Saturday 11 January 2014

Bits and Pieces

The previous five Northampton blogs have been rather more time-consuming than originally planned. A number of "oddments" have crossed your blogger's busy desk (i.e. dining table!). So, as they say on "Strictly Come Dancing", in no particular order ...

Yet another new bus launch for first. This time it's Swansea Park and Ride. 

Swansea has three Park and Ride Sites located at Landore, Fabian Way and Fforestfach.
click on the map to enlarge

These three sites operate Monday to Saturday, between the hours of 0700 and 1900 and provide a frequent bus link to and from the City Centre using fully accessible vehicles. It costs just £2.50 to park a car all day and return bus travel for up to 4 passengers. Alternatively, you can purchase a book of Park & Ride vouchers which entitles you to 12 days parking and bus travel for £25.00.

The "frequent" buses run every 15 minutes - probably not quite frequent enough. To offset this, however, £2.50 for a car-load of four is a bargain!

Talking about the new buses and the Christmas schedule ...

... Justin Davies, First Cymru’s Managing Director, says: “We are thrilled to unveil these new buses. All eight of them, which represent almost £1.3 million pounds worth of investment by us, will be in service on the Park and Ride by the end of this week (20 December). It really is an early Christmas gift for customers using the service."

 Isle of Wight 
Having recently taken delivery of new double decker for the "Vectis Blue" school bus fleet ...
... ten similar vehicles in standard livery are entering service on route 9 (Newport to Ryde).
"The investment is proof of our ongoing commitment to the offer of a reliable, safe and quality bus service for Islanders," said Mr Ed Wills, Island Buses head man.

Better news than the incredible shrinking bus station is another bus launch. Stagecoach will be introducing 37 new single decks to various routes in and from the town. An "official" picture is reproduced above, but thanks to our alert and every-ready local newshound ...
... we picture one of the new motors in service on cross-town route 10 (Parklands to Shelfleys). Steve Burd's soundbite ...
... stresses Stagecoach's commitment to a steady improvement for bus passengers in the town consequent upon the abandonment of First Bus. Certainly First were very unwilling to invest in new rolling stock.
a typical example of First's vehicle policy for Northampton

Thanks, too, to blog commentators who pointed out the cartographical bludner on the "bus movements" map extract on Thursday's blog (read again?).
Indeed, Sheep Street (left) and Silver Street (right) have been transposed. An easy mistake to make if you don't know the town. Maybe not knowing the town is one of the root causes of the inadequacy of the new bus station. Admittedly the plans have "moved on" with more buses than originally proposed using the Drapery (off map, bottom right); but the concept of only four buses an hour travelling southbound along Sheep Street (Silver Street on the diagram!) turns out to be a hopeless understatement.

Until Council and operators supply a definitive list of departure stands for North Gate and the Drapery, we cannot really check the numbers. It does seem certain that they will be worse than predicted.

After months of struggle and argument, the news breaks hat Arriva have thrown in the towel and sold their much hyped Malta operation back to the Island's government for a nominal sum! Replacing the island's original transport system ...
... outwardly chaotic but, in practice workable and much loved ....
... with Arriva's supposed commercial efficiency was never going to be easy. But the aggro (and the losses) have proved insuperable.

The government's Transport Malta organisation has taken over the Arriva fleet, apart from the 68 ex-London Mercedes-Benz Citaro artics which have been out of service since September following three fires. Most services are operated by 172 King Longs bought specifically for the contract.

The operation got off to a bad start with a shortage of drivers. There were also complaints about the new route network, devised by the government, and about the suitability of the artics for Maltese roads. The company has had four managing directors in 30 months, Keith Bastow, Dave Kaye, Richard Hall and, taking over last summer, group engineering director Mark Bowd.

There has been a change of government since the contract started and prime minister Joseph Muscat said last year: “The public transport disaster, from bad route planning to the EU ticket pricing probe, is a clear example of the legacy this government inherited.” The EU was challenging differential fare scales for residents and visitors.

Transport minister Joe Mizzi claims Arriva has accumulated a debt of €50million (£41million) since starting operations in Malta.

A case of "if it ain't busted, don't try to fix it!" Pity Northampton Borough Council didn't think that way a year or so ago; nay 15 years ago!
Who (or what) is Dyfrbont Pontcysyllte?
a) A wizard at Harry Potter's school (edited out of the film version)?
b) An Olympic silver medal winning Ukrainian weight lifter?
c) A recently discovered dwarf planet in the Andromeda Nebula?
d) Something else?
 Next bus blog : Sunday 12th January 


  1. The second part looks similar to the name of a viaduct on the Monmouth & Brecon canal a couple of miles outside of the latter?

  2. Nay, Surely you mean Telford's famed acqueduct on the Llangollen Canal, spanning 126 feet above the River Dee.

  3. Apparently Dyfrbont is welsh for aqueduct, so it just means Pontcysyllte Aqeduct, which as Petras409 points out is the impressive structure on the Llangollen Canal

    I've been over it on a narrowboat but as it only has a railing on the footpath side and a sheer drop on the other side someone else had to take over on the tiller until my cowardice had receded!!

  4. Rheolwr Rhanbarthol11 January 2014 at 21:51

    The literal translation is something like:
    "Water bridge Bridge connection".
    Not uncommon in Welsh, to produce a descriptive word for a concept that hadn't previously existed.