Wednesday, 23 May 2018

And Four Come Along At Once (2)

Technical Difficulties?
A bit like the problems with GTR's and Northern's new timetables ...
... a better explanation of your author's hassles would be "management incompetence".

At 2130 fbb managed to delete the whole of yesterdays planned blog (i.e as published today). This was too late at night for the old bloke to start again as the brain had already begin to fade away.

Hence a quickly cobbled together collection of Sheffield memories and one very poor piece of customer service.

The only bonus is that fbb has now worked out how this happens. In a stubby fingered attempt to select a small piece of text to delete, it is easy (???) to inadvertently select the whole blog. But because this mega selected stuff is off the screen, the error can be missed.

With disastrous consequences!

Must try harder!
Se here goes again ...

My First Mile
Unique collaboration with Bristol-based innovator Esoterix Systems to trial UK’s first cross-modal public transport in Bristol.

Esoterix is one of those new companies who have come up with some clever confuser software to manage aspects of people's travel needs.

It was involved in ...
... a scheme funded by local employers to provide transport from Avonmouth Station.

This developed from an earlier and much more frequent "proper" bus ...
... run by the now departed Wessex Bus.
The initial service ran seven days a week but its recent replacement only serves Monday to Friday "shift" times.
The Press Release continues:-

Don’t you hate spending too much time stuck in traffic during the morning commute and then going round in circles looking for a place to drop your car near work? Or know that feeling when you want to catch the bus, but the bus stop is just that bit too far to walk?  A brand-new mode of transport being trialled in Bristol is looking to change all that. 
Local bus operator First West of England has joined forces with Bristol-based technology start-up Esoterix Systems to make people’s morning commute quicker by transporting people by taxi from a pick-up point near their home to a bus stop where they can hop on a bus and get to work without having to worry about parking. 

Starting from Tuesday 15th May, in a trial said to be the first of its kind in the UK, people living in Henleaze and Westbury Park ...
... walk - no more than 250 yards from their doorstep - to 1 of 25 pick-up points dotted around the area. Here, a hackney-style ride-sharing cab will transport them to the Nevil Road or Ashley Down Road bus stops on A38 Gloucester Road ...
... from where high frequency buses provide direct transport to UWE, Filton Abbey Wood and other businesses in the northern fringe of Bristol or to the City Centre.

But here My First Mile is different.

Arriva Click is very much a "shared taxi" service creating journeys to accommodate, as far as possible, the requirements of each individual "clicker".

Ford's Chariots run on fixed routes but will aggregate their passengers and, presumably, miss out bits where no-one is needing to travel.

My First Mile's morning "commute" service would appear to be a relatively normal set of three bus routes!
Each runs half hourly until about 1000 ...
... meaning there is a possible bus every ten minutes, but you may need to seek out a different stop. fbb has downloaded he App but not registered, so is unable to comment on prices - but early press releases suggested £6 for a through "taxi" plus bus journey.

The Esoterix people seem keen to make it all work, so when fbb enquired about maps of each route a reply came back very quickly.

Apologies for the delay in getting back to you.

We had timetables on the website but not route maps. Following your question, we've created the attached which we will upload this week.


Below is Route A, map plus the first two journeys as above ...
... and maps extracted for routes B and C.
Bristol experts will notice that certain stops are common to more than one route, so for some addresses a service more frequent than the basic half hour should be possible.

The evening return journey is even better, with passengers getting off the bus near the Co-op supermarket ...
... from where one of the branded vehicles will depart and drop them off at home, using the most optimal route to drop off multiple passengers.

So the return journey is much more "Demand Responsive" which makes excellent sense and neither the commuter, not the taxi, nor even First Bus can be certain of an accurate arrival time.

The success of the project will very much depend on how successful a "fuzzy logic" homeward link will be at saving times and stress.
James Freeman, Managing Director of First West of England, says

"This is a great and innovative way of helping commuters who live too far from a bus stop to use the bus.  By bringing a service closer to their homes, their daily commute is easier.  Plus, there’s no need to waste time looking for a place to park or pay for parking."

The question then revolves round price and convenience. Clearly My First Mile is not as convenient as a taxi, you need to travel when the minibus is scheduled. Will the price charged be enough to get people out of their cars?

fbb will welcome any on-going reports (with pictures?) which illustrate the success (or otherwise) of this innovative scheme.

One aspect of the scheme rang a few danger bells. Using the journey planner for a typical morning "commute" the input screen converted real places into postcodes ...
... as here for a trip to Temple Meads station. But then FIVE possible journeys appeared, all effectively the same journey but each one slightly different.
Some options offered an alighting stop on Temple Way ...
... which seems daft  ...
... as the number 72 terminates outside the station entrance!
Maybe using postcodes instead of actual bus stop locations and names creates the anomaly; but that last thing a harassed commuter needs is confusion!

Esoterix will need to think about a few tweaks to their algorithms, for which, as ever, ointment is available from the local pharmacy!

And the "Fourth" that is "Coming Along"?

What is claimed to be the biggest "Demand Responsive" scheme in the UK is to be introduced for passengers from locations outside the "Eastern Arc" of the City of Oxford.
Only a general announcement has so far appeared and fbb will try to catch up as soon as possible.

 Next Bedford barminess blog : Thursday 24th May 


  1. I believe from information published elsewhere that the £6 fare includes a First Bristol day ticket (usually £4 off bus, or £4.50 on bus).

  2. Thanks Sheildsman. I have just received a publicity "flyer" which confirms that.

  3. It’s actually quicker to walk from Temple Way to the back entrance of Temple Meads at peak.