Wednesday 12 March 2014

North Gate : THE LAST Last Word.

Until the next time!
The first thing that greets us as we arrive in the new, shiny and one-time chaotic North Gate bus station is this:-
Would this be the new enquiry office? Er, no.
Now the one thing that a bus station that is too small for buses and people really needs is a shop. Opposite this useful facility (useful only to generate income for the Council) is the pathetic enquiry office. fbb has added, as an inset, a picture of the former travel centre in the "appalling" Greyfriars "mausoleum"
Which would you vote for?

When fbb was there last Saturday, there was an extra Stagecoach desk in operation to deal with the crowds.

Then there is the cafe. Like the shop, it isn't ready yet, but fbb guesses that the small counter hidden behind the still-wrapped furniture will not offer such in the way of a menu. Overpriced coffee, plastic wrapped cakey things and bags of crisps.
fbb is very clear which menu he would prefer.

Apart from the non operational cafe, there are about two dozen seats for waiting passengers; most just have to remain upright, blocking all the other (appropriately named!) stands.
At Greyfriars you had nice seats at all the departure points.

And, apologies to the Council. Although the cafe was not ready, Leader Mackintosh had organised a temporary catering service.
It was closed - at 1230 on a busy Saturday.

There are some very impressive departure screens; impressively small and hard to read in bright sunlight. They compare very unfavourably in size and readability with the more dated version as seen at Bradford Interchange a goodly few blogs ago.
Which version is easier to read?

fbb could not get close enough to the screens inside the bus station bit of Northampton's bus station because of the feature overlooked by North Gate's planners, namely the people; so piccies are from the outside stands on the Drapery.

They give bus times, in this case a simple output from the timetable ...
... with the usual downsides. The 1132 was late, so it disappeared off the screens at 1132 but the bus arrived at 1135. A potential passenger may have nipped into a neighbouring shop and missed it. Some times were "real time", shown as "xx minutes"; but fbb does wonder whether the customer really understand that subtle difference.

And just as you were watching for the next time display ...
... it all disappears and you get a feed from BBC news.

Saturday was a pleasant mild and sunny day. There were two ways of checking that. One was to open your eyes; two was to read it off the screens!
And, again, these fancy screens can be hard to read in the bright sunlight that was advertised on the display.

What can we conclude?

1. It's a mess

2. It has been designed on the cheap

3. It would be an ideal facility for a town half the size of Northampton

4. It will fail again and again

5. The old bus station worked

6. Councillors are the worst people to be involved in Public Transport projects

7. Further "adjustments" will be needed

And finally, finally ...

Enjoy this song (sound only) written to celebrate the glorious richness of Black Monday. Click (here).

Also, enjoy this short video of a Northampton Borough Councillor practising his new role as an enforcer of traffic regulations ...
... a skill that will be much needed for ever and a day!

fbb is grateful to his Northampton correspondent for providing background to these blogs, and for his assistance (on the day; Saturday 8th March) in highlighting problems past, present and future.

 Next bus blog : Thursday 12th March 

1 comment:

  1. It is the majority of politicians, senior council officers and architects that shouldn't be let near such idealistic projects.

    Politicians just want the prestigious, vote for me project, and won't accept that there could possibly be any problems in planning or delivering the dream. Until of course it goes wrong when they blame the officer(s).

    Most senior council officers just pass the project and any problems down the slippery slope to those beneath - deliver or else.

    Architects are extremely precious about any design changes that are asked for and from direct experience refuse to accept the realities of operating bus services (e.g. that you cannot run like clockwork to the second, that you cannot have buses turning departing from whichever stand has a space at that time).

    As soon as the design is threatened ...the circle starts again.