Friday 15 March 2013

Minimum Money Makes Manchester Mysterious

Five Operators?

Even back in the mid to late 90s, the eveing and Sunday journeys on Stagecoach 370 (Stockport, Didsbury, Altrincham) were operated by another company, presumably "on tender"...
... as indicated by the note at the foot of this Great Britain Bus Timetable extract. Star Line were based in Knutsford and did quite a bit of tendered work.
But in more recent times, the tendered journeys have been operated by Arriva.
But when a leaflet flopped though fbb's letter box, the old codger was shocked by what he read thereupon!
FIVE operators or one service? Surely some mistake?
But there was no mistake. Stagecoach still runs Monday to Saturday daytme ...
... and Arriva still has most of the evening service.
But the hourly Sunday service ...
... is now in the hands of ...
... JPT travel.

But it's on Saturday when things get even sillier. Remember your main daytime service is run by Stagecoach, and your evening trips are blue Arriva buses. But to add utter confusion to everything, there are some morning and one evening journey run by Finglands (East Yorkshire in disguise), no less.
Obviously fbb has no details of how these odd journeys fit into Finglands overall scheduling; BUT as stand alone journeys they seem highly expensive to operate, requiring two buses in the morning and presumably some light running as well.

But, we hear you grumble, that's only FOUR operators. Where and who is number 5.
Hello Go Goodwins!

Additional journey (schooldays only) 0737
Northenden, Brett Street to Altrincham, Sainsburys

So the big question is this. Is this really (no, we mean really) the best way to finance bus services? There would appear to be a substantial amount of "dead" mileage, wasting fuel and wear and tear on vehicles and roadsThere must be a huge back-office costs as Transport for Greater Manchester administers five lots of tender documents; and for what? To save a few pounds? To uphold some political principle?

Furthermore there is the on-going confusion of wheelchair access, available from Stagecoach and Arriva but not, apparently, from Finglands or JPT. And there's more! What about ticket availability? Any return, day rover or weekly operator ticket deals are potentially risky if your return journey might be on a different company's vehicle.


Surely there should be some dispensation from the tendering laws of the Medes and the Persians to ensure that the public is not confused, inconvenienced or financially penalised? A wedge of crisp but unmarked twenties in plain brown envelope delivered to a Mr B Souter of Perth?

And if the public is baffled, what about the operators? Arriva's on-line map suggests that the company thinks it runs to Sale and not Altrincham!
Starting tomorrow:-

              mmb : virtuellement en France  

 Next rail & ferry blog : Saturday 16th March 


  1. Arriva purchased Star Line which ran a medium sized fleet in and around Altrincham post deregulation.

  2. Thanks, anon (above) for that extra info.

  3. Excellent blog, head up north and cast your eye across newcastle. the changing faces of old, the nonexistent traffic commissioner that doesn't really care the the aurthority nexus more concerned about their metro than the buses (and passengers) and one company in particular (thanks Souter)

  4. Probably down to procurement!

  5. Minus that one-off Go Goodwins journey, I've now bagged the other four operators as I had to take an early morning service to Altrincham with Finglands on Saturday. Thankfully my System One ticket is good for any operator, but hard-cheese if you have a cheaper Megarider, such as the lady at the bus stop in Northenden. No doubt it results in lower overall tender costs for TfGM, but seems to be following the current political creed of pushing higher costs onto end users: ongoing subsidy being A Bad Thing.

    As for Sale, I wonder if that's a hangover from earlier rerouting proposals.