Friday 20 June 2014

Is it Nuts? Or Necessary? [5]

Not a Circular, but a Lollipop!

At a first glance, there are only three buses each day on service1 from Penzance to Sennen Cove.
click to enlarge the timetable extract

The other route, 1A via Porthcurno, apparently offers seven trips to Lands End only (two are on the next page of the timetable book); which seems a bit unfair on Sennen Cove, arguably a more pleasant and less grot-garnished destination than Lands End ...
... and famous for some terrifyingly huge seas.
But these aren't the only trips to Sennen and its eponymous cove. The routes 1 and 1A operated as a "lollipop" with many 1As turning to 1s at Lands End and continuing via Sennen and back to Penzance (and vice versa).

Way back in 2010, fbb write a blog posing the question, "What is a Circular" (read again). The 1/1A is a lollipop shaped route.

So it is that four more journeys will get you to Sennen as per the blobs shown below; simply sit tight at Lands End and you will arrive at the Cove in about 10 minutes. To discover these extra journeys, you have to look at the timetables from Lands End to Penzance. Nowhere is this made clear.
click to enlarge the timetable extract

And there's a fifth through trip on the next page. Again we ask the question, "will tourists and occasional visitors grasp this subtlety of this service?" fbb doubts that they will. This service has been unchanged for many years; herewith a 1995 winter version from the Great Britain Bus Timetable ...
At least the GBBTT admits to "both ways" to Sennen Cove!

One obvious solution to wierdness of the ones  is to remove the more local 1B and 1C service from the current complicated pages; remove them and renumber them. This would, at least allow a more manageable version of the 1 amd 1A.
click on the timetable to enlarge

The 1/1A and 1B/1C pages are separate on First's web site but made even more confuddling by the silly computer driven layout.
We have Gwavas Crossroads twice, we have two Sheffields and a mysterious Boslandew Hill (which is, as we all know, the timing point in Paul.) The tables are very tall which means that it is easy to ignore the column heading notes, most of which refer to dates of operation. The service reduces sugnificantly from 1st September. So the unwary can find their bus not there! There is no attempt to show journeys that run "through" Lands End BUT, at least 1Bs and 1Cs are on a separate but equally complicated table. To compound the confusion, those 1/1A journeys that are diverted via Paul and Lamrona are not shown on the 1B/1C table!

Penzance to Lands End just seems fated to be a mess. fbb has looked at a major rethink ...
... even attempting to match frequencies to today's pattern plus a little enhancement allowing a bit more tourist-related marketing.
But scheduling would be difficult as neither the imagined 1 nor the imagined 5 would fit neatly in to a two hour round trip. Maybe the extra cost of a less efficient timetable design might be recouped by extra passengers who could understand the whole caboodle more easily? fbb expects a polite snigger (but understandable because chunks of the timetable are paid for by Cornwall council and he who pays the bus company piper, calls the timetable tune!) from the First Bus management; indeed, by the time this blog appears they will have sniggered!

But only a few months ago, buses to Paul and Lamorna were numbered 5. And why, pray, have First renumbered the 5s as 1B and 1C? Because it was "requested by Cornwall Council". See reference to pipers and tunes above.
You might just wonder whether the Councillors or their officers who contrived this curious and convoluted combination could explain the timetable to a group of visitors.
I'm Bert Biscoe and I am the Independent Cornwall Councillor for Truro (East). I was elected to Cornwall County Council in 1997, and now serve on the new unitary council.. Since 1997 I have devoted my time to representing the community of Truro, and the broader community of Cornwall. I served as a cabinet member for both Environment and Corporate Resources on the former County Council. In October 2012 I was elected to a cabinet post and currently hold the Transportation Portfolio

Maybe someone should ask Bert. Despite these niggles, and in the interests of even-handed journalism, fbb should report that it seems that relationships between First and the Cornwall council are excellent with mutual respect and understanding; even if the Council is wrong about the 1B and 1C!!!

Yesterday, fbb attended his first "face to face" meeting with the Cornwall timetable team. It would be unprofessional in the extreme to publish any discussion from a private and possibly commercially sensitive meeting. But the journey there was "interesting" and fbb may allow himself a little musing about First's future filosophy for their Cornwall business. As far as the journey is concerned, fbb found himself (indirectly) in a tweet!

As will be explained tomorrow. Which also means that "Ghastly Google Gigo (1)", erroneously published earlier this week, is delayed.

