Thursday, 22 March 2018

Silliness in Sevenoaks? Part 4

Cumulative Cuts at Kemsing
the Kemsing High Street of 1900 ...
... is still recognisable in 2018, but, of course, the former village has grown in all directions.
Would it be fair to say that the majority of the "village" population is affluent and car owning, but with a fair smattering of the fbb generation? It is not what the industry might describe as "good bus territory"

Arriva bus route 452 ran every 30 minutes north to Kemsing, turned east to serve the High Street, then 90 degrees south to complete its journey at Noah's Ark.
After another turn to the east, you finally reach Kemsing Station!
The map on-line c/o Kent County Council is now out of date and the 406 has vanished from the face of the Kent countryside. Kemsing station attracts a few "commuters" who fill the minuscule car park ...
... and create a certain amount of vehicular mayhem by parking along the narrow road.
But back to the 452. Kemsing is the "other half" of the former "cross-town" service that once ran to Dunton Green and featured in yesterday's blog. The tranquillity of bus service provision was rudely awakened in Spring 2017 when GoCoachlines started a competitive 452 to challenge the incumbency of Arriva.
The timetables are similar but, in a typical "spoiler" competitive service Go does not go in the early morning but starts going at 0930.
Note also the similar departure times!
Correspondent Roger watched half a dozen intending passengers spurn the minibus and wait for the Go vehicle due a little later.
Roger also reports a significant amount of dark muttering by passengers about the cramped conditions on the sillibus.

Which makes the next piece of news from Go-Coach seem somewhat abstruse.
At a time when Go-Coach has more to offer than Arriva, this announcement has appeared on their web site:-

 Termination of route - 452. 
 Go-Coach is sad to say 
 we are pulling out of the 452 
 from 14th April. 

Thereafter, from having four buses every hour (OK two together every half hour) folk from Kemsing etc. will have a low capacity, low room, high discomfort vehicle still every half hour but with the potential of leaving passengers waiting in the rain and snow.

It is hard to see any result from Arriva's madness than a further reduction in passenger numbers and the likely withdrawal of the route altogether; unless, of course, Kemsing can match Bellfields "pitchforks at dawn" protests and get "normal" buses back.

On the plus side, Sevenoaks bus station is a delight, with great character ...
... and a nice caff! Also on the plus side, Roger found plenty of printed publicity ...
... and the timetable frames had up to date departure lists but, as usual, no timetables.
On the (very) minus side, the bus station information board had not been changed to incorporate the stunning new routes 1 and 2 ...
... likewise bus stop flags.
And fbb has just spotted the parlous Saturday service to Noah's Ark ...
... only every hour from 1000 to 1600.

Maybe it would be a good idea to enjoy the route as soon as possible ...
... or maybe decide to invest in a more environmentally friendly means of transport!
Hitching posts and ostlers at Sevenoaks Station, anyone?

 Next Somerset blog : Friday 23rd March 


  1. Don't expect bus stop flag numbers to be changed very quickly by the authorities here... the 431 and 432 shown on the Sevenoaks railway station stop are Arriva's previous numbers for the service to Kemsing, and these services ceased as far back as April 2014 in a previous round of service non-improvements in the area, but still showed at many locations for months or even years afterwards!

  2. That is the problem with "going the extra mile" when funding is good - once the tap is switched off (and, arguably, in the case of Local Authorities, the tank drained too) things like bus stop numbers are an early cutback.
    I've seen it a bus companies and local authorities alike.
    Then again, I can also think of many directional road signs which have not been replaced after vehicles have hit them, so its not just a "bus thing".

  3. Arriva haven't used timetables at bus stops for years, but did have some excellent manually created stop-specific timetables. Unfortunately, they are now obliged to use whatever the computer regurgitates.

    The bus stop departure board is maintained bu Go-Coach, not Arriva. I would presume an update may be forthcoming once new vinyls are available.

    As mentioned, bus stop numbers haven't been updated for years, because there is no budget for it (KCC favour services, rather than publicity). A prime example as to why they shouldn't be there to start with.

  4. If I were (still) running a bus company I would ensure that my prime advertising site (bus stop and flag) were up to date. There is no reason why I should hide behind "the council is responsible". If the council doesn't do it I would be out with a step ladder and some pre-printed sticky labels.

    It is NOT expensive!

    1. And you’d presumably paint your buses washed out yellow and battleship grey again. ��

  5. Get your sticker off my flag! Oh, and don't put your flag on my pole/shelter.

    FBB, you live in a world well removed from reality.

  6. So the council won't do it, but the bus company would like to... on what grounds could the council reasonably object to that, given that they won't do it themselves anymore AND didn't remove ALL the numbers at the point when they decide to cease their obligation to do so..?

    1. Presumably because in the areas in question the pole, flag & shelter are their property and as such they can dictate what can be put up. There are a number of councils, and it seems to be growing, that take full control of their publicity and they are generally poor at it (either in quality or timeliness of updating) but because it is often a major high profile part of the person in questions job they are quite defensive of their little area.

  7. I suspect Kent must have employed someone from TfL, where route numbers are definitely de rigeur.
    But where all buses call, are they really necessary? Even in the bus station, the information is easier to update if it is in a timetable case than on a flag. No need for a ladder and all the associated health & safety.