Saturday 31 May 2014

On This Day ...

1594 – Tintoretto, Italian painter, dies
1669 – Samuel Pepys records the last event in his diary.
1809 – Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer, dies
1859 – Big Ben (Houses of Parliament) starts keeping time.
1872 – W. Heath Robinson, English illustrator is born (died 1944)
1902 – Second Boer War: The Treaty of Vereeniging ends the war
1911 – The hull of the ocean liner RMS Titanic is launched.
1927 – The last Ford Model T rolls off the assembly line
1930 – Clint Eastwood, American actor is born
1998 - Ginger leaves the Spice Girls
2013 - the fbbs take up residence at Seaton, Devon

A momentous day all-round; and yes, the fbbs have been resident in their mansion ...
... in East Devon for one whole year. Seems like only a few weeks.

2014 - a significant Scottish public transport development.

A 2001 proposal for Edinburgh Trams envisaged three routes across the city, lines 1, 2 and 3. The first was a circular route around the northern suburbs, and the other two lines were radial routes to Newbridge in the west and Newcraighall in the south. All lines would have passed through the city centre. In May 2004, a 15-year operating contract for Edinburgh Trams was awarded to Transdev, to operate and maintain the tram network. This contract was cancelled in 2009.

Two bills to reintroduce a tram network were passed by the Scottish Parliament in March 2006. Lines 1 and 2 received parliamentary permission, but funding the entire network was deemed impossible. Line 3, to be paid for by a proposed Edinburgh congestion charge, was scrapped when the charge was heavily defeated in a referendum and the construction of the remaining two lines was split into four phases:
Continuation east:- 
Then things began to go "belly-up". Estmated cost of phases 1a and 1b just under £400 million

 2007  SNP's manifesto announced cancellation of whole project

 2009  Plans accepted by Scottish Parliament

 2008  Contracts signed for the trams themselves

 2008  Delays

 2009  Phase 1B (Granton) cancelled

 2009  Contractual disputes

 2010  Delays

 2011  Project leaders removed (TIE) : construction halted
 2011  Construction restarts but Leith extension abandoned

Apologies for any inaccuracy in this fbb expurgated summary of events; the whole story is far more convoluted and intertwined with politics, incompetence and overspend.

By 2013 the estimated cost of the reduced section 1a (i.e. Airport to York Place) has exceeded £1,000 million. Here's a video showing the route under construction.
But at last, and at a heavy price, the line opens to the public today.
The Edinburgh Trams passenger service will begin on 31st May 2014. The confirmation of the May 'go live' date comes as Edinburgh Trams approach the final stages of a period of rigorous testing, commissioning and driver training in preparation for the return of trams to Scotland's Capital.
The Tramway is run by an enlarged Lothian Buses,an "arms length" company now renamed Transport for Edinburgh but wholly owned by the city. General Manager, Ian Craig ...
... opines, "Everyone at Transport for Edinburgh is primed for this hugely important launch for the city. We've recruited and trained a top team at Edinburgh Trams and I'm delighted with the high levels of performance and enthusiasm from everyone involved in the months leading up to today."
And here's a YouTube video of a tram ride under test conditions earlier this year. We can enjoy the full trip, non stop from Airport to York Place in just over 22 minutes. On second thoughts, we can take the trip in two. 
Is the service worth the wait? Or the cost? Only time will tell.

In a few days fbb will look more closely at fares, publicity and consequent changes in Lothian bus services. But one snippet may make you think (or squirm). The cash single fare is a flat £1.50 for any distance between York Place and Ingliston Park and Ride. That's the same as on the buses. But if you wish to travel one stop further to the Airport it'll cost you a stonking £5. OUCH!

But the trams do look rather swish ...
... as in this street view video of testing earlier in the year.

fbb will monitor the news web sites etc. over the weekend and bring you any highlights; although the likelhood, after so much (expensive) test running, is that it will all go swimmingly. Wonder whether Mrs fbb would like a weekend in Edinburgh? And there are electric trains from Glasgow to Cumbernauld and Cumbernauld to Motherwell to "cop" as well.
It's all happening, the noo.

