Thursday, 19 May 2016

Secretive Somerset Service Shuffle [2]

Who Will Reveal the Truth?
Trying to make sense of changes that have already happened, fbb is looking at the "Somerset" pages in First's "national" web site, the dedicated Buses of Somerset pages having vanished. Surely the company will have provided details on its "news and updates" pages?
Here is a note about First's replacements services for the collapsed Webberbus. The only other piece of news is either prophetic or belated. It was on 31st July 2015 that First announce the award of the contract for Hinkley Point transport. Snag! There is no news yet that the nuclear power station will be built!

But no news about the changes which would appear to have already happened.
Perhaps fbb simply missed the "exciting" news about Buses of Somerset developments. But wait a minute. In the weed encrusted depths of fbb's memory lurked an inkling of a thought.
Was not there a bus service numbered 377 from Yeovil to Wells?
It was operated by First Bristol, Bath and North Somerset. Maybe the 77 is similar?
What does the Bath and Bristol web site say about it?
Please find below details of Service Changes taking place between First West of England services and Buses of Somerset services on 8 May 2016.

NEW SERVICE 20 - Weston-super-Mare - Burnham-on-Sea
Current Buses of Somerset service 21 (W-s-M - Taunton) will now terminate in Burnham-on-Sea and First West of England will operate New Service 20 between Weston-super-Mare & Burnham-on-Sea. In addition Service 20 will serve Burnham Holiday Village and Uphill. 

Service 21 - Burnham-on-Sea - Taunton 
Buses of Somerset will run this service onwards to Taunton

NEW SERVICE - 55 Wells-Somerton-Taunton
A brand new additional Buses of Somerset service, providing hourly buses for journeys on this route

NEW SERVICE - 73 Woolavington – Bridgwater
A new Buses of Somerset service, operating via Puriton, replacing this section of Service 375, with more buses, running up to every 30 minutes.

NEW SERVICE - 77 Wells – Yeovil
This new Buses of Somerset service will operate on a similar route at roughly the same times as current First West of England Service 377, every hour.

Service 375 Wells – Bridgwater
This service will be withdrawn and partly replaced by new Service 73 as noted above (Woolavington – Bridgwater). There will be no replacement service for the villages of Ashcott or Catcott – the withdrawal of the 375 follows a significant decline in the number of customers using the service. Another bus operator, WebberBus, will provide alternative facilities, connecting the Polden Villages to Wells.

Although the 375 service linked two Buses of Somerset destinations, it never appeared in the timetable. Would a few extra people have used it if First had bothered to tell anyone in the area that it was running|?

Service 377 Wells - Yeovil
This service will be withdrawn and replaced by Service 77 (see above)

Most of this information is only of relevance to the Somerset area but none of it appears on the green apples web site.

How strange?

But, undaunted, fbb returns to the Buses of Somerset site to see what has happened to the route between Burnham on Sea and Weston super Mud. It is now service 20.
But although it is there on the map, and although it replaces a former through link ...
... the timetable remains a state secret because it is operated by those nasty people up there in Brizzle; it's nothing to do with Somerset m'dear.

Oh dear!

But the non-Somerset site does offer some real good news about fares in Somerset. It would seem that, now most buses between Wells and Street are Somerset operated, the juicy apples fare structure now applies. Thus there are reductions!

Between Wells, Glastonbury and Street First West of England and Buses of Somerset will be providing a combined service, up to four buses an hour with common ticketing which will offer many customers reductions in their current ticket price.

Single between Wells and Glastonbury – cut to £2 (from £2.50)

Single between Wells and Street – cut to £3 (from £3.50)

A special Day Ticket at £4 valid between Wells, Glastonbury & Street will be introduced for use on Services 73, 77 and Mendip Xplorer 376.

But service 73 doesn't run between Wells and Street, does it? Do they mean 55?
Furthermore Buses of Somerset week ticket, at £15, will be valid on First West of England buses between Wells, Glastonbury and Street.

Alex Carter, Managing Director of the Buses of Somerset, said: "We are very pleased to be able to offer these three additional services as part of our growing network in Somerset.  We are also very keen to ensure that customers wanting to make through journeys on services operated by us and First West of England received excellent value for money. We hope the new ticket prices we are offering will encourage more people to consider using these bus services as their preferred means of travel."

But you don't say anything about through fares/through booking on the 20 from Burnham to Weston. Will that be "excellent value for money", Alex?

Whichever way you look at it, it's a complete shambles.

Very poor indeed.

Never mind, eh? There is always the excellent and much promoted First Bus app. All fbb has to do is to set his area to "Somerset" ...
... and select his required Somerset timetable.
Dear Mr First Bus, fbb does not want to be picky (oh, yes he does!) but he thinks that Penzance, Truro, Falmouth, Helston and Lands End ...
... are not in Somerset. Guess which county they are in?
Maybe that's is a too-difficult clue as part of it is in a foreign language. Well, the county's name is an anagram of WORN CALL.

Hasn't this First Bus app dottiness happened before?

P.S. Yesterday Mr Morgan Huws added a comment which sort of insisted that corporate First was always the intention for Kernow and Somerset "independent" web sites. Apart from the fact that it certainly wasn't for Somerset according to the publicity at the time of the launch, the contention that it all needs to be in one site to drive the First Bus app (etc) is not borne out by fact.

Here is part of the list of services from the "Cornwall" Timetables section in the app.
Note there are two 584s and three 595s, these being services recently taken over from Stagecoach.

And here is the list of timetables from the "corporate" Kernow web site.
Spot the 584 and the 595. Of course, there are timetables for the 95 and 96 which seem to serve the same places as the missing route numbers.
Any connection?

Yet another of the benefits of a corporate web site - and the 584s and 595s (all five of them) operate in Somerset as well!

 Next bus station blog : Friday 20th May 


  1. You will appreciate that what you print in a timetable book deserves to be different to what you see online. The Buses of Somerset timetable book has always been different to the website. In particular the school / college part time journeys are left off the printed version as confusing, but the students concerned are addressed in different ways. However the web map is the one from the printed book. So for example you don't find the 15 on the map, but you do find the 20. The printed book matches its map and so no 15 timetable, but you do get the 20. The website using the printed map leads to differences.

    The lack of a news item on the Buses of Somerset 8th May changes, does not therefore point the user to the location of new information. How do you now get to Taunton hospital as the 21 and 54 don't go there anymore? The town map shows the new 9 shuttle buses.

  2. The 8 May service change information published on the First West of England web site was also replicated in full on the former non-corporate Buses Of Somerset web site which has now been closed. Buses of Somerset need to explain why the 8 May service change information was not also published on the new corporate web site, but that a press release dated 31 July 2015 was transferred - bizarre!