Saturday, 24 March 2018

A Short Wait at Cartgate (A)

The fbb's route between Seaton and Wantage (home of No 1 son and family) is via the A303 and A34. At the junction of the A3088 to Yeovil is Cartgate picnic area.
It is a useful PNB stop and comes with the advantage of an excellent caff, open seven days a week from 0600 to 2200 but closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
But, on their return on Thursday last, the fbbs had enjoyed a superb breakfast at The Bear in Wantage, so a coffee and a shared Kit-Kat was adequate. One other service available at Cartgate is a Tourist Information Office.
A few years ago (10+??) the OAPs were motoring in a westerly direction for a holiday in Sidmouth and called in for usual! There in the TiC was a collection of Somerset County's bus timetable books, which fbb gathered up like a little child with free rein in a sweetshop. Cartgate is not served by any bus, so the booklets were there to attract motorists to the delights of the County's public transport.

But all this has gone.

A quick glance showed fbb that there was no bus or train information on display. He looked in vain for Buses of Somerset, South Western Railway and Great Western Railway leaflets but there was nothing.
There were plenty of guide books to towns in the area and further away, so your information-hungry author decided to sample a few to see if any of them would offer help with anything other than the all-conquering motor car.

First Yeovil itself, literally just down the A3088.
The book was dated 2016-2017 and offered not a jot about public transport. The bus station is marked on the map, as is Junction Station and Pen Mill, both served with trains hauled by American wood-burning steam engines, hardly a good advert for modern train travel.
But no mention of how to get from one to any other. Buses does not even feature in the index of "local information".
It runs from Banks to Chamber of Commerce.

Next a peruse of the booklet for Totnes ...
... with an advert for the Steam Railway at Totnes Riverside; but no timetable and no mention on the town map of where the station might be.
Stagecoach also has an advert for its Explorer ticket, but, again, no guidance as to from where they might be obtained.
For a non-bus user these basics are important and need more than just an advert to encourage them to "have a go".

Frankly, there is not a lot of bus in Totnes to explore with, but there are, as advertised, opportunities nearby. 

The problem, of course, is that these booklets are financed by advertising. Often "the deal" is that you get editorial material only if you are paying for an advert, so "general" information can be very minimalist in content.
Would the publishers be so keen to advertise National Express from Totnes if they knew that the coach departs at 2250 and arrives in Victoria at 0630? The service 404 coach eaves Penzance at 2005. Returning to Totnes from Victoria is also an overnighter, depart Victoria 2300, arrive Totnes 0515.

But, as they say, it is all on line, so that's OK!

Tomorrow we will explore booklets for Poole and South Devon. In the meantime ...

A Sevenoaks Correction
Thanks to a correspondent who pointed out that fbb was quoting an out-of-date Go-Coach timetable for the 452 to Kemsing. Buses now run at 15 and 45 minutes past each hour Mondays to Fridays.
At least it does for a further two weeks before the service demise.

Arriva's sillibuses are at 05 and 35 ...
... so a bit better tan the two buses every half hour as criticised by your author in the original blog.

Another Bus Cafe
The bus will be stationed near Cleethorpes Boating Lake ...
... and the Grimsby Telegraph shows mum and daughter posing in front of the former First Bus double decker.
The bus began its life in London ...
... then emigrated to Glasgow, losing its centre door.
Then it moved back south again to Bristol ...
... and was last seen in a yard at Swavesey, Cambridgeshire..
Roy (from Sheffield), who supplied the story, is planning a visit to sample the fare on offer.

The "girls" are doing all the fitting out themselves, so well done indeed ladies!

They Do It So Much Better In Switzerland?
Oh yes, really?

A few weekend back, No 3 son was out and about on the trams in Basel (Switzerland). He was travelling on Tram Route 8.
But the tram was diverted to avoid some protest march activity in part of the city centre. There was, said the lad, no information about this, no announcement on the tram and no notice at the stops.

The on-board screens remained resolutely bank throughout the route!
The other (Swiss) passengers were completely unfazed by the diversion, accepting it, and the lack of information, as quite normal.

fbb was thinking that a tram diversion on all but one of the UK systems would be impossible - the exception being Manchester with alternative routes through the city centre.
Are there any others?

 Next Cartgate plus blog : Sunday 25th March 


  1. A3088 between Cartgate and Yeovil is builtbon the track of the former railway line from Taunton to Yeovil Town, the station itself no longer exists. The line then extended to both Penmill and Junction stations.

  2. I think FBB is being rather unfair to Stagecoach in criticising their advert.

    Surely more people would expect to buy a bus ticket from the bus driver than would expect to search out the local agent as FBB did in the past and which I can just about remember doing (when buses still had double N logos....) to purchase an Explorer ticket.

    But wait there is more! Although almost edited out, the lower part says "your phone is your ticket" "Track your bus" and there is something about "Download" which is presumably the Stagecoach app, but not visible because of the unfortunate cropping of the image.

    So, rather than stating the obvious that the driver will sell you your ticket in the boring old way buses have always done, now there are whizzy e-options. They might not be to FBB's liking (although no doubt he makes good use of his ENCTS card, and the tech that makes it work) but to the non-bus user on holiday they say "buses are modern" "buses have changed" "put aside your preconceptions, you're on holiday, try the bus, you might like it". Now our holiday maker can check out bus times at the B&B in the evening, while the children are playing in the park, while... well, you get the idea. He doesn't need to search for a physical timetable. Even better our tripper can enjoy breakfast knowing the bus for his day-trip to Plymouth or Paignton is coming, or that he can have an extra coffee if its running late.

    People are more open to trying things on holiday, and if the experience is good (no pressure Stagecoach Devon!) our one-off trippers might become regular users back home. Too far fetched? Maybe, but good on Stagecoach for trying!

  3. Have to agree with anonymous above. If the ticket couldn't be bought on the bus, then FBB's criticism would be valid. I think knows where a bus driver sits and where to buy a ticket. There's an advert in my paper for Tesco - but I'm not phased by the fact it doesn't have directions to the checkouts! Of course FBB also ignored the fact that there is information about mobile ticket options at the bottom of the advert. FBB seems to have again forgotten that this blog is purported to be about "A collection of posts which expose failings (and, occasionally, successes!) in our public transport system". Not nick-picking to find imagined fault for faults sake. Go on Peter I dare you to write a blog about some successes - let's have a bit of positivity for once - it does wonders for the soul!

  4. You do know that the National Express 501 runs Totnes to London with 5 or 6 trips per day - and at reasonable times :)