Monday, 28 May 2018

Playing Catch-up - Significant Snippets (2)

It's All Happening in Brizzle!
Tomorrow the M3 Metrobus starts ...
... with its green edged vehicles, a 20 minute frequency and free travel for a couple of weeks. The whole Metrobus project has been plagued by delays and controversy but it ought to bring something special to the streets of Bristol. Whether it will ever be commercially successful is still a subject for much debate.

But yesterday another innovative route started. The traditional journey to Thornbury was via the Gloucester Road with various loops and twiddles as 77 (Stagecoach), 78 and 79 (First Bus).

The First Bus routes become T1 (was 79) and T2 (was 78) ...
... with T1 being a diversion via the M32 and Bradley Stoke with a doubling of frequency.
Oddly, the two routes serve different destinations in the City centre with the traditional T2 serving the bus station ...
... whilst the upgraded T1 terminates at "The Centre", once the Tramway Centre.

Routes in Thornbury itself are complex. Perhaps a detailed route map of the town might help.
There is a "brand" but it is much more low key that the recent Discover from Bath or even the M3.
Posh buses are promised!

Not Sheffield But Northampton.
Later this week, fbb will look at the service withdrawals brought about by the withdrawal of all (almost all) subsidy from the near-broke county council.

In Northampton, the dominant operator is, of course, Stagecoach, First having capitulated several years ago. Correspondent Alan sends this picture from the too-small North Gate bus station.
The notices in the empty racks make a depressing read.
The words "Travel Centre" provide an interesting use of language - Travel Window might be better.
Alan adds his own incisive comments.

Very often even  a comprehensive set of Stagecoach Midlands timetables is not available at Northampton North Gate so the chances of picking up printed information about the services operated by Centrebus, Country Lion. Meridian Bus, National Express,  Red Rose. Uno and even Stagecoach East are slender.

Of course you could queue up at the little enquiry window and ask, hoping that your bus does not depart in the meantime. (Sometimes even from the scheduled bay). This problem will partly solve itself in July when Centrebus, Country Lion and Uno withdraw services as a result of the ending of all subsidy from transport authority, Northamptonshire County Council.

Recently it has been announced that M&S will be closing their store in the town - a feature of Abington Street shopping even in fbb's youth.
The local area "boss" of M&S (Zoe Gibbard) has not endeared herself to Northamptonians by telling them that, after closure, they can go to the new much nicer store at Rushden Lakes, approximately 16 miles away!

Which explains Alan's acerbic comment in the next item.

And Lichfield As Well
Northamptonshire County Council’s na├»ve belief that provision of bus timetable information can safely be left to the operators is shared up at County Hall in Stafford.
Lichfield bus station is just across the road from Lichfield City railway station.
Services are provided by Arriva, Diamond and Midland Classic and there is a list of what departs from each stand.  Unfortunately it is produced by Deutsche Bus who are sulking and are only going to tell you about their routes and it is the only listing available.
Like others in England Lichfield  bus station is basic and semi-dilapidated.

For the record, there is nothing about buses anywhere on the station - the official plan only mentions taxis.
There is plenty of room in the on the booking hall wall to erect leaflet racks; but there is no sign of any bus information.
Alan concludes his thumbnail of Lichfield Bus Station thus:-

If Zoe Gibbard from M and S was in charge she would close it and tell you about the shiny new bus station in Derby you could use.

And the fbb Scoop?
For today, fbb promised a possible scoop in yesterday's blog. Because of the Bank Holiday, he has not been able to obtain any "official" response. To be fair to all concerned, publication will be delayed for a day or so in case further information comes in.

A Bank Holiday Mystery Picture
What has happened here?
Answer tomorrow - definitely!

 Next Catch-up blog : Tuesday 29th May 


  1. Small error which I've noticed - I don't believe Uno run any subsidised services from Northgate, instead running subsidised route 86 from The Drapery.

  2. Although Lichfield bus station is a miserable place, Midland Classic (and I think Central Buses, which is now Diamond) has branded their shelter so it is arguably the most obvious departure stand there.

