Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Jurassic Coaster Jeapordised Concerns [3]

It's been 250 million years in the making but Seaton Jurassic is nearly here!

Opening in 2016, Seaton Jurassic will be the Jurassic Coast’s newest and most exciting visitor experience.

At Seaton Jurassic you’ll go on a journey through time, over land and underwater, to worlds familiar and alien. You decide where and how far to go!

Located in the centre of the town and just minutes from the coast and countryside, you’re close enough to feel the sea breeze on your face and enjoy the Jurassic Coast as part of your visit.

And to celebrate this major development, it could be harder to get to Seaton by bus: unless there is a dramatic re-think of the negative plans announced by First for the winter season. Effectively, from September, Seaton will be cut off from any useful return bus service from the east. Trips from Charmouth with its excellent beach-based fossil facilities and from Lyme Regis with a wide selection of fossil shops and pictures of Mary Anning** (with dog) ...
... will be almost imposssible and anyway 20 minutes slower by the few through buses; or, with an expensive change at Axminster, will be 40 minutes slower and utterly off-putting. 
by buses that
don't serve a fair chunk
of the Jurassic Coast.

But perhaps there is a clue to First's policy in their current on-line X53 publicity?
Now that would be an even greater service reduction!

First has launched a Jurassic Coaster app which is available through the Google and Apple app stores.  It provides text and audio commentary to accompany your journey on the X53 service along the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site 

Nice App; pity there soon won't be any buses worth catching west of Lyme Regis on which to enjoy it!

Here are just a few ideas to make things better for everyone; including First's piggy bank.

 1  Restore a two hourly frequency west of Axminster immediately and PROMOTE the service; yes even in "winter". There are still visitors around right up to the October half term and they are looking for things to do. There was a confusing (£14? £15?) ticket offer on the summer leaflet with the fact that it was for a family in small print.
Where was the promo for those lacking the delight of offspring? Where were the posters at Exeter bus station? Where were the posters in TiCs, cafes, pubs? You need more than a pile of leaflets lost among a vast selection.

 2  If First must run the X53 via Axminster have a chat with Auntie Frances (Axe Valley) and see if various agencies can slip her a wad of tenners to run the quick (and sensible!) way between Lyme Regis and Seaton via Rousdon. Or perhaps uncle Uncle Brian would extend his 52As every two hours to Lyme in return for a de minimis bit of pump priming

 3  Stick some Jurassic Coast vinyls on buses for the 157 (Exmouth to Sidmouth) like there used to be ...
... 899 (Axmouth, Seaton, Beer) ...
... and 885 (Axminster to Seaton)

 4  Improve the signs/publicity at Exeter, Axminster, Honiton, Dorchester and Weymouth Stations.

 5  Create a Jurassic Coaster rover ticket for Summer 2016. fbb was very impressed with the marketing and plain good value of his £32 three-days-in-seven deal on Dartmouth Train, Boats and River Bus so why not something similar?

Train Exeter to Axminster
Train Exeter to Exmouh
Train Weymouth to Dorchester
Bus Portland, Weymouth, Dorchester
Bus 20 (Honiton Seaton)
Buses X51 and X53
Bus 157
Buses 885 and 899
Buses 52A and 52B
Seaton to Colyton Tram
Mendip Mule Open Topper

£30 for three days in seven; sold by all operators who simply keep all he revenue; no tricky book keeping and an incentive to SELL and PROMOTE. And it can all be linked into the opening of Seaton Jurassic (admission included in the deal, of course.)

 6  Ensure that the various deals are promoted on South West Trains timetable leaflets and booklet; all bus operators' leaflets in the area, not just the "included" services and in the East Devon timetable book. First Bus might even consider working with First Great Western to promote the deal.

Sorry; that last proposal is just fbb being very, very silly! It's simply an impossible dream.

 7  Have BIG posters in as many suitable sites as possible. (See 6, above)

 8  And remember, most of this revenue will be bonus.

 9  And don't come up with loads of arguments as to why it can't be done, why it won't work.


And of it's a disaster try something else for 2017. Keep trying! Remember that Jolly Jack Cohen (Tesco founder) created a market for tinned prunes ...
... (now popular for regular customers) when nobody had ever heard of them. Just because somebody offered him a truckload thereof. Pile it high and sell it cheap works for bus services as well as prunes!

** Mary Anning : (21 May 1799 to 9 March 1847) was a British fossil collector, dealer, and palaeontologist who became known around the world for important finds she made in Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs at Lyme Regis. Her findings contributed to important changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth. Effectively, she invented fossil hunting

 Next Birmingham bus blog : Thursday 20th August 


  1. I believe that Devon CC has already bunged Auntie Frances a wad to extend some 899 trips to Lyme Regis, although the details have yet to stagger onto Traveline. Here is the Devon CC linkie thingie, but how it will translate I'm not sure:

    I have a suspicion that First HQ in Aberdeen has sent out an edict across the country to reduce mileage whatever, and the management at Weymouth (or wherever they're managed from this week) have had at the X53 because it isn't in their back yard (so limited protests compared with slashing {say} the Portland service); it probably isn't that well used in winter; Uncle Sir Brian has been running the 52A service every hour (and probably more reliably) which has (a) poached some of the passengers and (b) probably gives better journey opportunities anyway.

