Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Jurassic Coaster Jeapordised Concerns [2]

Daft Timetable West of Lyme
But first, Rousdon?
The village nameboard shows ROUSDON ... the garage shows ROUSDON ...
... twice (or did; the shop has closed). Devon County Council is happy with the second "O" in its publications ...
... but the First Bus timetable for the new services strikes an independent note with ROUSDEN.
They do have a slight precedent as the ever reliable (snigger, snigger) Google Maps shows both ...
... "E" for th garage and "O" for the village. fbb wonders, idly, whether the good folk at First Hampshire and Dorset ...
... have even been to Rousdon; or, indeed, have ever ridden the full length of the X53? fbb has, all the way from Exeter to Bournemouth (the route now goes no further than Poole) in one go, and remembers the pains in the posterior to prove it! See "Good Value by Bus" from a 2010 blog (read again). Well, lads, grab the chance before the upcoming timetable change because it will be a lot harder from the end of September.

The good news is that the X53 between Poole and Weymouth still runs every two hours Mondy to Saturday.
The X31 is renumbered X51 to provide the paint shop with extra work changing the graphics on the side of all the buses. No other reason can be gleaned as the Monday to Saturday hourly service is conceptually he same as now.
The big change is that he X53 is diverted via Axminster ...
... rather than direct via the A3502 and Rousdon between Lyme and Colyford. [apologies for the grotty map.]

But between Bridport and Axminster there are additional X53s (why X53? they are the same as short workings on the X31/X51) providing a bus every half hour on the "busy" (?) section.
The X31 (and the X53 for that matter) are prone to traffic cloggage delays in peak summer so a half hourly frequency will, maybe, help with spreading the waiting pain. But every half hour IN WINTER?

It is west of Axminster, west of the Axe, that the axe is wielded in an incomprehensible way. The reduction comes straight from the Moir Blockhead** "Guide to Ruining a Bus Service for Ever" staff manual that was the Bible of the pre-Fearnley regime.

Instead of a bus every two hours between Lyme Regis and Exeter, we have two journeys in each direction via Axminster and Colyton plus positioning trips via the old (Rousdon) route.
Colyton residents have yearned for a direct bus to Exeter and now they've got one.
Wowsers! Seatonians, of course, have the Stagecoach 52A but will be deprived of a direct bus to and from the big regional hospital (Royal Devon and Exeter). No doubt not enough of the old codgers have been using the bus for their routine appointments.

Or, perhaps a day in Lyme Regis from Exeter?
That's not so bad; First Bus must think Lyme Regis is a dump anyway.

Maybe from the B&B in Beer to enjoy some fossil hunting at Charmouth?
[sorry about the extra "o" in too - stubby fingers strike again!] What a wonderful day out.

But hold fast to the opprobrium. Maybe First will bring back the two hourly service for Summer 2016. Sadly, by then, all local advice will have expunged such pointless trips from their potential itineraries. Offended passengers don't come back - ever! Surely there is a better way; better than running empty buses every 30 minutes between Aminster and Bridport?

Of course, running buses is about profit, not providing a service if no real demand exists; but is this really the best solution?

Tomorrow, fbb speculates.

In the meantime the Gloucester Old Spots are at the end of the runway and preparing for take-off.

P.S. Whilst on this anti First Bus rant, fbb notes that the Sunday service X31, once hourly between Dorchester and Axminster ...
... becomes a two hourly X53 ...
... not even running at fixed times past each hour.

So no Sunday buses between Dorchester and Bridport in the winter; and in summer 2016? If the revised route and timetable brings an acceptable "return on assets required", there will be little incentive to take the risk of a seasonal expansion.

 ** Moir Lockhead? One time boss of First ...
... whose draconian financial policies led to a cycle of fare rises and route withdrawals from which First is only just beginning to recover. Did fbb make a "freudian slip" above?

 Next speculative blog : Wednesday 19th August 


  1. I travel regularly between Lyme Regis and Exeter. Do First take any account of the number of people travelling on individual journeys when planning changes. Last winter the most used buses were the 10:37a.m arrival in Exeter and the 3:15p.m. departure. The two most used journeys both withdrawn.

