Saturday 30 April 2016

Technology Traumas

Three Chairs : Hip, Hip Hooray!
Or maybe four? Mrs fbb had a whim. The Bible Study held at fbb mansions has attracted a "gate" of up to 12, thus extra chairs are needed. Four folding chairs are available ...
... but they are not popular with people or their posteriors. So, decided the spouse, let us purchase two folding "director" chairs suitable for the "more ample" form.
It was Tesco Direct that could deliver the twosome (£30 each, total £60) to the local store and thus, summoned by email, Mrs fbb nipped automotively to collect.
Upon opening the first box, there appeared TWO chairs. The text on the box only referred to "chair" singular. The second box was left unopened whilst much fervent email searching was set in motion. Has Mrs fbb ordered one box twive by way of an over enthusiastic clicking? If so, had she paid £120?

The young girl at the end of the Customer Service phone was less than "au fait" with the problem but offered a £10 reduction by way of compensation as the price had been reduced to £50 since the original order wended its way over the airwaves.

Being of an honest disposition Mrs fbb returned the unopened box of two to the store.

Conclusion. Tesco have been inadvertently selling two chairs for the price of one because they did not know what was in the box. No wonder profts have been down!

"Caveat Venditor" as they very rarely say!

Axminster Station

You don't think of humble Axminster Station as a hot-bed of high-tech technological "stuff"; most people buy their tickets from the man at the window or, if that facility is closed, from and equally helpful man on the train.

Some us the self service ticket machine at the front of the station ...
... which also sells car park tickets. That is good because yestrday the car park machine was busted - again!
fbb has never seen anyone using the smart card reader.
Or should that be dullcard reader. Compared with, say, Oyster, Southwest Trains's piece of plastic ...
... is nothing more that a piece of plastic. You load your ticket on-line or at a station machine and it becomes a plastic version of the standard card jobbie. No discounts, no bargain "cap", unusable in the London Travelcard area and not available between Axminster and Exeter. Click on the screenshot below to take in the huge benefits.
But Axminster has gained another technological box.
It is located just outside the Gents (and Ladies); it has a bright red light on it; the keypad says it is ready ...
... but a sticky label says that it isn't.
What it doesn't do is take cash - cards only. 

According to the company's publicity, these will allow the user to speak to a real person (at Basingstoke) for help with buying a ticket. Now that wouldn't be part of a plan to remove the man from the ticket office, indeed remove the ticket office, would it?

Of course not, says SouthWest Trains.

Well not yet, anyway; says fbb! Beware!

Bicycle Bonanza

Not really technology but just an observation. Here is Axminster Station's bike rack photographed at 1600 yesterday.
It was occupied by one push-bike and one motorbike. Just behind the fence in the background is the new bike rack.
It is double deck with bike gutters which tip and slide bikes into a high level as well as for normal platform-level storage. fbb counted over 30 bike slots.
Who is paying for this over-provision? Well it's an "initiative" from the department of transport; so we taxpayers (presumably) are footing the bill, not Southwest Trains. fbb had nothing against cyclists, far from it; but instead of over-the-top bike racks, how about keeping the toilets open for longer?

Or even shell out a few pence on an up-to-date onward travel poster?

 Next Ferry blog (plus) : Sunday 1st April 

Friday 29 April 2016

Rossington Route Revolution Part 2

From Bogs to By-Passes
One of the earliest references to Potteric Carr comes from the itinerary of Leland c.1540: "Before I came to the town, I passed the ford of a brooke, which, as I remember is called Rossington Bridge. The soil about Doncaster hath very good meadow, corn and some wood". As Leland travelled into Doncaster from Bawtry, he passed through a landscape unfamiliar to us today. Sherwood forest then extended to the very boundaries of Doncaster and venerable oaks dotted the landscape from Bawtry to Hatfield. To the west of the road from Rossington Bridge into Doncaster, Leland passed the "largely impenetrable morass of bog and fen known locally as Potteric Carr"

The bogs proved a good place to run railway lines and there plenty of them. Indeed most of the junctions remain but with much of the "clutter" rastionalised. There are still plenty of sidings, however.
But now we have an M18 (bottom) and a huge nature reserve.
Junction 1 to Junction 2 opened in 1967
Junction 5 to Junction 6 opened in 1972
Junction 6 to Junction 7 opened in 1975
Junction 4 to Junction 5 opened in 1977
Junction 2 to Junction 4 opened in 1979

The M18 was originally intended to be part of the M1, but it was decided to send the M1 via Leeds hence the bit to Donny became the M18.

