Sunday 2 December 2012

Portsmouth in Practice

But first ...
 Advent Alphabetical Almanac 

B is for Bethlehem
Oddly, Christmas is the biggest annual event in Bethlehem, a small town of 25,000 people almost contiguous with Jerusalem; odd because most of the population is either Jewish or Moslem, not Christian.

Bethlehem is the traditional resting place of Rachel, wife of Jacob (renamed Israel in an encounter with God) and the de facto founder of the Jewish nation.

It is also the traditional birthplace of King David whose line of descent would led to Jesus. These "co-incidences" hide a deep and challenging truth, namely that the arrival of the boy child in an insignificant little village was part of  a much grander Divine plan. Much of the historical and archaeological evidence may lack total cohesion, but the age-old spiritual truth is a vital part of this Special Season.

The Lord says, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are one of the smallest towns in Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose family line goes back to ancient times.”
From the Old Testament prophet Micah, written about 900 years before Christ.

And, of course, the name "Bethlehem" means "House of Bread"

"For the bread that God gives is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. and I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them.
From John's Gospel

More "co-incidences"?
Back to Pompey

A Visit on Thursday 28th November ...

... which started at the Hard bus station, adjacent to Portsmouth Harbour railway station, the Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays shipping centre and the Royal Navy's historical ships.
The bus station is a little dated in design but works well enough. It is a credit to First Bus (or is it Portsmouth City Council?) that all stops and stands had been correctly re-labelled for the new network introduced on 18th November.
And it's good to see that modern technology is still on hand to make amendments!
Three cheers for the intervention of a real person to clear up any misunderstanding in the days before the change when new (and thus wrong) information was posted. You can wipe it off now.

Only the Stagecoach Megabus stop looked decidedly dodgy; as if the service no longer runs. It's not easy to check either as Megabus don't seem to want to show you their timetables on-line and there was nothing useful at the stop.
First's stands all had up-to-date departure lists but no timetables (boo) but someone had had the presence of mind to create some maps from the new timetable booklet pages and paste them in (hooray).
It does seem odd that, with the huge amounts of space available in the frames on each stand ...
... we cannot have a copy of the timetable pages. Of course, if you are Stagecoach, you don't add maps OR timetables but fill the space up with a clutter of advertorial stuff.
Frankly, blank space would be make the departure lists easier to spot!

There was even a plan of the stands.
Sadly, First bus had failed to provide one of these for the driver of fbb's first departure. On arrival he entered lane 1, stopped to let off passengers; exited the bus station and re-entered in lane two. Wrong again - so he eventually tried lane 3. Correct third time. Incidentally he missed the stop in the city centre (Commercial Road) and would have left approx 15 passengers behind had it not been for a more sprightly "senior" who ran round the corner and hailed the errant vehicle. The same bloke also ran back to collect the rest of the confused customers.

Staff training? What staff training?

But, these on-going moans about information aside, the chubby one was impressed with the way in which First and their Portsmothian customers seem to have coped with the biggest change in the City's transport history. With one notable exception.
Route 0! This is a very "clever" way of joining together various bits and pieces of the less frequent bus network into one big circular. But the use of one route number for "both ways round" (whether it's 0 or 56 point 5) is clearly a cleverness too far. The printed timetable is well-nigh incomprehensible and on fbb's full round trip it was clear that many customers were baffled. fbb has already suggested a rewrite of the timetable (read again) and something more helpful needs to be done at North End where the buses with the same number go different ways round the loop in one direction and to two separate destinations in the other.

Perhaps a rethink for January?

Nevertheless at least 8 out of ten for First and their partners. A total network change is, as Sir Humphrey Appleby used to say to Jim Hacker ...
... very "courageous" indeed. Three cheers for First's "courage"!

It is a pity that the Hampshire people can't quite get their numbers in the right order.
fbb is not sure what the "Nat 30" is, seen adorning this flag at Waterlooville. And be warned! fbb is currently studying the detailed changes in Pompey and may well blog some more in due course.

 Next Bus Blog : Monday 3rd December 


  1. The "Nat 30" on the Waterlooville bus stop may be the National Express service from London to Portsmouth. This is now numbered 031, but I think it used to be 030.

  2. Is the plan of the stands at the Hard a diagram of how the stands are laid out, or just a list? It looks as though there are three rows of three stands - but there used to be four platforms, with two or three stands on each. I haven't been to the Hard since the new services came in, so maybe they have rearranged things.

  3. Steve : we caught our X4 from stand C on lane 3 counting from the road. Stand A (Nat Express and tatty-sign megabus with posher shelter and the stands guide as above) appears to be the only stop on lane 4

    1. Thanks. Lane 4 has traditionally been used by coaches only. The allocation of bus services to the other stands is reasonably logical, given the complexity of some of the routes. All the buses to Southsea go from Stand H (H for Holidaymakers?) - all the buses from the other stands go to Commercial Road and beyond.

  4. First used to run the 63 into Havant so saying that they have never operated there isn't correct. Other than that a good article.

    I caught the 3 the other day and in the morning it was running according to schedule!