  2. A mixed bag there....

    The cuts west of Axminster are substantial and probably too substantial for the shopping trade as FBB points out. Too many passes and too little revenue?

    The cutting of the Sunday service from Bridport to Dorchester makes a lot of sense; Weymouth is, by far, the greater traffic objective and the number of villages affected is paltry. Also, isn't the hourly service on the X31 a summer only facility and is two hourly in winter?

  3. This morning First Hampshire and Dorset are getting irate Southampton passengers phone in to BBC Radio Solent regarding Firsts withdrawl of route 12 (and other Southampton Network changes) and the lack of publicity. Many passengers will now need two buses (different operator) to visit the General Hospital.

  4. you will find most anyone that complains about a bus service argues that no one has told them. They infer that someone should have personally knocked on their front door and told them in person. I am not sure Tesco or Sainsbury put up notices saying we are no longer selling cup cakes anymore ! There is loads of publicity out about the changes in Southampton. all the time tables are on the website, there has been numerous articles in the local paper etc. Oh I have just realized why this is a story - it is silly season and hence there is no news. Your note above is incorrect. Passengers do not need to use a different operators - First provides a service every 8 minutes from Townhill Park to the City Centre, and then a bus every 7/8 minutes from the City Centre to the Hospital and the journey time is exactly the same if they had stayed on service 12. Travelling from Bitterne you would use service 10 every 7/8 minutes into the City Centre and then service 3 every 7/8 minutes to the Hospital - it is actually slightly quicker than the previous 12 route. Bluestar have abandoned their customers in Bitterne Triangle and Cobden Bridge and cancelled their service 16 from the end of the month. They have then chosen to operate from Townhill park to the city via Bitterne, which does suggest that this was a convenient excuse to change the loss making Bluestar 16 service

  5. Departures from Weymouth on Sunday at xx45 are also not exactly great for connecting from the train which arrives at xx35 given the walk from the station so that's another lost connection. At least arrivals at Axminster still connect I suppose. The cuts to Exeter are ridiculous and typical of First killing the service. Atleast leaving at 0930 means pensioners can use their passes...not that they can really go anywhere! Bridport to Axminster every 30 mins at the expense of Exeter is just nuts although given the fares on that section are so high maybe it's profitable for First to carry mainly air. Maybe Stagecoach could extend their 52A to Lyme Regis every 2 hours or go one better and attack the whole route to Weymouth next summer to finally rid us of First. What is it with First and non-clockface timetables at totally random frequencies? As for Southampton, anyone that looks at the changes and cannot see the cuts as cuts is frankly blinkered and either works for First or should do as they are gradually slashing their buses on most routes to purely focus on competing with BlueStar..a plan that worked soooooo well in Plymouth!

  6. If you look at the X53 buses in the winter they carry fresh air - therefore why would you operate more journeys than were necessary in the winter - when there is very little commuter traffic. The service is all about tourists in the summer. Of course if you want more journeys in the winter, then the LA can pay for them. As they used to before the LA cuts came into play, so why should any bus operator provide journeys at a loss ! Why do you need a clockface timetable for a service that is running every 2 hours ? At that frequency people look at the timetable (its hardly turn up and go!) You are clearly a First Basher, so best not let reality get in the way of a good bashing !

  7. It's a 5 minute walk from Weymouth station to the X53 stop for the heaving masses on a winter Sunday who will require it.

    Also, you might wonder why Stagecoach when they did extend to Lyme Regis (the 152 in 2006) then failed to continue the experiment. Might it be that it's not the pot of gold that some might think?

    Perhaps to satisfy the good burghers of Colyton, the 1750 could terminate there. I would suggest the 0711 could start from there but then (quelle surprise) the clarion call of "we can't use our pass" will doubtless go up.

