Tuesday, 15 May 2018

It's About Time (1)

What Is "Frequent"?
fbb returns to Sheffield to explore this vexatious topic, largely because Sheffield has been a significant part of his life both personally and as a user and enthusiast for public transport.

Trams ran from Walkley to Intake. At first they were single deck due to the hilly nature of the route ...
... and for a short time they carried the route letter "W". Later came the familiar double decks ...
... which traditionally ran through the city to Intake.
Here, as at Walkley Library, they stopped in the middle of the road with little concession to Health and Safety.
In 1956 the trams were withdrawn and replaced by bus route 95.
At Walkley half the journey still turned at the Library using a small loop via Camm Street.
The "other half" continued from the Library ...
... along Bole Hill Road ...
... and reversed into Tinker Lane.
Sometime in the early 1970s all buses were extended to Tinker Lane and a new nibble was eventually built a short distance up the lane where buses still reverse today, but less contentiously!
There is also a twee little stone built shelter.
At the Intake end a superb turning circle was built; it is still there complete with the now disused toilets and a small newsagents' kiosk.
Nothing uses the turning loop any more, but back then, "frequent" 95s would return from there to Walkley in droves! Here is the first stop up the hill ...
... and a near equivalent view today.
So what about "About Time"? Clearly not the 2013 Bill Nighty film ...
... delightfully amusing and totally lacking in grue though it be.

Tomorrow we take at look at what it actually means for an operator to offer a "frequent service"; and ask the unanswerable question, "at what point does a frequent service become so frequent that a timetable is unnecessary?"

If at all!

And, the following question, at what level does a frequency reduction become counter-productive as passengers perceive the service to have deteriorated to a point at which they change their travel patterns, but a bike and become non-passengers?

 Next time travel blog : Wednesday 16th May 


  1. Andrew Kleissner15 May 2018 at 07:17

    According to Transport for London: "A high frequency route has five or more buses an hour. It's a route where passengers tend not to look at the timetable before arriving at the stop.

    "For this reason we are more interested in how reliable and evenly spaced the service is. Scheduled arrival times are less important. We aim to ensure buses run at evenly spaced intervals and do not 'bunch'". I believe the most frequent London route is the 38, "every 2-6 minutes".

    Personally I would say that "frequent" means "at least every 10 minutes" ... and also that "frequent" is not the same as "regular" - my local bus in Ipswich at one time ran once a day, so it was definitely "regular" but not "frequent"!!!

  2. Under the TCs definition (& legally outside London) frequent means at least every 10-mins.

    From a passengers perspective, or at least this one, probably every 15-mins or better is frequent enough to not bother with a timetable. My local route was every 15-mins (now every 12) & my view was always that by the time I have dug out the timetable to check the times the bus has either just gone or about to come so I may as well just head out and wait as the bus will come soon anyway (& if you are allowing the at least 5-min extra for safety your wait won't be much longer than if you aim at a specific bus).

  3. Experience locally suggests that every 20 minutes is frequent enough for some people to "walk up and wait".

    True, the route concerned has suffered bad road works with consequent disruption, so the random approach has probably been as successful as the studious examination of the timetable.

    The route has grown well since it has been at 20 minute frequency, and the operator is desperate to make it every 15, but the numbers won't quite get there. But some housing developments should tip the balance, and a 15 minute service should, in itself, help growth.

  4. Perhaps you are covering this tomorrow- but in a quest to cover the peak service with the same resources as off-peak, on the 95 (which is especially affected by sitting in traffic queues due to its short length)the peak service is now less frequent than the off-peak (15 mins against 10). The 95 isn't unique in this, but it is especially pronounced in this case.

  5. Indeed, Dennis, mentioned tomorrow!

  6. Increasingly seeing reduced afternoon peak frequencies to deal with congestion - take Trent-Bartons Derby routes - The Allestree and Mickleover - both every 7/8 minutes til 330pm but every 10 minutes thereafter using the same resources. My own 10 minute service on Trents Rainbow 1 is every 10 minutes all day but fails completely by 5pm due to extended running times caused by congestion. I alighted a bus running 18 minutes late heading into Nottingham at 535pm tonight with no chance of make up time and this was the first bus heading into the city for 30 minutes on a 10 minute frequency.....