Monday 1 July 2013

Blupdates for Flaming (?) June

Every Thursday, "Route One" magazine appears on-line.
It is much more a periodical for bus engineers and coach buyers; but, because it is weekly, it does scoop some items of news. If you can accept the bias of "journalism by press release", (is there any other, these days?), it can set the agile mind of a blogger on a trail of extended investigation.

Thus two of last week's news items have a bearing on recent fbb blogs.
A week or so ago, fbb reported on dark dastardly deeds at Lorraine Chase's favourite airport.

See "Nah, Luton Airport!" (read again) and  "Luton Airport - The Sequel" (read again).

From 30th July, Arriva revamps its 757 service to run from Luton Station (Busway Interchange) rather than that airport car park. Peak hour trips on Monday to Fridays serve the residential districts of the former home of happy hatters.
The middle of the day service Monday to Friday settles down to a 30 minute frequency, a reduction from a coach every 20 before the weird airport nastiness.
Connections are shown (in blue) with Arriva's route A; direct from terminal to station. Whether London-bound passengers will relish a 6 minute wait to enjoy the comings and goings on the new busway remains to be seen. Doubtless there is more controversy to come from Luton Airport.

Meanwhile back at Rutland Water.
The article confirms (in part) news added to the fbb blog via a comment:-

See "Not 'The Lake' by Edgar Allan Poe [2]" (read again)

Centrebus, owners of Kimes, have de-registered most of the Kimes registrations and transferred them to Centrebus; also beginning the legal consultation process for the close-down. It appears, however, that the parent company has not (yet?) re-registered the 9 and the 12 via Rutland Water. The "Route One" article suggests that Centrebus hope to "do a deal" with another, as yet unrevealed, operator.

Whatever happens, things will change around the former lands of the discredited Lord Empingham and his doomed fiancée, Edyth Weston. See "Not "The Lake" by Edgar Allan Poe [1]" (read again) and yet another much respected bus operator will fade into obscurity.

And, talking of Rutland Water, Northampton Alan reminded fbb of Northamptonshire's " Saunterbus".
This brand was used for Summer Sunday "round-trip" bus services to places of interest; visiting a sequence of different locations each week, One such destination was Rutland Water which, for example, ran on two Sundays in the season. It started at Northampton, then via Corby and Oakham with one circuit of the lake then back to Oakham.
click on the image to see in full size

The second circuit was Oakham - Lake - Oakham - Corby; finally finishing with Corby - Oakham - Lake - Oakham - Corby - Northampton. Although popular, he scheme ended in 2006, having become too difficult and/or too expensive to organise.

Meanwhile, not in "Route One" and back on the Isle of Wight, Alan, our newly appointed Vectensian correspondent adds a little to the tale of the Island Coaster from the re-vamped Vectis web site.

See "What a Wonderful Web Site [3]" (read again). This drawing of a brown bus ...
needed further investigation. Alan sends this picture ...
... showing an unfinished vehicle. Alan confirms that they are being converted to carry six bikes (inside). The new summer frequency (every two hours) reminds fbb of what ran via the so-called Military Road in the past.

Once upon a time, it was an hourly service 26, later 46.
This became part of a huge "Round-the-Island" circular branded as "Island Explorer" route 7 ...
... which, at its height, provided a two hour frequency in the winter!
Then such services ceased to be "flavour of the year" and all buses via the full length of the Military Road ceased. 2013's return to a "proper" service, albeit without fares for "proper" passengers, may lead to a change. Certainly, attacking four vehicles with screwdriver and welding torch, paying someone to design a swirly new livery and glueing on huge panels of sticky-backed plastic is a lot of effort and money. Surely the buses will be used more than just for a few Summer weeks?

And, one further grump from fbb. Will there be any seats downstairs? Or will the less-than-mobile (fbb selfishly thinking of his increasing creakiness?) have to be hauled upstairs with a winch at the expense of the (very) occasional cyclist?

 Next Bus Blog : Tuesday 2nd July 


  1. Knowing your love of literary allusions, I'm surprised you didn't preface your notes re the closure of the famous Folkingham Operator with a reference to Charles Dickens:-

    "It was the best of Kimes, it was the worst of Kimes"

  2. Wish I'd though of that, Stuart! Thanks!

  3. The Kimes changes are working in stages, the Sleaford & Grantham services moving first, followed the next week by the Rutland area routes (9 & 12 along with associated 71 school service) with the Boston area routes being affected the week after. The Route one article was caught the first stage of moves but not the ones for the following weeks.

