Friday 7 November 2014

fbb and a Bohemian Vibe [2]

Yesterday First; Today, Worst.
Not everything in the Cornish garden of new bus routes was lovely; far from it. fbb arrived at Truro railway station and crossed the road to wait for his service 87 to Newquay via Perranporth.
What service 87?

The following are missing:
45, 46, 87*, 303*, 522, 550, 551, 594 and U1.

No longer calling at the station:
27, 85, 88*, 403, 540, 543 and 583.

That leaves correct route numbers
14, 18, X18, 304, 494, 497 and 587.

Asterisked numbers refer to changes made from Monday 3rd November. fbb was there on Tuesday 4th, so perhaps a Cornwall piskie will be nipping up his step ladder over the next few days. Or not. No, the whole "image" is awful beyond belief.
There are three timetable frames on the pole. One contains the new Hopley's service 303 ...
... and a lot of empty space. The long-standing Hopleys 304 is not there. But, whilst fbb was waiting, the famous 304 arrived, announced on the electronic display but ignored on flag and in timetable frame..
Another frame contains proper timetables for Western Greyhound Services ...
... which cheered fbb substantially until he looked closely, and ...
... saw that the 587 was shown in the wrong direction. The stop is for services FROM Truro!

And then there was First. Oh dear, oh dear oh dear. It's one of these pointless horrors. At the top, we have a list of the services, colour coded ...
... but with two blues next to one another and barely distinguishable pink and orange as neighboours. Not easy for those with eyesight difficulties. Each service is accompanied by the usual horizontal (and near incomprehensible) stop list. Next comes the culmination of the "we have a computer program that will do this, so we will" policy.
A list of departures all mixed up in one jumble of colour and information. Out of 108 Monday to Friday departures, approx 40% have associated notes. Ghastly. What makes it worse is that there is space in the frame for at least simplified proper timetables. The compilers would, of course, need to use of a human brain (or perhaps a pair of scissors and some glue?) instead of a computer program. Below the output of Omnitimes is a miniature network poster printed in pretty puce  ...
... but made less effective by big blobs of old glue and paper scraps which rather spoils the effect. Whilst enjoying the helpful information at the Truro station outbound stop, fbb will offer his readers a little teaser. What also stops there?
Yes, the flag is blank on both sides. The answer will be revealed at the end of this blog; fbb is unwilling to leave his readers in excitable suspense for a whole day!

But that's not all. Here are a couple of tricky questions for our loyal readers.

1. Which company runs Truro railway station?

2. Which company runs several bus routes that pass Truro railway Station?

So you would expect a bit of effort to encourage passengers to integrate their First rail journey with the First local buses. So where is the bus information in the station?
As well as timetables there is lots of "stuff" that you can do by travelling by train. Changing to bus? Nothing.

There is also a rack of tourist information.
Supporting Local Tourism? By bus? No way, José! This blog has often reported on the out-of-date bus information at Bristol Parkway station but timetable and route changes made last weekend are available on the racks there.

So why is there nothing at Truro?

All round the network the information on the flags is out of date. Why do the bus companies tolerate this? "Aha," comes back the usual reply, "they are Cornwall Council's bus stop signs, so we can't do anything about them." Tosh, twaddle and any other derogatory word beginning with T. Surely the time has come to say to Cornwall Council "if you won't do it, we will." And then do it! As reported yesterday, some of the new First routes had been added, as here in Newquay ...
... but out on the 87 route there was more to be done. And, once again, many of the Western Greyhound 5xx routes no longer exist.

fbb has already written that First's set-up effort for its new Newquay network was better than expected deserving at least 7 out of 10. It is a complicated business launching three new services (21, 87, 91/92) and one major revision (90) on the same day; but First is a huge global mega-blob of a company; surely they could find a "new services" SWAT team to get it all right. This bus, for example, was showing "88 Newquay" ...
... but it was a service 90. And this bus (fbb's first) ...
... had no blind display. here the driver is changing the very small paper notice upon arrival at Newquay.

