Wednesday 13 August 2014

Let's See What is Built on the Island of Sylt [5]

"Verkehrsgesellschaft" = transport company! The company's route map doubles as a fares zones map, quite difficult to follow on-line, but we can glean the broad structure of the network.
Route 1 follows the route of the Nord-bahn to List, every 20 minutes on the "shoulder" of the season and every 15 minutes from June to September.
Route 2 follows the S7uuml;d-bahn to Hüornum ...
... with an all "Summer" 20 minute service. And, guess what, Line 3 goesto the former Ost-bahn terminus of Munkmarsch; but only roughly once every hour. Line 4 follows the "big" railway line to Morsum, which leaves a local circular service at list and route 5 providing an express service linking with certain ferries.

There are three Westerland town services skilfully named "A", "B" and "C" which do not appear in the main booklet.
Fares are based on the number of zones travelled and are listed in the brochure.
A single from Westerland to Sylt (4 zones) would be €4.40 adult (£3.50) and half this price for child. A seven day family ticket (2 adults and up to 4 childen) would be €99.00.(£80). Thje Isle of Wight equivalent would be £4.50 single and £55 for the weekly family offer.

The company also offers a wide range of off-Island tours, this one to Helgoland (memories of fbb's supply teacher German lesson!
Connection from any part of the Island bus bus to Westerland, train to Niebüll, bus to Büsum and "Funny Girl" ...
... to Helgoland with four hours ashore. Back 2135. Another tour takes you to the original Legoland in Denmark.
fbb wants to go!

Back to Sylt's buses. They have a discount card where an annual fee brings a 16% reduction on all fares; a bit like some of the UK Railward deals. Likewise you can pay for some fares by mobile phone.
fbb is mildy amused by the need ti use English as a brand. Presumably "Touch and Travel" doesn't sound as "sexy" in German (Berühren und Reisen).

The bit of the web site that attracted fbb's attention most of all was the "Sylt-Shop". As well as the crab soup, featured yesterday...
... you can but beach shoes ...
... with colours explained fully in the local language!!! You can buy genuine Sylt sea salt (Sylt Silt Salt?), fine or grob.
A model of a Borgward railcar is a whopping €74 (£60 - OUCH!) ...
... but the best (?) purchase of all is a luxury Sylt typical luxury two seater beach thingey.
The top of the range model ...
... is available at a modest £1600. fbb must order one to lug up Burrow Road and balance precariously on Seaton's shingle in the Summer showers! Perhaps not.

Bus fares may not be as cheap (as subsidised) as in some of the French communities fbb has looked at, but there is still a style that tries to make bus travel attractive and "normal" rather than second class.

Now how about it First Bus? Re-open Camborne travel office ...
... and sell ...

Cornish pasty soup:-
... flip flops ...
... Cornish sea salt (fine or grob?) ...
... and beach recliners. Contents not included.
You might also sell a few weekly tickets as well.
Sapphire Plus
A correspondent reported, in response to the 'Oadby' blogs, that the recently introduced Sapphire in North Wales (12 Rhyl to Llandudno) was an excellent service.
Our Northampton correspondent, on holiday nearby, was duly dispatched to report back to fbb. He confirms the swishness of the vehicles ...
... but, even on a ten minute frequency, there was noticeable bunching and long gaps in the service. Yet again (and surprise, surprise) the roadside publicity was poor. Conwy Council provide stops and flags, so nothing there.
But a glance at the information in the timetable frames confirmed fbb worst fears. IT WAS WRONG! With Sapphirisation, the frequency was upped from every 12 to every 10.
But the frame at Colwyn Bay ...
... still showed "every 12" ...
... ish! Is/was there really a departure at 1354 AND 1355?

Again fbb asks, "Why do the bus companies tolerate such tosh?" - and - "Wheres is the Sparkle?" And, of course, no timetables on display at any stop, anywhere!
 Next [UK] bus blog : Thursday 14th August 


  1. If you do opt for "Touch and Travel" you will need a "Handy" to do so - which is the German for mobile phone.

  2. "Why do the bus companies tolerate such tosh?" - largely because they have no choice. Bus companies do not (and cannot?) own any of their roadside infrastructure and can only post their own info with the permission & co-operation of the owner of that infrastructure. If the council decides it will do it then it can put up its own info & charge the operators for the privilege of that not always useful info, and as far as I know they can't even refuse to pay (& the end result if they did would just be to not have their info put up by the council but without anywhere to put it up themselves). Councils tend to favour the departure lists because they are cheaper/easier to produce from their systems & more space efficient for the smaller or less frequent services than posting individual timetables but it is less helpful for reassuring passengers that they have the right stop/service when dealing with intermediate points & journeys.

