Sunday, 23 February 2020

Weekend Variety (2)

And Then There Were Two
Liverpool Region's "Metro" Mayor, Steve Rotheram, has decided that bus franchising is the leading option. He joins Manchester's Andy Burnham whose ideas and aspirations seem highly impractical and VERY expensive.

Steve's sound-gobble, uttered on Thursday, explains all.

“Our communities rely on buses to connect them to work, education and training, family, hospitals and other public services, but too often the current, de-regulated system is letting people down.

“People have told me through our Big Bus Debate, that buses don’t run at the times they need them, especially early in the morning, late at night and at weekends, and that too many people find the current system to be confusing, unreliable and expensive. This has to change.

“I am determined to deliver a London-style integrated transport system for the Liverpool City Region. There are a number of ways we can achieve that through the powers in the Bus Services Act, but I am clear that whichever model we choose the outcome must be the same: a bus service that is simple, punctual, reliable and affordable.

Dear Steve,

Providing buses "early in the morning, late at night and at weekends" is usually uneconomic. So whatever your plans may be, they will, most likely, cost you more. No bus company is making huge profits running buses, so to make them less expensive and "affordable" will involve more external finance. Improving reliability also adds to the costs.

Are you sure you've got the cash?

MCT Throws In The Towel in Manchester
MCT is Manchester Community Transport. The company is involved in approx 51 Transport for Manchester bus services, a mixture of tendered evening, early morning and Sunmday contributions plus all day seven days a week services.

The technical term is "a lot"!

Sheffield correspondent Roy spotted this 307 at Stockport.
This circular runs every hour ...
... with the 308 being similar the other way round. He also snapped a service 312 at Stockport station.
Originally with First, the bus is on service 312 ...
... with a limited Sunday service.

MCT was recently baled out by HCT (formerly Hackney Community Transport) and boss Phil Stockley explains:-

Manchester Community Transport (MCT) has announced today that it is proposing to close in late April, citing mounting losses and difficult trading conditions. The community transport operator was rescued from closure in 2017. 

“It’s a really sad day for all of us” said Phil Stockley, Interim Managing Director at MCT. “Colleagues from across the Group – and the whole staff team at MCT – have worked tirelessly to put the operation here on a sustainable footing.

“We understood the level of difficulty facing MCT when we took on this challenge, but felt strongly it was worth every possible effort to preserve a Community Transport organisation with such a longstanding tradition of service in the area. We have done all we can, but the situation does not appear to be recoverable and we can no longer maintain our support.”

And Jim Stones Is Retiring
The company operates mostly Leigh local services, usually at an hourly frequency.
His vehicles are smart and well-kept and famous for "cherished" and/or jokey registrations.

We regret to advise that due to their poor health Joan and Jim Stones wish to retire and the business is available for sale until the proposed date of closure, and final day of operation, on Saturday, April 18, 2020.

In addition to this the future of public transport in Greater Manchester is uncertain. If a sale is not achieved our drivers will receive their entitlement and we will help them find new jobs.

We have made TfGM aware of the situation and will continue to keep them informed of any potential sale or closure of the business so that we can, between us, minimise any impact on our customers.

Note the sentence in italics. Metro Mayor Burnham strikes again!

Dear Andy,

Your plans for franchising already look as if they are going to be more expensive. Hope you have a very well-filled piggy bank.

But There Is Another Way.

Luxembourg is set to become the first country in the world to make all its public transport free.

Fares on trains, trams and buses will be lifted next summer under the plans of the re-elected coalition government led by Xavier Bettel ...
... who was sworn in recently for a second term as prime minister.

Bettel, whose Democratic party will form a government with the leftwing Socialist Workers’ party and the Greens, had vowed to prioritise the environment during the recent election campaign.

Luxembourg has splendid stripey buses ...
... some of them electric.
There is also one super-smashing tram route.
It also has ...

Luxembourg City, the capital of the small Grand Duchy, suffers from some of the worst traffic congestion in the world.

Monsieur Bettel reckons that free buses, trams AND trains in this somewhat diminutive nation will remove pollution, cars and other nasty stuff "at a stroke".

Emergency Public Transport?
Well done Eliot and all those who have worked so hard to help one-another to cope with the floods.

You Gotter See Battersea
But not quite yet. The extension to the Northern Line is likely to be completed in Autumn 2021.
The Twittersphere has just presented anyone that cares to look with a picture of the first Undergound roundel to be screwed on the wall at the Battersea Power Station terminal.
The new chunk of Underground will be worth waiting for.

 More Variety blog : Monday 24th February 


  1. Luxembourg goes fares-free from 1st March (except for travel in 1st class on trains).

  2. Did you know that all EU citizens over 65 (which at the moment still includes Brits) go free on all Hungarian public transport? They do need to get free tickets for trains and have to pay any first class or reservation supplements.

  3. Andrew, that's very interesting. Do you know of any other EU countries that do the same?

  4. Slovakia has free travel for EU citizens over 62 (and all under-15s). Another great benefit of Brexit.......

  5. Important correction- I should have said free RAIL travel.