Monday 31 August 2015

Besançon [5 ... You'll have to wait for the Buses]

So Here's More Trams.
Crossing the River Doubs for the fourth and final time (Pont de la République) we come to the branch to Gare Viotte ...
... where tram route 2 diverts from the main line.
From here on we have half of the frequency to Chalezeule.

We pause to note that each tram is named and bears a picture if its patron as shown on below.
The pictures are accompanied by an autograph, so you have to be well-up in Besançon history to recognise them. fbb did, however score a point with pioneer film makers, the Lumière brothers ...
... but having two of them portrayed on the tram was a bit of a clue! The full set is listed here (in French!)

But we ride onwards and north-eastwards along pavement-less Rue Fontaine d'Argent (Silver Fountain street) again, thanks to Streetview's incinsistency, before tram ...
... and after; with traffic now restricted to residents only.
fbb surmises that this section is more about regeneration rather than carrying present crowds.
The route includes one section of single track ...
... where even the inventive Besan&ccdeil;onais couldn't squeeze in two!
Fort Benoit really is a fort ...
... but few tram passengers will explore it. Their main destination is a huge and rather tatty retail park ...
... seen here in the tramway construction phase. Buy your bathroom here! The terminus at Chalzeule is equally uninspiring ...
... but with plenty of space for redevlopment and, presumably, another huge park and ride.

The vertical bar of white lights shows that the route is set, back on to the verdant double track, ready for the departing tram as the sun sets slowly over lorry driver David's brief but revealing visit to this splendid system.
Whilst relishing this system (in a town the size of Worthing, remember) we do not relish the crazy French lack of tidy timetables. Peak times Monday to Saturday ...
... trams run at a non repeating every 8 minutes where 1 and 2 are together, but this leaves an utterly forgettable every 16 at Calezeule. On Saturday mornings ...
... every 12 (OK) but every 24 (not OK) to the station and Chalzeule. As for Sunday ...
... every 13, 18, 14 and 15 minutes at Hauts de Chazal with, well, dont even try to do the sums after the split.

fbb did say that he would give his loyal readers a run-down on the buses and he will, honest injun.
But there are a few UK bits and pieces that need a blog or two, so we will return to Besançon soon.
And not just cars!
Lorry driving chum Dave was stuck in Dover yet again last night. Blocked, ironically, by a lifeboat.
Thousands were delayed.
The port has now re-opened.

These days, a holiday at Bognor is beginning to sound more attractive!
 Next bus blog : Tuesday 1st September 

Sunday 30 August 2015

Joyous Preposterous Imberbus

On a cold winter’s evening back in 2009, over a few pints in a Bath pub, four transport professionals came up with the idea of running a bus service to the village of Imber on Salisbury Plain.

Following lengthy negotiations with the Ministry of Defence at a very senior level, the Bath Bus Company was permitted, with the cooperation of several other operators, Transport for London and Wiltshire Council’s Transport Department, to run a bus service 23A from Warminster to the village of Imber on 5th September 2009. Operated as an ordinary local bus service using former London Transport Routemaster buses, the service proved to be very successful and so has now become an annual event, with services now extending beyond Imber to the villages of Market Lavington, Tilshead and Chitterne, plus other remote locations on Salisbury Plain, such as New Zealand Farm Camp and Brazen Bottom.

Two of the bus professionals were former London Transport supremo, Peter Hendy (without the silly hat) ...

... and London Buses boss Leon Daniels.
Martin Curtis, director of the Bath Bus Company (BBC) ...
... is also a "leading light".

BBC actually handles the service registrations which enlarges the preposterousness of it all. How crazy can it be that RATP (the Paris bus and metro operator and owner of BBC) is technically running buses to an unoccupied isolated village on one day a year with vehicles supplied by London bus companies?

Anyway, thanks to two kind contributors, fbb can publish a series of pictures of the weirdness of this excellent day.

First, a batch of routemasters, two old and one new, the latter better known as a Borismaster.
Then there was Ensignbus's open topper ...
... and a multicoloured Borismaster.
London Buses, of course, now have to be completely red - except when they aren't!

