Friday 30 November 2012

Partnership in Practice [5]

 Investigation Monday 12th November 
Salt or Psalter [3]
One of the thrills of Sheffield City centre's road scheme is the effect it has on logic and a passenger's sense of direction. Buses travelling in a north westerly direction leave from Snig Hill facing south and do a circuit of the city centre before returning to Snig Hill facing north. Meanwhile, buses via Ecclesall Road (south westerly) leave from Angel Street facing north, then run via some city back streets before regaining a logical compass bearing.

So fbb and chums are waiting in the rain under the canopy here at the top of Angel Street for their Stagecoach service 83 to Ecclesall and the Millhouses Loop. Pre-partnership there were far too many buses along the Ecclesall Road with a bus every 5 minutes to Bents Green (Stagecoach 83 and 88) and a bus every 5 minutes to Ecclesall (First 82). Additionally, First's 81 ran every 30 minutes via Greystones and First's 85 every hour via Carterknowle Road to Tesco on Abbeydale Road..
The partnership plan removed some excess at the Bents Green extremities and used it elsewhere. The 83 splits and now runs every 20 minutes round the Millhouses loop and, numbered 83A, every 20 via Rustlings Road to Fulwood. The run via Dobcroft Road or Springfield Road was, historically, only ever hour each way round, so the new route offers the best ever frequency for over 40 years.
It is also the first time, ever, that buses have used Silverdale Road ...
... where fbb's double deck vehicle ...
... performed a Blackpool Pleasure Beach slalom ride to avoid overhanging trees! Four "senior" passengers used the bus to get from Ecclesall to the shops at Millhouses and, as you can see ...
.. they enjoyed their ride and their few fragments of future fame in this blog. There were no orher customers to or from any point on the loop. Every 20 minutes? But onward and upward for the fbb party as they traversed the whole loop and rode back to Banner Cross. A quick nip across the terrifyingly busy Ecclesall Road and after a short wait along came the 4 to Ringinglow; which is surprising because the information on the stop did not deign to mention any buses to Ringinglow at all!
Nevetheless, the 1154 bus duly arrived with a mental reminder that a No.4 to this little hamlet had last run via Psalter Lane on Saturday 13th January 1968.
The only (genuine) passenger alighted at Bents Green leaving the pleasant country tour to fbb, his chums and the driver. The route back to Sheffield is via a road called Long Line seen here on the unhelpful official map with the 4-plus-arrow box in the middle of nowhere.
It is not what you might call "good bus territory".
There are two round trips on the new timetable plus a morning inward run and an afternoon return trip numbered 84, vestiges of the previous attempt to provide Ringinglow's passenger with a bus service.
The bus for this odd working is a Hope Valley school trip run by First which does the Ringinglow bits between its school duties. The hamlet now has no buses on Saturday or Sunday, but the salty Psalter thoroughfare does retain an hourly evening and Sunday service numbered 4A and running via Carterknowle Road to the Tesco store on Abbeydale Road.

According the lugubrious TM Travel driver, the fbb Ringinglow round trip was "really busy" with barely half a dozen passengers (out and back in total) on the Psalter Lane section, "it's was a lot quieter earlier."

Perhaps a few more of the ardent protesters should actually use the bus?  Maybe the parlous paucity of passengers is why the PTE wanted to withdraw it completely. fbb wonders how many times LibDem Councillor Anders Hanson uses the service 4.
Just a bit more from the Partnership Investigation next week, with Stagecoach "in the dock".

Tomorrow : Who would be a Bus Manager?

 Next Bus Blog : Saturday 1st December 

Thursday 29 November 2012

Partnership in Practice [4]

 Investigation Monday 12th November 
Salt or Psalter [2]
In January 1968 the bus services from Sheffield to Bents Green and Ringinglow changed dramaticallly. The former service 4 via Psalter Lane (actually a historic salt route and nothing to do with the Church) was curtailed to terminate at Ecclesall and the former tram route 81 and 82 was extended via the Bents Green loop. These routes (with one trip via Greystones on the 83) also trundled out into the country to serve Ringinglow.

click to enlarge the timetable page

The Council was particularly proud to inform us all that the steep top bit of Bents Road had been fitted with heating elements to melt the snow and ice so that buses could cope with the junction.

