Friday 5 September 2014

The Hidden Agenda ...

... but not very!
Looks very "brown" to me!
see yesterday's blog and comments (here)
As Sir Humphrey will have told Jim Hacker (Yes Prime Minister tv show) ...
... the easiest means of getting your own (usually unpopular) way in Government is to set up a Public Enquiry. Then, as Humpey would opine, the public will be so confused that you can do exactly what you wanted in the first place.
The Local Authority low-cost version of a public enquiry is an "opinion survey"
So what is SYPTE up to?
The arm of the PTE that deals mostly with the public is ...
... which runs internet, printed information and travel centre enquiry services.

So dropping into the in-boxes of all those on PTE mailing lists has been details of a survey ...
... although quite how the little "printer" logo helps is unclear.

The survey will ask people about the journeys they take on public transport, what tickets they buy and how they buy them and how they like their public transport information to be delivered. It will also ask what people think about transport interchanges, bus stops and the customer services that SYPTE delivers.

The easiest way for people to take part is online at Paper copies will also be available at Interchanges from the Travel Information Centre shops and there will be roadshows at Barnsley, Doncaster, Meadowhall, Rotherham and Sheffield interchanges to help and encourage customers to take part.

Before deciding what the PTE's actual agenda is, it is worth remembering that some months back ALL LEAFLETS were withdrawn from the Meadwhell TSY enquiry office, as an experiment.
Now let's look at some of the survey's questions.
Of course, the vast majority buy their tickets on the bus - ergo; you don't need a Travel Shop.
Our timetables are freely available at bus stops, so that's all right. Except that the PTE does not display a single timetable at any bus stop anywhere. Even at bus stations and certainly at bus stops all that is on offer is a computer generated list of departures, and they are often VERY misleading.
There are loads and loads of sources of information other than printed leaflets, so that's all right then.
And even if we didn't produce any printed timetables you could easily find out, couldn't you?

And some specific "leading" questions.

5.4 If the number of staff available at Interchanges was to be reduced, on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest), how much of an impact would it have on you?
Only a small percentage of passengers visit an interchange for enquries. Most are regular users and just pass through; except, of course, if things change!

5.6 If availability of information at Interchanges was** to be reduced, on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest), how much of an impact would it have on you?
See answer above!

6.7 On a scale of 0 to 10 (0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest), if the Travel Information Centres were to close how much of an impact would it have on you?
See answer above!

7.5 Travel Information Centres provide customers with journey planning advice, but did you know that there are other journey planning tools available?
Yes of course I did! 

Would you use any of the following to assist with your journey?
I'd have to if there was nothing else - or use the car.

What is missing are the real questions?

Would you find an area timetable book, distributed free door to door, helpful and would it encourage you to use the bus more frequently?

Would you use the web site more if it were not cluttered up with lots of twiddly guff?

Would you be happier if the leaflet racks at the Travel Offices were always fully stocked?

Would you like useful maps on your timetable leaflets?
(click on map to enlarge) The current maps are incomprehensible; in particular they show no road names and an illogical collection of stop "labels"...

Would you like timetables that were easy to understand and gave correct information?
(click on timetable to enlarge) Only two buses to Hallamshire Road? No, all of them go that way!

It does not take much of a brain cell to see where the PTE is going. And by using the technique of an already-skewed survey, they will, statistically, be able to make a supposedly valid case. What do the bus companies think? What has happened to the Sheffield and Rotherham bus partnerships?

There might be an up-side to the PTE's intended UTS policy (Ultimate Timetable Secrecy). It might actually force the main operators to get off their corporate backsides and start telling people where and when their buses go, rather than hiding behind a poor quality and ludicrously expensive PTE service.

Time (and a return to decline of passenger numbers) will tell.

** bad grammar. "If" takes the subjuctive; "If information were to be reduced"  is correct.

Oh yes, and talking of partnership; we were promised easily available joint ticketing. Optio Orange and Optio Red (valid on both Stagecoach and First buses along "partnership" corridors) have both been withdrawn. One question in the survey asked people what tickets they buy. Here are the choices (click on the panel to enlarge):-
Presumably Stagecoach products cannot be bought at the Travel Centres as there are none on the list!

 Next bus blog : Saturday 6th September 


  1. Over time the golden ochre darkens and can look more like a brown'. I recall there being a debate over the correct shade not being used on some model buses and the preserved ones don't always look right.

    I think there were also times when the transport department may have used what they had (not just paint) - possibly war surplus,!

  2. For timetables, why not take this approach? Dead simple.

    Then the travel centre could print them out for people if they wanted.

  3. Optio Red and Orange tickets were withdrawn because the Sheffield Weekly of first was reduced to £12.50 last year at a time when most fares went up; that's only £1.50 more than the route- specific offerings, or 7.5x the flat single fare on the routes in question- which at £1.70 for 5 miles into town (or even 15 across the City!) is pretty fair value nowadays.

  4. Sorry- I should have made it clear that both First and Stagecoach weeklies are accepted by both operators on the erstwhile Optio routes.