Monday, 17 August 2015

Jurassic Coaster Jeapordised Concerns [1]

Ominous Timetable Changes?
Firstly, a correspondent sent this to fbb:-
Ominous indeed. But from another source came this:-
fbb responded to this by going to the very top; to the highest possible authority on anything to do with buses in the area ...
... to Barry Doe himself! Barry told all, but warned that it was not for publication and may be confidential. fbb's lips and computer were sealed. But an enquiry via "senior manager at First Bus" produced a full timetable so all can now be revealed.

From the 2014 season, Jurassic Coaster X53 (Poole to Exeter) ...
... was joined in a leaflet with a revised 31 (originally Weymouth, Dorchester, Axminster but with Weymouth excised) now X31.
Buses began to appear in a matching livery with "X31" replacing "X53".
In  recent months, there has been a decided lack of branded buses on both routes as here on th X31 ...
... and here on the X53.
It smacks either of lack of buses or lack of commitment in vehicle allocation.

The leaflet map showed how the two routes worked together ...
... to provide a joint half hourly service between Bridport and Lyme Regis.
The X31, like its predecessor, is hourly ...
... once the confusion of a multi-noted "daily" start-up is over. The X53 is likewise hourly over its core ...
... between Weymouth and Lyme Regis with two hourly beyond in each direction.

It is worth noting that the route between Lyme Regis and Colyford ...
... only serves Rousdon. The only evidence of sentient life here is the garage ...
... with its associated shop now closed. An aerial view shows a few houses, a posh Hotel (The Dower House) ...
... with some amazing cooking facilities.
Actually, it's more like a posh B & B ...
 ... with a caravan site just along the road for mere mortals.
It is rare for an X53 to stop anywhere between Lyme Regis and Colyford

Which possibly makes the timetable changes due in September appear a little more sensible.


We will explore the changes tomorrow.

It's all excitement in an fbb blog.

If you have about 4 minutes to spare, enjoy First's promotional video for the X53:-
Follow the tiny little bus at the bottom of the video image - sweet!
It's All Available On-line - Part 135
Click on the panel to read the message which, yesterday, applied to the whole of Stagecoach nationally. Now if each company had its own web site and managed it locally; and if it were built using nice simple HTML coding; and if it didn't try to be show-off clever ...
 Next Jurassic blog : Tuesday 18th August 


  1. Really FBB - the livery doesn't smack of either of those things. As you should know, the summer X53 has a higher PVR so non branded vehicles will appear. Add in maintenance requirements (routine service, breakdown) and the fact that liveried vehicles are limited to the PVR (4 on the X31 for a PVR of 4) - bit unfair all told FBB.

  2. I disagree, Anon. If you MUST have route branding then it should be that - branding for the whole service. If sufficient vehicles cannot be provided for summer on the X53 (INCLUDING a maintenance spare) , then perhaps the whole idea of branding is not such a good one. Subjectively, unbranded buses have been far more common since the new look. Route branding "on the cheap" is self-defeating. Perhaps First will buy some X51/X53 stickers for September?

    1. FBB, we may have to disagree. Since the dawn of time, firms have always had to have a compromise on branding for the summer months. The same could've been said for the use of NBC DP liveried REs and Leopards for use to supplement white National coaches in the 1970s.

  3. Oh dear. Once again the body that supposedly "regulates" bus services prevents the ordinary punter from knowing what is going on.
    If the intended change is published in N&P then it should be made public in full, not reserved for the few in the know. You quite rightly criticise Stagecoach for a non-working website. How about getting the whole system, from VOSA to the smallest operator, to treat their customers (ie us) with respect and intelligence?

  4. When N&P was printed (remember printed stuff?), including full timetables was impracticable. With our wonderful 21st century technology there is no reason why the Traffic Commissioners' web site shouldn't provide a link to a timetable. Of course, if it did, the customers might have time to organise a more vociferous campaign against the dafter decisions.

  5. Stagecoach timetables are back this morning. Perhaps the man with screwdriver doesn't work on Sundays?

  6. That sounds like a really good idea. TfL do it with applications for London Service Permits.

  7. Yet again first mess with the x53. The constant tinkering, lack of branded buses even before summer (including single deckers!), coupled with the huge fare rises highlight all that is wrong at first. Yet again they seem determined to run a good service into the ground. Why oh why can't stagecoach take over this route too and turn it into the premier route it should be. Let's hope these changes don't recreate the ridiculous situation of a couple of years ago when you could travel out direct from Exeter/Seaton to Poole but not back...only First would be clueless enough not to see that was stupid.

    1. It's because the X53 is operated for the majority of customers who do not travel end to end. Why on earth would you want to spend circa 4.5 hours on a bus for a few minutes in Exeter and then another 4.5 hours back. The only people who would possible want to do this are enthusiasts. You would also be highly critical of first if they allocated X53 Branded buses on other routes. So having a proportion branded is the right thing to do. In fact the vehicles on the service have been refurbished inside, have a good livery and catch the eye. More than I can say for the vey standard and boring Stagecoach liveries.

    2. Actually end to end travel does happen more than you think as to go from Exeter/Seaton to Poole/Weymouth by X53 is often the quickest and definitely the cheapest option and most scenic (even with all the fare rises). However for those who do returns over more than one day (given the distance that would be most) try explaining that on the way out their bus will be direct but that coming back there is no such bus and sorry but you'll have to wait an hour in Weymouth to connect for no logical reason and so your trip is now 5.5 hours! I understand splitting routes if some bits suffer massive congestion or have higher frequencies (ie Coastliner 700) but the X53 was the same frequency on both bits and suffers congestion issues over large bits so it made completely no sense.

  8. To anonymous at 0741, the Summer PVR for X31 is 5 buses, I believe there are 5 branded Scanias, with a fleet liveried one as spare. The Summer PVR for the X53 with the additional journeys and the extra running time for all the traffic delays is 8 buses. As there are only 7 Geminis (5 of which are branded) then there will always be unbranded buses on the summer service. Regarding travelling through from Poole to Exeter and back, this has not been possible for a few years now. Even in the days of the subsidised service you could do it with a useful? 40 minutes in Exeter, and to be honest that is not exactly a major traffic flow. Given the frequent train service between Poole and Weymouth the busiest sections of both X31 and X53 have always been Dorchester - Bridport - Lyme Regis - Axminster. I will stop now as I on't want to impinge on tomorrows blog which no doubt will reveal all.

    1. You're quite right anon 11:47 - I was referring to the winter X31 which is 4 but goes up to 5 in summer. I believe only 36001-4 are liveried though.

      Of course, they could have more vehicles liveried but, God forbid, they then get used on another service - cue more "why oh why oh why". The Stagecoach way is mainly to use the standard livery as the base and brand on that so an unbranded vehicle doesn't stand out so much.

      That said, Stagecoach can be equally culpable. A Cambridge Citi e200 operating Ely locals.... An X46/7 Gold decker on Northampton to Bicester? A 49/51 e400 on the Gold Swindon to Oxford 66? However, they all turned up on time and gave passengers their journey home! And THAT is the most important thing.

  9. Stagecoach timetables may be back on line, but they appear to be internal working documents rather than PDFs of public printed versions as previously. They are also based on registrations rather than public times, so longer distance services are split into 2 or, in the case of the 555 Lancaster - Keswick, 3 separate and apparently unconnected tables. Locally, where the county council has negotiated the inclusion of tendered journeys run by other operators (e.g. evenings and Sundays) these are not shown on the new versions. Hopefully this is all temporary as the presentation of these internal files is awful.