Thursday 5 February 2015

A Traipse to Tiverton [4]

Coffee Break, then Buses.
Until the middle of 2013, Tiverton's tourist information centre was housed in a purpose-built building at the end of the bus station. After moving to the museum (see yesterday's blog - read again) the site remained empty until Summer 2014. A local team took over the lease for a cafe.
It is being transformed into a cafe/coffee shop, albeit one inspired by the style of the 1940s and '50s. The shop is named after the owner's late grandmother who was well-known in the Tiverton area for her professional cake-making and catering skills. The new business will comprise a family run cafe selling tea and coffee, as well as cold drinks, cakes, freshly-made doorstep sandwiches and baguettes, breakfasts, salads and other snacks.

In the window was a notice the like of which fbb has never seen before:-
What a superb idea. Once inside, there was a strong 40's theme including the period dress of the "baristas". A side room was particularly delightful, set up to represent a real historic living room.
The item of furniture glimpsed on the right is the original dressing table made for the original Elsie May's wedding. Nice touch. The coffee was good as well.

But we must get back to the work in hand. In yesterday's blog, fbb commented that the bus station seemed disappointingly empty. But between 12 noon and 1300 (approx) everything happened with a great congregation of bus services whizzing in and out.
Service 55 and 155 run every 30 minutes direct to Exeter; 155s continue every two hours to Barnstaple. Occasional journeys are numbered 55B ...
... and divert via Silverton and Thorverton villages, off the main road.
Once an hour the 1 appears; disgorging its happy passengers, few of whom have interchanged at Parkway station. Because it's Stagecoach, there are full timetables in the frame.
Indeed, every stand had full timetables ...

... except one. Guess which one?
Correct! It is the non-existent First Buses in Taunton and Bridgwater or maybe First Somerset, who knows? Note that the service is shown as terminating at Richard Huish College ...
... but with every journey except one carrying a note (1).
Oooh, look, note 1; eight out of the nine departure times shown only run as far as Taunton. Daftness supreme. Here's what should be there, suitably enlarged ...
... with no mention of Richard Huish College.

You can buy a monthly ticket for ...
... "Buses of Somerset" [BoS] but, of course, that company doesn't run any buses at Tiverton, as far as the confused passenger can tell. Brand awareness? What brand awareness? While fbb observed, a 22 arrived and departed.
The former London cast-off was in the smart BoS livery but the engine sounded as if it were about to fall out of its compartment in a heap of bits.
Chug chug, clunk clunk, ping ping as it left in a cloud of (possibly illegal) exhaust smoke. Undoubtedly the worst sounding vehicle of the day, fbb hopes it made it back to Taunton in one nearly working lump! Although which way it might go remained a complete mystery. With the high commitment to quality infomation (NOT!) it is no surprise that the service has been cut back time and time again. 

There were no maps for any of the routes serving Tiverton; this despite an excellent "local" diagram in the appropriate Devon county timetable booklet.

But it was the so-called "independent" operators that claimed the majority of stand space at this busy lunch time concours d'elegance omnibological.

 Next bus blog : Friday 6th February 


  1. To be fair to Buses of Somerset the departure list at Tiverton was their first attempt at such things and they did learn. The 22 timetable hasn't changed since and so they haven't reprinted it. One big change learnt and illustrated on the printed timetable is NO footnotes at all. The public publicity shows a clean year round service and it is basically true of all their routes except the 14/15. Buses of Somerset also has a nice printed book of all timetables with maps etc. For the traditional version, see the First Devon and Cornwall website complete with footnotes and all the Wellington shorts.

    Actually on college days not only does the first 22 from Tiverton still get extended to Richard Huish, but a second double decker starts at Cullompton and duplicates it from Willand and they hope not to run out of space before the the third one joins at Wellington as a 22A. The public just don't need to know this, only the students, unless you want to avoid those journeys. All the other journeys to Tiverton carry mostly fresh air and are a Devon County contract run as a shuttle by one of the college buses.

    Tiverton Parkway station is on its second overflow car park and most trains now stop. It is very successful for its purpose as a rail head for a huge rural area. First tried express buses from Barnstaple and Tiverton, but they went unused. Tiverton is just not big enough for a frequent shuttle service. From my view point it is a pity the 22 doesn't run via the station, but the timetable probably would not connect usefully.

    Most Passengers waiting at Parkway are heading north to Bristol, Birmingham and London. The building is a big heated hall with a staffed ticket office on one side and a shop cum cafe on the other with tables and toilets. What more do you want. Platform two is primitive, but it is mainly for exiting passengers. If you are going the other way (and not taking the 55 to Exeter St David's), you wait in the hall until the train is announced and then walk over the bridge, as the staff do.

    It probably should be noted that all bus services at Tiverton are Devon county contracts except the 55 direct to Exeter and they will be reduced this year.

  2. There were no Buses of Somerset timetables in the Tiverton TiC. Although the 22 timetable has not changed, the operator has; and if BoS are serious about distancing themselves from First (which is happening very slowly!), the frame at Tiverton needs better publicity and a timetable. First might, then, carry a few more passengers.

  3. Your photograph of the Stagecoach timetable in the frame at Tiverton bus station is an excellent demonstration of the pointlessness of displaying full timetables at bus stops. The heading says "Your next bus from this stop", followed immediately by one page full of information about buses that either terminate there, or don't even get to Tiverton at all! Perhaps there are pages showing journeys in the other direction below the one you photographed, but that one is 99% full of irrelevant information. One can only conclude that simply hanging a copy of the timetable is a lazy way of doing bus stop publicity.

    First, on the other hand, deserve 7 out of 10 for taking the trouble to sift out the information that somebody waiting at the bus stop actually needs, but the identification of the exceptions is admittedly illogical.

  4. I agree with RC169 - That Stagecoach timetable in fact only shows one departure - the 08:35 College days only to Petroc College only. I doubt anyone reads it as how many students board an out of town bus for an in town journey unless the timing just fits. It does however let you find out the return times TO Tiverton.

    It also illustrates the mess of the 1 timetable - there are 9 consecutive columns with day of the week codes. On the Mid Devon council book version that combines the Saturday services as well, it is the first 13 journeys with day of the week codes. In one case for a one minute difference. It is very hard to read. Buses of Somerset have got it so much better now, designing timetables and publicity to reduce the variations and need for codes.

    Brand - it only matters where there is commercial competition. The only competition on the buses in Tiverton is who gets the council contracts.

    Living on the Devon Somerset border, I am surprised how strongly Devon looks to Exeter and Somerset looks to Taunton and Bristol and thus there is very little cross border travel. Taunton Exeter shopping buses have come and gone over the years.