Saturday 31 December 2011

New Year Resolutions [1]

Some suggestions for management ...
The clock ticks inexorably towards midnight; we prepare to toast 2012; to rush round to our neighbour's with a lump of coal; to open the door to a chimney sweep ...
... to watch a spectacular fireworks display or (as for fbb and Mrs fbb) to turn over in bed and grunt a minimalist greeting; and it's the New Year. There is a long tradition of making resolutions for this arbitrary calendric clock click, so here are a few made by fbb on behalf of the transport industry.

 For H M Government. 

As you run the railways now, perhaps 2012 might be the year to sort out the fares farce once and for all; so, for Ms Greening, "I resolve to make the fares system simple and fair."

 For The Media. 

You delight in misrepresenting the annual fares increases on the railway; this from an on line report ...
... which continues in similar vein:-
Actually, the article refers to a three year period but the headline implies one hefty increase. By all means rant about bus and train fares increases but also rant about higher prices in the local chippy, or at Tesco, or at the butcher's. Have you seen the price of cheese?

And another fbb gripe. Stop bleating about the poor down-trodden commuter! Commuter season tickets offer the cheapest unrestricted walk-on fares available. Because commuter prices are so ridiculously cheap, often over 60% discount, fbb has to pay through the nose for an occasional jolly to the Big Smoke. So, for our circulation seeking press-room hacks, "We resolve to be honest and accurate about all price rises and not just pick on the railways. We resolve to remind our readers that commuters pay about one third of the fare charged to casual travellers."

And a P.S. Rail fare increases are never "a shock"; they are always announced well in advance! In fact, this year, they are LOWER increases than originally announced; so, "a pleasant surprise".

 And for bus companies. 

2012 looks like being a grim year for the "bottom line" with further reductions in local authority money, reductions in the Bus Operators Grant (was fuel tax rebate) and pressure (as ever) on wage costs. Perhaps 2012 is the year for crystal clear honesty in announcing fares increases?
A second click reveals the truth!
But extra details are added to cover non-standard increases. Confusing, isn't it?
                      Services 11, 11A & 12 - £1.95 single increases to £2.00
                 Service 25A - £1.50 single remains unchanged
                 Service 48 - £1.00 single increases to £1.20
                 Service 51 - £1.00 single remains unchanged,
                       £1.95 single increases to £2.20
                 Service 120 - £1.00 single increases to £1.20,
                       £1.30 maximum single increases to £1.40.
                       Switcha ticket remains unchanged at £1.40
There are some 20% increases in there. The reason, as ever, is increased costs, especially fuel. Surely fuel hasn't gone up by 20%? So, how about being totally honest? "Like any other company, we need to make a profit. If we don't we will go bust. So we are putting up our prices like all other businesses. Sorry, but that's life."

Once upon a time many bus companies used to publish a full printed booklet containing their fares for each route; this from Sheffield in old pence (d.) in 1963:-
In Glasgow the fares were displayed in a frame at main stops. It's odd that bus rides are probably the only product where you only find out the price after you have committed to buying it; i.e. boarded the bus.

 And for HM Government. 
The old fogey's bus pass is a mess and everyone is dissatisfied (except, for example, English old fogeys who don't want to travel in far flung foreign countries like Wales or Scotland and vice versa). What does this South Yorkshire note actually mean?
What would happen if  "foreign" fat bus bloke from down south used his pass to travel from Sheffield to Barnsley on the train over Christmas?  The leaflet says he can. So a reasonable resolution reads, "I must sort out the Senior Bus Pass mess, make it national, make it fair to users and operators alike and, possibly, introduce a nominal charge (like the Senior Railcard) to defray some of the escalating costs." And the really needy could be supplied with their pass free through the existing benefits schemes, so minimal extra admin costs.

 So that's just a few to get us started. 

There are plenty more, including a few for Travel South Yorkshire tomorrow!

Will they ever happen?

Answers, please, wrapped in a £50 note, to fat bus bloke at the usual address.

Have a happy new year!

  Next Blog : due Sunday January 1st 2012  


  1. Is that Sheffield faretable really from 1963? It looks as though it dates back to the era of horse trams.

    As far as not knowing the fare in advance, I suppose there is the option of getting off the bus once the driver has revealed the cost. But for travelling without knowing the price, Oyster takes some beating!

  2. Hear, jolly hear, re Oyster. The faretable and its long-lost cousin timetable book were the first source of Sheffield information obtained (free of charge, of course) when I arrived there in October 1963 as a fresh-faced student. It is a bit tatty and my attempts to improve the reproduction may have made it look worse than it is. But at least I knew what my journey would cost. No day rovers in those days!

    In e.g. 1952, fares were included IN the timetable book. The style was "always" the same until decimalisation in 1971.

    Publications were printed by Sheffield Corporation's in-house printing department. They probably worked with a large version of a John Bull set!