The traditional route of the 55 buses to Rossingtonm was via the former A1 (now the A638) the with a right turn at Rossington Bridge, which souds like a pleasant bucolic coutry junction ...
... the view of which can be better enjoyed by clicking on the photo to enlarge it.

The current service runs every ten minutes Monday to Saturday ...
... and every 20 on Sundays.

Then along comes FARRRS (with three Rs!). That is the Finningley and Rossington Regenerations Route Scheme which, one day in the future, will become a fast link from junction 3 on the M18 (aka Potteric Carr) to the Airport ...
... but pro tem ends at the A638 near Rossington Bridge. But it does provide a new link into New Rossington. It runs from the end of West End Lane through the site of Rossington Colliery.
It is all so new that Google Streetview has never ventured there; it remains a shadowy line on the serial view ...
... linking to an equally shadowy roundabout on the new road.

Now for the cunning plan thought up by First Bus (most likely), The Doncaster Bus Partnership (possibly) or the PTE (very UNlikely).

From May 15th, Rossington buses will run as circulars; out via Rossington Bridge and back via Potteric Carr as 55 and in the reverse direction as 56.
And now for the good news! Each route runs every 15 minutes Monday to Saturday; here the 55
... and here the 56
They both run every 30 minutes on Sundays.

If fbb's maths is better than usual, that means the frequencies to an arbitrary mid-point are INCREASED from every ten to every 7/8 minutes.
At last a real tangible benefit from the Doncaster Bus Partnership. There will be dancing in the streets of Rossington from Sunday 15th May.
And a further celebration for the return of an old route number which existed before the PTE renumbering.
Happy days!

 Next bus/rail blog : Saturday 30th April 

Thursday 28 April 2016

Buses Bonny in Yorkshire's Donny? [2 try again]

More Service Improvements??????
The first part of this blog was originally published on Tuesday last, but was curtailed when the Travel South Yorkshire web site decided not to give forth its collection of timetables.

Although, to be fair, the pre-partnership publicity was less effusive about service improvements, focusing on nebulous "benefits" and "pie-in-the-sky" access to Government funding. There was also more talk of "matching services to demand", a typical euphemism for cuts.
In 2011, one of First's other incursions into Stagecoach territory was on the route to Scawsby. In 1985, the 189 was up to every 12 minutes.
As a resul of First's 2011 attack, their route 41 ran every 20 minutes ...
... shadowing Stagecoach's 42, also every 20 minutes.
The services terminate at the turning circle complete with blue shelter ...
... which was replaced by a new version between noddy car visits.
But six buses an hour was too much and, subsequently common sense prevailed and the competitors reduced their services to half hourly. Not only that, but they are evenly spaced around the clock face.

Here is is First's reduced 41 ...
... and Stagecoach's reduced 42.
Thus competition is continued but in a non-competitive sort of way. Of course there has been no collusion between the operators. Of course there hasn't, really, honestly, there hasn't.

The service has dropped from every 10 to every 15 minutes until along comes the Doncaster Bus Partnership, bringing with it huge benefits for the excited Doncastrians.

Stagecoach 42 disappears in a puff of exhaust smoke and First increases to a bus every 20 minutes.
Cheers resound on the streets of Scawsby and Cusworth.
Rossington Route Revolution
The village (maybe more appropriately deemed a suburb of Doncaster), is split neatly in two by the East Coast railway line.
Travelling eastwards towards the old A1 you will pass through the original Rossington. There isn't much left of what was little more than a hamlet.
The rebuilt and widened road west from the church leads past the site of Rossington railway station,
The regular passenger service ceased in 1956 although occasional excursion trains continued to call in the early sixties.
But here we are in New Rossington, a large residential area which developed round the colliery opened in about 1914.
As the village developed, so did the bus services with several independent companies running jointly with Doncaster Corporation.
Leon Motors and Rossie were joined by Blue Ensign.
The service was numbered 155 under the PTE's county-wide scheme, since abandoned. and operators were progressively bought out leading, ultimately, to First Bus as sole provider of the 55 service.
With very minor adjustments, the Rossington route has not changed over the years, running direct via the old A1 to Rossington Bridge then via the old village and into the estates that make up the new. What variations that have occurred have been to serve extra bits of more modern development.
At first glance you would think that there wasn't much that "The Partnership" could do to improve/ruin the service.

