Monday 8 October 2012

Partnership Proposals Promulgated [1]

Senior moment No 345
Whilst staying at No 3 Son's flat, fbb was aghast to spot a nasty spillage in the bathroom. Some noxious blue fluid (toilet cleanser?) was seeping over the window cill.
Uncertain as to how this domestic crime had been committeed, fbb sought to redress the balance by cleaning up the mess. Having removed the bits of bathroom detritus, the chubby one espied ...
... that the stain was a seahorse-decorated tile! Such is the joy of being old.
A little levity to prepare us for the horrors to come.

fbb thought it would never happen ...
... two giants of the bus industry working together to provide the public with a better service. Initially, two corridors were "co-ordinated" under the Optio brand and some "read again" blogs can be accessed from a short list below. But from the end of this month the whole of Sheffield's bus network will undergo something of a revolution. For the historians amongst our loyal readership, this is the biggest network change since October 1968. Then, the alterations were provoked by a need to save money, but today's plan ...
Back in November 2011, fbb was "summoned to the headmasters study" to meet South Yorkshire PTE Director David Brown (DB) ...
... and senior people from Stagecoach and First. The summons was in response to fbb's blogs (so they do read them?) and accompanying letters to DB about the poor quality of printed an on-line publicity in South Yorkshire.

DB was adamant the the new Partnership deal would bring significant improvements all-round and "many of the things that you point out will be resolved as we progress with a positive attitude of working together". Really?

So, a series of three (at least!) exciting blogs looking at the publicity for the new services; to see how much better things are under the new regime. We will take each of fbb's repeated "moans" in turn.

 Wrong timetable information  e.g. service 88
fbb blogged (and others have commented, by letter) that the information was misleading as it showed buses terminating at Banner Cross, not Bents Green.
This meant that on-line journey planners insisted that you alight from your 83 or 88 bus and wait for the next one to complete your journey. Bents Green is over a mile from Banner Cross. Daft.
Route 83 will no longer run to Bents Green under the new cunning plan, but the 88 remains largely unchanged. So let's look at journeys TO Bents Green after the October revisions.
Oh look, there aren't any! The terminus is still at Banner Cross and it's still  WRONG . Of course, you can travel in the opposite direction VIA Bents Green on your way back to town ...
But the basic frequency will be only every 10 minutes, so instead of Traveline telling you to get off and wait seven minutes before continuing on the next bus to the terminus, the partnership will insist that you wait for 12 minutes, thus "providing the public with a better service."  no improvement 

 Wrong timetable information  e.g. service 83 
And talking of loops. The new plans continue to provide for an excellent service to Ecclesfield, and as a special treat some service 83 and 83A journeys will take you to on past Morrisons to the High Street. Now that's very nice for those that live near there.
Instead of being unceremoniously dumped off the bus at Morrisons on Ecclesfield Common ...
... the privileged few (apparently) can ride round the loop to the High Street (pictured below), but only on certain journeys in the evenings.
 WRONG  All service 83 buses run via Ecclesfield High Street but the leaflet helpfully only tells you the  times for buses that finish their day's work there and skulk off to their depot. For the record, the two buses shown as not going to the High Street (above) arrive there at 2127 and 2227.   no improvement 

 Misleading maps   e.g. service 42
Maps are produced using a piece of bought-in software from a Swedish firm called Kartor. By all accounts it is expensive and difficult to use; and when it goes wrong it needs considerable skill to make it work properly. A chum who knows of its use with another operator proffers numerous expletives deleted at its very mention! When the "Partnership" was announced, fbb wrote to DB offering to create "proper" maps showing road names and a better selection of useful destinations. His offer was politely but firmly refused.

