Monday, 13 August 2018

Notable or Nutty News-bites (2)

Do They Ever Use Their Own Stuff (2)?
Yesterday fbb mentioned that a former failed Guildford minibus was spotted in Sittingbourne, operating a local service to Kemsley.
But to be honest, your chubby blogger could not remember where Kemsley was ort what sort of service was on offer. But Arriva's web site jumped not very smartly to the rescue. Up popped a timetable for the 347 from which the extract below was culled. (click on the timetable to enlarge it)
Not that there are FOUR buses an hour, two via Newman Drive Pond (Pond-less on the above destination blind.

But note that there are EIGHT journeys in the repeat pattern block.

Note 1 means Schooldays ONLY; Note 2 School Holidays.

The challenge for our blog readers is to spot the difference between the schoolday and the school holidays times. It is far from easy, but fbb suspects that his readers are made of strong stuff and can cope with the challenge.

The WHOLE Monday to Friday timetable has all journeys duplicated and annotated, just to allow the confuser to included the few journeys that are actually different.

Really, do they ever use their own stuff?

Do They Ever Use Their Own Stuff (2)?
There are numerous timetable changes in Sheffield from September 2nd, the wold's most popular date for confusing the customers (sorry!) revising the timetables. Bearing in mind that there is likely to be NO printed material until weeks after the change and that the bus companies don't actually rush to tell you about their services, how easy is it to find out about any given route on the TSY web site?
There is diddly squat about forthcoming timetable changes on the home page. Of course you could laborious search for every service that you might be interested in and hope the new table is there waiting for you. And you have to keep looking.

Surely there is a list of the changes somewhere?

Indeedy there is! From your mobile phone tap on the "menu" icon - no fbb didn't know what it was either, until No 3 son expounder thereupon.
Getting there! Tap " news and updates" ...
... erm, getting there? Tap again on "service changes".
Maybe we won't bother with the July changes (July 22nd 2018) but we can tap the September heading.

And there - at last - is the list. It is lengthy and often couched in mysterious bus planners argot; but at least it is there. Oh, yes; and some of the information is wrong ...

... e.g.Stagecoach 44 is not changing in the slightest!.
But beware ...
 It will be obvious from the list which timetables are published and which are "pending".
Not on fbb's phone it ain't! You just have to prod aimlessly on the screen until something happens. In fact, regular users will soon learn that you prod the route number on the left. The only result of more general prodding is an increase in detritus on the screen. "Barnsley 1" is there in all its glory, but "Barnsley 2" is not.


Suppose we want Sheffield 1 (which, as is clear from the display, includes Sheffield 1A - they are not separate tables).
Tap the line for 2nd September and ... wait in almost unbearable excitement ...


Tap "here" and ...
... you get nothing.

Five or six updates behave in this way - and, as you might expect, these five include the services with the biggest changes.

Really, do they ever use their own stuff?

Give up travelling by bus and read a good entertaining book.

How About An Agatha Christie Novel?
One of fbb's favourite Miss Marbles series on the telly was the Beeb's version starring Joan Hickson.
He enjoyed all the stories, which were generally true to the original narrative. The more recent ITV series have mangled Aggies tales to the point of anguished destruction and should be ignored. If fbb has a fave, it would be ...
... at Bertram's Hotel. The story involves a dotty vicar (Rev Pennyfather, played by Preston Lockwood) ...
... and a gloriously deceptive baddie (Bess Sedgwick, played with glorious gusto by Caroline Blakiston).
So what has this go to do with Public Transport?

A later edition of the book has a pseudo Routemaster on the cover - not totally out of place as the story was first published in 1965.
So come to Hartland in North Devon ...
... and you could stay at "Bertram's Hotel"!!!???
It is a posh self-catering establishment parked in Mine Host's back garden.

The walls are adorned by Agaths memorabilia and pictures ...
... the Routemaster bus illustration is on the bulkhead at the foot of the stairs. The accomodation looks very comfortable ...
... good enough even for Jane Marple and Bess Sedgwick.

The bus is a London bus - it must be, it's red; and it began its life with London United the first time around.
Then to new owner Transdev ...
...and finally back to London United (name only) under the ownership of R A T P, a k a Paris City Transport.
It ran in the Hounslow area.

The bus finally ended up with Sussex Coaches operating school journeys in the Crawley area ...
... until sold for static use by its present Christie fan! fbb might like to stay there, but perhaps Mrs fbb ...

Tomorrow we go to Newbury.

And fbb has not forgotten Stuttgart!

 Next News-bites blog - Tuesday 14th August 


  1. Stagecoach Fife changed timetables today and boxes of the new timetables were in St Andrews bus station in Saterday for the public to help themselves.

  2. I think the real problem with the way bus companies engage with the world wide web is that while it is seen as a "must have" it is also seen as an "add on" to someone's already busy job.

    Because of that, the necessary resources have not been allocated to the task, although there has been an attempt to make it all work by automating some aspects of the process.

    But, like all automatic processes, it needs quality information in to get even good information out. And that data won't (in all cases) be exactly the same as that which drives EBSR, RTPI, duty scheduling, paper publicity and roadside [printed] displays.

    Each is likely to need its own tweak, maybe extra data to make loops show correctly, maybe less data to stop loops having twice as many web departures than real ones, etc etc.

    But all too often management doesn't see that, they want a website, and think that because "we use it elsewhere, we must have the timetable data, what's the problem?"

    There will, of course, be people working on such websites who merely see it as a job, but I suggest that actually there are many more people in the industry who are at least as frustrated as FBB by the way things are. By the way their hard work is presented to the customer.

    But, because the company website is seen simply as "keeping up with the Jonses" it doesn't get the attention, and investment, it deserves.

    I'd suggest that in many cases Traveline is the same. It suffers from the "not invented here" syndrome. Yes, I know that there are hard working Traveline officers, but there are also those who have no interest in the task, and who are working for managers who have never liked Traveline, and who have never invested the time and effort necessary to get the best from it.

    It is a sad state of affairs. And even using the best journey planner I'm struggling to see how we get from where we are to where we should be.

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