Wednesday 9 October 2013

Not Passing through Newton Poppleford [3]

See "Not Passing through Newton Poppleford [1]" (read again)
See "Not Passing through Newton Poppleford [2]" (read again)

The press doesn't help when bus services are disrupted; possibly because journalists have scant knowledge of geography and a non-existent grasp of the public transport network.

There are worries that pedestrians could be at risk if they have to walk more than two miles along the busy A3052 to pick up re-routed buses.

The distance between stops served by revised buses is about 400 yards. Maximum walking distance to get a bus from anywhere in Newton Poppleford is not much more than half a mile. And once the road is closed, the A3052 magically becomes very un-busy indeed. fbb's investigative visit was on a misty moisty Monday reducing the "New Town at the Pebble Ford over the river Otter" to a swirling grey ghostly silence.

The works will mean that there will be no bus service from Exeter to Sidmouth, through Budleigh.

There hasn't been a bus from Exeter to Sidmouth via Budleigh Salterton for many years. All bus services between Exeter and Sidmouth run as normal but with longer journey times. Buses between Exmouth and Sidmouth (they run via Budleigh!) run but with a reduced frequency.

High Street is well and truly closed.
Despite about half a dozen advance warnings, cars were still arriving with their drivers mystified because they couldn't get through. fbb was observing for 40 minutes and at least a dozen drove as if they were totally unaware of the closure; some sheepishly doing a U-turn!
Despite this outbreak of illiteracy in East Devon, South West Water had done a pretty good job with their signs. Hence a score of:-

First Bus merely diverted their X53 via Honiton ...
... making no alternative arrangements and offering no advice for potential passengers on the unserved bit between the M5 junction and Sidford. But at least all stops had a "First" notice ...
... usually posted at a suitable height for dogs. First's honesty was somewhat spoiled by this panel, at eye level height on an adjacent second pole at the main stop in Newton Poppleford.
Which piece of information would attract the attention of an anxiously enquiring potential passenger? So First gets a score of:-

And so to Sidmouth, where a small crowd of likely bus passengers was congregating at The Triangle terminus. Amongst the dozen, one or two seemed to know that something untoward was happening but had no idea what! Most were waiting for buses that would never come at the expected hour. Here is old Fred, checking the times ...
... from a completely wrong timetable posted (more correctly, not un-posted) by Devon County Council. fbb is proud to have assisted at least a small smattering of Sidmothians to find the correct information. The relevant timetables were there, but less obvious. Presumably the Stagecoach posters of posters dared not cover up the Devon stuff for fear of being incarcerated in Exeter's town jail!

The Journey Devon web site is useless ...
... showing the wrong information. fbb could find no reference to the temporary arrangements.

So; for not removing erroneous information and not publicising the temporary timetable, Devon County Council is awarded ...
... nul points!

Which brings us to the heroes of the day, Stagecoach. fbb approached the Tourist Information office in Honiton with some trepidation ...
... as such places are renowned for not stocking information for tourists who may (heaven forfend) wish to use public transport. But, there, in a superbly stocked rack, were wads of Stagecoach leaflets.
Similar details were posted at every stop, including those that did not normally sport a timetable frame, as here at the western end of the closure.
The timetable is the bottom of the three notices on the telegraph pole; although how long these "unframed" offerings will last at the hands of the fun-loving local youff is debatable. Long enough, hopefully, for regulars to grasp the implications of the grand "diversion" scheme.

fbb could be picky (surely not?) and complain that the timetable leaflet could have been presented more clearly, but for a three week disruption, the Stagecoach "boys' done good", hence the top score:-

Which leaves us with Traveline!
On-line and on-phone (fbb rang to check!) the raw information is for the standard un-diverted services but with a link to the Stagecoach revised timetable page. The lad on the phone was very hesitant and eventually, after some expensive phone minutes, did come up with an answer. Whilst a link to a timetable may be considered acceptable for simple enquiries, the implications for a two or three leg journey plan are considerable. On the failed xephos system a temporary set of timetables could be dropped in and out automatically and accessed according to journey date.

fbb also tried the txt service:-
Well, what a surprise; the wrong times! And customers are paying for this rot! Bearing in mind the horrendous sums of money we, the taxpayers and bus users, are shelling out to fund this service in addition to high call costs, it should be better. Likewise many bus companies have abrogated their responsibilities in this area and delegated telephone timetable information to Traveline. Poor, hence the score:-
Tomorrow, off to Barnsley!

 Next Bus Blog : Thursday 10th October 


  1. A little harsh on the TIC's here, fbb! I've always found Devon TIC's to be amongst the best in the country for travel information; indeed, Devon CC is one of the best amongst councils as well.
    Now, if we were discussing, say . . . . Northamptonshire; Gwynedd; Powys; Norfolk - then my view might be different. Is there a corrolation here - if the County makes a decent fist of publicity, then dissemination gets better?
    Alternatively, is it just pot luck?
    Comments, please!

  2. Reproach taken, Mr 727. Devon's big success is a set of timetable books that are widely distributed and some of the best in the country. Its bus stop information is less happy, delivering confuser driven timetables which often - well - confuse. Updating and revisions at bus stops is very patchy. On-line I find its "interactive" map and its convoluted route to timetables very UNhelpful indeed. My picky comments on TiCs were meant to be general, not specific to Devon.

  3. Given that Traveline appear to be demanding about 60-days notice of service levels for Christmas (that is whether we are running weekday, Saturday etc service on each day), and yes that does mean we effectively have to tell Traveline at the same time as we would for a standard registration - the TCs only require notification 21-days prior for changes etc for the Christmas or Easter periods, meaning Traveline need to know a month before we legally have to decide - I am not surprised they seem so incapable of dealing with a significant but relatively short closure & diversion like this.

  4. When do we get the run down of the goings on in Plymouth then???

  5. You already had one bit last Sunday! My brain hurts as there is so much going on. I've not forgotten, be assured. Torpoint coming soon.