 Next bus blog : Sunday 1st June 

Friday 30 May 2014

A B C D E F G (part 3)

fbb has a plan to explore some of the ramifications of First Glasgow's "ComplexCITY" service 38. It involves catching at bus from Hope Street ...
... at 1131 for Barlanark (map, bottom left) then ...
... a 60 or a 60A to Easterhouse via Fort Glasgow. A spot of lunch, then a further variety of 38 back to the city, also via Glasgow Fort. This carefully calculated contrivance will ensure that at least some of the 38 variants will have been ridden or observed en route by fbb. But that leaves just under 30 minutes for observation; with apologies for the inherent difficulties in photographing electronic bus destination displays.

There is a 38C to Chryston ...
... a 38 to Easterhouse (although you would never know it from fbb's picture) ...
... and fbb's chosen 1131 38B pictured at its Barlanark terminus.
Also espied is a 38E to Baillieston.
So we have four different routes north east from the city but offering a common 5 minutes frequency to Alexandra Parade (if you are First Scotrail) ...
Alexandra Parade Station, tatty in the 80s
and denuded today!

... or, next door, Alexandra Park (if you are First Bus Glasgow).
It's the same place! Consistency and interchange, no chance.
The main timetable booklet reveals the core 5 minute service in full; showing buses to Easterhouse running every 10 minutes and the other three routes as fizzling out as they divert from the main drag. There is no difference between a 38 and a 38A on this side of the city centre. fbb's crude cut-and-paste shows every 10 minutes from Eastwood toll; an every 20 minutes extension starts from Newton Mearns.
38 to Easterhouse extract

Then there are three separate leaflets for each of the 38B, 38C and 38E services. All three have a fully 38 "network" map plus the city centre stops street plan; excellent in every way. Chryston is on the Cumbernauld Road and 38Cs run every 30 minutes.
Baillieston is also served every 30 minutes, effectively straight along the Edinburgh Road.
Which leaves fbb's chosen 83B which wriggles via Riddrie every half hour before joining to 60 and 60A as they run via Shettleston and Barlanark, but continue from the 38B terminus to Easterhouse.
Together these three 38s complete the 5 minute frequency on the core of the route.

South of the river Clyde its much simpler. 38B, C and E run every ten minutes  via Woodfarm to Spiersbridge , shown as Rouken Glen on the blinds and in the timetable. 38 (and 38A) every 10 minutes to Eastwood Toll (which isn't on the maps!!)  extended every 20 minutes to Crookfur  shown as Newton Mearns on the blinds and in the timetable. 38A is for occasional journeys via Woodfarm to Eastwood Toll or Newton Mearns OR for trips from Easterhouse to Rouken Glen.
Confusing isn't it?

So where is 38D?

Before we reveal the whole truth and nothing but the truth, we will join fbb on his real live trip and perhaps share with him some of the problems that this clever bit of timetabling presents to the unwary. In the meantime, a pic of a preserved Glasgow Corporation bus showing 38A.
L163 entered service with Glasgow Corporation in 1958 from Parkhead Garage. It (she?) transferred with the rest of the fleet from Glasgow Corporation to GGPTE in 1973, and moved to Larkfield in 1975. Although withdrawn from service in 1976, L163 spent a further 4 years in use as a depot shunter at Langside Garage and was sold into preservation in November 1980.

It unexpectedly returned to service on the Glasgow City Tour run by Glasgow Corporation Transport Limited between 2003-4. Sold with the Tour business to First Glasgow in March 2004, this bus was numbered PD3, or 39997 in the First national numbering scheme, and once again ran from Larkfield Depot.

Finally, it was sold to Glasgow City Council for a return to preservation in 2006.
À propos of nothing at all and ever anxious to explore this nation's culinary delights, fbb has been given a small tub of ...

... Gentleman's Relish.

It is also known as Patum Peperium.

It was created in 1828 by an Englishman called John Osborn. It has a strong, very salty and slightly fishy taste, and contains anchovies (minimum 60%), butter, herbs and spices. Today, the secret recipe is withheld from all but one employee at Elsenham Quality Foods in Elsenham, England, the licensed manufacturer.

Gentleman's Relish is traditionally eaten thinly spread on slices of buttered white-bread toast, either on its own, or with cucumber, or "mustard and cress" sprouts. It can also be added to minced meat for a different-tasting cottage pie or to the mixture for fish cakes, potato cakes, and croquettes. Alternatively it can be melted into scrambled eggs or be used as a topping for jacket potatoes.

It looks like something dredged up from the River Axe ...

... and tastes, erm, salty.

But if you like Marmite you might like this!