Tomorrow there is time for a few more observations en route, but, for now, the answer to the fbb tease. That empty flag is, obviously, promoting Truro's Park and Ride service.
This runs from Langarth (Threemilestone) to Truro ...
... calling at the College, Royal Cornwall Hospital, County Hall and Truro Station.
The service is, however, only available for passengers who have paid and parked. Cash customers are not accepted. Oddly the buses (operated by First) do not serve First's bus station in the centre of the city. Yes, there was "real time" information at the stop and full details in the frame, including a real timetable.
fbb does believe that the empty flag has simply faded; rather like Cornwall council's enthusiasm for good information on "their" bus stop signs.

A few more snippets from fbb's trip in tomorrow's offering.

 Next bus blog : Saturday 8th November 


  1. So First have a bus running around with no destination. All they need to do is upload a new set of destinations to the screen.
    At least there is a screen there to upload to.
    Clearly First takes the stance that it's OK to not do these things, after all Western Greyhound has won operator of the year at the UK Bus Awards a few times, so clearly following their example will get you the same industry wide recognition and respect.
    If one firm can be seen to get away with it, you really can't blame others for following the same approach.

  2. Seriously! First are trying to rebuild a network and they do it using old buses that look beaten up and either don't have destinations or show the wrong route!!! Add to that out of date timetables, hard to read timetables and incorrect bus stop flag numbers.Hardly inspiring.. Same old first same old poor regard for customers. Yes western greyhound are even worse but that doesn't mean first should aim to match their low standards.You wouldn't see such a joke of a network launch from Stagecoach. This is a sign of what is to come again once western greyhound die...same old first same old complete disregard for passengers.Not good.Actually you all complain about western greyhound trading newer for older buses but theirs are in the main newer and look less beaten up than firsts new network buses...farcical.Cornwall be careful what you wish for.

    1. The point I was making is that clearly it's fine to run buses in the slapdash manner that WG has been doing for months. What I want to know is where are VOSA- the traffic commissioner has revoked other operators' licences for much less than WG is being seen to get away with.

      It is time for WGL to be removed from the industry. Operators are required to properly resource and properly staff their operations - it is unacceptable to cancel journeys because there is no one to drive the bus, or that there is no bus available. Either Western Greyhound can run it's operation compliantly or it cannot.
      If it can't, it should be closed down immediately.

      If buses remain unpainted 12 months after acquisition and they also fail to tell people where they are going, then what else is the company skimping on? Is the fleet being properly maintained? Is the business still of appropriate financial standing?

      If the phone lines have 'faults' presumably the fault is that of WG in not paying the bill on time.

      I look forward to seeing First's new identity for its Cornish operations, and just like where they've tried elsewhere it will lead to an increased PVR and hopefully an increased income.

  3. fbb's conclusions (blog, Saturday 8th) are more positive toward First. But, anonymous, the buses were not "beaten up". They were old but warm and comfortable. And they were double deck and thus distinctive. The situation vis a vis Western Greyhound is complex and a resolution (one way or another) will come soon but, overall, First has done a pretty good job with this new mini-network.

  4. And ALL the timetables (from First) were correct and up to date!

  5. T reg for example is very old and looking very old and beaten up on the outside which is what people see as they pass along with non working destinations or wrong route numbers is hardly a high standard.Surely done properly they would all be in new livery with everything working and at least be well presented on the outside even if old. Compare the state of their buses vs Stagecoach in Exeter and even their older buses still look presentable and have working blinds. Its not a good start at all except the reasonable publicity attempt.It all feels like First are just doing the bare minimum to scare off new operators post the inevitable WG collapse.Hardly investment or real service development but those who love First seem to happily accept their mediocrity compare this half ass attempt to launch to for example what Stagecoach have done with the X80 that First ran into the ground.

  6. When I went to St Ives in the Summer most of the double deckers there were non low floor, so T reg low floors are a luxury in the First Kernow fleet