Monday, 28 February 2011

Will X5 (new) Xcite You?

A Wilts & Dorset [W&D] Revision

Remember, click on an image to see a larger version.

Once upon a time, e.g. Great Britain Bus Timetable in 1996, W&D ran buses between Salisbury and Swindon.   Between Marlborough and Swindon some buses ran via Chiseldon, others via Avebury.   Buses showed either 5 or 6 depending on route.
More recently the service became an hourly service 6 to Larkhill; and an hourly service 5 on to Pewsey.   From here "connecting buses" continued to Swindon via Marlborough and Chiseldon (service 95) or via Marlborough and Avebury (service 96).

From yesterday (27th February) the whole lot was recast.
All journeys, irrespective of destination or route are numbered X5; although the X "tag" means nothing - certainly not "express", possibly "Long DiXtance" - it's just a brand name.   The timetable is broadly unchanged (hourly Salisbury to Larkhill; hourly Salisbury to Swindon) BUT there are now no journeys via Avebury.
The hourly buses all go via Chiseldon, dramatically improving the number of journeys via the big new Great Western District Hospital in Swindon.

For obscure licensing reasons (petty bureaucracy rules OK) the service is still shown as "connecting" at Pewsey, although we are assured that the buses run through and the "connection" is guaranteed!  Typically daft interpretation of pointless regulations.
What about the missing bit?   Passengers from Avebury to Swindon can use the hourly Stagecoach 49 but the "few" (according to W&D) who journeyed from Marlborough to Avebury will have to use a selection of "odd" services provided under the Wiltshire "Connect2" scheme.   The 96 is not replaced.
The W&D X5 leaflet is  an excellent example of how it SHOULD be done.  It shows the full timetable, a complete route map (extract only shown, too long at 15 inches for a blog!) ...
... and detailed plans for the bigger villages and urban areas.
Unusually, but creditably, it also gives sample fares.
An excellent production, giving plenty of the sort of information that the potential user might want; including encouragement to simply go for a ride and enjoy the view - other operators take note and emulate! 

Sadly the news is not all good.  It is, of course, totally astounding that Traveline and Transport Defunct have made a blunder.   Such a rare occurrence.   Whilst the X5 was "ready to boogy" from 27th, the withdrawn 96 was still firmly in place and available for use up to the posting of this blog on Monday 28th.   [Still there, March 1st : eventually corrected 1 week later!]
No comment - at least no printable comment!   Just remember the £50 million we pay to fund Transport Direct and the countless (and largely hidden) millions expended by bus companies and local authorities as they "struggle" to remember to remove cancelled services.
Perhaps someone at Traveline needs to understand where and when buses run, rather than how to "manage the data"?   More porcine aviation, we fear.

Next blog : due Wednesday March 2nd 

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