Wednesday, 17 July 2019
Tantalising Tripartite Traumas (3)
Arriva versus Safeguard
Readers may remember that, at one time, these two companies worked jointly and cosily on the two routes in question, namely the Park Bark circulars and Bellfields. For whatever reason, the two decided to break their relationship and Safeguard would thereafter operate exclusively to Park Barn.
Please remember (how could you forget?) that Arriva's 26/27 circulars did serve Park Barn generally ...
... as does the new Stagecoach 1 an 2. We are talking about buses that penetrate deep into the estate, performing a one way circular loop. Here is the situation immediately after Stagecoach snaffled the University "contract" from Arriva.
From the Park Barn roundabout the 1, 26 and 27 use Park Barn Drive in both directions, whereas the 4 and 5 only travel northbound.
The Safeguard routes then veer left along Cabell Road which runs to the north and west of the estate.
As the road morphs into South Way (cunning name for a road to the south of the development) the buses pass church ...
... shops ...
... primary school ...
... pub ...
... and secondary school.
It gets better results and better inspections if it calls itself a "College", apparently!
Then you are back at the roundabout. The full routes 4 and 5 and well displayed on Safeguard's timetable, showing that they also visit the Hospital.
The "agreement" gave Safeguard exclusive right to the estate itself ...
... running every 10 to 15 minutes both ways round.
Saturdays offer a bus every 15 to 20 minutes, again both ways round whilst Sunday daytimes 4s and 5 run every 20 - very impressive. All evenings have buses via the "upper" part of the route only, out as 4s to the park Barn loop only and back as 5s.
Meanwhile Arriva had exclusivity on the Bellfields Route.
Of course, Arriva messed this up by deciding to run minibuses on the 3 ...
... with no increase in frequency; something of a PR disaster! The unsatisfactory vehicles soon got the heave-ho and normality returned.
But the removal of the University from the 26/7 circular by Big Bad Brian's Stagecoach meant that the blue bus boys were in a parlous financial state. It needed a cunning plan, which was as easy as A B C.
A (ORANGE) runs every 10 minutes to the Hospital direct.
B (PURPLE) every 10 minutes (via Safeguard's northern route) to Park Barn.
C (GREEN) competes with Stagecoach 1/2 at Stoughton running every 15.
The agreement with Safeguard is unilaterally broken.
As fast as you can say "Traffic Commissioners", Safeguard registered their service 3 ...
... to Bellfields, an exact copy (route and frequency) of the Arriva service ...
... but they number it 3s (s for Safeguard for those hadn't worked it out!) in case you do not spot the colour of the bus.
So, to summarise the battle joined.
Arriva A competes with Stagecoach 1 and Safeguard 4/5 at the Hospital
Arriva B competes with Safeguard 4/5 at Park Barn
Arriva C competes with Stagecoach 1/2 at Stoughton
Arriva 3 competes with Safeguard 3s at Bellfields
Is this silly or is this silly?
This was the local press back in December 2018 before the battle became bitter.
Arriva's Surrey and Kent operations lost nearly £900,000 in 2017, and the company claims its Guildford depot is no longer profitable.
Bus drivers at Arriva's Guildford depot face having salary cuts imposed on them as the company's Kent and Surrey branch struggles financially.
In a letter sent to Arriva's 120 Guildford-based drivers, and seen by Surrey Live, the company said the depot in Mary Road was running at a loss after losing contracts for some routes.
These include the 81, 437, 462 and 463, which the company had been paid £300,200 a year to operate until the routes were awarded to Berkshire-based CE Jeatt and Sons in September.
Bus watchers will know C E Jeatt and Sons as White Bus ...
... based in Winkfield.
Rather than make drivers redundant, the letter went on, the company plans to terminate the contracts of all its Guildford drivers and then re-employ them on a lower salary. No drivers are expected to lose their jobs permanently.
Arriva has already begun trying to expand its business in Guildford, increasing its services to and from the Royal Surrey County Hospital in a move described by the managing director of rival Safeguard as "muscling in" on his company's territory.
The trouble is that both Stagecoach and Arriva are big enough to sustain loss making services. The David to their Goliath, despite 95 years of loyal service to the town, is simply not big enough to weather a prolonged storm and "Safeguard" their business.
let us hope that the residents of Park Barn and Bellfields are wise enough to support their local operator and thus ensure the continuation of the service.
To see how things were working out "on the road" fbb took a trip to the hospital and back after the First Bus launch of RA2.
Next Guildford bus blog : Thursday 18th July