Tuesday 9 December 2014

A Protracted Perusal of the Potteries [5]

One Rumour (at least) Was True
It was announced locally (via a joint press release) on Sunday 7th that GoAhead (Plymouth) was taking over the Liskeard operations of Western Greyhound [WG] as from yesterday. The deal was to include routes, staff, vehicles and the lease on the Liskeard depot.

The 593 between Liskeard and Newquay would remain with Western Greyhound.

The operation would be branded ...
... Go Cornwall Bus OR Go Bus Cornwall OR Go Cornwall (apparently). A nice green logo means they won't have to repaint WG's buses. Full details are on the Plymothian Transit blog (read here).

With the Western bits of WG being covered by First Bus' new registrations, that leaves services around Bodmin and Wadebridge (North Cornwall) to be dealt with. Unless, of course, a purchaser relishes a fight to the death with First?
(unsuitable for persons of nervous disposition)
The Adventure Continues ...

 Sky 7 group  Lime 8 and 9 group 

We have to take these together because there have been huge but inter-related changes.

But we start with 7s. The old (5 months old!) Sky 7s ran from Hanley to Smallthorne, then via High Road to Chell roundabout ...
... where thy split.
7 and 7A turned left, then immediately right and followed two different routes to Kidsgrove; whilst the 7B veered off right to Biddulph via the nicely named Knypersley. Under the November reorganisation these services ...
... are exactly the same! Frequencies have increased on both branches but for a mysterious and unexplained reason the routes have changed colour. This seems to add some unnecessary confusion where none existed before. There are two possible explanations for this. [1] A clearly defined "limeade" service every 5 minutes to Smallthorne (where 8s bifurcate - but modern engineering can cope with the strain!) must be a challenge to the various competitive routes along the same line. [2] There may be some clever vehicle interworking which would preclude the use of different fruit or athmospheric tints. But to fbb, simple minded soul that he be, this is a retrograde step; it actually makes branding and colouring meaningless..

Especially after we see he changes to lime 8s and lime 9s.


Up to now, fbb has just about coped; but a first glance at this lot brought on that sort of glazed vision complete with wide-eyed panic which accompanies an intellectual death-wish. Be brave fat bus bloke, swallow hard and have a go.

The old Lime 8s looked like this:-
It looks sort of straightforward; all via Ford Green Road then a three-way split. Bit it isn't. Whilst 8As and 8Bs run from Hanley, the 8 starts at Hanley, runs to Ball Green ...
... doubles back to Smallthorne and then via Porthill and Wolstanton to Newcastle. It runs in a big upside-down "U" shape.
As the buses arrive at Ball Green at similar times from each central town, it was confusing in the extreme. Is this an 8? - yes; going to Hanley? - no! Is this an 8? - yes; going to Newcastle? - Yes! So the route to Newcastle is simply renumbered 98. Buses still interwork at Ball Green but change their route numbers from 8 to 98 and vice versa.

Which leaves the 9s. Under the old regime, their routes and numbers were confusing, again with buses on route 9 terminating at either Hanley or Newcastle; another upside-down "U". The 9A via Burslem to Tunstall didn't help the comprehensibility one iota.
Realistically, this disparate compote of 9s was never very sensible; the bits were so different. The new system uses separate but linked numbers as below:-
From Hanley direct to Bradeley (wrongly losing its "r" in the above diagram!) it is 9 as previously; from Hanley to Bradeley via Burslem and Tunstall is 29, formerly 9A; and from Newcastle to Bradeley is 99, the other "leg" of the 9 as confusingly created back in July.

There is a nice turning circle at Bradeley to allow whatever ramifications of timetabling may be necessary to satisfy the schedulers' greatest desires.

Which leaves one final oddity. The service 17 to Sneyd Green ...
... is withdrawn; being replaced by a diversion on the longer distance 18 (Hanley to Leek).
This would seem to leave poor little route 38 to Birches Head as the only Amber service in the pack. But no! The Amber 17 reappears as a completely different creature. The 22, as created in July, ran from Hanley via Wolstanton and Bradwell to Newcastle, then on southwards to Trentham and across to Longton. From November 30th the northern bit of the 22 ...
... is revised and becomes the new Amber 17 with no connection whatoever to the old Amber 17.
It provides a First Potteries bus to ASDA and M & S at Wolstanton retail park.
fbb asked his contact in Stoke about this and was advised that once upon a time the route via Bradwell was numbered 17; so this was replacing a small piece of tradition lost back in July. People power rules OK, again?

The new 17 might well confuse the local populace, but it was certainly too much for Traveline who were showing the old headings ...
... but the new timetable. Try to keep up, chaps!

fbb is very grateful to senior management at First Potteries for their help in overcoming the chubby one's ignorance of the Potteries network. Any errors, omissions and misunderstandings are firmly placed at your humble blogger's feet; the fat bus bloke has tried his best.

The final thought of course, has to be, "have they got it right this time?"

Hmmm ...
  a sphere   
The ancients' view of cosmology was, obviously, primitive. There were, some said, nine spheres that encircled the earth.
Dante's poems "Inferno", "Purgatorio" and, specifically, "Paradiso" were built round the concept. We now know that the earth is not the centre of the Universe; but swap "sun" and "earth" over and you have a very simplified picture of the solar system with an outer shell of "the fixed stars." But what is the ninth sphere.

Even those who described the Greek philosophy came up with a similar picture.
Here, beyond Jupiter, Saturn and the stars, sat Apollo, chief of the gods. For the early Christians, the ninth sphere was he Primum Mobile, the prime force OR the divine intellect OR God himself.

When Johannes Kepler took on the idea of the Sun at the centre, he continued to work on the mathematical relationship between the "spheres".
In our more enlightened society, we find these ideas mildly amusing. Unfortunately, however, the problem still remains. What happens when space as we observe it comes to an end? What is the Universe IN? Science cannot (yet?) answer this conundrum.

The idea of a Great Overseeing Deity, existing outside of space and time, is no more or less amusing than Kepler, Dante or the ancient Greeks. It is an attempt to describe the indescribable, to rationalise the irrational. 

If such a being were to exist, however remote the possibility, we would need to take Christmas seriously. Or, to look at it another way, if Christmas was real, however remote the possibility, we would need to take God seriously.

The real Christmas should make us think, if nothing else.
 Next bus blog : Wednesday 10th December 

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