So here's one to try for yourself.
For a small and utterly worthless imaginary prize, your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to explain the route of the service 42 using the map supplied. All will be revealed tomorrow.
Or you could cheat and download the timetable leaflet. In the meantime, some background reading:-

Summoned to the  Headmaster's Study (read again)

Optio Red Revealed (read again)

Oh, Oh, Option Orange (read again)

 Next Bus Blog : Tuesday 9th October 


  1. All the followers of your blog know that FBB likes to pride himself on being RIGHT – especially when taking the rise out of the PTEs – especially SYPTE. On this occasion it would appear that he needs to rush off to Amazon and buy a copy of Electronic Bus Service Registrations for Dummies. Stagecoach have been a leading promoter of EBSR and indeed, throughout the country all of their bus service registrations are supplied in this format to VOSA, PTEs and LTAs – no paper copies at all. One of the widely stated reasons for doing this was because they wanted to remain as ‘owners’ of their data and have it presented in the format they supplied it in. Take a look at the Stagecoach Yorkshire website, check out the current 83 and 88 timetables (the new ones are not available yet) and ‘Hey Presto!’ the journeys on their own timetables terminate at Brincliffe Edge Road, Banner Cross. It would appear that the good people at SYPTE are merely carrying out Stagecoach’s wishes. Is FBB WRONG? Surely not? I know there are other examples of this throughout the country, certainly in my neck of the woods in sunny Manchester, check it out....

  2. Just because that's what Stagecoach shows doesn't make it right. I know that Uncle Brian's lads in Sheffield show the service inaccurately and incompetently on their website. That is no reason for the PTE to continue the errors. The PTE's remit is (amongst other things) to serve the public of South Yorkshire who are ultimately its paymasters. Electronic bus registration has been an unmitigated (and expensive) disaster which is why its take-up has been poor. Anonymous is, as usual, falling into the pit of death that says that electronic (and Stagecoach) must be right. They are both wrong. I have, you will not be surprised to hear, asked Stagecoach to justify their error. Their answer, "Electronic registration cannot cope with loops". QED Interestingly, their own printed publicity usually gets it right but they don't usually produce any for SY!
    For the record, the correct and sensible way to show a loop timetable (especially a large one way loop like the 88) is to provide times right round the loop to "terminating" journeys and right round the loop for "commencing" journeys. That's the way to help the passenger.

  3. To give credit where it's due- as of today the maps, service change booklet (a proper one, not lists of routes changing without explanation) and virtually all the new timetables, were out by today - two weeks before the changes come in.

  4. I work for CENTRO and have been impressed with the customer information provided by the in house team at Sheffield. Their new network map looks very good. Route maps provide a guide and are not looked upon as a sat nav

  5. Centro leaflets are much better with "real" maps! Cheers. I can actually work out where my mus is going.


  7. Stagecoach are correct. EBSR cannot handle loops per-se, because the duplication of information required would otherwise legally commit an operator to run duplicate journeys, (as is strictly the case with many paper registrations...except bureacracy appears to make allowance for these abberations on paper registrations whilst the guidelines specifically bar them in electronic ones).

    Therefore, to produce decent timetables from an EBSR file requires manual editing...something that everybody took for granted wouldn't be the case...

    However, the advantages to downstream users such as RTI providers, PTI sites etc etc (in terms of easy access to stop-specific information) by far outweigh the disadvantages...

    And at some time or other in the future it won't be optional...there will be no paper registrations...kudos then to Stagecoach for getting in on the ground floor...

  8. "The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages". So it is better to deliver WRONG information to fit in with the idiotic (and technically unnecessary) requirements of electronic systems. What absolute and utter tosh! Of course loops do not commit an operator to run two journeys and they never have done. If electronic registration ever does become compulsory then the bus industry is indeed in a bad way.

    The solution is childishly simple; data for the electronic delivery systems can remain unseen by the user of Journey Planners. Data to communicate in the real (as opposed to virtual) world can, should, and must show what the user needs to know and pish and tush to anyone who tries to tell a bus operator otherwise.

    One other point: "guidelines" don't bar anything. Guidance by its very nature can (and often must) be ignored.

    1. My response to this piffle appears to have disappeared...I don't think I'll bother any more.