    It is a ridiculous situation but utterly out of the operators control. Some operators will try to put their own info out but since the only thing they can attach it to is lampposts you are relying on their one in close proximity to the existing info which it often isn't (and fbbs experience at Luton just after the Busway opened where the council info in the shelters was wrong whilst the operator info on the case attached to the post was right but created extra confusion show the issues with doing this). Of course this has been cause by too many operators not posting any info and the government wanting to ensure some coverage (not that all councils actually take up that power) but it does cause problems for companies who want to project a better image, one of my previous employers when wanting to upgrade one of its major corridors effectively threatened to put its own flags up on nearby lampposts after the councils new quality bus stop flags weren't going to allow the new branding but the council backed down on that one.

  3. I do not believe operators have no choice. Historically is penny-pinching on the operators' behalf that has necessitated an inadequate take-over by the councils. If operators are unwilling to take their marketing seriously they should be allowed to suffer. Tendered routes should include a legal obligation for the successful tenderer to do its duty. Clearly the council may need to broker agreed standards but such a policy is unlikely to be a burden unless it is too restrictive. I cannot imagine Tesco allowing the County Council to handle their in-store publicity - and effectively a bus stop IS the operators front line publicity. Less excuses, more doing!

  4. You seem to be unduly negative about this new service!

    The bus-stop information problem has been fully answered by the above poster [and Conwy & Denbighshire CCs do still publish excellent and free timetable booklets, giving accurate information!].

    Similarly, Arriva cannot do very much about the bunching, due to the heavy holiday traffic around the holiday camps and caravan parks between Rhyl and Colwyn Bay.

    The increased frequency means there is a "turn-up and go" service between 0730 & 1730, and in my experience, the increased capacity of the new buses [whereas often the previous single-deckers were full and standing] , the comfort and free wifi and battery-charging points add up to a much-improved service.

    So let's be a bit more positive!

    P.S I have no connection with Arriva!

  5. Where councils do own the bus stops they have to be seen to be even handed in the display of information, otherwise they can be reported for inequality, and most councils are frightened of any such action.

    I agree this is daft, especially where something like Sapphire is involved. The alternative (as many Stagecoach companies do) is to buy the stops from the council, but they must then employ someone in their organisation to post and remove publicity. If the stop is owned by Stagecoach, then they are not obliged to display information to promote services provided by competitors (obviously!).

    A county such as Hertfordshire (Intalink) makes great efforts to display correct timetables (and generally succeeds), and charges bus companies for visiting each stop along a route to keep publicity correct. No branding on bus stop flags, or any company publicity, is permitted in the timetable frames.

    There is no one answer; the best option is probably the Intalink model, but it'll only work where a council takes its responsibilities seriously. In these days of cutbacks, I'll bet that the posting of timetables is simply not done because there is no funding.

    Anyone got a better answer?

  6. Anonymous - it is that the operators have no choice in some circumstances. Having checked with my boss (senior director at a bus company) and in one of our areas, not Wales but one where fbb recently criticised the operators for not updating outdated flags, and it was clarified that the operators were not allowed to correct/update the council owned flags that are across the area (no matter how much they wanted to), it will always be that the owner of the infrastructure has the only say in how & who can update it. Shelters & poles are almost always owned by a council (though not necessarily the one who would do the publicity) so unless an operator can get a flag & case on a lamppost, as an operator you are relying on the local councils co-operation. Some don't have any interest, some are flexible but a growing number are quite specific and controlling (and so unable to reflect operator branding) & some are quite bad at actually doing anything despite preventing operators from doing so themselves. The decision for a council to do this is rarely related to what the operators provided and certainly, where that is the case, was unlikely to be related to what the current management of a company would do but what was done some years ago when different principles & industry views were more prevalent but operators are now hamstrung by those issues.

    The comparison with Tesco is not as clear cut, they control their information in their own property (their stores - the bus operator comparison is on the buses not the roadside displays), they don't control the signage to their stores on the roadside which is provided by the council & is normally unbranded "superstore". It is sometimes possible for the store to have branded directions but that is relying on someone agreeing to it or them buying advertising space on a local hoarding (just as it would be for a bus operator).

    It would be unusual for an operator to be sold the roadside infrastructure, in some authorities it is common for the major operator to be contracted to maintain it (Northants work this way which can lead to confusion of Stagecoach branded displays for routes run by other operators) & in many places operators are 'permitted' to post their own info or attach their own cases but the do not own the shelter or poles (or in some places flags). Untangling these relationships can be difficult and their are probably many operators who can't access/use some infrastructure as their can't find anyone who admits to owning it to ask for permission (& the access keys to get in).