It cost Mrs fbb £1.59 for a titchy tub and has, so far, "done" six slices of toast in three sittings. But, boy, does it wake you up in the morning!
Keith Beeden

Transport Historian and Enthusiast Keith Beeden has died. Keith is particularly remembered for his transport videos and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Sheffield scene. fbb did not know Keith personally, but has respected his work over the years. He will be sorely missed.
 Next tram blog : Saturday 31st May 
     ABCDEFG continues on Monday    

Thursday 29 May 2014

A B C D E F G (part 2)

It began with the Overground ...
... but not that one; or even this one:-
But it was this one.
In 1999 First Glasgow was one of the first in the group to introduce an "overground", a colour-coded set of bus routes with route branding on the bus exteriors and timetables. As of 2006, route branding had been removed from buses but remained on timetables until mid 2008.

In some cities there was a strong attempt to create clear "overground" route branding; this from Manchester.
The route branding was a little sporadic in Glasgow. The first edition of the Overground map was, likewise, rather crude ...
click on the map to enlarge

... and only later assumed a Harry Beck London style. But take a look at service 38. The diagram indicates its route from Garthamlock in the north east (top right) ...
... through the City Centre to Eastwood Toll in the south.
The 38 was simplicity itself. By 2007 a 38A had joined the original. Both variants were diverted at Giffnock to serve Woodfarm ...
... and the 38A provided a service to the recently opened Glasgow Fort ...
... of which more later.
Two journeys each hour continued across open country via Gartloch to Gartcosh, where the station (closed in 1962 and reopened in 2005; on the line to Cumbernauld) was separated from the settlement by the M73.
On a personal level, fbb would be less than enthusiastic about a walk over that footbridge at night!
The Gartcosh section of the 38 did not last, however, as part of First Glasgow's network and it is now a section of a tendered service 310 operated by Henderson ...
... with only the Sunday version wiggling back to the station.
The Gartcosh steelworks (see top map) closed in 1986.

In May of 2013 First Bus introduced a new network in Glasgow called simpliCITY.
Leaving aside the pedant's plea that a "regular" bus could be one that runs once every year - the correct word is "frequent" - the idea seemed well considered. The aim was to group services that fed into and out of a central "frequent" core; give them linked route numbers and produce literature for each re-branded group. Some less well used sections of the First network were abandoned but many of the "main lines" gained an improved service on that central core.
The branding was for "SimpliCity" in blue with a generic tagline, "every 10 minutes or more through Glasgow City Centre." Buses so adorned were used on any and every rebranded route.

One such scheme was for the service 38.
Only it wasn't quite that simple.
Insstread of being ...
... this is beginning to look like:-
Was the scheme for the 38 pushing the idea a bit too far? The on-line index showed 38, 38B, 38C and 38E. Were there buses showing 38A and 38D as well? The best way to evaluate the route (routes?) was to go and see. So whilst Mrs fbb was enjoying a girlie (?) day out in Ayr with a long-term chum, her hubbie trained into Glasgow to explore the 38s.

Clutching some (incomprehensible? challenging?) timetable leaflets pre-ordered from a contact at First Glasgow, the chubby blogger alighted from his spotty Scotrail train at Glasgow Central Station, exited excited and full of anticipation via the ramp adjacent to the Grand Central Hotel ...
... and crossed Hope Street to the service 38 (etc.) stop, "HD" on the map and on the pole.
Stops are easy to find because there is a geographically accurate "where to board your 38 bus" in every 38 leaflet.
So, first, watch what's happening and then, second, go for a ride.

fbb knows how to have a fun time!

Of course, if you want a timetabular challenge, try the Glasgow Corporation 38 in the late 60s/early 70s (undated booklet).
click on the image to enlarge and wonder!
Sorry, fbb Missed This
Way, way back in July 2012, fbb wrote a blog about bus competition at Pogmoor, Barnsley, between Redline and Stagecoach. See "Tom Treddlehoyle and Progress at Pogmoor [2]" (read again).
The company's web site is currently "unobtainable" and this note is from Travel South Yorkshire.

The bus company Redline have not been running any of their services since Friday 09 May. We are yet to receive official confirmation as to the company’s position.  Alternative services are available for those customers who travel on the routes in Barnsley and West Yorkshire previously operated by Redline.

Almost all Redline's services were in competition with Stagecoach, so no-one will notice a gap! And a reminder of a picture of the boss, Sean, ...

... in typical pose! From time to time we need to be reminded that competing directly with the big boys may not be the best long-term business plan.
 Next bus blog : Friday 29th May