Monday, 2 August 2021

New Route And Doughnuts (1)

Junior Choice is a BBC Radio programme originally broadcast from 1954 until 1982 with Christmas specials from 2007 until 2015 and again since 2017. Originally broadcast on the BBC Light Programme on Saturday mornings. Its precursor from 1952 was entitled Children's Choice, echoing the weekday Housewives' Choice.

The programme played requests from children of all ages. For the first 11 years of its run, the programme was introduced by Derek McCulloch, Uncle Mac.

McCulloch's grandfatherly tone was quintessentially 'old-school' BBC. His opening words "Hello children, everywhere!", his catch-phrase was a modification of his much earlier closing words "Goodnight children, everywhere" on Children's Hour.

The signature tune until the mid-1960s was Puffin' Billy by Edward White played by the Melodi Light Orchestra.

It was one of the show's all-time favourites that came to mind as fbb was compiling this blog. Our loyal readers may well remember a slightly different version - but for fbb, well now, it was a long time ago.
Sadly, by the time you are reading this, it may be too late as stocks may have run out. But here's the PR stuff!
We will be placing pop-up stalls in central town locations along the route, where our colleagues will be on hand to chat with you about the new route extension.

So, come along and meet our team and we'll even be handing out free doughnuts and coffee!* 🍩☕ (here are tiny doughnut and coffee icon - may not work on all "devices!)

*While stocks last.

You'll find us at these places between 09:00 - 18:00 on the weekend and 09:00 - 17:30 weekday:

High Street, Sittingbourne - Saturday 31 July

High Street, Maidstone - Sunday 1 August

Market Place, Faversham - Monday 2 August

In passing, fbb is unsure of the difference between a "pop-up" stall and a "stall", except that the former maybe more trendy for the youff. Surely all stalls are "pop-up". 

Anyway, this jollity is promoting a "new" bus route which starts TODAY!

For those, like fbb, who are less that familiar with the retail therapy available to Kentish Man (and Woman), fremlin walk (above : note lower case "f", more trandy that proper orthography) is in Maidlstone.

Fortunately, Stagecoach are gracious enough to supply a timetable ...

... as well as various stages of explanation.
So fbb did that!

Go further with routes X3 & X4

Need to get to Maidstone? Our X3 and X4 buses provide all new journey opportunities if you’re travelling to Maidstone - from Canterbury, Faversham or Sittingbourne

Whether you’re commuting to work, taking a shopping trip, or visiting friends and family – our new X3 and X4 routes can take you there.  

With no direct trains running from Sittingbourne or Faversham to Maidstone - the new routes offer speedy travel solutions for your journey.

Our combined X3 & X4 services operate every 30 mins, with route X3 running via Bysing Wood and route X4 via Ospringe - to pick up as many locals as possible.

Take a look at the full timetable or plan your journey now using our ‘plan a journey’ tool on our website and app, simply enter where you’re travelling from and to and at what time, and it will tell you the best journey options!

One of the problems with today's bus publicity is that is designed for the instant on-line brigade. There is no depth of information. The mention of Sittingbourne and Maidstone made your aged author prick his ears up.

Lets just refresh our geographical memories.

From Canterbury eastwards we take the A2, the route chosen (but in the opposite direction) by Chaucer's weary plodding pilgrims each telling a Canterbury Tale. Not only did Geoff write in Middle English to make life unbearable for GCSE students for evermore ...
... but his sentences rambled on for ever! fbb had to intercede with a full stop in defernce to his readers most of whom have rapidy returned to watching the Olympics in defence against Mr C!

Continue westwards along the A2 and you come to Sittingbourne. Ask the sainted Traveline for a journey from Faversham to Sittingbourne and you will only get the train; with three departures every hour, currently.

Stagecoach's new route X3/X4 then leaves the A2 ...
... and joins the A249 to Maidstone.

But hold fast there, we hear you cry. Is not Maidstone the terrotory of Arriva?

