Thursday 3 December 2015

More About Stagecoach and Timetables

The Plot Thickens
Clearly fbb is an unwelcome Stagecoach passenger because eveyone has to be young, female, cheerful and endowed with perfect teeth. fbb can manage "cheerful" (on a good day!) and that's is!

Admonished, yesterday, by a correspondent, because your inexperienced and technologically disadvantaged blogger had not "set his location", fbb decided to do just that. But always willing to have his mind enhanced by web based functionality, cynical sir decided to explore nationwide.

How about his former stamping ground, Crimicar Lane Sheffield ...
... which set the location to "Sheffield". Now it was necessary to enter a route number. 
Of course, fbb knew the route numbers to Crimicar Lane. On Monday to Friday the 120 runs every ten minutes and the 83A runs every 20 minutes. But what if he did not know? There was no list to consult so it was necessary to use the enquiry panel alongside.
And it doesn't like "Sheffield"!
What it really needed was "Sheffield, Sheffield"! Just plain daft. Just plain daft! But at least this silly name did give an answer ...
But lookee here, those that find this new web site "quite good". Where is service 120? It isn't there because although advertised jointly by the Sheffield Bus Partnership, Stagecoach buses do not run to Crimicar Lane during the day, except on Sundays.

If you do ask for the timetable, however, the PDF comes from the PTE and shown both operators.
5 out of 10 at best and, once again, Partnership, what Partnership?

Let's try another Stagecoach service in Sheffield, namely the 88 to Bents Green (every ten minutes)
It is hard to understand why "88" isn't an exact match for "88". But at least you go get a timetable.
But, as we have seen before, the route does not go to Bents Green.


Type in 31 (for which Stagecoach runs early morning, evening and Sunday journeys only) and, with your location set to "Sheffield" the wonder-site offers you some juicy South Yorkshire services ...
... to Sheffield districts of Lincoln and Sleaford and to a massively helpful service from Scunthorpe Bus Station to Scunthorpe Bus Station. Incidentally the latter 31 is a circular, as the timetable shows; but it might have been mildly sensible to add an outer destination.
Scunthorpe Ashby Frodingham as in the timetable heading would be almost helpful. But, no doubt, all this guff is derived from some database created automatically by a program written by some IT whizz-kid who has never ridden on a bus and has no idea what drivel his site is exporting.


So it would appear, yet again, that the super smashing swinging exciting (?) web site is extremely useful if you know what the answer is before you look it up. For speculative enquiries it is well-nigh useless.

And, of course, it only handle Stagecoach enquiries. This becomes horrifically obvious when you use the journey planner. Hillsborough to Firth Park in Sheffield takes you with Stagecoach (tram or bus) into Sheffield and back out again.
The journey time is significantly more than the direct 38 bus ...
... (run by First as part of the Non-Partnership), so in terms of time, Stagecoach is bad enough.

But when it comes to fares ...
... the price is ouch high.

And silly.

But there's more daftness. If you follow the links to "maps" what do you get? Answer; the PTE maps ...
... which show ALL Sheffield services, the majority of which are not available on the whizzo and exciting Stagecoach site.


And its not just Sheffield; fbb's church minister (a bit of a bus nut) confirm that to research a journey from Seaton to Brixham, perhaps downloading relevant timetables, he needs to set his location to East Devon, then Exeter, then Torbay.

Or, of course, he can plough through huge lists of Stagecoach service throughout UK.

The new Stagecoach site offers little advantage over the old one, which itself was not very good.

Try again chaps.
These days we hear a lot from those who wish to knock the Christian Faith. If there is a God, why doesn't he DO SOMETHING about the evil in the world. Back in the 6th century BC or thereabouts, the exiled Hebrews needed first to learn to "do things" the way God ordained if they wanted His help. Then, and only then, would they be fit to receive Emmanuel properly.

The 12th century hymn reminds its participants of that.
Time and time we see the consequences of "sad divisions". We see them at a very personal level, in our own erratic relationships with others and all the way up to international conflicts. In the end it's about accepting the moral authority of an eternal God.

We don't like that; neither would we like it if God were to DO SOMETHING every time we told a lie, every time we misused His name, every time we showed jealousy etc. etc. 

So the plan was to provide us with our personal King of Peace.

And that started about nine months before the first Christmas. With an angel!
         Next bus blog : Friday 4th December      


  1. "And its not just Sheffield; fbb's church minister (a bit of a bus nut) confirm that to research a journey from Seaton to Brixham, perhaps downloading relevant timetables, he needs to set his location to East Devon, then Exeter, then Torbay."

