Wednesday 16 May 2012

Eclipse Extra

Uno bus (University of Hertfordshire) current service 620 on-line timetable extract:-
And just below the Sunday table:-
Fishy for Fish Street in Redbourn?
Back to today's blog.

The Return Visit
When fbb first visited the new Gosport and Fareham half-busway, things were not quite right. One anonymous commentator lambasted the corpulent correspondent for expecting everything to be working from day one.

Erm ... the parties have had "n" years to prepare, where "n" is quite a large number. Computer systems can and should be fully tested with finished data but in a cupboard well away from the public. Stops and signs should all be in place. There is nothing particularly new with digital on-bus announcements; see London. Too-small video displays ought to be rectifiable instantly with a bit of re-programing; a passing 7 year old could do it. There is no good reason why everything shouldn't be ready and working from day 1.

Sweden changed from left-hand driving to right hand driving (with a reduction of accidents) on one Sunday in 1967. Japanese Railways changed from manual to automatic couplings over the course of one hectic but successful weekend. A new busway should be a doddle!

But fbb promised a return visit and, as predicted by the various shirty anonymi, things were better. Main improvements were that the real time information appeared to be delivering real time, but still only on the busway itself. At Gosport and Fareham bus stations, where real time would be real helpful, of real time there was not a sign.
To encourage interchange at Fareham staion, fbb opined that some signing and a bit of "real time" would be useful. fbb suggests ...
... on the platform. Then above the subway steps and ramp ...
... and on the shelter facing the station exits.
What arrived after fbb's visit (which was on the fifth day of the new service) were ...
... signs via a narrow and steep set of steps although a better route would be via the station exit road and less steps. Then nothing until actually within the bowels of the subway.
And nothing on the station platforms or in the booking "hall". Whilst it may be "difficult given the current organisation of the railway", it should not be; and any "jobsworth" objections should be routed into the remotest siding for crippled wagons and poked with a very sharp stick. Even if electronic information cannot be provided (it is at York, for buses to Whitby) a simple "to buses for Gosport" hung from the roof is dead easy.

What is now available is obviously better than nothing, but half-hearted. Do we want folk to use this excellent new service or not?

Now before anonymous commentators begin to stick pins into a wax model of fbb (needs a lot of wax!), there is absolutely no doubt that the busway is super, smashing and, apparently successful. An informed source tells fbb that passenger numbers have shown a significant increase (15%?) between the two towns. Excellent.

But at what cost? And is it really faster?
For those who remember this BBC programme, the very first edition (lasting 35 minutes!) is available on BBC archive (here). He is Heinz Wolff of "Zis is a Ferry Elly Gant Solution" catch phrase.

fbb presents "The Great Egg Bus Race":-

On the 1725 service 83 departure from Gosport, not via the busway, fbb's chum, Alan. He's in there somewhere.
On the 1727 service E2 "Eclipse" departure from Gosport via the busway, fbb. Who would win?

The 83 actually left at 1726, one minute late. Alan reported that traffic was heavy in both directions but flowing freely. His bus had to "wait time" en route and arrived 3 minutes early at 1754. Neither bus was very heavily loaded, despite the "peak" departure times; but most people at Gosport caught the 83, not via the busway, with over half travelling through to Fareham. 

Of the six passengers travelling as far as the busway on fbb's vehicle, 3 alighted on the busway, one at Fareham Station and two at Fareham bus station. No one boarded on the busway. Again, the bus had to "wait time". The E2 arrived at 1800, one minute early.

E2 via busway : actual running time 33 minutes
83 not via busway : actual running time 28 minutes

Conclusion? : inconclusive!
 Next Blog : Thursday 17th May 


  1. A more scientific test would have been to catch a bus from Fareham in the evening peak, looking out of the window you would have noticed the A32 does a good impression of a car park leading into Gosport at this time. Sadly not all that many people live and work in Gosport hence the awful traffic congestion whilst the good residents have to leave their borough in search of work and return in the evening.

  2. Surely FBB has surveyed to governmental standards.

    All transport surveys are mandated for a wet afternoon on the slackest day in the month.

  3. And Bravo for the passenger who travelled from Gosport to Fareham railway station. He will have had a considerably better journey time than previously, when buses never ran through to the station.

    Accepted that interchange improvements and signage should be improved - and that the road layout at Fareham rail station isn't particularly bus-friendly. But at least there's evidence (based on a teeny weeny sample) that passengers are travelling again to this end of the town, and maybe even making use of the railway interchange.

    No surprise that there were no boarders along the busway in the evening peak. As it's predominantly along a residential corridor, it must be expected to be mainly alighting passengers from the Fareham direction at this time of day. As the previous commentator said, Gosport has little employment these days, sadly.

  4. Admittedly we probably chose the "wrong way" for the test run. No doubt the operators and to County will be more scientific. All comments gratefully received.
    It did just occur to me that had this been France (or possibly even London) the E1 and E2 in both directions would have had their own little priority turning circle outside the station building. Not too difficult to do if the will was there.
    I expect a public announcement of usage statistics after the first month.

  5. My tryping gets wurse. For "to County" read "the County"

  6. "It did just occur to me that had this been France (or possibly even London) the E1 and E2 in both directions would have had their own little priority turning circle outside the station building. Not too difficult to do if the will was there."

    Have you met the great British taxi driver? Can you imagine the uproar at such a suggestion which would mean they would have to park and lay about further away from the station! Heaven forbid they may actually have to use their legs to walk to the station conveniences of the little shop just inside the door? In principle a great idea, in practice likely to create an almighty stink with taxi's and they're already chuntering away at their inability to use the bus way...