  3. Northampton Borough and Northamptonshire County Councils consider Drapery to be Bays 15 to 21 of the bus station.

  4. The T1 had shiny new(ish) buses yesterday. The T2 didn't. No sign of any branding on the vehicles, but I gather this is a 'soft launch'.

  5. Northampton: have any leaflets for those operators been supplied to Stagecoach (who I presume are responsible for the enquiry office? Do the operators even publish them? Why should Stagecoach have to ask?

    Lichfield 1: Note the poster heading "your Arriva Midlands bus". Might that imply the poster was published by Arriva Midlands, and therefore only contains details of Arriva Midlands services? Or do we need to bring out the Tesco/Sainsbury's argument again?

    Lichfield 2: Did any operator supply information to be put in the station? Has anybody asked whether they can? Has anybody checked if previously supplied information has run out?

    Lichfield 3: perhaps because it is a plan of the *rail* station, not the *bus* station? Many bus stations are entirely separate from the rail station - should they be included when miles away?

  6. LWBM : You points are valid but do not excuse a lack of effort all round. Where buses are easily accessible from a station the station plan should show them - and in detail. Likewise bus stations should have directions to the train station.

    Whilst Arriva may not wish spend money (effectively nothing) on including other operators on their list, it is unacceptable that a complete list is not available.

    If, as a society, we wish to reduce car usage,pollution etc. etc. we MUST do a better job AND NO EXCUSES.

    1. But who is "we"?

      Central Government make noises in that direction, but have cut local authority funding to the bone, effectively stopping potential progress.

      Why should Arriva include anyone else on their list? And if they do, given the way things can change who is responsible when it goes out of date? Out of date information upsets FBB too. I know Arriva could check N&P but when we replaced one operator overnight and another an 26 minutes notice (yes, twenty six MINUTES) N&P looks rather slow. And if Arriva work on a couple of changes a year it will cost them when Bloggs Buses becomes Jones the Bus in between Arriva's changes.

      Finally, does FBB really believe there is a policy to reduce car usage, pollution etc when Govt has no bus policy, and won't go without the tax revenue (and more importantly) the votes of the car user?

    2. But how do you know it is a lack of effort? You are surmising no effort has been made, when perhaps it has, and has either not been reciprocated or simply just awaiting refill.

      Whilst they are both methods of transport, it and there should be some sort of ideal nirvana, how far do you go? I never see you critcize bus operators for not including train times when they serve stations. Or including taxi numbers for evenings. A taxi firm doesn't give a list of bus routes in case they are busy. They are entirely separate. And don't start on the Arriva factor either: they are no more the same thing than Go North East and Plymouth Citybus.

      It is not the job of a private operator to provide information for another private operator less inclined to do so, nor for a council in a similar position. One Lichfield independent has timetable leaflets on every single bus. Maybe it doesn't feel the need to have another operator, whose paper timetables are generally so difficult to track down you could write the entire thing down longhand off the Internet in the time it takes to find one, do its advertising for it?

      As shieldsman points out below, there are posters detailing bus stops for all national rail stations with information. However - they are frequently out of date for a plethora of reasons!

  7. The vast majority of stations have an Onward Travel Information poster on display, that does show nearest bus stops and destinations. The Lichfield City one can be accessed here:
    I think it pretty well meets the brief of an overview of local connections, though I cannot vouch for how accurate and up to date it is (2017 according to the date near the bottom).
    As far as trying to keep other operators' information in stock, as LWBM describes, some won't supply any, and there is always the risk of it being wrong. Locally an independent runs a subsidised route that was changed perhaps three years ago because of a traffic management change. It has neither re-registered the service to show the correct route (free in this instance - no fee when it is due to a Traffic Regulation Order), nor updated any publicity. As a consequence, Traveline is wrong too. Should we still give out knowingly-wrong leaflets for it?

  8. M&S is closing stores right, left and centre. Bournemouth and Portsmouth have already lost their large town centre stores.