Friday 5 July 2013

Taunton's Terrible Transport Traumas [3]

From an advert for First bus MDs at Manchester and Bristol:-

Putting the needs of our customers at the heart of all that you do, you’ll have the autonomy and authority to provide strong local leadership and work with our local partners and communities to shape more responsive bus services in tune with local needs and developments.

"autonomy and authority"? That's a huge change from the old pre-Fearnley First.
Back to Taunton : First Impressions - Positive.

But it didn't last!
On arrival in Taunton on his First Bus route 30 from Axminster, fbb was impressed with the "bus-gate" allowing buses only to nip through from the busy A328 roundabout to the traditional "main road" into the town. [fbb did not notice "automatic bollards"; they may have been removed since google street view viewed the street?]

First's garage is on that main drag (Hamilton Road), reasonably near the town centre, and it looked clean and tidy as fbb whizzed past.
But we rush ahead of ourselves. A prospective Tauntonian may wish to explore the town and its environs by bus; and may, optimistically, seek to obtain  a timetable booklet. But there isn't one ...
... because, according to this "letter" to the worthy burghers of Taunton etc., and as part of its avowed policy, ...

"We will do what we can to maintain essential bus services in the early years of The Transport Plan (2011-2026) and work to improve the way services work together and provide better bus information during its later years."

 ... the Council has stopped producing bus timetable books; thus saving a minute amount of money and depriving the majority of its residents (and the visitors it craves) of easy-to-use bus information.

It might get better in about 10 years time, but now it is (all together now) all available on line. Yippee!
Changes, text messages but no timetables? You can "request a leaflet" ...
... and, oddy, this leads to a full list of bus services in the county.
fbb wonders what would happen if he asked for "all timetables"; but didn't have the guts to try. What appears when you do click on a service number is the PDF from the pages of the no-longer-printed timetable books. A quick scan through the list suggests that, as these once-published pages go out-of-date, the Council is using the PDF timetables from Traveline. Which is better than nothing but, as usual with council web sites, the pages are very hard to find.

Far easier is to go to Traveline South West; click on "timetable look-up" ...
... type "Taunton" into the location box ...
... and get a full list. Using either source you could, if your life expectancy is long enough, download and print out all the services for Taunton, place them in a convenient A4 wallet file and simply pop this into your pocket or handbag to use as "quick" reference when you are out and about. Or you can take a tablet.
fbb recommends tranquilisers!

Assuming that you have created your wad of downloaded timetable pages, your next task is to find out where to catch whatever bus you may choose to use. Departure points are given as Bus Station, Castle Way and The Parade.
One on-line map shows the bus station (centre left) but neither of the other two locations. Google Maps goes one better and adds Castle Way to the success of the stop-hunter.
But "The Parade" remains an anonymous mystery. I doesn't seem to exist.

fbb did find a town centre map in a frame on a pole ...
... which offers bus station, Corporation Street, Fore Street, North Street, East Street (name just off the map, top left) but no Parade or Castle Way. The map on a pole has compass point South at the top. Hang convention, they do things differently in Zummerzet.

But fbb has arrived at the bus station on his sparsely loaded route 30 from Axminster.

So perhaps we could start there. Next in the Taunton aga we explore the debatable delights of Taunton's terrific (terrible? terrifying?) transport terminal.

Be brave, be very brave!

To allow our loyal and long-suffering readers a little respite before the joys to come (!) the fat bus bloke next takes a look at Le Mans.
There it is, in France, bottom right.

Taunton will be back on  Wednesday 10th July .
Last week, Arriva's up-market high quality brand, Sapphire, was launched on services 31 / 31A from Leicester to Oadby.
Our local Leicester lad has sampled the ride on a refurbished vehicle. He reports that the timetable has not changed, offering a bus every 15 minutes on each route.
More, no doubt, in due course.
Previous blogs on the Chester to Wrexham "Sapphire" are:-
Cynicism Surrounds Sapphire [1] (read again)
Cynicism Surrounds Sapphire [2] (read again)
Opinions were divided!
  Next Bus Tram Blog : Saturday 6th July 


  1. I see the concept has been diluted already - those look like ordinary seats, not the big wide ones in the original concept in Wales. Poor show.


  2. My correspondent impugned my earlier reports; "You told me it was 2+1 seating on the top deck and it wasn't." Presumably too risky to lose capacity between Leicester and Oadby at peaks?
    But, as you say, Neil, a downgrade of the concepy!

  3. Somerset County Council appears to have no interest in promoting transport, tourism, clearing drains, the arts, amongst other things. They stopped the Tour of Britain cycle race going through the county, when the tories took over 4 years ago on the grounds of no financial benefit. Strangely the local authorities in Devon don't seem to share the same view, I had no idea the timetables are on the website. Things aren't going to change as they scraped in by a slight majority last May.