    No he doesn't - I managed with a few clicks to plan a journey between Seaton and Brixham (probably not a common journey) and had to only put in my location once. The site then gave me a journey suggestion which I could print off or download, from which there are links that will take you to the full timetable for the three services involved (52A, X64 & 12).

    All took less than one minute - very easy, efficient, and simple. But then when your modus operandi for a blog is to find things to criticise its not surprising that once again fbb is unhappy.

  2. Pantomime season reply. "Oh yes it is!" Minister chum was not journey planning, he was looking for timetables and not using the journey planner. The journey planner only works because, fortuitously, Stageocach do happen to run buses between the three. How would you manage if you didn't know that.

  3. Sorry fab, but if minister chum is simply looking for timetables it is still quick and easy to access the timetables without having to change location. There is no need to Change location from "East Devon, then Exeter, then Torbay" as the blog claims. The tools and information is there. It works perfectly fine for me - again perhaps you are looking too hard for problems...

  4. FBB you always make a point about the 88 going to Bents Green which is quite true. However, Stagecoach themselves actually register the service to end at Banner Cross and commence the return journey there. Drivers please themselves as to when they change destination but many 88s set off up Ringinglow Road showing Smithy Wood as the destination. Its the team in Barnsley who plan it this way and SYPTE are bound to produce timetables to the registration - doesn't matter how stupid or illogical it makes them.....

  5. And for another 88, set location to Bristol, and search 88. It returns 'Results for Gloucester', then gives four 88s, none of which serve Gloucester and two serve Bristol.

    And Ive given up trying to find the Belles Express anywhere...

  6. The new site is a really good try, and although it could be improved, its one of the better ones. The journey planner does work, but the choice of destinations it brings up is not perfect, but considering it is a new system and covers a significant chunk of the country, and unlike some of the others, presumably funded entirely by Stagecoach - I think its a very good starting point.

    The fares function is good - As far as I know, one of the very few bus operators to now tell you the price of a single A-B fare without having to ask on the bus, or call them up. Not sure if that will make it more attractive or put people off (local single fares are usually significantly more than somebody who hasnt used the bus for a few years might expect!)

    1. Ive always assumed one reason operators didn't show on bus fares on their websites was because they realised what a disincentive to travel they are, so Stagecoach are to be applauded for their bravery if nothing else. Having said that this feature needs a bit of work doing. From the city centre to my stop we have the choice of three services (by a common route). At the moment each service allegedly charges a different fare, varying from £1.30 to £2.40!

  7. I've tried many times, and it simply isn't necessary to set the location as you state: a simple choice of "Seaton, Devon" did the trick - in fact, I only found out how to use "East Devon" by accident (see below).

    I also got a quick result with the journey planner. Even if there was a timetable list (which I think there should be - simply because from an out of area perspective), you wouldn't be able to tell which bus you needed easily anyway for a journey involving two changes.

    I don't drive, so rely on the bus - if, to use your example, I didn't know if Stagecoach ran buses (or I didn't get a result), I would try the local council (Devon still have a half-decent timetable web presence), Travelline (it gives the basics), or just get in touch with the local tourist information centre (or council).

    "Sheffield, Sheffield" isn't as daft as it looks. It asks for "Street, Town or Postcode". How do you deal with "London Road" or "High Street"? You would need a second entry. Likewise, how do you deal with Gillingham (Kent and Devon) or Newport (South Wales/IoW). I have always assumed Seaton was Devon - until I tried running the search and found there is another one in Hartlepool. Not being aware of the precise local government of South Yorkshire, I imagine "Sheffield, South Yorkshire" would be more suitable. It is nothing more than needing a location and a larger-scale identifier - quite normal.

    The only way I found out how to set "East Devon" was by a postcode search in an area not served by Stagecoach, when it brought up the old-style area map. As soon as I changed that to one that was (Canterbury), it went straight in the local area. It seems hard to believe your minister would have had to do that if he lives in Seaton! Even if his postcode didn't drop straight in, I imagine his address might have worked - and been quicker!

    Finally, why would Stagecoach advertise a faster service run by a competitor? Does Tesco tell you Morrisons are selling something not-quite-the-same-but-might-be-better? No doubt you will answer "Partnership", but this is not a joint service in the sense of the word. Taking Oxford as an example, joint services are listed by both Stagecoach and OBC on the same corridors, but neither provide details for the others services when they are served alone (e.g. OBC don't have details of the X30, nor do Stagecoach have details of the 35... which I think has since become the X2). To get that information, the PTE website is the only correct place to be looking (in lieu of the local council).

    I have to agree with some of the other comments - it seems as though you are damned it to fail in looking for "errors" from the outset rather than critiquing it fairly.