Sunday 9 June 2013

Seaton's Bus Hour Rush Hour [2]

See "Seaton's Bus Hour Rush Hour [1]" (read again)
More from Thomas Gray ...

Full many a coach of purest seat serene
The dark unfathom'd emptiness will bear:
Full many a journey is to run unseen
And waste its power to carry just fresh air

People have been gathering at the Marine Place bus stop in Seaton and, just before 0720, the total numbered eight. fbb  presumed that they awaited the arrival of ...

 0720   AVT service 899 to Budleigh Salterton 
But, sadly, the awaiting passengers eschewed, spurned and ignored Axe Valley's finest, which, like its pedecessors, whisked round the roundabout and set off empty to lands afar.
The Merlin left behind a growing crowd which eventually totalled 17. There was a frisson of excitement; the two waiting in the sun opposite the shaded stop have sprung to life and crossed the road. Those seated in the shelter have risen as one man (and/or woman) to their feet as the next rush hour departure turns the corner from Harbour Road.

 0733   First service X53 to Exeter
Aha! The crowd of patient passengers is going to Exeter (at least some of them are; possibly to college looking at the evidence of age, costume and accoutrements). Arrival in the Cathedral City is at 0838; ideal for an 0900 start of study and/or work. The last of the crowd (?) has boarded and the bus has then nipped up Castle Hill towards Beer.
The stops all then reverted to their deserted state.

But, lo! A modest 7 minutes later and AVT's third vehicle arrived; and it's yet another Merlin.

 0740   AVT service 899 to Sidmouth 
Passengers are there none, so off the bus roared. Two more to go!

 0750   Stagecoach service 52A to Exeter
Yet again very lightly loaded (if at all). By now fbb had been up and about for well over an hour (the sun was shining but the air was still decidedly chilly) and was desirous of breaking his fast. The trauma of tempting tasty toast overcame the chubby one's plans for journalistic completeness and he failed to photograph bus number 8.

 0750   AVT service 899 to Beer.

So what is going on? Why this plethora of public transport bereft of passengers?

One word supplies most of the answer: SCHOOLS. Four of the eight departures only operate on schooldays. The 899s from Seaton to Exmouth (0700), Budleigh Salterton (0720) and Sidmouth (0740) all return ...
... in a growing convoy to deposit their sleepy passengers at Colyford The Elms ...
... whence it is but a short stroll up the road behind the shelter to ...
... Colyton Grammar School, which, as its name suggests, isn't at Colyton.

Since its founding in 1546, Colyton Grammar School has enjoyed a long and distinguished history. As the only grammar school within a 50 mile radius, we offer a selective education to students in the top 25% of the ability range.

The school has a tradition of high academic expectation, nurtured by a culture which values achievement in all activities and supports fully the development of each student to achieve success, gain self confidence and be equipped as independent learners, ready to take their place as responsible 21st century citizens.

The school has one of the finest academic records in the country. In GCSE and at A-Level, the success rates far exceed national averages and are significantly higher than average for grammar schools.
Although the likelihood of any passengers outward from Seaton must be small, AVT runs "in service" to recover the mere pittance that the Government now graciously pays as BSOG (bus service operator grant); which , in the good old days, used to be a significant refund of the tax on the fuel. With on-going proposals to divert this money via Local Authorities and "target services to benefit passengers", fbb wonders how long such specialist routes can be viable. The 0750 to Beer also provides school transport elsewhere and the 0810 from Seaton eastwards takes little kiddies to Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis.

So, to summarise; Seaton's bus hour (and five minutes) rush hour of eight departures is as follows:-

 0645   Stagecoach 52A to Exeter via Sidmouth.

 0650   Axe Valley Travel [AVT] 885 to Axminster

 0700   AVT 899 to Exmouth

 0720   AVT 899 to Budleigh Salterton

 0733   First X53 to Exeter via Beer

 0740   AVT 899 to Sidmouth 

 0750   Stagecoach 52A to Exeter via Sidmouth.

 0750   AVT 899 to Beer.

On Saturdays, by the way, only the  0733  X53 and the  0750  52A operate. Amazingly the  0733  X53 runs on Sundays but the sabbath-day service is provided only during the Summer.

A splendid selection of operators, routes and vehicles to assuage the thirst of any omnibologist; but, fbb suspects, the thrill will diminish as time progresses and familiarity increases. For the time being, however, it is a worthy topic to enhance the understanding of East Devon bus operation.

Today, in Northampton, First bus retreats and Stagecoach advances further; but, due to technical difficulties in the fbb map drawing department, a report will be unavoidably delayed. However, also today and co-incidetally, our intrepid Northampton correspondent is travelling all the way to Seaton on a train and coach excusion to enjoy the Tramway and a Classic Car display almost adjacent to the fbb downsized residence.
A report is planned for tomorrow.
P.S. Yesterday's (Saturday's) 0733 X53 to Exeter collected zero passengers from Marine Place, but, after  brief period of grazing, left for Beer and Exeter with five on board.
And a P.S. to the above P.S. Today's (Sunday's - summer only)  0733  picked up nil but left with 2 on board. The route runs approx 2 hourly with a last departure at 1737. fbb did not photograph this departure as it would have looked very much like Saturday's departure. Next bus out is the 0910 52B Stagecoach  to Exeter; thereafter 0955, 1355, 1655 and 1945 - NOT every two hours as previously blogged. [bad house point, fbb] Auntie Frances (AVT) does not venture forth on the "day of rest".

 Next bus/tram/train blog : Monday 10th June 

1 comment:

  1. BSOG is paid against all mileage associated with the operation of registered bus services including 'out of service' journeys to/from the depot and between journeys. It is more likely that they run in service as they are going that way anyway and may well have had requests from people they have passed on the way to stop and anyone they pick up on the way is a bit of extra revenue for very little extra cost.

    It is becoming less common as the extended notice period required for registrations (you may get short notice permission for a change to a school journey to suit the school but are unlikely to get so for positioning journeys) and the increasing cost of the fee of those registrations is making it less cost effective to continue running such journeys. Rural independents like Axe Valley are probably the last bastion of such work surviving in such a manner.