Thursday 31 October 2013

Parcio a Theithio [Dau]

Rhwymo adref!

Blog reader Barry Vinkie has used the Cardiff East park and ride.
He has spent a pleasant day in the city, including a return visit to Cardiff Castle.
The appropriate leaflet identifies the drop-off and pick-up point in the city as (only?) Dumfries Place ...
... whilst an on-line panel about the cheapo early offer implies extra stops but Monday to Friday only.
Anyway, Barry alighted at Dumfries Place and returned thither to catch the bus, collect his motor and hie happily homewards. But when was the next bus?

The shelter (left-most) was hardly forthcoming.
It offered information for a single Monday to Friday peak hour journey on the X91 ...
... (the rest of the X91 service starts from Wood Street) ...
... and a poster for park and ride; announcing a fifteen minute frequency but no times. There was a "real time" departure screen which told the expectant Barry that (a) It was Stop HS, (b) he was at Dumfries Place, (c) it was 1908 and (c) nothing else. He was totally aware of all four of these snippets of (un)helpfulness without electronic assistance!

There is a perception that "every 10 minutes" is good enough for a timetable-less service but "every 15" steps over the line and people resent the uncertainty. Many providers (e.g. in Plymouth) have announced "slight reductions" to their park and ride services, usually from every 10 to every 12; this to "save money". The overriding bonus of having a car is the you can set off when you want. An unreliable inadequate timetable could well lead to a decline in patronage as the inconvenience of parking and then riding infrequently and/or unreliably outweighs the cost savings. Barry waited significantly longer than 15 minutes!

He was, therefore, slightly miffed; and later a little disappointed when his bus arrived with a photocopied label in the windscreen and no working destination display. Park and ride is the shop widow of our industry for the died-in-the-wool motorist. Poor standards do nothing to encourage public transport usage.

So fbb tried to find times for the park and ride bus.

ACIS live for Cardiff?

Transport Defunct? (where you can go to the map ...
... click on the stop symbol  and get departure lists) ...
... NO park and ride!

Traveline timetables? Look (cries fbb excitedly)  - a park and ride service ...
... but the wrong one! And it's the only one of the three that Traveline Cymru lists in its section for timetables serving Cardiff.

FirstBus timetables for Cardiff?
Barry was insistent that he caught FirstBus buses in both directions; "Definitely First vehicles from their Cardiff depot/outstation (never quite sure what the status is these days) ...
... fleet numbers 69242/4 in corporate livery."  but First doesn't agree web-site-wise!

Searching from the other end, the car park?
Nothing; by any definition of the word.

fbb is almost convinced that Barry Vinkie did travel by bus from the Cardiff East Park and Ride; and that he did manage to get back there. But at what times we simply cannot know. It remains a closely guarded secret.

A bit like Torchwood's pre-Cardiff HQ.
Torchwood Tower, London, England

 Next Bus Blog : Friday 1st Novmber 

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Parcio a Theithio [Un]


It was a correspondent, Barry Vinkie, (no, fbb has no idea; he thinks it's an anglicised version of a Latvian name?) who set the fbb investigative hormones on alert. "You should have a look at Cardiff," he wrote, "our experience was very mixed."
There are three park and rides (parks and ride? parks and rides?) serving the Welsh capital. "South" operates from the County Hall at Cardiff Bay.
It runs on Saturdays (when the car park is bereft of County Hall employees) and on certain Sundays in the run up to Christmas. It is the closest to the city centre.
Bearing in mind the impending Jubilee on 23rd November, it may be worth pointing out that this location is also very close to the now-closed headquarters of Torchwood.
Back to sanity!

Park and Ride "West" is run by Cardiff City Football Club and uses the parking adjacent to their Leckwith stadium.
It is open on Mondays to Fridays only and should be popular with commuters - only it wasn't, apparently; and now never can be. The local press explains why.

Commuters left raging
Cardiff park and ride scraps early buses
The Cardiff West park-and-ride scheme at Leckwith now starts at 9.45am instead of 7.30am daily, leaving commuters complaining it’s harder for them to get to work on time. A Cardiff council spokeswoman said: “The West park-and-ride is owned and run by Cardiff City Football Club and operation times are set by them. Sadly, despite the best efforts of the council and Cardiff City to publicise the service, take-up figures for the service before 9.45am was very low.”

The buses from "West" are operated by Cardiff Bus.

