Saturday, 30 June 2018

The Good, The Very Good and the Ugly

Salty Fudge
fbb has been accused of being very horrid to poor old First Bus (surely not?) and in particular poor old First Bus on Sheffield. But this is not fair; where Mr Fearnley's finest features "First"-rate publicity, fbb is always ready to report thereon with enthusiasm.

The launch of "along the Salt Road" branding for the Birmingham to Worcester 144 was accompanied by Roman Centurions, refurbished buses and fudge!
The latter offers only about 8 million calories a bar!

A few days after the launch, a leaflet dropped through the fbbs' active letterbox.
There were the timetable pages, of course ...
... plus an excellent route map.
There are also maps for each of the main towns served, showing every stop.
To encourage you to set off and explore, there are helpful "tourist" panels scattered through the little booklet ...
...all excellent "come and try me" stuff. The 144 runs "limited stop" between Birmingham and Rubery, and the leaflet provides a detailed map for that section as well.
Just one small concern niggles the chubby one, however.

There are timetables for Sunday, for Monday to Friday during school holidays AND Saturday ...
... and a separate table for schooldays. No probs, it makes sense to cut down on confusion and clutter, BUT ...
... the headings are quite difficult to read. More contrast required.

Seaside Fantastic
Just a reminder, really, to First Bus senior management, as to how good their Cornwall (Kernow) timetable BOOK is.
It is 182 pages long and contains all of the company's offerings. There are two maps (Ray Stenning, of course), for west of Truro ...
... and the rest of the county.
(click on ANY Kernow picture and you should get an enlargement)

There is plenty of fares info with some very good deals weekly and for families.
£12 for one day - £26 for 7 days (one person), £24/£50 for a family.

But there is one snag. The booklet is "perfect bound"; i.e. sets of pages glued to a spine. There is really no other way to do it, but stuff  "down the crack" cab be hard to dig out.
This can be frustrating with long routes which run over two pages.
There is a "gutter" on each page, but some will find it hard to pull the sheets apart.
But at least fbb can boost his energy levels to assist with the amazonian effort needed!
Perhaps a free bar of fudge with every booklet?

Sheffield Farce - Again!
Stagecoach are being innovative. They have joined the existing X17 (Matlock, Chesterfield, Sheffield) with the relatively new X65 (Meadowhall and Barnsley)

Here is a timetable extract from Derbyshire showing how it fits together.
Amongst other benefits, it gives folk from Chesterfield and parts of Sheffield a fast run to Meadowhall and, even more exciting, it serves the new IKEA store.

So, how does the ever (in)competent PTE handle the new service.

Looks fine.

What’s changed
Extended beyond Sheffield to run through to Meadowhall and Barnsley, replacing service X65 to improve access to employment.

Yes, absolutely right.

But then comes this:-

Please note that due to technical difficulties we have not been able to show the timetable in this leaflet operating as a through service between Barnsley, Sheffield, Chesterfield and Matlock. This will be rectified as soon as possible.

At least (unlike the ludicrous "underground-style" map) they do admit it is wrong.

But why is it wrong? Derbyshire's version has been available on-line for the public for over two weeks, and probably longer in the "back office".

It could have been dealt with easily using copy and paste by any average 7 year old; but not, apparently, the over-large over-expensive PTE. Anyway, it would involve talking to those oddities across the border - and that would never do.

Or the PTE gnomes could just poke the Derbyshire pages on their web site!

Until they wind up the computer, or give young Justin a bag of toffees, we have to put up with Sheffield to Chesterfield and Matlock ...
... including acres of completely unnecessary blank space. Then we have separate tables for Barnsley to Sheffield.
Beyond belief!

It's the fault of the computer, you know.

The whole web site has been busted on-and-off for the last few days.
Hey ho.

Please note that ALL the headlines above are for events long past.

Time for more essential research.

 Next oddments collection - Sunday 1st July 

Friday, 29 June 2018

Brand New Station Opens in Devon

And it made it onto the lunchtime and early evening "Spotlight" news for the south west on the telly.
Yes, Seaton Tramway's new terminus building opened for business yesterday. It stands on the site of the old quaint station ...
... and is not the flavour of the month for many Seatonians. It is too big, they say ...
... matching the height of Tesco (above right). It has four "platforms" each with huge electric doors ...
... which cut off the power to the overhead when they are closed; sophisticated, but a lot more to go wrong.

Whilst the main crowd assembled at the entrance, fbb joined a small gaggle of observers outside Tesco's CostaLot coffee shop. 

Before the jollification began, one of the drivers popped out to talk to the assembling observers.
This, it turned out, was the man of the moment - the driver of the very first departure.