And Arriva 334 currently runs every 30 minute from Sheerness (off the map to the north) to Sittingbourne and on to Maidstone.

(Sorry about poor production of the above - it does have a line for Maidstone at the bottom).
Maidstone bus station (in The Chequers shopping centre) is not the nicest place in Kent.

It is pretty much gloom-central!

It is currently closed for a £1 million up-fettling although some locals would prefer John Betjeman's solution for Slough to be meted out in Maidstone.
Artist's impression show how really lovely it will look when it is finished.
Hmm - a million smackers looks far to little to make something wonderful ...
... out of one of these!
Oh yes! It is now called "The Mall".
But, as ever, fbb digresses.

It appears that Stagecoach have started a new route which competes with the train between Faversham and Sittingbourne and with the dreaded Arriva between Sittingbourne and Maidstone.

But is it entirely brand new!

More tomorrow!


The Much Travelled Sign

The rear end of a Transdev Harrogate electric bus ...
... somewhere in Harrogate (or Knaresborough?).

It is passing a temporary bus stop, pinched from Travel South Yorkshire; last spotted in Leeds!

More Fruit

From Berries to Cherries. Another fruit from Go Ahead ...

Sunderl And District

Good News From Arriva

Great policy Mr Brown. Will you be arranging for a working web site? And will you be telling your call centre people where Middlesbrough is? (see yesterday's blog).

 Next Kentish blog : Tuesday 3rd August 

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Sunday Variety



Today's service is live and ON-LINE.
 Click on this link (here),
which will take you to the YouTube page.
Then click on the icon for today's date.


Building Back Better (3)

A new Exeter Bus Station will open in the winter of 2018, at the same time as Exeter’s new state-of-the-art new leisure centre St Sidwell’s Point, which is also being developed by Exeter City Council.

Well, it seemed a good idea ast the time!

Running a little late, the new bus station opened on Siunday 25th July, although it wasn't quite finished. It opened with plenty of razzamataazz; face painting (whet else?) ...
... goody bags ...
... and via Radio Exe ...
... free tickets for the Falon (whatever that might be). This, of course, was on a Sunday when there are only a few buses trundling in and out, so there is plenty of room for the festivities.

So what will the worthy burghers of Exeters gain from the huge heap of money spent on this "state of the art" facility.

It will be less draugtly than the old; less chance oif raindrops as they keep falling on your head and less chance of other nasties as they exude from the rear of columbia livia.
The old bus station was open to horizontally blowing elements but it had a fair sized waiting room adjecent to Bay 16.
In latter years this was neglected with doors left open to the gales and the aforementioned avian poo producers! There were also seats along the back wall opposite other stands, but not enough!

The new bus station has three seats per stand, usually bagged by waiting passengers who sensibly arrive early.
The old bus station had plenty of queueing and circulating space; the new has an inadequate supply of both - with queues impeding the progress of entering and exiting passengers and vice versa.
The old bus station had an excellent enquiry office staffed with knowledgeable Stagecoach employees and with vast racks of timetable leaflets and maps. It was well used by the public and a real asset to the city and its visitors. When it was closed, leaflet racks were available on the wall outside the doors. Stocks were maintained by keen members of staff.
In recent months, leaflets have disappeared as has the enquiry office, now being barred to all except "drivers".
Welcome to the joys of 21st century public transport.

In the new bus station we are provided with an "information point", as yet unlabelled.
This was what was on offer early last week, despite the enthusiastic pictures on Stagecosch's own "social media".
Again, early last week three area guides were on display ...
... but nothing for Exeter. The excellent Devon timetable books had all gone but boxes of them were hidden behind a screen to prevent anyone obtaining them.
Whilst searching for your area booklet, you could do a bit of floor polishing!

But Devon County Council's excellent booklets do not include Exeter City services. 

So the new bus station had no paper timetable information about local services - which don't leave from the bus station so it doesn't matter.

