Tuesday 31 July 2012

Birmingham's Big Bus-less Blunder? [4]

News from Sheffield, where, you will remember, everything is going to be all super chummy from the end of October. First Bus has some significant fare promotions on selected routes.
The offer appears to include a reduction on First Day & First Week tickets and some single fares.
Surprisingly, the selected routes happen to be those where there is competition with St*g*c**ch.
So we may be chummy - but not yet! (Not ever?)
And so back to Brum!

How not to draw a map!
Last week's short series on the expulsion of buses from "central" Birmingham to make way for the tram concluded positively that information for the change was "successful". At least that is what the Birmingham Mail said. See "Birmingham's Big Bus-less Blunder? [3]" (read again).

Dozens of marshals wearing high visibility jackets have also been lining Corporation Street since July 15, informing passengers of the changes and providing maps to show where the new stops are.
fbb's West Midlands correspondent has sent, via snail mail, a copy of the aforesaid city centre map, produced by the PTE aka Centro (or is it Network West Midlands?).

Oh dear!

Firstly, the map shows bus routes as diagrammatic lines in colours appropriate to the new City "Interchange".
Purple is for services terminating at the Bull Street "Interchange". This is, amongst others, for services to the Sutton Coldfield area. So here, fbb has extracted the bit of the map that shows the Sutton area, and with just a touch of editorial adjustment (to squeeze all relevant locations into a bloggable panel) it is shown here.
The purple lines don't reproduce well via fbb's scanner and even "live" there is inadequate contrast between purple and black for those with dodgy eyesight. There is alphabetical index of places served ...
... with a two letter "grid reference". Why? Surely this map is for present and regular users of buses in Brum. Hopefully such experienced travellers will have some sort of idea as to where their locality is located. But there are no route numbers.

Surely the least a potentially confused passenger might need to inspire confidence is the number of the bus he or she usually uses to get to the city centre?

So fbb started to add route numbers to the map. And that is where the trouble began! The diagrammatic lines appear to bear no relationship to what actually happens. Here is fbb's version but just for services to Sutton:-
And here are some of the errors and omissions. 

The Centro map ignores the link between Yarnton and Walmley, route 115;
It implies a direct link between Four Oaks and the Good Hope Hospital; in practice this does not exist as a through route to central Birmingham. The 604 route does, however, provide a purely local link but is outside the scope of this particular map.
It suggests you can catch a through bus from Stockland Green and Shortheath to Sutton Coldfield; but you can't. Service 65 terminates at Perry Common.
And the route of the 66 and 66A via Boldmere, Perry Common and Warren Farm is so wrong as to be laughable. It is even worse than the clip shown here. On the "un-adjusted" Centro map, Warren Farm is to the left of the "line" that joins Kingstanding and Banners Gate and nowhere near any route to Sutton.
The fbb's yellow line is fascinating. It (presumably) refers to buses to Streetly etc.
But the only buses between Kingstanding and Banners Gate are routes 77, 79 and 604; none of which serve Birmingham Centre. fbb thinks the cartographer (who, presumably has never been to these places) might have confused Banners Gate ...
with Sutton Oak. Very easily mixed up!
In fact the whole map is riddled with nonsense. Apart from giving very general and often misleading information, it is a very poor effort indeed. fbb could do better!

The enlarged and geographically accurate city centre map gives detailed locations of stops, route by route but it does offer the mystery of the black lines ...
... which, presumably, are meant to show you where the buses go. Except they don't! Try following them like a tram and you get to some weird places, go the wrong way round roundabouts and miss important junctions completely. What are these lines for?

One thing this map does reveal, however, is how "diffuse" these "interchanges" are. Purple routes from the north all serve Bull Street Priory Queensway; an odd name as there are no stops at the former Bull Street terminus.
Locations at BS1, BS16, BS17 and BS18 look as if they might be better as part of the Moor Street (MS) group. Presumably they have "BS" codes because of their historical locations? fbb is hoping to get a more detailed analysis from his West Midlands contact in due course. Perhaps someone will tell us what all those little unexplained icons mean; does the briefcase signify "packed lunches on sale"?

In the meantime, if you go to Birmingham, perhaps it would be wise to leave the paper city centre map in the racks. The on-line version of the central area is a little better, only because it doesn't have the false "tramlines"!

And, please please pretty please, never use "dull" colours on black.

 Next Blog : Wednesday 1st August 

1 comment:

  1. Can I get a bus home from stop BS7?

    Paul Davies
    Filton, Bristol, BS7