Friday 27 May 2011

Come Friendly Bombs!

Fare Comment.
John Betjeman didn't like what modernity had done to the little settlement of Slough.   From unobtrusive market town in the 1950s ... 
  ... to its concrete jungle expansion and oft reviled bus station.
fbb was there a year or so ago, and gave it 7 out of 10.   There was/is a very nice "caff" through the subway in the Queensmere shopping centre; where fbb enjoyed an all day breakfast and a superb "mugga". But the bus station is replaced by something in the popular "slimy grey monster" style, due to open this weekend, ...
... (see also Newport railway station and the Jubilee line extension, etc.) and the town is much improved since the good Sir John's cynical diatribe.

But how much is a bus ride?  Back in the good old days, most of us bought a single or a return.  Some lucky urban areas offered a 12 ride ticket (we worked six days a week, then.) for the price of 10, some places had "seasons" and there were a few "rover" type deals. 

But today, in First's  Berkshire (etc.) area, this is what you are offered:-
And to understand it you need a map of the various zones:-
For those who are not fitted with a prosthetic microscope, a full PDF version is available here.

And there's more!   If you wanted to take the prestigious 702 to London,
you have "rainbow" times ...
.. and, of course, "rainbow" fares to go with them. 
Then again, the rail-air link from Reading to Heathrow offers two sets of fares, sold for real money,
and discounted for on-line buyers.
Contrast this with fares on the "ordinary" buses from Slough to Heathrow; which is tricky as First do not publish prices individual single journeys.  And, this time, NO on-line offers.   And as for interavailability in the Reading area ...
... it is all very clear and concise. fbb supposes someone must sit down and write this stuff. Does that someone ever travel by bus; or is he (or she) a "mélange" of lawyer and accountant?

Bus travel is very strange; it must be one of the few products where the price for a "one-off" purchase is kept secret until you have bought it, i.e. got on the bus. Try that policy at Tesco. "Every little helps, but we won't tell you how until you get to the checkout!"

It would be unwise of you author to offer an ignorant opinion on First Berkshire's financial management, but, hey ho, he's going to anyway!

Instead of about 50 assorted fares in Berkshire, why not provide just one (each) day, week and month price for the Windsor, Slough and Bracknell areas with a flat rate add-on for 702 service journeys to the Big Smoke?  OK, the company might lose a few sales in the smaller Windsor area (see zone map) but, at least, potential customers elsewhere would not need a multiple degree in philosophy and mathematics to calculate their best travel option.   They might even choose to travel by bus rather than take the car!

Fare comment? 

Next blog : due Saturday May 28th  

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