Thursday, 19 July 2018

A Bit Of Bother With Buxton

This blog failed to publish itself earlier today. Apologies. It mat have been a technological failure - more likely the usual human error.

Stop Press
The following staff notice has been distributed to employees at Wessex Bus in bristol.


Following 11 years of operating in the Bristol and Bath areas, over the last couple of years business opportunities have reduced and our presence in the area has fallen to a level that doesn't warrant the size of depot and overhead we have in place.

We are pleased to announce that a deal has been agreed with Cheltenham and Gloucester Omnibus Company Limited (owned by Stagecoach) who will be taking over these contracted routes from 2nd September 2018

3's Aztec West
11/11A Southmead
508 Southmead
513/514 Knowle
515 Imperial Park
625 UWE
TSB Staff Shuttle

The following routes will be deregistered from this date and will no longer be operated by Wessex or Stagecoach: 42, 12, 51

fbb guesses that these are commercial services which may be taken on by other operators or offered on tender if there are enough pennies available!

In addition, the 20's in Bath were lost at retender and the 10 service has been removed completely due to the service no longer being viable for the local authority

All current driving and engineering staff will TUPE transfer across to Stagecoach from this date and will join Stagecoach's Bristol operation

A full consultation will take place with staff in the coming weeks, with Stagecoach management on site to assist with the transfer process and to answer any questions.

Wessex Bus R.I.P.

At The Risk Of Being Repetitive ...
The recent history of route 65 between Buxton and Sheffield has been one of changing operators. For many years T M Travel (son of Trent) had sole sway.
Clearly all was not well with the commercial performance of the service, but a deal was struck for High Peak (based in Buxton) to take on two return journeys. The 65 became a joint service.
But not long afterwards, T M Travel pulled out completely and High Peak reigned supreme.
With branded buses ...
... and superb printed publicity, the service looked set fair for a good future.

Then came the body blow. High Peak announced that the route had not performed as well as they had hoped an they were cutting back to two return journeys a day with nothing on Sundays. In the withdrawn mix was a schoolday variation (65A) which clearly would need replacing.

Presumably, in headless chicken mode, Derbyshire County Council were under pressure to do something, firstly to get the little kiddies to school and, secondly, to salvage something of the rest of the service.

You would suppose that High Peak were hoping to prise a few extra pennies from the County's piggy bank and continue operating as normal.

New tender documents were issued which were rumoured to be "not very attractive, commercially". The results of the process are commercially confidential, but it is fair to suppose that High peak put in a proposal for some extra journeys in addition to the two that they had registered commercially, i.e. without subsidy.

SHOCK HORROR - Stagecoach won the tender!

SHOCK HORROR 2 - Stagecoach also registered the two "commercial" trips.
(click on the graphic for a larger timetable)

The 0903 and 1303 trips from Buxton receive no subsidy, neither do the journeys at similar times from Sheffield. This registration surprised seasoned bus watchers because (a) it takes Stagecoach well out of its comfort zone. It has depots in Sheffield and Chesterfield but nothing at all nearly 30 miles away at Buxton.

A second surprise was (b) the extension of journeys to Meadowhell shopping centre. When Meadowhell opened loadsa bus services were extended there, but slowly, as the early enthusiasm abated a little, most of these ceased. So is there really a commercial market for the elongated 65?

A careful perusal of the timetable reveals that some positioning journeys operated from Chesterfield on service 66, currently the preserve of Hulleys of Baslow, but also with a chequered history.

So, if you were Mr High Peak, what would you do?
Of course, you would, sensibly, withdraw your two "commercial" journeys. Seemples.

Only the nasty Traffic commissioners won't let you. You have to give the formal period of notice (effectively eight weeks) and then you can stop.


So, yesterday, in comes Travel South Yorkshire (TSY) with the combined Stagecoach and High Peak timetable.
Notice that the two operators apparently follow different routes in Buxton, Millers Dale and Great Hucklow (really?) ...
... and call a different stops at Ecclesall, in Sheffield.
fbb can help here. Stagecoach calls at Ecclesall, Ecclesall Rd South/Turning Circle ...
... at this shelter, in fact. But high Peak Buses serve a completely different point. Ecclesall, Ecclesall Rd South/Knowle Ln is here ...
... at the shelter beyond the grey car. Passengers really wouldn't want to make a mistake, would they?

But the nonsense of insisting on both services continued operation goes deeper. High Peak must keep going until they cancel (which, fbb is assured, they already have done!). But Stagecoach were allowed to start the service at short notice, without the full period of registration warning.

Sounds jolly unfair and definitely not cricket, eh, fellows?

It would be good to look at Stagecoach's promotional publicity for their new service, but, as of early afternoon yesterday ...
... they were keeping it a closely guarded secret; not even a timetable. fbb did ask, but ...


The timetable is still in production as it is part of a promotional leaflet which will be available to pick up on buses and in Sheffield Interchange. The timetable can be found on the Derbyshire County Council website here in the interim. 

Kind regards, 

Might it be available BEFORE the service starts?

At least Derbyshire gets it right. Indeed the county is showing the High peak journeys separately ...
... so they can be removed a soon as the potty and pointlessly punitive period of notice expires.

But you do have to wonder how long it will be before the savvy Stagecoach realise that the service 65 is, despite their expansive ambitions, not commercially viable and they, too, pull out; leaving the whole circus to set out on its illogical and unhelpful parade once again.

The unsatisfactory face of the deregulated highly regulated bus industry.

Will there be any passengers on Sunday?

Well, don't ask Traveline because, as of yesterday lunchtime, they were still showing the old withdrawn High Peak service for the whole of next week. (click on the table to enlarge it)
Beyond belief.

But in the good old says ...
... t was a Sheffield Joint Omnibus Committee service 84, shared with North Western Road Car.

 Next Jolly Good Timetable blog : Friday 20th July 


  1. As of this afternoon, the following page links right from the front page of the website in the Promo section (along with the Supertram replacement and X17 extensions):
    complete with Derbyshire-style timetable.

  2. The different descriptions of the same stop are presumably one of the hazards that the government's Open Data consultation will have to deal with. Of course, they all have their own individual reference already - the NaPTAN and ATCO codes - which any operator can use. The PTE could have done a bit more work and translated the High Peak registration stop by stop (as the Stagecoach one would already have been in this format, as they submit Electronic Bus Service Registrations).