Thursday 8 September 2011

Web Sites, Used or Confused? [3]

Carefully Considering Corby - Today.
Modern technology ought to make things simple, so a click on "Corby" on ought to deliver a list of Stagecoach buses running in Corby, in particular the CorbyStar network.

Sadly, the Corby Star brand is not mentioned and the page is cluttered with buses for Kettering, Wellingborough and Northampton. Why?

The site lists "Corby" services as 

1, 2 (two versions), 2A, 3, 3B & 3C, 4, 5, 6 & 6A, 7 and 10

Clicking on some of these actually produces timetable pages but the 2A, 3B & 3C, 6 & 6A and 7 produce an answer similar to this:-
The web site has a route map ...
... showing ALL the above except the 2A, 3B and 3C which might be works services. There is a general note about (unnumbered) works journeys beside "Earlstrees Industry", just off the map extract above. In additional to the "unclickable" 6, 6A and 7 we also have service 5A, not listed on-line.  

What is also not on the map is both versions of service 2!

How about trying the Northamptonshire County Council [NCC] web site? There are many timetable changes from 4th September throughout the county, so sorting out what runs and what doesn't is a little tricky, but in Corby we appear to be offered:-

1, 2, 2B, 3, 3C, 4 & 4A, 5, and 10

Maybe we can find out what happened to 6 and 7 by looking at NCCs map?
    click on the map to see a larger version   

No we can't because that still shows the 6, 6A and 7 and adds back the 5A. Once again important changes do not make it onto maps, doubtless produced expensively under contract by a specialist company. A simple vector graphics (? ask any 7 year old, they will explain it) program costs about £60 and takes very little skill to use. It's what elderly fbb uses, so it had to be very simple indeed.

Still not a graphical word about the enigmatic but excluded service 2! 

Back to the Stagecoach site,then: one of the two service 2s is shown as running to Exeter Estate ...
... which appears on both maps with route 4 and 6 beside the roads.
This is getting very confusing indeed!

fbb will explain all - well perhaps not all, but a bit ...

From 4th / 5th September:- 
Corby service 1 is diverted to replace 
         part of service 7 which is withdrawn.
Corby service 2 is revised to run "cross-town" to Exeter Estate
         replacing service 6 which is withdrawn.
Inter-urban service X4 is diverted to replace a bit more
         of service 7
Inter-urban service X1 is diverted to replace a bit more
         of service 6

None of his appears on either map and is only explained on the NCC site in a huge and well-nigh incomprehensible list of changes for 4th September. It lists the changes route by route with no cross-referencing, so you have to guess. The Stagecoach site tells you NOTHING!

Which leaves us with the original and un-extended service 2 to the map-less Priors Hall. That's easy-peasy, patient reader, and only requires an inquisitive mind, the detection skills of Jane Marple and an afternoon on-line.
Priors Hall is indeed north of Weldon, but, far from being a blank on the map, is (according it its publicists) :-
Doesn't that make you fell good inside? No, it makes you rush to the sick bucket! But this "community, but not isolated" does have a Corby Star service 2 every half an hour.
Of course that's Monday to Saturday daytime only; evenings and Sundays, tough luck, you will be very isolated without your own wheels; it's a long way to walk to anywhere!
So, after much tedious and tiring technological trawling, fbb has just about "cracked it". But the key question remains. Do these people (Northamptonshire? Stagecoach?) actually use their web sites? Do they check on customer reaction? Or is is simply a case of "It's all on-line, that'll do".

Web Sites, Used or Confused? "Confused" in shed loads!

Next blog : Friday September 9th  

P.S. Since this blog was written (on Monday 5th) an up-to-date map of the Stagecoach network has appeared on-line. Everything comes to he who waits - eventually!

Nevertheless, bus services have to be registered with the Traffic commissioners eight weeks before they start; presumably new  networks and major changes are planned well before that. Surely there is no excuse for late updating of on-line information?

Snippet from the Isle of Wight
A new branded route, service 600,
operated by Veolia?
every 30 minutes to Pontypridd and Aberdare?
Actually service 9 from Ryde to Newport
Being operated illegally by Southern Vectis!


  1. Re the Veolia bus being used by SV - does the legal lettering actually make it illegal? I can think of plenty of instances where bus services have been operated with borrowed buses, for any number of reasons, but the legal lettering was not changed. As far as I am aware, a notice indicating that the bus was 'on hire' to the operator of the service was sufficient.

  2. Correct RC169. But no such notices were displayed on the ex Veolia vehicles, certainly not by yesterday (Wednesday). There are five such vehicles on the Island, covering for remedial work needed on recent arrivals. And the do show FULL route branding for service 600 from Cardiff (now withdrawn).

  3. As someone that does live in Corby, one had to laugh at the new state of the timetables.

    You listed *most* of the replacements, here are a couple more:

    - 2 replaced the 5A/5B between the Railway Station and old village
    - 19 extended routed to replace X1 on Butland Road

    Oh, and regarding the Stagecoach site - it says that it remembers your location (it groups it as "Northampton"), but it still wants you to seek out Northampton. And then it refreshes the page. It's rather off putting.

  4. Thanks for the confirmation regarding legal lettering. If there was no 'on hire' notice, then I would agree with you about the legality.

    However, an interesting curiosity from the 1970s raises another issue, in slightly different circumstances. Despite NBC's apparent spendthriftiness, some of its subsidiaries were actually quite 'strapped for cash', and several had resorted to leasing new vehicles rather than buying them. Some used finance companies - I recall seeing an invoice that my employers sent to a finance company for half a dozen new Leyland Nationals that we were operating. The Bristol OC and Hants & Dorset were particularly challenged financially, and they came up with a novel wheeze - they swopped half a dozen new Tins (sorry, Leyland Nationals) with each other, and then leased them back (as I understand it, leasing principally brings tax benefits). The vehicles carried the livery and fleetnames of their operators, but the legal lettering of the owners. The irony of this came home when a friend and I made a journey from Bath to Southampton, entirely on Bristol OC buses. Bath-Trowbridge was a BOC service; Trowbridge-Salisbury was a joint BOC/H&D service, but we had a BOC vehicle; while Salisbury-Southampton was an H&D service, but operated on that occasion with one of the leased vehicles - so with H&D livery and fleetname, but BOC legal lettering. No sign of an 'on hire' notice, but then an 'on hire to H&D' notice on an H&D bus would have looked pretty daft to Mr Average! I cannot help but wonder what the legal position would have been, but I imagine the operators in question would not have knowingly broken the law!

  5. Passing through Corby a couple of months ago, I tried to find paper timetables, without much success. At least the web offers something.

  6. Remove these photos at once you are breaking a copyright law!