Sunday 18 December 2011

£80,000 Well Spent?

or not?

The Best O' Leicester (or the Worst) : Episode 4
fbb has blogged about the excellence of St Margarets bus station in Leicester and the poor quality of the appurtenances at Haymarket bus station. So now it is time to evaluate the splendid bus stop information installed at the end of May "to make public transport easier for passengers to use". This project has cost the £80,000 plus meantioned in our headline.

Every stop has been given a new two letter label, instead of the old one letter and one number label; so that will make a huge difference all-round. Each stop displays a diagam of all the stops in the City Centre ...
... some of which don't appear to be used. To accompany this map, is a huge alphabetical list of destinations showing which service goes there, which company runs the buses and which stops it uses. It is in small print and quite difficult to read  behind the glazing of the bus stop frame. It's too huuuge to include in a blog, so fbb appends an extract for the letter "T".
One can hardly blame Leicester City Council for confusing place names, ThurCaston, ThurLaston and ThurMaston, but duplicate route numbers can be a cause of some confusion and ought to be avoided. There are two 26s, two 48s, a 70 with a completely different 70A and 70B and the 22 and 54 run "cross-city" so you have to choose the right direction.

Because these lists do not even give rudimentary guidance as to frequency, you then have to find the stop and check the times. Or insult one of your expanding collection of leaflets; if you can find the right one. This is particularly frustrating for some destinations, where buses can leave from four different and widely spaced stops.

But it's when you get to the correct stop that problems begin to escalate. On each board there is a list of departures, Monday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday in time order. So far so good. And, indeed such a list makes excellent sense if all the services follow a common route and do little twiddles at the end.

But what about this:-
14s, 14As, 74s and 94s all listed at stop BK on Abbey Street just along from St Margarets bus station. These services follow very different routes out of the city; indeed (apart from 14 and 14A) the only thing they have in common is the use of the digit "4".
Also listed on the "flag" was the 54; but could fbb find any journeys? No, even after persistent peering he couldn't. That's because only one solitary, lonely 54 on Mondays to Fridays via Groby Road and County Hall uses that stop. The frequent 54s stop at nearby stop BM. Here's the timetable:-
If there were a box for each separate service, the search would be less prone to mistakes.

Is this a case, yet again, of "the software can do it so we must show it"? Not the best way, surely, "to make public transport easier for passengers to use". 

fbb and friend David debated long into the night hours (well for about 10 minutes) whether the £80,000 was money well-spent and concluded ...

... that it wasn't. It is still very difficult for an innocent outsider to unravel the complexities of Leicester departure points. Peter Soulsby, the mayor, wants to do a Red Ken / Boris the Blue and take full command of public transport in the City. Whether that's the right way forward is politically debatable, but, clearly, something needs to be done.

In the meantime, join fbb in a hunt for timetables for Thurmaston Bus as advertised on the route map.
The web site is on the way out as the company has ceased trading ...
... but timetables are still still available on-line.
Another competitor bites the dust. And thus a bit less confusion in the City once the web site is totally obliterated.
   fbb's mini Advent Calendar: December 18th   
We have elevated them to royalty, we have placed them on camels, we have given them names and we have counted them and made it three. All conclusions which are mostly wrong or just plain conjecture.
We really don’t know their names, because the Bible doesn’t tell us. Neither do we know how many there were, because the Bible doesn't tell us either. Dubious tradition has it that they were named Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior. And by extrapolating  from the gifts, an equally dubious tradition says that there were three of them.

They were magi, men of noble birth, educated, wealthy, and influential. They were counsellors of rulers, learned in all the wisdom of the ancient East. They were a mixture of philosophers and astronomers who had spotted, in ancient texts that became part of our Old Testament, that a Messiah was dues to be born in a rather ordinary town in Judaea.

So they came to see.

But NOT to the cattle shed, and not with the shepherds. They came to the house where Jesus and his parents were living; and they came  up to two years after the birth. That's why Herod ordered the slaughter of children of two years of age or under.  

They went to the house, and when they saw the child ... they knelt down and worshipped Him.They brought out their gifts ... and presented them to Him.
Matthew Chapter 2 verse 11

And they brought some very inappropriate gifts for a 2 year old!
More like a 2 year old in this 4th century carving

By far the most moving (and challenging) account of the Wise Men is T.S.Eliot's poem, "The Journey of the Magi". If your confuser has the right gubbins, you can hear uncle Tom Eliot reading it (here).  Or simply read it yourself.
 Next Blog : due Monday December 19th 


  1. The stops that don't appear to be used are probably the alighting stops used for inbound services (such as stops CN-CS, CA & CB + DF & DG)so services don't pick up there but they are some of the busiest stops in the city as most services drop-off there.

  2. Was £80,000 well spent? - well since before it depended on what operators put up (patchy especially since some had no access to the cases) and there was no where to board guide and each stop was dealt with on an individual basis probably yes. Certainly the new style with diagramatic route maps are a helpful confirmation of the correct route (particularly on circulars to ensure you pick the right way round) and the timetables are reasonably clear to read and whilst the where to board writing may be a little small there is little way to alleviate this givent the size and density of the network around Leicester without squeezing out the more useful information of timetables and route maps.