  8. It is 5 minutes if you are at the front of the train and walk briskly but if the train is even a few minutes late then you have a 2 hour wait. I agree in Winter passenger numbers from Weymouth will be lower but not zero. Also the route is marketed as change at Dorchester for the train which of course will now need a * saying except on Sundays and why bother renumbering it to X51 for no reason, particularly as it's been 31 or X31 for years. It's just poor. They already have run the X31 into the ground with it ending so early at night and cancelling it regularly due to "operational issues" so now they move on to the X53 and kill that too.

    1. Dorset CC cut the subsidies for the late evening service. It still has a later service than before the subsidies appeared and do you really think it makes commercial sense?

      First have taken on services commercially and have invested (not before time it has to be said) on new fleet for Weymouth. The X53 goes through thin territory past Lyme and then suffers from Stagecoach's higher frequency at the Exeter end. And was said before, why was Stagecoach's 152 summer only and was pulled after one year?

  9. One has to remember the history. 1998 the 31 was hourly Axminster to Bridport with just 5 journeys extended to Weymouth and no Sunday service. The Bridport to Weymouth coast route was the 210 with just one shopping return trip, plus 3 summer journeys from Weybus on their 5 (1 summer only?). Lyme Regis to Seaton and Sidmouth was just the Axe Valley 899 on 7 trips a day. Not much service and largely shorter local routes.

    Come 2001 and millennium subsidies and the 31 was hourly through out plus 2 hourly Sundays and specifically with train connections. The X53 had started from Weymouth to Exeter every 3 hours, not Sundays. In later years it grew to 2 hourly plus Sundays and the Poole extension. But Stagecoach retaliated by extending their 52A Exeter to Sidmouth route on to Seaton. There was for a number of years an X54 commuter and shopping service from Colyton to Exeter, but since dropped. (Colyton is small village!)

    The subsidies have largely gone again and its looking at the service with commercial eyes, but from a much larger passenger load. The X53 running hourly from Weymouth to Lyme Regis and interworking with the 31 from Bridport to Lyme Regis was new this summer and was a big increase. It must have worked. Extending the X53 to Axminster 2 hourly and then running back to Bridport depot (coach station) to give half hourly over the whole Bridport to Axminster section might be brave, but interesting. The section on to Exeter is covered by the Stagecoach 52A/B up to every half hour. Yes there is a gap from Lyme Regis to Seaton, but the total population is small. May be the 899 can add some journeys back in.The train service from Axminster to Exeter is also scheduled for increase from December for which draft timetables do exist, but I don't remember the detail. Switching the winter Sunday service from X31 to X53 looks sensible from a local population perspective. You loose the Dorchester train connection, but how many use it compared to Weymouth shopping? Like First too no doubt, we wait and see fro the weather as well as the passenger loads.

    1. A very good point. I remember the old 31 in Cawlett days and have just checked my 1994 Dorset CC timetable booklet. The last bus was 1715 ex Weymouth (1740 ex Dorchester) so there's two later departures there. The last one ex Axminster was 1820 so again, two more later journeys. Having checked, there were 5 journeys from Bridport to Dorchester but only 4 on a Saturday; the last one ran at 1415 on Saturday.

      No Sunday service at all. Fleet was NBC vintage VRs of about 15 year old vintage.

      The solitary 210 (usually operated by an LH) fitted in around schools.

      Well remembered - some may do well to reflect on that!

  10. Axminster to Exeter is also provided by Stagecoach route 4 every hour and faster than the X53. The more frequent service to Axminster increases the chances of reasonable interchange with the 4, 30 for Taunton and the train regardless of their timetables. In winter particularly, "Stay at Home" is a big competitor to bus travel and not just the car. Colyton will just have to support Axe Valley 885 for another winter.

  11. Unfortunately the electorate voted in a Tory government that promised even more cuts to local authority budgets. Any hope of subsidies from County Councils for loss-making bus routes has certainly gone. You must remember that First had subsidies for both the X31 and X53 but now run them commercially.

  12. First can't spell Rousdon but can they spell jeopardised? Or is that some in-joke from FBB?