Sunday, 10 January 2016

Baffling Bristol and Bath Bargains

A while back, fbb reported on the First Bus "January Sales" promotion. Press releases were euphoric that this was the very first time a bus company had a specal deal all over the country.

But the small print revealed it wasn't. True, there were January Offers from all First Bus areas but they were different depending on where you lived.

But you might expect that a company branding itself as "Bristol Bath and the West" might manage something covering the whole area? Don't be so silly. Log on to the web site and one of the huge graphics on the home screen looks encouraging.
But less so when you read "only on M-tickerts."  For which you need an "App" ...
... and, especially if you are fbb, some guidance.
OK, so how does it work?
To encourage us to follow this procedure, the prices seem competitive with the bonus of two extra journeys per ticket bought.
So far, so good. How do the zones work?

This is a bit of a mystery. But fear not; if you are really perspicacious you might work out that the zones are displayed as "maps" and you need to go to ...
... another place. Alternatively, you might be baffled as to why there isn't any detail of the zones accompanying the ticket prices. No matter, here is a chunk of the Bath zones map.
The outer zone just reaches Bristol Bus Station and, although you can trek to such delights as Marshfield, Frome and Midsomer Norton, don't try to to use the ticket just one stop west of Bristol Bus Station - so no dice for a ride between the Universities of Bath and Bristol, for example.

What happens if you are in Bristol?
In an outburst of conviviality between two parts of the same First company, Bristol's outer zone just reaches Bath Bus Station.

Which means that your Bristol 12 for 10 offer would give you the same fare between the two.

Only there isn't one! 
In fact, at a cursory glance, fbb could not find any on-line evidence of a cut price January deal in Brizzle. While Bath sizzles, Brizzle fizzles.

The lack of consistency does, however, present the passenger with some mental anguish as outlined by Paul, our Bristol correspondent.

Follow Up to First Festive Follow Up Fares Fling

The National campaign is odd around here, it is 12 singles for the price of 10, but only in the Bath Inner & Outer zones. So in the biggest market (Bristol), only about half the network is covered, and only then if you are buying the more expensive singles, that would get you to Bath.

So if you want to travel from, say, Bristol Bus Station to Bath Bus Station, you have the following choices:

10 journey Bath Outer Zone mTIcket for £24,
but on offer you get 12 journeys (£2 each).

10 journey Bristol Outer Zone mTicket for £24
but no offer (£2.40 each).

10 journey Bath Outer Zone Buy-on-bus
but no offer for £27 (£2.70 each)

10 journey Bristol Outer Zone Buy-on-bus
but no offer for £27 (£2.70 each)

Buy one single ticket on the bus (£4.50)

It's a good, clear-cut, well explained national deal - NOT. 
Shipping Lanes
When in Hemel Hempstead recently (as per previous blog) our increasingly roving (raving?) Northampton correspondent snapped this vehicle.
A ubiquitous Dart on a Hemel Hempstead local service.
As well as serving Hemel Hempstead 13 times in a typically potty Hertfordshire timetable style, it also goes to Boxmoor which, of course, is part of greater Hemel Hempstead.

For livery experts, the origin of the vehicle is easy; it comes from Peter Shipp's East Yorkshire company. Lanes Coaches would appear to run the H11 commercially on Mondays to Fridays, whilst Red Rose operates a similar timetable on tender to Hertfordshire on Saturdays.

The route does a quick nip round Boxmoor ...
... reminding fbb that the station used to be called "Hemel Hempstead and Boxmoor" and even longer ago, "Boxmoor and Hemel Hempstead".

The H11 then trundles southbound to its terminus at Chambersbury Lane ...
... helpfully labelled Nash Mills on the official map.

Why did this unassuming and very "ordinary" vehicle attract the attention of our reporter? 

Because it carries two sets of  "legal lettering" ...
... which is, of course, illegal!
 Next bus blog : Monday 11th January 


  1. What are the requirements around legal lettering? First buses in London used to display "First Group PLC", a body which did not hold an O-licence.
    And is there anything to state that only one set has to be displayed?

  2. As far as I am aware, the legal lettering must show the "owner" (or, presumably, the lessee) of the vehicle. These things do change and I have been away from bus operation for a long time. Presumably IF the vehicle is jointly owned, both names would have to appear.
    I do remember being told off severely by our local DfT vehicle examiner because mud was obscuring part of the legal lettering and that was a definite test failure. Brushing the crud off with my cuff resolved the issue.

  3. I think it has to show the formal contact address for the owner, which is usually the O licence address. In the case of First London & Berkshire, the address was correct. I'm not sure how important the actual company name is. eg, Arriva just uses "Arriva London" which is not a company.