old houses rather than south.

  3. My informants indicate that evening journeys on the 737 have attracyeda reasonable clientele. The 0445 and 0545 would have required use of a taxi for most potential punters to get to the Interchange or Wickersley- in that case why not use one the whole way?