The area guides are just that ...
... a crude frequency guide of not much use to any man nor beast in making a journey for real. In fact it would appear that Stagecoach are so anxious to lose passengers that thery will not provide them with any tangibler infromation whatsoever. All you get now are departure lists; at the shiny new bus station ...
... or at the bus stop.
But (wait for it) ITS ALL ON LINE!

And where were the network maps that used to adorn the walls of the old enquiry office? Where are ANY maps?

And where were the large numbers of helpful posters telling adventurous Exeter folk at which stand they might find their bus?
There was one! In stand number order, so faily useless in a new bus station. Where was the alphabetical list of destinations with their stand numbers alongside - designed to help the passenger?

fbb has not (yet?) found a bus station plan - or a list of what leaves from elsewhere. There are plenty of rural routes that are banned from the artless state of the art new bus station. Ki

Will the window next to the "infromation point" ...
... reveal a real human being?

The departure screens are excellent for those folk who already know what they want ...
Questions for the uninitiated.

When is the next bus to Exmouth?
If I have a quick swig of coffee how long do you have to wait for
    a bus to Cullompton?
Is there a bus to Cranbrook soon?
Which stand do I use for the 52 to Beer?
Which stand will my National Express coach use?
Where is Totnes Royal?
etc. etc.

There is another "improvement" comparing new with old. You can get refreshments actually on the bus station concourse ...
... including something for French speakers!

What is amazing is that the Stagecoach people seem proud of this poor service.

If the building were the right size and in the right place and big enough for all the routes that should be using it - it might have been a good project.

But Stagecoach Is On A Downward Spiral
Arriva has already sunk!
Corporate stupidity rules OK!

Adeiladu'n Ôl yn Well
How to get people back on the buses? MAKE THEM FREE!
No, it is not a joke. Within the city boundaries of Swansea ...
... all buses are FREE for everyone from Friday to Monday inclusive for the month of August.

They aren't joking!
Who is paying?
What a brilliant idea. It won't cost much as goverments are already paying most of the bus business bills.

Best Impressions In The Netherlands
fbb was amused (blog yesterday) to discover another (surely unrelated?) Best Impressions tradiung in the Netherlands. It looks as if the Dutch company does print-based publicity. It might be fun to work it out for yourselves.  Here is what they sell.
banners, brochures, flyers, magazines, placemats, USB sticks and with-complements-cards seem very straightforward in the Dutch language. But how about sleutelhangers? Spandoeken? Polsbanjes?

Have fun; and the use of Google Translate is banned.

Hardulph Hall Happening
Regular readers who are as sad as fbb may remember that the old man's model railway is based on the premise that Lord Hardulph gave his community a worked-out quarry and lots of cash after selling out to Hansons.

His Lordship needs a family seat.

Hardulph Hall Is Under Construction ...
... via a bodged plastic kit with dainty wondows ...
Paint the walls grey and the windows pale grey ...
Stick th windows into the walls ...
... and its OK; they look right from the front!
The beginnings of a palatial mansion for his lordship. 

But the benefactor of Peterville Quarry Railway must be some kind of midgets? Has fbb got it all wrong?

A Bus For The Garden?
Thanks to correspondent Michael, fbb has a great idea to improve the frontage at fbb mansions.
It's a bus-shaped planter, innit? Available from Homebase.

Only £15.95.

Michael suggests that it is probably (?) based on a Routemaster but with a centre exit for very small people. (!) Michael further suggests that fbb's modelling skills may come to the fore as he makes improvements. Sadly fbb has zero pottery skills!

Mrs fbb thinks "lump hammer"!

Should Stagecoch Be Doing This?
Blasphemy should NOT be used to sell bus rides!

Shameful and offensive to Christians who take God's Commandmens seriously.

Unless, of course, the purpetrator of the tweet is really thanking God for the gift of a new day. fbb does that in his prayers every day.

We stay with Stagecoach tomorrow.

 Next Kentish blog : Monday 2nd August