Friday 24 August 2012

Short Stay at Stourbridge [2]

Thanks to "Solenteer" for sending a pic of the Stourbridge shuttle bus referred to in yesterday's blog (read again).
It is leaving temporary stop "G" on Parkfield Road.
Inspiring Interchange!
Out with the uninspiring but utilitarian 1980s old ...
... which had replaced three slightly more spread-out terminals. And in with this ...
... something altogether more trendy.

Having been sadly disappointed by the offering at Halesowen, fbb was anxious to see if Stourbridge offered anything better. And beautifully better it was. First and foremost it has toilets.
O.K. at a price! But 20p seems to be the going rate to spend a penny. One penny in 1950 would be about 12p today, so 20p is not quite as drastic as it sounds; and when you gotta go ...

And there's a shop ...
... well stocked but eschewed by Mrs fbb for a few essentials in favour of the co-op in the town centre.

Departure information suffered the same problems as Halesowen; good if you are a regular and know what you want, but less than helpful for newcomers and occasional users.
Departure lists should never replace a proper timetable, although  both can be useful. Likewise the departure screen was in time order, rather than scrolling through destinations or even route numbers.
Confusingly (again for a visitor) the right hand panel of this display shows departures from Stourbridge Junction Station; but, by the time you've bought a ticket and caught the shuttle train, all those on the screen will have departed. fbb is not entirely sure what the point of this information might be unless a delay is built in to allow for the short but frequent journey from Town to Junction stations (of which more in due course).

There are mini-versions of the departure screens at each stand ...
... where they are much more useful as they give the waiting passenger some guide as to when their bus might actually arrive; at least they should if they are delivering real time. But how many buses or routes are so equipped? It is not made clear.

But Stourbridge Interchange had one outstanding feature.
It had an enquiry desk staffed by a real person and, bliss beyond bliss, a rack stuffed to bursting point with leaflets for all the routes using the bus station. fbb, almost slobbering with delight, collected a full set to read at his ecstatic leisure.

It was not clear what the opening hours of this desk were; indeed although the on-line page enthused (quite rightly) about the Interchange's facilities ...
... there was no mention of  "office opening hours". A certain picking of nits apart, this is an excellent facility and is much, much better than Halesowen. It even looks good and welcoming at night!
fbb was somewhat underwhelmed by limited staffing hours at the Halesowen bus station (read again). In fairness to Centro, he did spot this on a return visit yesterday ...
... a help point. The chubby one did not have the courage to push the button to check what happened. Chicken!

And it is not necessary to put up notices like this ...
... if you post timetables rather than departure lists! QED!
More from Stourbridge (rail) soon
 Next Blog : Saturday 18th August 


  1. Why oh why do authorities spend a lot of money on building bus stations and bus priorities etc but all too often neglect to have any 'form' of enquiry office and printed matter!
    I assumed Redditch being close to the West Midlands and having lengthy purpose built bus-ways would have these but was sadly disappointed. Just a couple of leaflets for infrequent services in a paper shop and nothing in the library (other side of town centre) and a closed TIC!

  2. When were bus departure lists invented? If there were such things when I was a lad, I don't remember them. As far as I can recall, main bus stops in towns and villages had full timetables on display.

    Southdown, in particular, produced good-sized posters showing timetables for all services in particular areas. If I remember correctly, these were annotated by means of plastic strips which effectively underlined the departure times for the stop where they were displayed. So you could refer to full timetables for the area - or just read across the highlighted rows of departure times for services from that stop. No separate "departure list" needed. Simple and effective. Perhaps it was all a dream.

  3. Departure lists were "invented" when computer literate (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one) people decided to write programs to extract them from timetables "to make it easier for the public". Now modern mankind can't read a bus timetable and doesn't even consider the bus option unless they are desperate.

  4. Anonymous24 August 2012 19:29

    'Departure lists were "invented" when computer literate (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one) people decided to write programs to extract them from timetables...'

    No, they go back much further than that. Southampton City Transport were using them on stops in the 1960s, long before computers were in day to day use for such things.

  5. Correct RC169. Northampton Corporation Transport's printed timetable was just a collection of departure lists, but as the routes were short and most traffic was to and from the Town Centre this was rarely a problem.
    They were hand typed in the head office at St James' and reduced for the book.