Leaving aside the article's bad grammar (either "take-up figures were" or "take-up was"), this site was of little use to Barry who was arriving from the east.

All three sites are priced the same; parking is £3 and the bus to the city centre is free. As an added Brucie-bonus, early parkers at "East" only pay £1. Sadly Barry arrived too late in the day to avail himself of the cheapo offer and this coughed up his £3 and rode on one of First's finest into the city.
Not quite "finest", actually, as two sets of double seats were roped off as being unsafe!

Despite this slightly off-putting vehicle, the supervised parking is easily accessed off the main A48 ...

... and £3 is buckets cheaper than parking in the most central multi-storeys!

The service appears well-used:-
It was coming back in the evening where the problems began to appear.
fbb "did lunch" yesterday with Mrs fbb at the Mustard Seed caff and Christian bookshop in Sidmouth.

Excellent ploughman's and pot of tea at about £6; Mrs enjoyed her bacon sarnie. fbb made a brief post-prandial visit to "the facilities" and was impressed with the desire of the management to make customers feel at home. None of this sweet-smelling loo namby-pamby nonsense, because parked on the cistern was ...

.. a large jar of Febreze professional toilet odour. Pootiful! fbb did not sample the product! 
 Next Bus Blog : Thursday 31st October 

Tuesday 29 October 2013

First Fair Fares Fireworks @ Frenchay & Filton

And all over Bristol!

There have been very few "fares revolutions" in the 60 or so years that fbb has been interested in public transport. Few will remember the Sunderland "flat-fare by token" scheme of 1966 which (if fbb's memory is correct) only lasted for two years.
Red Ken's 1981 London scheme fell foul of Blue Thatcher's political ethos, but it did introduce some longer term benefits although not necessarily at Ken's prices!
When Dan Farr ...
 ... launched his ill-supported Bristol campaign ...
... littered with factual inaccuracies, little did he expect to see such a dramatic result. Even red-trousered cycling Mayor Ferguson ...

... was suspicious of First's "consultation" process. Many thought it would be just a PR exercise and little would change.

See "Bristolians are Revolting 1" (read again)
See "Bristolians are Revolting 2" (read again)

But wow!

First's promotional activity blows fbb's elderly mind! This is what they say they're doing:-

Bus adverts on over 100 buses in Bristol
4 week radio campaign on Jack FM

Dedicated website (here)

1 advert every day for a month in The Post ...

... selling a different message about Fairer Fares

2 weekends of advertising bikes travelling around Bristol city centre giving out flyers [something surreal about advertising buses on bikes]

7 Customer roadshows [but only six on the poster?]

Driver briefing session with 1000 driver manuals

10,000 customer guides to what’s changing and why; to be given out at customer roadshows and at travel shops

New on-bus fare vinyls (by entrance door). On-bus posters

Adverts at Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway Station for 2 weeks

Window vinyls adverts directing customers to the new flat fare service 8&9
90 Bristol City Council bus shelter posters
Promotion on social media – Facebook ...

... and Twitter

Press releases and press conference
FirstMail [that's email] to customers on the BSA [that's the Twit site] customer database
150,000 flyers showing the new zone map ...

... and key points of change to be distributed on bus, at roadshows, in travel shops and via the ad bikes. [too big to blog in full but the "outer" one extends to Bath, dot, far right]

Window display at Bristol Bus Station

Push notification on the First Bus app ...

... directing customers to the fares website (here)

It all leaves fbb breathless! But two questions remain:-

Will it work for Bristolians? Will Brizzle locals feel more positive about their oft-maligned bus company?

Will it work for FirstBus? Hopefully the company's Bristol bean counters will have done their homework and the plan is for these changes to be at the very least "revenue neutral"; eventually! Even better, there must be an aim for growth in ridership and revenue.

And one final point:- let's hope there won't be fireworks in the morning peak on Monday 4th (or Tuesday 5th!) A tough job for First's well-briefed staff?
South Coast Weather Report
Is this a picture of fbb hard at work yesterday; preparing today's blog? NO! Apart from high winds in the night, Seaton escaped the ravages of the predicted cataclysm; the sea did not deposit even one leaf of seaweed on the Esplanade. The only concession to inclemency yesterday morning was a single deck on the 0733 X53 to Exeter.
This crept out of its snuggly Bridport depot for an 0638 departure; so, presumably, a precaution against high winds on the exposed hills twixt there and Lyme Regis.
 Next Bus Blog : Wednesday 30th October