  4. FarePayingBloke1 July 2013 at 13:25

    In reference to the digs about the IOW non validity of free bus passes over the last couple of days:

    Remember, fbb, that your free England wide bus pass for over 60s, so kindly provided by the previous labour administration (in an attempt to keep voting pensioners "on side") has to be paid for not by labour, or the government, but by the rest of us in our council tax, but yet when i get to be 60, or 65, or even beyond, I'll still be paying for YOUR free pass AND i'll be having to pay ALL my own bus fares too, as I won't be getting any free pass until many years after you, because you now live to a grand old age, but have never bothered to have plans in place to save properly for your dotage, happily leaving the bill for that to the likes of me!! (Note also that in most holiday areas bus companies have increased ordinary fares by more than is strictly necessary, as the council reimbursement does not represent the full 100% of lost revenue - indeed I believe it's not even as high as 50% - so I am also being made to subsidise your free journeys (that I won't get to enjoy for nearly so long as you ) EVEN MORE!!

    It was intended to provide old folk with a lifeline to get to shops and the doctors etc - it's not for endless leisure trips, days out at the seaside, "cumbria to lands end for free" excursions or indeed "London, one bus at a time" indulgences, but it is widely abused by the "we've paid our taxes" brigade, who aren't the slightest bit bothered that their extravagance in times of austerity will probably mean that those that have to pay for the free jaunts of current pensioners probably wont even get to have a free bus pass AT ALL, even for genuine essential journeys, as the afore mentioned non saving generation's care and medical bills into their 90s and beyond will cost the country so much that the bus pass facility is withdrawn altogether....

    So, good on the Isle of Wight council for managing to exclude what are clearly not "journeys of necessity" by the mainland's twirlies on tourist services from having to be paid for by the island's council tax payers, and maybe there will now be a chance that the front seats upstairs are allowed to be occupied by someone who has themselves paid the proper fare for the journey undertaken!

    It has long been my belief that fare paying passengers should be allowed onto the bus at busy termini ahead of those who travel for free, and isn't it amazing how supposedly frail elderly folk manage to push in and barge past the rest of us in some improvised senile confusion over the queue arrangements just as the driver opens the doors, but then that could be the subject of a whole new series of blogs!

  5. What FBB neglects to mention is wrinklies can use the Breezer and Coaster services all day for the princely sum of five whole pounds! Shock horror! That's less than a cooked breakfast on Red Funnel that FBB has previously blogged about and will last far longer...

    Perhaps FBB could explain why he thinks IoW Council Tax payers should be paying for non residents to have a day out at their expense? That is after all what would happen and as the poster above points out not at all in line with the original aims of the free concession travel. Then again I wonder why FBB is being a grump at all, surely he qualifies for a Southern Vectis retired staff pass?

  6. Fare Paying Bloke is utterly utterly WRONG. Free travel for oaps was introduced to encourage mobility WITH NO RESTRICTIONS. Go back and read the original documents.

  7. I am also a tax-payer (considerable!) - The concept of reduced reimburement was designed to account for the increased usage that the scheme would, and has generated. Sorry Fare Paying Bloke : wrong again.

  8. FBB is correct that the intention of the reduced reimbursement is to take into account the extra passengers that should be generated by free travel to ensure the bus operator is "no better & no worse off". That would result in reimbursement rates somewhere in the 60-70% of adult fare range (a range that both Wales & Scotland reimburse within as they are centrally funded). Unfortunately with the Westminster Government bringing the English scheme in on the cheap and leaving the local authorities to pay the reimbursement rate many LAs cannot afford to reimburse properly and are, with the collusion of the DfT who are coming up with more and more extravagant and daft formulas & excuses for cutting it, no reimbursing operators anywhere near where it needs to be. The Isle of Wight cut their reimbursement in half to somewhere around 30% soon after the scheme went national (which would require something well above a doubling of passenger numbers to break even - no operator has got anywhere close to that sort of generation) and I know both Devon & Hampshire pay in this range (Hampshire for one didn't increase the amount it paid to the operators when it switched from half to no fare, the operators lost the 50% cash fare paid by the passenger and got no extra money from the council to make up for it) and some of the figures I have heard of for places as diverse as Leicestershire, Sussex & Derbyshire haven't been much better.

    The simple problem is that, in many parts of the country, it doesn't matter if you are or have been a tax payer you still aren't paying your way when travelling on free fares as the operator is losing money on free passengers and it can't refuse to carry them and it has to be careful on raising fares as under the new calculations that is assumed to be playing the reimbursement system so your reimbursement rate is reduced if you do. On the Axe Valley journey you mentioned on your post today (030613) despite the bus being full it is perfectly possible that the operator barely broke even (and that more down to the few fare payers) on the journey as so many were travelling for such a pittance of a reimbursement. The English scheme was a good idea butchered by a Westminster Government trying not to spend anything to achieve it, they saw it was popular in Wales & Scotland and copied the idea but not the implementation. Wales & Scotland did it properly, centrally funded and reimbursed at the correct rate that the economic theory (accurately as it happens) predicts the generation factor to be, not fiddle with the theory until it produces the answer you want. That said both Wales & Scotland are currently finding that doing it in such a way is entirely unaffordable and are having to reduce their reimbursement to keep the scheme going, but even with the reduced rates they are currently implementing the still out pay 95% of English local authorities, many by substantial amounts.