Also at Imber was the London Northern routemaster coach.
It was all slightly surreal.
The timetable provided a bus every 30 minutes between Warminster and Imber itself ...
... whence journeys continued across firing ranges ...
... and out the other side to the relative sanctity of some picturesque Wiltshire Villages.
And if the thought of catching a bus to Brazen Bottom or New Zealand isn't the ultimate in preposterousness, how about a ride on this?
LH 8186 has been "done up" in World War 1 disguise as part of recent commemorations; and it, too, ran to Imber. Glorious. Here it is "as normal".
And as a special treat (fbb thinks, but is not sure) you could have been driven by Leon Daniels, sir, himself.
What an amazing day. 

Who says buses aren't interesting?

 Sadly (in some ways), fbb was in Shoreham-by-Sea. Maybe next year? 

By the way; refreshments were available ...
... but there was a sobering warning on the timetable leaflet.

What other facilities are available at Imber?
The short answer is almost nothing! As Imber is normally closed to the public there are no shops, no permanent toilets and no mobile phone reception. We therefore strongly recommend that you prepare for this before you board the bus (the nearest public toilets will be at Warminster Station and alongside Warminster Central Car Park).

Could be a struggle for the likes of fbb!

Profits from the day are donated to the Royal British Legion and Imber Church.

Tomorrow we conclude our look at trams (and a few buses) in Besançon, France. Rather ordinary (yawn?) by comparison with Imber.

Thanks to John and Northampton correspondent Alan for loadsa stuff.

 Next Besançon blog : Monday 31st August 

Saturday 29 August 2015

No "Clever" Rhymes : Just Imber

Glance at a map of Salisbury Plain today and you will see ...
... not a lot. That's because the Ministry of Defence grabbed most of the land for use in military training. But in the middle of that white bit (above), near the tiny blue arrow, was the village of Imber.
The name and the village are still there on larger scale maps but inaccessible to the public. In 1943 the inhabitants all received a letter.
In summary the letter, dated 1st November, said, "We are the Ministry of Defence; you are our tenants; there's a war on ...

To this end I enclose your formal notice to quit ... it is confirmed that there will be no objection ... if it assists you, you may remain in your dwelling on sufferance until December 17th 1943. It must inevitably occasion direct expense for which you have no legal redress.

... so get out!

And that was it. Limited help was offered and there was a hint of possible return; which has never happened. The folk had 47 days to find somewhere to live!

The picturesque village was progressively demolished ...
... including houses built as recently as 1938.
These properties were subsequently replaced with "outline" buildings suitable for the army's pop-gun practice.
A few farm buildings were left, plus the church ...
... and Imber Court.
Historically, Imber had an occasional bus service; Thursdays only in 1925 ...
... upped to Thursdays and Saturdays in 1938.
But, last Saturday, buses to Imber were much more frequent.
And apparently run by Transport for London (?); with a gap of 100 miles between Imber and the Capital!

Why and how will be the subject of tomorrow's blog.

As a sort of PS, many people have expressed concerns that such a short notice eviction was possible. Here is a troubling YouTube opinion.
How to mess things up - BIG TIME
An exercise by Travel South Yorkshire

1. Close all enquiry offices
2. Thus student "passes" have to be obtained on line
3. No problem - except

16-18 Student Pass
**MyTSY is currently unavailable**
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26th August
MyTSY is back up and running this morning. We will continue to monitor the system over today and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

27th August
MyTSY is currently unavailable. We continue to experience interim tech difficulties.We apologise for the inconvenience for our customers.

28th August
MyTSY & pass application availability: intermittent service now available, although intermittent problems remain which we are working on.

4. So there will be chaos for all Students expecting concessionary travel.

Finally managed to register after hundreds of attempts but thats about as much as I can get every time I try to apply for a travel pass for my son it says there is a problem. Ridiculous as if I have time to constantly sit at the computer trying to get a travel pass. Its annoying as it is that for the month of August they have had to pay full price since his pass ran out but couldn't apply for student pass until he had enrolled at college and then the system doesn't work.

5. But it will be ideal for intermittent students.

SOLUTON : Open an enquiry office! There is a good site at the Pond Street bus station in Sheffield.
 Next Imber blog : Sunday 30th August