Friday 22 July 2011

Peace in our Time - Again!

Co-operation at Croxteth
Happiness at Halfway
and now ...
Kisses at Kidlington

Kidlington, north of Oxford, once looked like this ...
... a quiet village straggling along the Banbury Road. Now it looks like this ...
... and the quiet village has become a massive "dormitory" suburb with the much busier Banbury Road packed with traffic day and night. From  post-deregulation times Oxford City Bus and Stagecoach have run head to head along this busy corridor. City Bus's predecessors have been there for years but predator Stagecoach arrived by taking over Harry Blundred's minibus business in Torbay and here in Oxford.

Each operator had run every 5 minutes from Oxford Centre to Kidlington shops with various wiggles in the "village". This, service 7 etc. from Stagecoach ...
... and this from Oxford City.
But in early 2010 we heard of rumours of  co-operation rather than competition. Cynics put this down to a threat by the City Council to further restrict bus access to the centre unless "something was done". The brave new world was scheduled to burst forth amongst the gleaming spires in July 2010.

But nothing happened, apart from the arrival of a few trendy green buses for Stagecoach.  See "Oxford Oddity, the Sequel" (read again).

Indeed, a look at the "revised" Oxford City Bus timetable from 24th July suggests apathy is still the order of the day. Much the same as before.
But, not so fast, cynical peruser of pcv passenger promises, there is a map ...
... an Oxford-wide co-ordinated fares offer ...
... and, of course, a trendy name and logo!
But where, we hear you cry, is Stagecoach in all this? S3, S5 and 59 on the map above are Stagecoach routes; but where is the publicity for their competing service 7 (etc.) to Kidlington? The mystery is solved with a glimpse at the Stagecoach web site; for their revision to the 7 group from 24th July.
And it's numbered 2! Their timetable makes it clear that the two operators, formerly at gear-stick brandishing loggerheads, will share the five minute frequency ("O" for Oxford City Bus, "S" for Stagecoach).
Thus we have a reduction of 50% in buses along the Banbury Road to Kidlington and another example of the benefits (?) of the free market bites the dust in favour of sanity (and profit).
The above, traffic hold-ups permitting, should be a thing of the past. Of course, a real thing of the past might be buses like this ...
... perhaps not any more.

Timetable co-operation applies on three corridors where both operators ran unnecessarily frequently. fbb will be asking his Oxonian correspondent to pop out of his ivory tower from time to time and see how things are going.

Poor Sir Brian; cosying up to Arriva in Liverpool, First in Sheffield and now GoAhead in Oxford. What ever happened to the Draconian Destroyer of Darlington? They don't make bus wars like they used to! As in Sheffield, it all kicks off on Sunday 24th July.

"Do you remember the day peace broke out, granddad?"

Next blog : due Saturday July 23rd  

1 comment:

  1. Having had the pleasure of spending the last four days of July singing the services in Oxford Cathedral with my Parish Choir I also got a chance to look at the changes under the new agreement.
    It was noticeable how many fewer buses there were in the centre of the city. However, I was amused/bemused to find that Oxford City and Stagecoach have produced timetables for the new operations in their own house styles. Mention is made that you can take any bus and, more inportantly, use any bus on the same route for your return journey, but you would have thought that they would have shared resources on publicity as well.