Saturday, 10 February 2018

Thorny at Thornbury (2)

It's Plain to See
Like so many village close to big cities, Thornbury was once a small community centred round a triangular square called The Plain. The building behind the splendid and luxurious vehicles is now The NatWest Bank.
As we shall see, the buses are still timed at "The Plain" although the actual stops have moved.
It was a confuser departure list print-out on display at Filton which amused (?) Bristol correspondent Paul and provoked fbb to try to find out where service 77 buses actually go - always a challenge in these days of on-line information.

Paul even sent a map ...
... ex Traveline and thus almost useless. Paul has added stop names and lots of BLUE and MUD GREEN arrows to explain everything. But, on their own, they don't. 

To make things fully clear, Paul also added some helpful text to the e-mail.

Sibland Way is the first stop at the start of the terminus “mini-loop” which is at the end of the clockwise main loop.

The journeys shown as terminating at Rock St terminate there on their first visit, and don’t go round the loops at all.

The journeys shown as continuing to Rock St terminate there on their second visit, without going on to the anticlockwise loop.

The journeys shown as terminating at Sibland Way will have done the clockwise loop, but actually continue to Rock St and back around the anticlockwise loop.

He is referring to the timetable in the Filton Frame, as rewritten by fbb.
So that clarifies everything (including the lack of 77s on Sundays and Bank Holidats). No criticism of Paul intended - don't shoot the bus enthusiast; he is only doing his best!!

Fortunately Paul also includes scans of a Stagecoach printed timetable for the 77. Leaflets are usually available on the buses, but not, as we saw yesterday, anywhere on a Stagecoach web site.

And to fbb's near delirious delight, the printed timetable explains (almost) everything. Here is the outward route from Bristol to Thornbury ...
... showing an extract for journeys that call at Tesco and Manor Walk. Note that to get to its computer generated terminus as per Filton info ... 
... it shows times at Rock Street, Health Centre, Manor Walk and Primrose Way continuing beyond Sibland Way to Rock Street (again).

And the inward route back to the city centre ...
... starting at Sibland Way, calling at Rock Street and then in the opposite direction via Primrose Way, Manor Walk and the Health Centre, then The Plain and on to Bristol. It also introduces a whole new concept, a time point at Thornbury St Davids Road, a location that we have not met on the outward timetable.

Confused dot com?

In fact the Stagecoach timetable is 100% accurate and 100% helpful, or at least as helpful as a list of times can be WITHOUT A MAP.

So forget about clockwise loops and anticlockwise loops and think about a shepherd's crook ...
... and mentally push the end twiddly bit back to touch the stock; and you may begin to understand the 77.

fbb has not gone completely potty, here is a "shepherds crook" shaped widow catch.
The obscurantist 77 runs from Bristol to Thornbury via a non-direct route, calls at the town centre (Rock Street stop) then performs the "hook" of the crook and terminates in a one way loop, also via Rock Street. 

Having looped, it sets of back round the "hook" of the crook calling at the town centre (The Plain stop) before tottering erratically back to Bristol.

It really is very simple of you have time to research stop names, time points, evasive timetables and incomprehensible maps together with lots of prodding of Google Streetview. fbb advises a few cups of strong black coffee and an occasional lie down in a darkened room.

But, showing no fear and without a safety net, fbb has created his own map!
The crook hook is somewhat gnarled and gnobbly but fbb's cartographic genius shows the smaller one way loop (with arrows) at the end; via Sibland Road, Rock Street and St Davids Road. Also "arrowed" are the one-way bus routes through the shopping centre.

He has also lied at Primrose Drive. 
The bus stops "opp" the shop in both directions (why?); but fbb has ignored another bit of one one-way-itis. Note that Google obliterates the name "One Stop" (Tesco in a clever disguise) and Stagecoach calls it Primrose Way, but then you cannot have everything.

Sibland Way is renamed Sibland Road, where there is only one stop, so no confusion; Manor Walk is renamed Parkland Way for the same reason.
Manor Walk is the diddy little cul-de-sac on the right.