But you would be wrong; as we shall see tomorrow.

 Next Rossington blog : Friday 29th April 

Wednesday 27 April 2016

What Fun! The One, The One2 ...

... and The OneOne2 too.
From our Bristol correspondent
With Travel South Yorkshire still declining to deliver any timetables fbb's investigation of the provisions of the Doncaster Bus Partnership must be further postponed. But the good news is that Computer SWAT team, in the person of No 3 son, arrived at fbb towers at 2300 on Monday night equipped with all that was necessary to mend the lap top.
Windoze 10 has been successfully installed after fbb's collection of "stuff" had been backed up. Thanks, son, for travelling all the way from Shoreham-by-Sea to help the old codgers!

South Yorkshire timetables have now re-appeared but too late for today's blog.

Even more effusive thanks to Paul from Brizzle who chose to investigate the changes to Wessex Star's  service competing head to head with First Bus. The change was referred to in last Friday's blog (read again) but took place on Monday.

Or did it? Paul writes:-

Traveline and associated service give a commencement date as (typically) Sunday ...
... but Wessex's own publicity said it started on Monday.
Indeed, there was no sign of it on Sunday"

Public Transport information is so reliable.

Then, of course, we need to know where it goes. There are departure lists at the bus stops; one for First's 2 ...
... and one for Wessex Bristol's One2 too.
But as Paul points out, the route descriptions for the two services (which are the same until just short of Southmead Hospital) are different. He continues:-

However, the problem that fbb has highlighted from time to time (?) appears on the common section of the route. First's 2 is shown in the timetable frames as going via Northumbria Drive and Lake Road.
But the Wessex banner offers Northumbria Road, Doreset Road and Whiteleaze. And, yes, it IS the same route exactly!
The order of the stops in question is Northumbria Drive, Henleaze Road, Dorest Road, Lake Road and Whiteleaze.

Consistency might help the public.

The vehicles have been rebranded (despite fbb's contention that they wouldn't be) with graphics for both services. The result is a bit odd unless you know what is happening.
Interestingly, thedestinations Henbury and Westbury-on-Trym are in the wrong order. Whoops.
Despite this misleading matter, the buses look good.
But then there comes the problem of where the buses are going. Where is the terminus? Is it here, outside the hospital?
Or here, one stop further down the road and NOT outside the hospital but outside Lidl (skulking behind the No 76).
Paul has attempted to unravel the problem.

The leaflet timetable shows the terminus as "Southmead Hospital, Southmead Road, which is presumably the "Hospital" stop pictured above.

But it is not marked on the leaflet map!

The map shows the terminus as Southmead Hospital Lidl ...
... but the stop does not give access to the Hospital and might involve turning via a hopelessly impractical double roundabout. This is called Greenfield Road by Traveline.
The Wessex web site timetable has this stop as Southmead Road Pen Park Road but it isn't the terminus.
The web site shows a terminus beyond the above called Greystoke Avenue (which Traveline calls Arnside Road, and which is different from Traveline's Greystoke Avenue).

Pass the tranquilisers, please.

This stop is located on the leaflet map's dotted line roughly where "Southmead coming soon" is printed. It has a lovely big layby right outside the parade ...
... known locally as Arnside shops!

The Wessex web "system map" (dated 2nd November 2015!!) ...
---. shows buses running via Lidl on a dotted line to Arnside Road terminus.
But at least there is a warning.
Yet again a superb example of how to make public transport attractive to passengers.

It makes fbb glad he lives in the comparative omnibological tranquility of Seaton; there aren't that many roads available so, depite changes this May, it remains relatively simple.
Today, First Bus has announced its next order for new buses.
In simple terms an investment of £70 million in 305 vehicles.
The top item, ten coaches, looks intriguing.
 Next bus blog : Thursday 28th April