Monday 9 July 2012

Opting Out of Optio ...

Hard Cheese Andy! :-(
but well done all the same!
And congrats to Jonny Marray (right)
erswhile resident of Sheffield
and winner of the Men's Doubles
A useful intro to our blog today, also from Sheffield.

Opting out of Option and In to "Partnership"
fbb was once on a committee running a significant annual Christian event on the Island. He was invited to join the committee because "we need new ideas; a breath of fresh air." The meetings were frustrating because, as fbb opined after every evening of circuitous debate, "they are all in favour of change, as long as everything remains the same as it always was!" The event is no longer held.

Encouraging giants like Stagecoach and First to get into chummy "partnership" is bound to be difficult; they are in business solely to make money for their shareholders (and rightly so). Neither will wish to jeapardise their profitability or, in certain cases, see their losses increase.

So we are presented with the PTE inspired proposals in the form of a trendy clicky web site (read here) and two explanatory paper leaflets. We have every Sheffield bus service listed and what will happen to it if these proposals go ahead. The changes range from "UNALTERED" to "WITHDRAWN". The hard copy information is far easier to follow with services colour coded by future proposal status.

So let's answer one of Friday's questions. See "SYPTE : South Yorkshire Positive Transport Expenditure?" (read here).

Will there still be wall-to-wall buses along the Ecclesall Road?
The present set of services running south west from the city centre looks like this.
 81  City - Greystones - Ecclesall (First) 2 buses per hour
         evenings and Sundays, 88A (Stagecoach)
 82  City - Ecclesall (First) 12 buses per hour
 83  Ecclesfield - City - Bents Green (Stagecoach) 6 buses per hour
 85  City - Ecclesall - Carterknowle (First) 1 bus per hour
 88  Ecclesfield - City - Bents Green (Stagecoach) 6 buses per hour
  4   City - Ecclesall - Millhouses (First) 1 bus per hour
        service 4 runs via Paslter Lane NOT Ecclesall Road
  6   City - Fulwood (First) 1 bus per hour (not on map)
Total,  29 buses each hour   in this service group.

Under the revised proposals this becomes:--
 81  City - Greystones - Ecclesall 3 buses per hour
 82  City - Ecclesall 6 buses per hour
 83  Ecclesfield - City - Ecclesall - Millhouses 3 buses per hour
        83 does NOT run via Psalter Lane
 83A  Ecclesfield - City - Fulwood 3 buses per hour
 85  City - Ecclesall - Carterknowle 3 buses per hour
 88  Ecclesfield - City - Bents Green 6 buses per hour
Total,  24 buses each hour   in this service group.

At this stage a decision on which services are operated by which operator has not yet been announced. It is hard to see any commercial justification for a 20 minute service between Ecclesall and Millhouses [new  83  replacing old  4 ]. Likewise a similar increase via Rustlings Road to Fulwood [new  83A  replacing old  6 ]. The route via Greystones [still  81 ] is also proposed for an increase in frequency from every 30 to every 20 minutes. Of course, these are only proposals at the moment, some of which may have to be modified.

The residents of Psalter Lane (top right on both maps) are certainly far from happy with the complete loss of any bus service at all. It is a long way from existing bus services from City, the orange line here ...
... being a (very) circular route, quite unsuitable for passengers wishing to get to the centre. And fbb knows from personal experience that it's a long slow climb UP from Ecclesall Road.
The local paper has reported the anger of aggrieved Psalter Lane pensioners with this highly realistic picture:-
So much for objective and reasoned journalism! If these were real passengers making frequent journeys rather than a hurriedly recruited photo-opportunity "claque" from Southcroft sheltered housing (the name of the stop is "Psalter Lane Southcroft") ...
... then, doubtless, the service would not be withdrawn. Poor marks Sheffield "Star".

One other possible disappointment is apparent in this initial publicity. The two original "Optio" schemes offered a £3 day ticket (NOT interavailable between schemes) on each group of services.  See, for example "Optio Red Revealed" (read again). Whilst these "Orange" and "Red" deals will remain, the new proposal offers no equivalent for the Ecclesall Road.

Surely one of the much-vaunted benefits of the Optio schemes was being able to catch the first bus which came along without incurring a fares penalty? The new "Citywide" fare is too high at £4.30 to encourage such interavailable usage for a simple city trip. The proposed, but so far unpriced "Citywide60" is unlikely to be helpful as a 60 minute gap is insufficient for, say, city centre shopping. See "SYPTE : South Yorkshire Positive Transport Expenditure?" (read again). So the majority of casual users will stick to company-specific singles, and possibly some price competition.
Answers to yesterdays Gaelic quiz; showing place name and identity of the picture. If you haven't got a clue what fbb is talking about, go to "Summer Language School" (read again)

 1. An Leargaidh  Largs : Nardini's cafe, iconic 1930s design
cafe recently re-opened after the original company failed.
 2. Baile Iain  Johnstone : Arriva (now McGills) bus depot located
near the railway station
 3. Fairlidh  Fairlie : train at now closed and obliterated Fairlie Pier
where ferry connections were made until 1970s
 4. Tràigh a Deas  South Beach (Ardrossan) : the Arran Ferry
departs from Ardrossan Harbour Station.
 5. Cille Brìghde an Iar  West Kilbride : Portencross castle
one-time contender in the BBC "Restoration" series.
 6. Sràid Ghille Mhoire  Gilmour Street (Paisley) : the
iconic "Paisley pattern" design.
 7. Sràid na Banrighinn  Queen Street (Glasgow) : tram
seen approaching the station; note station roof.
 8. Saltcoats  Saltcoats not Gaelic-ised : the wind farm above
the beach is a distinctive local landmark
 9. Cill D'Fhinnein  Kilwinning : junction station where the
Largs and Ardrossan branch leaves the "main line" to Ayr
 10. Bàgh nan Uirnhean  Wemyss Bay : station building.
bàgh is obviously "bay" but how do you get "Wemyss"?

There is a full list of all Scotrail stations with Gaelic names on the "Scot-rail" enthusiasts' website. Type "Gaelic Station Names" into Google.


  1. The "Citywide 60" sounds like it's intended to be a connectional single ticket, as is common in European countries, particularly Eastern Europe. Not a return.


  2. Agreed, Neil. But such a fare can be (and is) used as a return if your "stay" requirements are not lengthy.

  3. Why do you say that operators aren't known for the Sheffield routes? If a bus route is changing operator it's clearly shown on the information page for that service. If it's a new service being introduced, the operator is shown. Therefore, if no operator is shown surely it's status quo for that service number (even if the service itself may be rerouting slightly).

  4. FBB: yes, that's a "workaround".

    The thing to prevent, though, is people selling them on on arrival to an intending departing passenger. For that reason it might be best to look ASAP to issuing these new fare sets exclusively on pay as you go type smartcards.


  5. I have it on the "highest authority" that discussions are still very much under way on who operates what. My guess is that current operators will remain on the frequent routes, but there will be some give and take on the peripheral services. Stagecoach currently runs 83, First 4 & 6. These merge to become 83/83A run by ?????