Monday, 30 November 2015

East Bank Bus Bosses Encounter

The Second Battle of El Alamein (23 October to 11 November 1942) took place near the Egyptian railway halt of El Alamein.
With the Allies victorious, it marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery had taken command of the British Eighth Army from General Claude Auchinleck. This victory turned the tide in the North African Campaign and revived the morale of the Allies, being the first major offensive against the Axis since the start of the European war in 1939 in which the Western Allies had achieved a decisive victory.
It brought a particularly Churchillian sound bite:- "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Winnie's wise words might well be a basis for the outcome of fbb's meeting with the Sheffield Bus Partnership publicity team last week. fbb's relationship with such groups means that details must be confidential until any public announcement is made. 

The meeting took place at Olive Grove depot, formerly East Bank Bus Garage ...
... one of three new-builds to accommodate tram-replacement buses. The other two were on Herries Road at Wadsley Bridge ...
... and Greenland Road at Darnall.
These joined Townhead ...
... and Leadmill both on the fringes of the city centre ...
... and both adapted from tram sheds. Of these five, Herries is a warehouse, Leadmill remains in light industrial use in part, Townhead and Greenland have been demolished and First Bus retains only East Bank. Many Sheffield services are worked from the extensive Midland Road depot in Rotherham.

But back to the meeting.

There had been agreement all-round, fbb understands, between operators, consultants and politicians that the Partnership's November revolution was necessary commercially to create a network in the city that makes enough money to justify investment in new vehicles with the now essential wifi stuff, posh seats and other luxuries like engines. There is grudging acceptance that the implementation of the scheme left a lot to be desired, particularly as far as publicity (or lack of it) was concerned. Suggesting that bus service cuts were an "improvement" was undoubtedly an own goal.

The local press, doing its job in printing the worst news rather than the best, is still ready to print derogatory letters, this one from a week ago.

What did you expect? Who seriously believed the Sheffield Bus Partnership, (SBP), when they said they’d been “working together to improve your bus travel”. And just who are the SBP? My heart sank when I read that the discredited First bus company, was one of the participating organisations, and it all became crystal clear. Especially when other partners were revealed to be Sheffield City Council, (surely the Wiggy Bobs of town hall politics), and the insipid SYPTE.

But, prejudices aside, at least they were supposedly working together.

For whom? Not for me or other people at Wisewood or Loxley, that’s for sure. And definitely not for the 5,000 incensed passengers who signed the petition to reverse the vindictive changes.

The SYPTE wants people to complain to the SBP. Don’t! There was never an initial consultation document in the first place. Rather it was an imposition borne of misleading information.
But fbb's observations during last week's visit suggest that the vast majority of Sheffielders have coped well with the changes (although many of them have no choice - car ownership is not as high as in some cities).

And there is a real deep-seated desire to "get it sorted". Horrific road works as part of the "Streets Ahead" project (Streets Chaos project?) have been making things very difficult on some routes. Likewise the annual Yorkshire Water "Digging Up West Street" Christmas show is in full swing.

These are due to end on December 13th, so things can only improve thereafter, we are told.
Emergency registrations are now with the Traffic Commissioners for implementation from 3rd January. These are designed to do some "firefighting". fbb wonders how they will be publicised.

But then what? fbb's lips are sealed, mainly because no major decisions will be taken until the road works are clear. But there are hopeful rumblings of improved publicity (don't hold your breath; although it couldn't get much worse!)

When fbb ran a catering team for childrens' summer camps, a "wise word" in the staff manual said, "treat the local butcher with polite suspicion." We are at the stage of treating the publicity team with "polite suspicion".

Maybe, just maybe, the Partnership will begin to accept the dictionary definition of the word?

A relationship between individuals or groups that is characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility, as for the achievement of a specified goal. (Running buses efficiently?)

A business entity in which two or more co-owners contribute resources, share in profits and losses, and are individually liable for the entity's actions. (and for sorting out the mess?)

If the "Partnership" can be tweaked into working properly, or maybe beaten with a huge stick until it does, then things really can only get better.

We can but dream.
Or will it be a nightmare.
Our Northampton correspondent writes:-

I am told, by what the press would call "an informed source", that the new Stagecoach website "might" go live this week to be followed by an "app".

All this and Christmas too!
 Next bus blog : Tuesday 1st December 

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