Tuesday 14 October 2014

Combative Cornwall Confrontation Confirmed [2]

fbb reveals all!
But First doesn't. The on-line route map for Cornwall still shows the now-non-existent service 88. As alert blog readers will realise, the former 88 journeys from Falmouth to Truro became U1 in the Falmouth Uni reorganisation.  See "U's a Clever Boy, then? Part the Third" (read again). This change happened at the beginning of September with a revised map included in a new timetable book. Sadly the wheels of First's web site management grind very very slowly and no-one has told the technical troglodites that there was a new version.

But the Truro Newquay service was doubled to half-hourly and numbered 89 and 90, the variation being the route locally in Newquay.
It is not at all obvious why First decided to renumber the original route from 88 to 89; possibly to confuse the passengers? But it would never do to leave the revised services alone for a while to allow the public to get used to them. What a silly idea! So, two months later, First are changing it. In simple terms, service 90 remains hourly but there are less journeys.
The 89 is withdrawn and a "new" 91 and 92 appear.
Broadly, these routes thrash non stop via the A39 and A30 between Trispen and Fraddon ...
... (spot the dots) then follow the ancient and historic Western National 590 route "the long way round" into Newquay. Will through passengers be put off by being forced to sit for an extra ten minutes? But why the change? Because it now competes head to head with Western Greyhound [WG] between St Columb Road, Fraddon and Truro, namely their 597.
It also competes with other WG services along the A392 from Newquay. WG's 597 goes an even longer way round via Newquay airport.

What is the difference, you may ask, between a 91 and a 92? It took fbb's agile (?) brain some time to spot the cunning plan. The 92 hops off the A30 to Mitchell ...
... to provide that community with a service in the early morning and early evening when the 90 (always via Mitchell) does not run.
Mitchell : with shelter and glorious finger-post

Daytime 91s rush fearlessly by on the dual carriageway!

This fbb map (keep it simple!) illustrates the whole new set up.
Please excuse the liberties taken with geography and scale; it is an attempt to communicate essentials rather than detail!
Firsts' new 87 is having a go at WG's 587; there are also extra local trips in Newquay..
The 587 visits all the "coastal" villages whereas the competitive newcomer only pops into Perranporth and runs similarly to WG's 594 between there and Truro. Immediately fbb wonders whether there will be enough bums on seats from the limited comnunities served to make First's "Perranporth Express" a goer.

Confused? Take a couple of paracetamol, lie down in a darkened room for a bit then try again. It's all very simple; a bit like imaginary numbers, the fourth dimension and the properties of the tesseract.

Back in 1971, Western National ran routes 601, 602 and 603 between Newquay and St Austell.
By the dawn of the new millenium these had become a complicated mix of 21s and 22s complemented with a plethora of suffix letters. Thankfully, WG replaced much of this clutter with its hourly 521 ...
... and two-hourly 527. First's "new" 21 is slightly different from the WG services, but is also hourly.
So there you have it. Draw whatever conclusions you will; but one thing is certain beyond any shadow of doubt. There is no room in the market for two operators with an hourly service each. There simply are insufficient passengers, even less during the Winter months. The situation post Monday 3rd November is not sustainable. Will WG fight back and First retreat, unwilling to spoil an improved Cornwall business with loss making routes? Or will WG cave in and downsize?

Interesting times!

 Next bus blog : Wednesday 15th October 

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