Controversially, fbb has renamed the historic "The Plain" to High Street Co-op; because an on-board passenger would have difficulty in seeing any sign for "The Plain", but might just spot a co-op shop stop.
The stop pole, complete with frame showing departure lists, is actually outside Lloyds Bank; but using a "country" bank as a stop name is unlikely to be a sensible long-term strategy. Note the helpul but invisible shelter for waiting passengers.

We now have a correct map and the correct interpretation of a timetable - a significant achievement using all the accurate and helpful information that bus company and other parties have provided. (snorts of derision).

It has been a long and challenging "journey", but fbb is now satisfied that he knows where the 77 goes!

All we now need to do is to modify the outward timetable by adding St Davids Road to complete the terminal loop ...
... and get rid of some unnecessary complexity in stop names. A sensible convention, if "Thornbury" is considered a necessary part of a location name, is to put the place name after the road name for all locations except the main "centre" stops i.e. Tesco Thornbury.

Incidentally, it is possible that Hortham Vibernum Road may mystify some blog readers who do not visit Bristol regularly. fbb is indebted to correspondent Paul for explaining all

 Hortham was a Mental Hospital, now demolished ...
... that lay just off the A38 at Almondsbury.
It is now a smart estate served by a "double run" of the 77.
Another mystery solved!

But, as some readers will no doubt think (or even comment thereupon!) does it matter? Why bother with fbb's pedantic nit-picking?

How about a sample journey from Primrose Way ("Drive" according to Stagecoach) to catch a train from Bristol Parkway Station. The 77 provides an hourly through bus from the "Shop" as yet un discovered by Traveline.

Some journey plans are mildly inaccurate and less mildly unhelpful and some, surprise surprise, are just plain daft. Here is one of the best/worst.
Or you could catch the 1156 service 77 and arrive at Parkway at 1252 without changing.

And, time and time again, we are exhorted to use Journey Planners!

Better take the bike, car or taxi, then.

 Next news headlines blog : Sunday 11th February 


  1. Isn't this a tendered route? Perhaps the transport authority should be blamed for putting together such a complicated operation - no doubt including specifying the timing points.

  2. Also, perhaps the local council should accept responsibility for giving planning permission for such a public-transport-unfriendly "new town"?

  3. I hope FBB's SatNav is set up better than his journey planner. This is clearly the quickest option from the time of departure, not he one involving least changes.

    I tried it on the Traveline SE website (by far the most superior Traveline regional site I have seen/used), and the 77 is clearly given a 0 change option behind three other variants leaving ealier (working on leaving at 11:25 next Friday).

  4. Are you really suggesting, LWBM, that any normal bus traveller would take a multi-operator multi change High fare journey just to get to Parkway a few minutes earlier.

    Real people are not interested in "the quickest", they want an easy ride.

    Which is why Traveline is such a poor tool.

    1. No, of course not. What I am suggesting is that any passenger with a modicum of common sense would look beyond the first answer they are given, as quoted by FBB, and find which one suits them best - which this case will certainly be the direct option.

      What I am criticizing, though, is the blithe expectation that the perfect journey will be the first to show up simply because it is available with no changes.

  5. I NEVER use SatNav but I have an excellent collection of details map books. Much less streesful!

  6. Route 77 is a two-contracted service: Bristol CC between Bristol Centre and Southmead Hospital, and South Glos Council between Southmead and Thornbury. Both contracts were re-tendered together and the winning operator had to provide a single service covering both legs. Stagecoach won, beating previous operator First.
    Under First, route 77 terminated at Thornbury Rock Street and needed three buses. But (in good time) before contract changeover in Sept 2017, Mike's Travel pulled out of their contracted route 615, which covered Primrose Drive and Sibland Road. The challenge was to continue to provide a service to these locations (which are missed by Thornbury's other routes) and the new timetable incorporates these points, but Stagecoach need four vehicles to run the current service.
    The opening of a Stagecoach outstation at Patchway has reduced the need for dead mileage to and from Stroud, which Stagecoach had to account for when making gains at Wessex Connect's expense in Sept 2016, including the 84/85/86 series and 622).
    And as an aside, there is a map of Stagecoach routes in the area (including 77) in a poster case at Yate Bus Station.