Friday, 4 May 2018

Promises, Promises ...

Buses For Sheffield Delivers ... ?
fbb often gets some stick for always having a go at the sad situation in Sheffield. Please remember that the fat bloke lived there from 1963 to 1984 and has a good local knowledge; probably better than most of the various management "teams" whose understanding is often (not always) limited to a computer screen.

Buses for Sheffield was announced in mid February, presaging some sort of progressive launch "from March".

Here are some of the press release nuggets that accompanied the start of this project.

One city. One service
Buses for Sheffield have co-ordinated Sheffield’s bus services to provide a unified service that works for everyone. By working together, we can offer more frequent bus services (up to every 10 minutes in some cases) on key routes in the city, and provide more efficient services to make life a little easier for our customers. 

Might that mean that some of the recent frequency cut-backs will be reversed? What do our blog readers think?

Changes for late May are now appearing on the Travel South Yorkshire (TSY) web site.

We try to provide bus services that customers can put their trust in. We will listen to your views and use them to improve our service.

Here is a service 56 (exclusively First Bus) timetable extract for today.
The frequency is confusingly between every 11 and 12 minutes - it used to be every 10. Now, that same service from Tuesday May 29th ...
... reduced to every 15 minutes!

Always for the customer.
Sheffield bus companies will reaffirm their commitment to improving bus travel and positioning the bus as the primary choice for local commutes.
There may well be commercial arguments in favour of this cut; at Herdings there is bus 1a ...
... and the infrequent PURPLE tram just across the road.
At the Wybourn end ...
... the housing has been upgraded, but the pub is closed ...
... and Chadhas is the only open shop of a once thriving little community.
But! Buses for Sheffield equals service reductions is hardly the positive image that was implied.

But there is worse to come!

Service 83/83a is a Sheffield Bus Partnership (remember that great idea?) jointly operated by First and Stagecoach. It begins at Ecclesfield, runs via part of the vast Parson Cross estate, then via Southey Green ...
... followed by a jiggle to get closer (but not close enough) to the Northern General Hospital. It completes its run into City by wiggling via the Firshill estate, helpfully (NOT!) unlabelled on the TSY map.
The route through the city centre is wildly different depending on direction, an oddity caused by history (stopping northbound at the now desolate Castlegate) ...
... and diverted southbound via back streets to reduce the number of buses in the "proper" city centre.
The joint route continues along the busy but over-bussed Ecclesall Road, then splits ...
... with a bus every 20 minutes to Fulwood and every 20 minutes to Greystones, uncredited on the TSY non leaflet map. The timetable is neat, useful and easy to understand with a stupid exception at Ecclesfield.
First Bus doesn't want any passengers to get on or off at the High Street, preferring to hand them all over to Stagecoach. In the northbound direction ...
... First Bus doesn't want passengers for the Moor Market or Morrisons on Ecclesfield Common and neither operator bothers to tell you that you can get TO the High Street!

Buses for Sheffield hopes to encourage bus travel by making bus information easier to understand, as all bus service information will be under one brand (i.e. Stagecoach OR First Bus).

Some hope!

We work together to provide our customers with the timely information they need to travel with us. We always try to make our customers’ days a little easier wherever and however we can. Fewer, coordinated service changes, which means that any bus service timetable or route changes will occur at the same time.

So we have a raft of timetable changes at the end of April; then, ONE MONTH LATER ...

Service 83/83a is "revised"; but in a manner that is beyond belief. Here is an extract from the new timetable.
Can our observant readers see what has happened?

Stagecoach route 83a still runs every 20 minutes from Ecclesfield via City to the Fulwood area but First have reduced their 83 to every 30 minutes! Of course, the joint ten minute frequency has gone to pot, with 20 minute gaps followed by both services running together.

1340, 1350, twenty minute gap, TWO buses at 1410, twenty minute gap, 1430 and then the pattern repeats.

Can this nonsense really have been created by thinking, professional bus managers?

A reminder of the Buses for Sheffield promise:-

Fewer, coordinated service changes, which means that any bus service timetable or route changes will occur at the same time.

Another quote from the the press release in February ...

"Buses for Sheffield” - a continuation of the successful work that has already been completed under the Sheffield Bus Partnership – is being launched to help unify all Sheffield bus services under one brand identity. Made up of Sheffield’s bus service providers, the common goal is to provide efficient, accessible and reliable bus services for the city.

A "spokesman" was also quoted:-

Everyone involved in Buses for Sheffield believes that there is room to improve bus travel across the city. We want to make bus travel in Sheffield more efficient, accessible and dependable for all. This shared goal has led to the creation of the new Buses for Sheffield vision and as a collective group, we will be investing in creating one common identity, to help make bus travel and information more consistent across the city.

Snorts of derision all round.

And we still await the "Underground style" easy to understand new route map. The boss of Stagecoach spoke with unfettered enthusiasm earlier in the year ...
... but we are still waiting!

Buses for Sheffield ought to be so very simple. Proper branding of the buses (easy), labelling of the bus stops (a doddle), a new network map (unnecessary!); all cheap and cheerful ways to promote bus travel in the city.

One idea as yet untried is to print some timetable leaflets for the upcoming changes; or even for the changes that happened over a week ago. Try it, folks - you might encourage people to travel by bus.

But you cannot promote the "unacceptable face of commercialism"; however, IF you must make cuts, at last make them sensible and NOT like the 83.83a or incomprehensible like the X10/10 nonsense expounded in yesterday's blog.

Buses for Sheffield - RIP?

P.S. Friday service withdrawal (see yesterday's blog). fbb is glad to see that First are operating buses on Fridays after all. So this week's competition (no prizes) involves spotting the difference between the timetables for ...
Monday to Wednesday OR
Friday OR
And, for a Brucie Bonus, how do the lads get to the depot on other days?
Still nothing on Fridays to Edlington and other locations!
Not quite as awful at TSB - yet!

Some extra Maltby bits have been postponed until tomorrow.

 Next Maltby (plus) blog : Saturday 5th May 

1 comment:

  1. Sheffield's bus services have deteriorated so much that it's becoming hard to see how any evolutionary measures might turn things round. And there's clear evidence from today's blog that the downward spiral is only going to continue.

    Is it too much to hope that the election of a 'Metro Mayor' for South Yorkshire could lead to a reappraisal of the whole approach in the same way that Andy Burnham is attempting in Greater Manchester? Probably.

    On the other hand, if the behaviours of the two major 'partnership' operators in Sheffield (and one of them in particular) are anything to go by, how upset would they really be if their right to run a commercial business in the city were removed? It seems that neither is making much money from the service they currently provide. Is the only hope for a high quality service which will really impact on car usage and traffic congestion a stable franchised network requiring a huge injection of public funds?