A blog or three ago, fbb made mentions of the former Latvian transport minister, now chairman of the National Union of Timetable Secrecy. This organisation aims to rid us of hard-to-understand traditional bus timetables and replace them with internet journey planners. His name is Wenzit Goh and his views are diametrically opposed to those of fbb. Frankly, fbb is losing the battle!
On Saturday the travel shop at Cardiff closed its doors ...
... leaving passengers with a good set of timetables on-line, an incomplete route map ...
... and a trek to the depot at Sloper Road if they want to speak to a human being. It is astounding that the dominant operator in Wales' capital city should even begin to consider having no front-line human presence in or near the bus station.
The excellent office in Gosport has closed, leaving enquiries in the hands of the Tourism Office next door. fbb's experience of TiCs is not good with leaflets hidden away, no network knowledge and a dominant desire to sell touristy stuff.
One encouragement, however, is in Salisbury ...
... where, despite the closure of the bus station, the ravel shop will remain.
But where Wenzit and his team are having consummate success is in our capital, London. The unstoppable decline of adequate bus information continues at an alarming pace. fbb's particular interest was aroused by a chum who phoned for information on travel (by bus) between Merstham and Redhill.
Back in the year dot this was London Transport's country area where smart green buses trundled between Croydon and Redhill (or Crawley) on service 405.
In 2001 it was transferred from successor privatised London and Country to Transport for London (or whatever it was called then) and it became a proper red bus route. Only it didn't, because he contract was won by Connex.
In 2003, Metrobus (now part of GoAhead) took over and have operated the 405 ever since ...
... although now it has become completely red!
A full photo-review of the 405 can be found (here).
A more detailed history of vehicle allocation is available on Ian Armstrong's site (here)
Sadly, fbb can't replicate Ian's splendid scrolling destination panels!
As well as timetables at bus stops, London Country produced excellent area books with timetables and helpful cartographical information on an area by area basis.
Until relatively recently in the history of this long-lived service, standard red bus "Panel" timetables were displayed at every stop (most stops?) and, with the internet age, were available to download. Thus it was that, even with the demise of the printed booklet, you could still obtain a copy of the bus timetable for the 405.
Again, until fairly recently, London Transport for London produced an excellent "red bus" network map, admittedly hard on the peepers, but comprehensive and usefully pocket sized. Even in 1970 the "green" 405 was shown.
These maps are still produced, but privately, by the excellent Mike Harris whose web site is (here).
Although Mike produces a network map annually, you won't find one in any enquiry office or Tourist Office close to route 405. Thy are regarded as "enthusiast" publications instead of being, as they once were, an essential part of any London bus traveller's armoury.
But as NUTS chairman Wenzit Goh would say, "that was then and this is now" so our next blog begins the search for route 405 information today.
Because fbb has been away for a long weekend on the Isle of Wight, part 2 of this "investigation" will appear on Wednesday 2nd April. Those who contribute comments may be advised to hold fire until the conclusion of episode 2!
Next rail blog : Tuesday 1st April