The press item failed to explain how service 4 buses had managed since 1926 without cosy warmth for their aching tyres! fbb has no idea whether the heating is still in place or whether it still works; the junction box that contained the electrical gubbins is still there, however.
Rather then subjecting our loyal reader to the minutiae of the 4 timetable and route, the simple explanation is that the buses were soon (November 1970) travelling via either Springfield Road or Dobcroft Road to a terminus at Millhouses. The 1982 route map illustrates:-
The use of the same route number for different "ways round" made for possible confusion and was explained by SR and DR notes in the timetable.
The confusion was somewhat mitigated in later years by numbering the anti-clockwise variant as 3.
Surpisingly that pattern remained unchanged until (?) 2011 ...
...when the 3 variant was withdrawn and sent to Fulwood as service 6 but not via Psalter Lane. The once frequent 4 (every 7 and 8 minutes at peak in 1952) was now a forlorn once every hour.
But worse was yet to come.

Under the Bus Partnership proposals it was announced that the service to the Millhouses Loop would be improved (pause for cheers) but the service via Psalter Lane would be withdrawn completely (howls of protest).
The local rag managed to drag a confused collection of crusties out of a local block of "sheltered" flats to prove how tragic this loss might be. Protests were obviously effective because the authorities relented and service 4 via Psalter Lane was put back into the plans.

Thus it was that fbb and chums, after a hearty breakfast ...
... from the hut on Fitzalan Square ...
... (supremely fresh bacon and sausage bun with flagon of freshly made tea at £4.05, all consumed at an alfresco table with view of flocks of passing buses) all set off to investigate the improved service on the "Millhouses Loop", the reprieved route via Psalter Lane and the return of service 4 to Ringinglow after 44 years.

The excitement is almost unbearable!

Fat Bus Bloke's Bible Blog looks, topically (?), at floods, especially Noah's. (read here)

 Next Bus Blog : Friday 30th November 

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Partnership in Practice [3]

 Investigation Monday 12th November 
Salt or Psalter [1]
An ancient pub dating from 1820 and a string of cottages on the opposite side of the road ...
... constituted the settlement of "Hill Top" located in open country on Ringinglow Road, the former turnpike to Buxton, on the very south western fringe of Sheffield.
But Sheffield was growing apace and by 1926 the genteel suburb of Bents Green was beginning to take shape.
These are houses on Trap Lane as in the above map under the "cl" of Ecclesall.
The residents thereof must have been more influential than normal because their protestations eventually (in November 1926) brought them a service of Motor Omnibuses; providing a circular route via Ringinglow Road and Ecclesall where connection was made with the frequent tram route, then returning via Bents Road.
In other parts of the city the attitude would have been "let 'em walk twEccles'll and get a car!" [car = tramcar]. In July 1932 an occasional journey or two were added to the picturesque hamlet of Ringinglow.
Its distinctive feature is the "round house" which isn't round; it's octagonal.

In January 1937 the route was extended into City via Psalter Lane and Cemetery Road continuing cross-city to the north-eastern suburbs. So that provokes the burning question, "What had this lane of predominantly posh premises to do with a collection of Psalms as used in our more formal church denominations?"
The answer is, probably, not a lot.
This hill-top highway, which predates the present Ecclesall Road, came complete with a toll house ("TH" on the above map but now demolished) at Banner Cross and a restful hostelry at Sharrow Head. Here "The Stag" ("S" on the above map and still very much trading) supplied nourishing liquid to travellers and, later, equally nourishing liquid to their motor cars ...
This turnpike will have carried traders with sacks of salt from Cheshire, not pilgrims chanting their praises in plainsong! Presumably, as the road became bordered with up-market residences, the name Psalter sounded more noble than the original Salter.

So it was that a frequent route 28 ...
... and an occasional Ringinglow 27 graced this oddly named road. The 1952 service 28 timetable for the frequent Bents Green buses is shown here.
click on image to enlarge

In 1960, the service was linked with the Firth Park via Wincobank route taking the latter's number, 4. So tomorrow we attempt to follow the ramifications of route 4 up to and including changes from Sunday 28th October 2012.
fbb is greatly indebted to James, former pupil of fbb in Sheffield (a long, long time ago!) and now resident at High Moor, for raiding his photo collection for many of the bus pictures above.

