Sunday 4 May 2014

Going for Gold : New and Missing

And not Welsh Gold!
fbb does wonder, sometimes, whether anybody in the big bus groups reads their own web sites. Here, for example, is a typical link from the "ordinary" Stagecoach pages to their premium gold routes.
Clicking on the panel leads to the usual flummery about luxury vehicles, trained staff, wifi, scantily clad hostesses dispensing quality chanpagne and Belgian chocolates etc. etc. The home page invites you to click for areas "where we operate" ...
... with unhelpful results. A sad lack of a location list! Or you could click on "(not areas?) where we operate."
So fbb did.
Of particular interest was the gilding of existing Cambridge route 13 and 13A from 1st June. We will return to this in due course. But ...

Has Stagecoach withdrawn three Gold routes? What has happened to Gold X46 and X47 running between Northampton, Wellingborough and beyond.
These joined the already golden X4 from Milton Keynes to Peterborough last year.
The above is on the list (and never would be missed??) but of the X46 and X47 there is nary a word. They are still Gold but secretly silenced on the site.
Then there's Torquay.

fbb blogged about the launch of a brand new Stagecoach Gold service back in October last year ...
... particularly the scrumptious Gold biccies ...
... with gold icing and edible labels. Yummy!

The Torquay to Totnes and on to Dartmouth or Plymouth route-number-less service is again hidden from web site view. It still runs; fbb saw a couple on a recent visit to Torquay.
But the new Cambridge gold is already there ...
... as is the new timetable.
Of particular note here is the drastic improvement between new 13/13A (above) and old 13/13A (below).
Perhaps the fares are different.
Perhaps the route has changed?

In fact nothing changes except the addition of Gold paint.

Presumably Stagecoach have done their market research and genuinely believe that the little sparkly extras (all of which should be standard anyway!) will increase patronage, pennies and thus profits. It would be interesting to see actual patronage growth figures for some of these routes. Or is the motive to halt decline? Either way, once Goldness is established, what next? What other trinkets will be dangled in front of a typical (?) passenger's drooling visage?
How much more can the company offer to tempt additional posteriors on seats? Perhaps fbb's jocular addition to the glittering facilities of Stagecoach Gold (sorry, folks rushing to travel; it was a joke!) might be next on the list.
Of course is is really good to see improvements in the quality of the humble bus service. Well done Stagecoach Gold, Arriva Sapphire and First Platinum! Pity about the rest of us slumming around on tired and tatty "ordinary" buses.
Perhaps not always as bad as that!
Parkway Problems Persist
You thought we'd got rid of all those out-of-date- route 18 leaflets, didn't you? See yesterday's blog (etc.) Oh no we haven't. January 2013 versions are back in the rack!
Note the wrong black and purple racked above the current correct version.
 Next coach blog : Monday 5th May 


  1. The Stagecoach Gold dropdown lists work fine for me. Even the Torquay route manages to appear in them! But that doesn't excuse the other missing information. I also know for a fact that there are at least two links to very outdated timetables, if not more.

  2. Stagecoach have stated that the Gold concept is deployed where passenger growth on a route is starting to plateau from a previous improvement & where it is felt that the extra features would be a significant commercial advantage. Presumably this goes in where the growth experienced from previous conventional service improvements has not kicked in quite enough growth to justify further service enhancements but where the operator feels that there is further growth that may push it over that threshold (I know the Aldershot one has seen frequency enhancements after the Gold was launched due to its success & I believe the Warwick one did so also).

    I don't believe that it is remotely reasonable or sensible to believe that something resembling Gold spec should be standard for bus services, certainly where it comes to the vehicle equipment. The seats are much closer to coach seats that normal bus ones and the cost of fitting them as standard would be too high to reasonably support. Aircon is a marginal matter in the UK, and a couple of operators have stated it isn't effective for urban cycles and it has a marked operating cost and effect on fuel consumption, which in the current climate of increasing fuel costs & reducing government support could easily lead to services becoming uncommercial if fitted as standard. Wi-Fi is starting to become more common but again there are costs associated with this (and coverage is not always the best away from core corridors) which limits its potential for fast roll out, though it is likely to become more widespread as coverage improves and the running costs of paying for the system become less. Certainly some of the mentioned 'soft' benefits in relation to driver training should be standard, and probably are much more common than they are marketed but most industries will market what is in effect a standard level of quality as a headline when trying to make a significant launch of a premium brand to new customers.

    1. FBB, you will be thrilled to know that, by happy coincidence, the legendary lost routes of gold to Thrapston and Torquay have since appeared all over the Stagecoach Gold website!