Wednesday 20 June 2012

Educating Archie (only his name's not Archie)

Post Northampton Snippet
There IS a street-level entrance to Northampton
bus station (of which fbb was higgerant!).
Very welcoming.
See "Onward Travel : A Northampton Journey [5]" (read again)
Thanks to Ken Traveline-Dorset for the picture
Now for today, we join ...

Pops the Pedagogue
Pops? What is a recession?

Well adoring grandson of mine, it's like this. Nice Mr Cameron and nice Mr Clegg, who are playing at being Prime Minister this week, have run out of money. And they need lots of pennies to run hospitals and schools and Diamond Jubilees and Olympic Games and all that sort of stuff.

Have they got a piggy bank?
Oh, lots of them including a very big one in London. But it hasn't got any money either; so we have all got to save our pennies and lend them to Mr Cleggeron.

Will he pay us back?

No one really knows; but we will have to wait and see.

What are you doing on the computer, Pops?

I'm reading some bus timetables for South Yorkshire.

Why are you doing that, Pops?
I want to know if the times have changed.
And have the times changed, Pops?

This leaflet says times will change from 23rd July.

Is that exciting, Pops?
Not really, nothing is different; the times are all exactly the same as before.

So the leaflet is the same as the last one?
Well, the leaflet does tell me that the times will change ...

I don't understand, Pops
... they will be different during the summer holidays ...
... and then it tells me again. It tells me the same thing twice!
So it does tell you the new times, Pops?

Neither does this one for route 88 ...
So they make shiny new leaflets with the old times in them, to tell you that there are new times. But they don't tell you what the new times are.

That's right.

When it's a recession and nobody has any money?

How many pages of old times have they printed, Pops?

The 88 is 22 pages long, and the 52 is15 pages long and there are lots more like it. Nearly 110 pages of old timetables republished (so far); all to tell us that the times are changing for the summer holiday period. But not telling us what the new times are.

Isn't that very very silly, Pops?


Shouldn't someone tell them to stop; and save lots of pennies?


So why don't they, Pops?
Sorry, adoring grandson; it's time for tea. Just bread and jam today, I'm afraid; there's a recession, you know.
Thank you, Pops.
Of course, other authorities offer a revolutionary service to their customers:-
Transport for Greater Manchester actually tells you the times of the summer buses!

Now there's a novelty.

 Next blog : Thursday 21st June 


  1. Well FBB, we are scraping the barrel today aren’t we? So SYPTE is wasting money and TfGM are not? Let’s see. The timetables that state that the times will be different are telling you that they will be different for 7 weeks – 7 weeks ONLY. The two panels you claim tell you the same thing twice are in different places and ‘What’s changed’ is telling you exactly that i.e. why there is a new timetable – it might have needed reprinting any way. The ’52 Summer Variations’ panel is there for the life of the timetable (although it is unlikely that the operators can sit on their collective hands for a year!). The time alterations are within the ‘frequent intervals’ section of the timetable, the headway changing from 4 – 5minutes. In today’s congested city centre it is almost certain that the ‘frequent intervals’ section of the timetable is a work of fiction in any case. A print run for a potential 52+ weeks. TfGM? Oh yes services 23/23A have a combined headway of every 16 minutes at their peak time. You also ‘forget’ to mention that the Manchester change is for 12 weeks – 5 weeks more. No – for my fellow Manchester tax payers NOT such a good use of public money and in South Yorkshire a canny, Yorkshire style use of public money.

  2. Of course, you could encourage companies to use the approach taken by Wessex Red in Bristol on one of their routes (in error, I hope!).

    Some journeys on the U3 operate only during university term times. These journeys have a prominent "UWE" note against them, but nowhere in the timetable does it tell you what "UWE" means, or even (if you have guessed that it means "Operates UWE full service days only") what those dates actually are!

  3. Anonymous; you have missed the point. The TSY timetable is exactly the same as the previous issue for a change on 25th March. So why not simply print a flyer with the "unhelpful" detail of the summer change and save loadsa cash. Or, frankly, not print anything at all but just post "car cards" on the buses. Leaflets which say that times will change by 1 or 2 minutes are equally pointless. Unless a reprint was due anyway, the leaflets are wholly pointless. Certainly, in Sheffield, the changes are so minimal as to make publicising them of dubious value.

    I did not express an opinion on TfGM's value for money, merely that the leaflet did, at least, tell you what was happening.

    Whilst parts of the 52 route are every 4 minutes, the two different 52s are, obviously, every 8 at the eastern end. This drops to every 10.

  4. No FBB,you have missed the point. As you say, you don't know if a reprint was due anyway. But we do know that 'flyers' end up as so much litter on the floor of the bus. Can you really see Stagecoach and First actually using their own money to publicise a cut in service on their own vehicles even if only for 7 weeks? No, this is the real world not the utopian, perfect one you seek. From a quick view of the SYPTE timetables the 52 is not the only service to be affected in this way and it looks as if not all of the timetables have been given a reprint. I for one will give them the benefit of the doubt - don't forget they can only produce the information as provided to them by means of registration by the operator. If you want the full story for your readers perhaps you had better seek them out and read them before speculating.

  5. No speculation anonymous. Every word of my piece (however lighthearted its presentation) is based on fact from the most reliable sources. The only disputable matter is where there would have been a reprint anyway. I am currently investigating this and will report back as an addendum to a future blog.
    This correspondence is now closed.