    Ultimately, the market is speaking, which is how the industry is organised at present. Of course, once re-nationalisation takes place (pace Cornwall and R2D2 in the East Midlands) then we'll see everything change again.
    Still, I don't suppose it'll really matter.

  2. Jack Cohen wasn't forced to "sell" his product for free at the point of use and get reimbursement at perhaps half the market rate later on. It is a particular problem for coastal routes that attract large numbers of longer-distance travelling concessionary passengers, and completely screws the economics of operation. Ben Colson has explained this point eloquently in respect of Norfolk Green's Coasthopper; as well as seeking to fix reliability, the splitting of Stagecoach South's 700 route ensures that pass holders have to touch in more often.

    There's also the question of reimbursement rates across boundaries. Pennine Motor Services received about half as much for a passenger boarding in North Yorkshire as for one in Lancashire, which chelped to bring about the demise of the company: it may well be that Dorset and Devon pursue different policies which impact on this service.

    And sorry to continue in sounding negative, but if I was Mr Mendip Mule, I'd be worried that I have to accept lots of other Jurassic tickets, but don't sell many myself.

  3. Unfortunately when a tendered service is taken commercial because the incumbent operator is frightened of loosing the new tender. In Dorset we have seen this happen with the 31 (X31), X53/X54 and the 387 that were not sustainable as a commercial service. Not all of these were First group awards. We have since lost the 387 - Poole to Dorchester as a through route.

    Traveline SW have First's X51 (September 27) listed but not the X53. However the August 30 changes for the X53 are listed.

    Whilst in Bournemouth we are having route reductions that the operator is blaming the forthcoming A338 (Bournemouth to Ringwood spur road) roadworks as an excuse. It is a nine month full reconstruction scheme with contraflow in four phases.

    The Bournemouth route reductions are - Yellow buses routes 3 and 4b. The revised timetables for 30 August are now on traveline SW. With the 3 (every other bus will now terminate at Castlepoint) and all 4b's will terminate at Castlepoint.

    1. What is funny is that if we remember back a few years when First were trying to screw over Dorset County Council, they claimed the 31 needed 100% funding and only after they lost the tender to Yellow Buses did they suddenly decide it was possible to run commercial..clearly their initial claims were a lie to rip off taxpayers. On the other hand, look at Surrey who have just gone through a second round of bus "cuts" and like the first round they have in general resulted in service increases!! Also, after they initially posted the revised timetables they have actually amended several to increase them still further!! Compare this to Devon and Dorset where services just get cut each time.

    2. Good balanced view? It may well be that First are correct and that the Sunday 31 didn't pay its way except during the summer months.

      In registering it, they accept a minimal loss when viewed over the whole year but it's a case of protecting the whole route by denying a possible competitor a bridgehead? Remember that Go Ahead did EXACTLY the same with the 387 and the Dorchester locals against YellowBuses except they then withdrew the 387 shortly afterwards.

      Since deregulation, there are countless examples from all firms in commercially registering work that may be lost on tender just to protect other routes by denying a possible competitor a presence and a revenue stream. That doesn't mean they're lying

    3. It wasn't just the sunday service that was tendered on the 31 and they certainly claimed the service as a whole wasn't viable to the council...until Yellow buses won it and yes Go ahead did do the same but it doesn't make First's actions acceptable. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    4. Sorry but I thought you were on about the Sunday service. However, the point still stands. There were/are doubtless journeys that pay and others that don't.

      When faced with losing it, they made a decision which was to look at exit liabilities and possible losses or run it and see. As it was, they took it on - it happens all the time. Go Ahead did the same but they very quickly deregistered it and caused much more damage and expense.

      I just don't want this to become some anti-First blog and rantfest - it's better than that esp. when they're being pulled apart and others' worse transgressions are not mentioned.

  4. A response to Anonymous 2 above. When I ran open tops out of Ryde I accepted Southern Vectis Rover tickets with out any share of revenue. Such passengers would never have paid to travel with me anyway but it helped to boost loads and encourage others to join in the jollity. OK, I maybe lost a bit of revenue on really busy days, but as our Del-boy muleteer will know, there aren't many pf those. Every £30 ticket he sells is the equivalent of three (plus) paying for his round trip. I would be keen to sell lots of Jurassic Rovers!

  5. Haha its funny that all the viable services are being cut but Seaton's 391, 392 and 393 aren't. Good news for fbb and that that means I still got 3 biddy buses to film, lol.

  6. To Anon at 1045, the X53 for 27 September should appear on Traveline this week. It didn't make it last week as a large number of service changes for the 20th pushed it down my pile of work. The change for 30 August is just diverting a journey each way via Lytchett Minster School. Ken - Traveline Dorset