 Next bus blog : Saturday 21st June 


  1. FBB. You should restrict your bus planning to East Devon and to the Isle of Wight, not to West Penwith about which you obviously know nothing from over one hundred and thirty miles away. Your proposal ignores where customers actually travel at present, sends buses through miles and miles of fields and forgets that only small vehicles can serve Chywoone Crescent and Lamorna Wink. Camborne and Truro have a very much better knowledge of the needs of 'us locals' in West Penwith than an armchair blogger in England - simply stick to the issue of timetable presentation.

    1. Double deckers regularly serve Chywoone Crescent. You're right about Lamorna Wink, though.

  2. Forgive me for possibly wasting my time (sort of) following this blog and not understanding the main thrust, which I believe is not to re-route the current services, but to present the timetables in a more logical way to enable prospective travellers (and therefore = passengers= customers) to identify when and where they can go.
    Fully agree about the obscurity of getting to Sennen being customer "unfriendly".

  3. Reply to top anonymous. First of all I have never been an "armchair" blogger. I have visited Penzance on a couple of occasions and have chums who have done likewise. I have discussed the problem of the presentation of these services with a number of knowledgeable locals; all of whom agreed that the service is a mess. That much is a fact. Whether the mess can actually be improved whilst retaining all the links "used by the locals" is more of a political decision than anything else. I have looked (via Streetview) at all the roads involved and am well aware of the constraints. If you read the blog carefully, you will see that I have concluded that my "bright idea" is probably unworkable anyway. The key question is whether more people can be persuaded to travel by bus with a simplified structure - still retaining the essential links. Stagnation is the death of bus services; planners must always be on the lookout for a better way.

    1. I suspect that FBB in many respects is like all bus people in being rather observant wherever he goes. I think everyone subconsciously does this - comparing the bus service where they are to what they know. To suggest that people can't comment constructively on an area they visit because they don't live there is rather strange behaviour. I certainly do it when I visit somewhere different to where I live but I don't blog about it. Although I could.
      One wonders if the OP anon poster is recently relocated there, for work reasons given the tone of his posting.
      Certainly have seen postings anonymously like that before elsewhere, although one cannot but help draw a connection to someone formerly working on the Isle of Wight who was always very defensive of Southern Vectis, to the point of attacking the other poster rather than engaging positively. Such postings seemed to stop after someone left Vectis in 2012. The personality is now known to be working for First in the South West.
      Your defence of FDC is somewhat interesting in that respect. All very fine to defend your work, but no need to attack other people because they don't agree with your take on things.
      I'd like to see FDC improving the vehicles it uses a little bit - Camborne is solid Olympian with a tiny number of low floor double deckers, all of which lag behind other areas, but then FDC has always been a home for the cast off stock at the end of its operating life. Some of them look in poor condition, which decries the excellent engineering standards, which have to be up to a certain standard mechanically with MOT equivalent inspections every few weeks.

  4. No buses at all between all the guest houses and B&Bs of Penzance/Newlyn and Porthcurno - summer service between Alexandra Road/Western Promenade/Newlyn and Lands End/Sennen Cove halved. As 'Anon' said at 7.13am, there just needs to be a better way of making these timetables understood by visitors to the area.

  5. So, how to make Penzance to Land End less of a mess?
    Well, to start the journey times end to end are horribly uncompetitive compared to travelling by car, so the main destinations should have an hourly year-round more direct service - i.e. Penzance-Newlyn-St. Buryan-Sennen Cove-Land's End. The remaining coastal part (i.e. Lamorna and Porthcurno) could then operate as a more seasonal service, probably using minibuses, which would also have the potential to be extended into a Coasthopper-style service for the whole area, possibly even incorporating the Penzance-Mousehole and Penzance-Marazion-St Ives services. Now that would be a more thorough rethink, wouldn't it?

    1. I don't think the good residents of Porthcurno would be too amused to have their bus service reduced to a seasonal service. I assume you're not envisaging reducing the Mousehole service, which needs to be half-hourly even in Winter. Much of the service you're suggesting was in fact the old Western Greyhound 504 which was given the chop and replaced by diverting the 1 etc to Lamorna Cove and also the recent introduction of route 7 (Lands End-St Just-Zennor), which, incidentally, has next to no publicity as it's run by a community bus association to whom marketing is anathema. Said operator is still advertising the 509 which transferred to Travel Cornwall several weeks ago.