And just for the record, the pub, "The Hammer and Pincers" is still there but less easy to photograph as it is now below an improved road level.
The buildings are in much better condition.

And The Stag (see above) is much extended and restaurantified.
No-one will really care, but for a year or so fbb had a flat on Grange Crescent Road at Sharrow Head, just across the roundabout from the pub - and never visited it!

 Next Bus Blog : Thursday 29th November 

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Partnership in Practice [2]

 Investigation Monday 12th November 
Outer Circle Regenerates? : part 2

Privatisation and its associated bus wars and instability came while fbb was busy running a small bus operation on the Isle of Wight. Maintaining even a rudimentary knowledge of omnibological happenings in his former adopted City was out of the question. So what follows is just a hazy recollection. Meadowhell shopping horror complex opened in 1990 adding further complications to the saga.

  Please note : this series of fbb  
 maps is diagrammatic ONLY. It aims 
 to simplify a complex set of data

Suffice it to say that, eventually, the former 2 and 59 routes were further curtailed and became the 1 from Hillsborough to Jordanthorpe with the 2 from Hillsborough to Gleadless and Crystal Peaks making the half hour frequency.

A further slice of the action was then removed to leave the 1 as shown working through on the 39 from Jordanthorpe into the city. This link wamade (and broken!) on several occasions.

The final ignominy of the once-great Outer Circle came in July 2010 with a further curtailment to run from Jordanthorpe ...
... hourly to Meadowhell; joined by route 7 via Norfolk Park maintaining a half hour frequency from Elm Tree via Price of Wales Road to the shopping centre.
Other parts of the circle are mostly served by different routes with Manchester Road carrying only occasional country routes and Rivelin Valley Road left with a very minimalist route 64.
So, at last we come to the partnership's provision.  Route 17 dates from 1957 when it replaced a tram service from Sheffield Lane Top to City via Attercliffe, as shown in this 1961 map.
The route is barely recognisable today.

Immediately before 28th October 2012, service 17 ran from Meersbrook via City to Hillsborough, then via Parson Cross, Sheffield Lane Top and, using its 1957 route to Grimesthorpe, finished at Meadowhell. Route 39 ran from Jordanthorpe via Meersbrook to City.

The 17 must be one of the most mucked-about-with Sheffield bus routes; having been extended at both ends at various times, diverted, circularised, uncircularised, linked and de-linked. A history of the 17 would fill several closely printed volumes and would be very boring indeed. [possibly even more boring than this blog?]

In all these alterations only the little bit  between Sheffield Lane Top and the Grimesthorpe area as shown on the maps has remained as unchanging as the Laws of the Medes and Persians. So take the pre-partnership 17, chop it into two bits and join it with what was the service 1 and you have created something like a new non-circling circular which is beginning to look like "déja vu" for a significant part of the good old routes 2 and 3!.
A ride from Hillsborough to City takes a massive two hours and 24 minutes which makes it the longest Sheffield City bus route since the demise of the 3 hour Outer Circle in 1970. The decircled route 2 took a modest 1 hour and 59 minutes as shown in yesterday's blog (read again).
When the new 17 whizzed past fbb on Monday November 12th at 0930 it carried the heavy load of 2 persons. Maybe the 17 will be re-organised yet again?

But there is a point to this complex story. Will the worthy citizens of Sheffield be able to grasp the intricacies of this new route, representing, as it does, about the 5th re-organisation of these corridors in as many years? How many passengers are lost every time something "clever" like this is dreamed up by the scheduling teams?

And would it not have been a good idea to renumber the whole lot? Service 3 would have been historically appropriate. And, SYPTE, please don't tell fbb that you like to keep numbers intact for the benefit of the regular customer. You have renumbered the 72 Shirecliffe service as service 2 when the route hasn't changed one iota; it's just lost the end bit!

Never mind; please peruse a timetable extract.
Alternativerly, the full service 17 leaflet can be explored (here). Enjoy!

And from Tom Robinson, of the Sheffield Transport Study Group, a memory of a "real bus" on the original Outer Circle snapped here at Elm Tree.
Thanks, Tom.

Fat Bus Bloke's Bible Blog takes a look at Noah's floating box
aka The Ark (read here)

 Next Bus Blog : Wednesday 28th November