Sunday 2 November 2014

First Bus Getting it Right?

Powerful Publicity Pulls-in Passengers?
According to the leaflet it all starts today.
A bit of a stretch! Apart from the 101 route to the Eden Project (which hasn't changed) none of the new First Bus services in the Newquay area starts today. Interestingly the 101 does not feature on the front cover.
None of these routes has a Sunday service! But from tomorrow First's first incursion into Western Greyhound's territory gets under way.

fbb has received a copy of the new booklet for these changes from First, but as a PDF file direct from Best Impressions. So your blog author cannot be 100% certain that this publicity is available "out there"; no doubt someone in the Far West will comment!
It is very apparent that First is "having a go" in a more dynamic way than the bad-old First of the past would have done. The book opens with the now-expected list of fares offers ...
The usual First (very) coarse single and return fare prices are there, but with no guide as to how far each will carry you. But there is a spectacular special special offer.
A series of 50% discount vouchers is on offer for November and repeated for December. Apart from an address requested on the reverse, there appears to be nothing to prevent a passenger acquiring several leaflets to keep him going at half price for two months.

In addition to the stylised route diagram on the front cover, there is an excellent full map of this mini-network. Colour coded bus routes are joined by lots of "places of interest" locations in green.
there are local maps for the main towns, although not for Perranporth where route and destinations might be confusing to someone who has never been there. In one direction ...
... and in the opposite timetable:-

The booklet contains full timetables as you would expect (as you would hope?) color coded to match the map.
There is also a bit of tourist information ...
... although fbb doesn't think that tomato soup is a particular delicacy on the North Cornwall coast.

But a couple of moans. Summary timetables are included for places where routes serve common destinations; here for Porth and Quintrell Downs.
Unfrotunately these are in horizontal format (names across the top) whilst the "proper" full timetables are arranged vertically (names down the side). Folk have enough trouble reading timetables and they should not have to wrestle with two conflicting formats. Consistency, please!

But there is worse.
To differentiate Monday to Friday only and Saturday only journeys, the booklet uses pale colour shading. This must be hard to pick up for those whose vision is impaired; surely a column heading in standard black print is clearer? The problem gets horrifically bad with service 101 to Eden Project and Luxulyan. The prospective passenger needs to remember to check dates ...
... and then cope with this:
There are THREE different background shadings (pink, green and blue) and only three journeys each day are "normal". The colours are explained ...
... but for clarity and comprehensibility surely separate timetables linked to Eden Project open dates and times would be sensible? If we want people to travel by bus we need to make it very very easy. "Passengers intending to travel to the Eden Project should bring along a calendar and a colour chart; passengers for Luxulyan, just guess."

In some ways it is mean of fbb to be so picky BUT any staff brave enough to admit their company loyalty whilst pottering about on St Austell bus station are going to find it difficult to be helpful.

But, despite this, fbb awards an overall 8 out of 10. Praise indeed?

On Tuesday (4th November), fbb is visiting the area for the day (sad old man?) to ride on all four "Newquay" routes. He will report on how things seem on the ground later in the week.
Treats for Trans-Tamar
First faces furious competition in Plymouth and the company is, frankly, struggling. But there is a bit of Churchillian resilience in the air; "never, never give up!" From today cheapo £1 fares are on offer within Torpoint and Saltash.

Saltash Town Ticket : £1 (or 50p for kids age 5-18 or NUs card holders) for any single trip in Saltash, Latchbrook & St Stephens as far as Waitrose from the Tamar Bridge (Saltash side) on services 1/1A and the 76.

Torpoint Town Ticket : £1 (or 50p for kids age 5-18 or NUs card holders) for any single trip between the Torpoint Ferry (Torpoint side) and HMS Raleigh on service 81.
 Next bus blog : Monday 3rd November 

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