Saturday 3 July 2010

Shhh! Sheffield Secrecy

In three weeks there are major changes in the "First" network in Sheffield.   As bus timetable alterations are registered with local authorities six weeks in advance, one might expect to be able to find out what is happening.   So, a visit to the "Travel South Yorkshire" web site should, by now, prove fruitful.  It tells me, for example, that service 21 is withdrawn and replaced by a new service 49.  Is there a timetable for the "new" 49 - NO!
Not really the most helpful way of putting it when, basically, service 21 is, in effect, renumbered 49 with no significant change of frequency - only timing changes.   But, we move ahead too quickly - we don't know WHAT the change is - YET.  Surely the operator's web site will have the details?   Well, yes - and no.   In a rather complicated timetable page we discover the 49 with the enigmatic column heading of "HA".   HA HA - is there a jolly joke here?  The note tells me that between Killamarsh and Harthill buses "show service 25".   But why, you may well ask?

Because fat bus bloke is wise to the mysterious ways of public transport publicity he immediately smells a rat.   Travel South Yorkshire also mentions that service 25 from Rotherham to Killamarsh has a revised schedule but, of course, the timetable is not yet available on line.   The plot thickens!
What, exactly, is going on?
Well, the best place to find reliable information about these two (largely) South Yorkshire timetables is on Derbyshire's excellent web site.   Both routes travel into Derbyshire by a mile or two.
And - lo and behold - there we discover that the 49 from Sheffield turns, like Cinderella's pumpkin, into a 25 to Rotherham; retaining all the useful through journey opportunities that were available on the "withdrawn" service 21 which also transmuted into a 25!
In fact, apart from the aforementioned changes to times - this is one change that isn't. The whole South Yorkshire explanation of the county-wide scheme (leaflet and on line) is extremely poor. There is a strong suspicion that the compilers of the document don't actually know where the buses go!   Now that couldn't possibly be true, could it?  So one burning question remains ...
If Derbyshire can get it right, why can't South Yorkshire - or even "First", the company that runs the services concerned?   And why confuse the travelling public by changing the service number anyway?  Perhaps they don't want passengers!
P.S.   Just to confuse matters further, the evening journeys on this service are operated by Veolia, follow a slightly different route and are numbered 49 THROUGHOUT; all the way from Sheffield to Rotherham.   Now that makes everything much clearer - NOT!

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