The first load of passengers loaded ...
... and amidst a display of fireworks, a brass band playing, hundreds of balloons released and a troupe of dancing girls - actually a toot toot on the hooter - the first ever tram in service left the station; four minutes late.
Note the cameraman, standing, and the small boy in yellow, seated. The beeb really did travel on the first trip.
Somewhere in the gloom of Tesco stood fbb recording the auspicious egress of tram no. 11.
All four bays had trams awaiting ...
... it was quite impressive but sadly not as visible from the road as in times past - but good viewing as you toy with your Bumpy White Mocca Maximellata with sprinkles and sea salt. Or you might have a cup of coffee instead!

Having waved the first away, fbb nipped round to explore the full gamut of the exciting appurtenances.

A bit more signage is needed ...
... but the "front end" is impressive, if you like that sort of thing.
Inside, the 1020 was loading ...
... and there was a queue for tickets. Or was it a queue for the caff? The two are side-by-side, a set-up which might cause some problems on busy days.
The fare has been increased from £10 to £11 for a day "rover"; not cheap for one round trip ...
... but a single to Colyton at £7 seems unreasonably high.

One tram on "standby" was No 19.
This originally ran on 3'6" gauge track (a bit bigger than a metre) in Exeter, where it was an open top double decker bought in 1906.
It was rebuilt at the Seaton depot as a conventional single deck for the unique 2'9" gauge.

The planned "printed timetable" blog will follow tomorrow. After an hour or so on Wednesday evening wrestling with two keyboards, fbb was so anxious to put yesterday's post to bed that he completely forgot about the trammy news! No 3 son arrives on Sunday to install a new keyboard.

 Next printed timetable blog : Saturday 30th June 

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Shap On The Map (2)

Industry in the Shap area included the dramatic Lime Works ...
... and granite quarries.
A delve back into the great Great Britain Bus Timetable of nearly 20 years ago (is it really that long?) reveals shift time buses from Appleby ...
... with a Fridyas only "shoppers" return 942. But the "main" service was the 106 which ran via Shap between Penrith and Kendal six days a week.
Other, less frequent routes ran along some of the 106's roads ...
... but basically the 106 and its college day 506 provided the bulk of the buses.
In 2014 Cumbria Council withdrew its funding and the 106 ceased. Much to Shapians delight, Reays took the service on, commercially ...
... and then promptly withdrew. Local reports say that they had failed to register it with the traffic commissioners, but no registration ever reappeared and neither did Reays 106.

Much consternation as Shap was left with a college bus ...
... which was no use for getting to Penrith and condemned Kendal customers to 9½ hours to enjoy their retail therapy there!

But Parish Councils and other community groups rallied to the cause and provided subsidy for a bus on three days a week.

It was this service that attracted the attention of blog reader Alex. Knowing something of the route's history, he turned first to the Stagecoach Cumbria web site and this is what he found. (click on the timetables for larger versions where necessary)
The notes are revealing:-

1 : Kendal College days only
2 : School holidays only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays only.

So far just about OK. The next line shows:-

Day! - Day pattern is different to timetable (erm ...??)
Prd1 - Only operates on limited dates (dates not known)
XPrd2 - Does not operate on these dates (followed by school holiday dates)

XPrd2 NOT school holidays is also note 2, school holidays ONLY! Then we have "day" codes:-

TWFX - Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday (not Bank Holidays)
Unk - Unknown days of operation
FPX - Friday, period only (not Bank Holidays)
MThPX - Monday to Thursday period only (not Bank Holidays)

To add to the farce, no times are shown between Shap and Penrith AND the 502 is a totally different route.

The heading shows all three services (106, 502 and 506) as running between Kendal, Penrith and Brough.
WRONG!

In the opposite direction, things are equally clear.
Blog readers may like to solve the puzzle!

Cumbria Council produces a leaflet which includes the 106 and 506 ...
... which helps, probably.
The triangles against the 561 tell you that the service is now withdrawn. But the 106 and 506 look simpler.

But an even better explanation of the 106/506 comes from ...

... guess ...

Yes! This is another version of the stagecoach timetable; here from Kendal to Penrith ...
... and below, from Penrith to Kendal
The notes (referring to the same timetable as the weird lot) are much simpler.

TWF - Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays only
Col - college days only
Chol - college holidays only

It is hard to understand what outbreak of insanity caused Stagecoach to publish the ludicrously off-putting originals - daftness in extremis - but at least the sensible version appears to be available now.

The "Friends of the 106" have always posted the correct timetable on their web site.
The "Friends" have secured funding for the next two years and passenger numbers are slowly but steadily increasing.

An excellent example of community funding for an unremunerative but socially essential service.

And silliness is not an exclusive prerogative of the bus industry.

Chum Julia (of recent holiday fame) had a fall in her flat on Sunday last so the fbb's nipped off to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital to visit. She was in Clyst ward.

And just inside the main entrance is a big panel giving directions round this vast hospital complex.
There is a list of wards in alphabetical order ...
... but NO Clyst!

The fbbs found it - eventually.

 Next printed timetable blog : Friday 29th June