Friday, 17 August 2018

Timetable Problems (2)

Correspondent Roger sent this timetable to fbb suggesting that it might need investigation. In one direction, it appears "normal" at first glance ...
It shows three journeys from Andover to Newbury via the A343 (1035, 1335 and 1659) numbered 7 ...
... and three journeys (0850, 1150 and 1450)  from Burghclere Common to Newbury via lots of intriguing places, numbered 7A. The 0720 from Andover joins in with the "villages" route and you might expect it to be a 7A.

But it is still a 7 despite taking a lot longer end-to-end. The service is clearly a "cost effective" (i.e. cheap) way of giving these "villages" a commuter run into the flesh-pots of Newbury.

These are the attractive stops at Ball Hill ...
... and this is the eponymous garage, not easily spotted from either of them!
But did our eagle-eyed readers spot the "intersting" feature of the table for the opposite direction?
the pattern in similar; three trips via the "villages", two along the main road to Andover, and two Andover journeys diverted via the villages. Seemples? 

Well, actually, NOT seemples!

Time runs backwards for the three "local" trips!
For some time, there has been a convention that buses that run backwardly out of order have their times shown with brackets, in a different colour or otherwise annotated. Not so the the 7A!

West Berkshire Council publish a timetable book (presumably also available in hard copy).
Its timetable for the 7/7A shows something understandable for timings TO Newbury ...
... but to get to the "villages" FROM Newbury ...
... you only have the two afternoon journeys which divert there on their way to Andover.

Does a map help? Stagecoach's is no use because it simply fizzles out at the border.
The West Berks book has maps but they are hard to follow, paying only lip-service to geography ...
... and the 7/7A fizzle out at a different border! But good old Hampshire, still one of the best local authorities despite cut-backs, gives us map that begins to make sense.
In essence the 7A is a circular, Newbury, Burghclere, Penwood, Ball Hill and Newbury ...
... with a Monday to Friday and a Saturday version of the "diverted" 7. Seemples - to a point. The service 7 journeys FROM Newbury go "the other way round" but only as far as the A343.
Which leaves two fbb assembled tables for the through 7s; from Newbury to Andover ...
 ... and vice versa.
Again, fbb has not added a MF and S note to the first journey of the day.

Surely this is a better way of doing it? Agreed, it takes up twice as much space, but it is more helpful to the potential passenger.

It does seem that, as passenger numbers decline, bus operators, local authority tenderers etc. in a desperate attempt to save a few clods, all manage to make timetables more incomprehensible and off-putting.

As ever, fbb's design skills are offered free to Stagecoach, West Berkshire, Andover and even Hampshire. The latter reproduces the Stagecoach "backward" timetable ...
... and does tell us it is doing it (note b), but, sadly, it doesn't really explain the circulars.

Traveline, of course, insists that you change buses from the 7A to the 7A at Burghclere.
At least it doesn't make you wait THREE HOURS for the connection!

And, if you have forgotten what this is all about, here is Roger's picture of a service 7A at Newbury bus station ...
... showing that it does go beyond Burghclere, despite evidence of the West Berks Timetable. Hopefully at Burghclere it will change its destination screen to show Newbury via Woolton Hill.

Thanks again to correspondent Roger for provoking this exploration and supplying some of the piccies.

Part of tomorrow's posting will also be from Newbury.

 Next collection of bits blog : Saturday 18th August 


  1. Andrew Kleissner17 August 2018 at 09:10

    Might there be some value in using arrows to denote the direction of travel, as in continental rail timetables?

  2. Hmm... If you included all of the timetable for the 7A in your screenshots, including the note that says "Route 7A runs in a one way loop via Burghclere, Penwood, Broadlayings and Woolton Hill", it is clear that the loop working is very clearly explained.

    See page 3 of 4 in this file, a copy of the Andover timetable booklet (found by searching the Stagecoach website (set to Andover) for the 7A timetable:

    It might not be laid out according to your (or your correspondent's) preferences, but it is incorrect to say it is not explained.

  3. The fact that I did not spot that note is indicative of the fact that it is NOT properly explained. An indication on the times would be bettwer and less likely to be missed. As would a map to accompany the timetable.

    1. With respect, not seen does not equate to not there, which is what is being suggested. I accept on the PDF the note is small, but in the timetable booklet it is shaded light blue (tan on the PDF) on white, right next to the Saturday times. In either case, it would have had to be cropped out of the way to produce the screenshots for this blog.

      The explanation and the presentation are different arguments, though, and I agree Stagecoach don't do as good a job as they could. I presume the idea is to give the full service to Wash Water and Penwood, and in the process doing a less than ideal job for the other villages.

      Service 5, on the previous page, shows a much better example of how to present a loop working!

  4. Ah, route 7. Used to be one of my locals.

    Until a few years back separate route numbers were used (probably because the round-the-villages service had more funding then). You had the 20 for the through Andover - Newbury service(X20 if it skipped out the smaller villages), and the 'locals' had two or three varieties in the 21-22 series. At some point the 21/22 was part of the Cango semi-demand-responsive network