Thursday, 4 August 2016

A Tale of Two Cities (1)

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times
fbb got a bit of stick from a comment writer a day or so ago for "wanting to be back in the 50s", presumably referring back to the days when you could find out bus times for your journey (arrive and depart) easily from "timetable book" and sometimes even at the bus stop. Actually in 1959 fbb was 14 and had yet to develop his interest in all forms of public transport. Apart from a short burst of train spotting, the interest began in 1963 with his arrival in Sheffield for University.

So, by way of response, this blog interrupts the tale if Sheffield, Tinsley, the 69 and the X1 to contrast and compare the bus operator in two Cities.

They are Bristol and Sheffield; the "main" operator in both is First Bus and the key calendar page is September 4th in both communities.
In  Bristol , there are big changes to the long-standing routes 8 and 9, but fbb does not know when these routes actually started.

In  Sheffield  there are big changes to the long-standing routes 35 and 69. The 35 was a replacement for the Petre Street trams in the 1930s; and, as we saw in  yesterday's blog, the 69 took over from trams in late 1948.

In  Bristol  there was a leaflet for the existng service dated August 2015.

In  Sheffield  here is what has been readily available since November 2015.
To be fair, some information was available for the massive changes under the auspices of £the Sheffield Bus Partnership" but stocks soon ran out. 

In   Bristol  you could get a very nicely printed timetable ...
... which is still available as a full PDF leaflet to download. It also comess with an excelled map of the rather complex city centre.

In  Sheffield  you could, of course download the service 35 and 69 timetables from Travel South Yorkshire.
You would end up with a collection of 9 loose A4 pages to juggle with. The network map is excellent, although not always available and there is a map of the city centre showing all stops.
First does publish a few excellent route maps, as here shown (an extract only) for the 35; but none for the 69. Th 35 map did appear on a leaflet some days after the November 2015 change ...
... but is no longer available in printed form.

The   Bristol  route map is part of the leaflet as above. It is excellent.
 The route map on the  Sheffield  download isn't!
But the big network map is better ...
 ... although hard copies have been unavailable for some time. When fbb's gopher visited the Interchange and Arundel Gate offices a few weeks ago the racks were bereft of maps of any kind.

To be fair (again!) fbb does not know whether the leaflet for the 8 and 9 is still available or, indeed, how readily any printed material can be obtained. But when it was available, it was excellent and the on-line version has it all!

Finding infromation on First's web site can be a challenge.

In  Bristol  this appears under the "changes" heading:-
Those with a terrier like determination to find out what might be happening may come across this in the "news"section. fbb has expurgated the rather lengthy text.

Services 8 & 9 (Bristol Temple Meads – Clifton & Redland circulars): To improve reliability and to make the services easier to understand, the present pattern of two circular services is being replaced from September. Instead, service 8 and 9 will no longer be linked.

Service 8 (Bristol Temple Meads to Clifton & Bristol Zoo): Service 8 buses will run along a revised route in Clifton more frequently than now; they will operate between Bristol Temple Meads, the City Centre and Park Street and Clifton as now with a loop from Clifton Christchurch via Pembroke Road and Bristol Zoo.

Service 9 buses will operate independently of Service 8 buses. They will follow the same route as the present 9 from Temple Meads via Cotham, and Redland as far as the top of Blackboy Hill, then follow a clockwise loop via Whiteladies Road, St Pauls Road, Pembroke Road and Upper Belgrave Road. They will run every 30 minutes every day, evenings and public holidays.  With the 72 service there will be a joint 15-minute combined frequency between the Centre and Redland Station. 

Which is why you really do need a map.

In  Sheffield  this is what First Bus tells us about the changes.
 But Travel South Yorkshire is more informative.

But in   Bristol  First has already published its leaflet on-line with a month to go ...
... which will allow us to understand what is happening in considerable detail.

We shall do just that, tomorrow!

 Next 8/9 and Tinsley blog : Friday 5th August 


  1. And the Bristol leaflets are usually available at Temple Meads and Parkway railway stations.

  2. And yesterday the current leaflets were at the Bus Station and TIC (Bristol)

  3. What's your point though?

    I think everybody would agree that it would be nice to have an unending supply of paper leaflets but if you'd stop to look at the bigger picture you might see that local authority funding has been cut back every year for the past year. Something has to go eventually. Solution? Stop voting Tory.

  4. For an internet pedant/contrarian/wind up merchant it seems you have an incredibly thin skin.

    If you want to be 'controversial' then you've got to accept the inevitable flak you'll receive back.

  5. I was the person who mentioned the 1950's. My point was that there seems to be an automatic "hands in the air" reaction to change. A view that things were ALWAYS much better in the past; I wasn't there in the 50's but certainly recall the 70's and 80's and the halcyon days of PTEs and the NBC and it wasn't. Yes, you could get a bus timetable that covered entire counties but no good if it changed. Which they did.

    However, that aside, the splitting of the X6 blog was not about that. It was the inconvenience and malevolent approach of First. However, it was not even ventured that the change may well be beneficial or sensible. It wasn't well argued, considered or even fair.

    We don't expect some sort of Martyn Lewis style "good news bulletin" where everything is perennially sunny but the days of a fair balanced blog seem fewer these days.

  6. The provision of paper information should ALWAYS be the responsibility of the bus company. If they want us to use buses, they should tell us about them. Even if the service is tendered it is usually in the interests of the operator to carry more passengers.

    1. Normally I would agree. However....

      I've read the VPA and it states "The Executive will provide timetable leaflets for the services on behalf of the operators in a variety of formats to meet customer needs... " including "Printed timetable leaflets..."

      If they've all agreed SYPTE will do the leaflets, why should the operators?

  7. It is also good to see Travelwest has a 7 page change document for Bristol/South Glos up already. South Glos and BANES councils also list all their area changes for 4 Sept.

    First will probably post on line in the planned changes section a revised version of the press release nearer the time, from past experience.

    I like printed timetables as they work whether or not you have a phone signal and they form a history collection. Fortunately in the greater south west most routes have a paper timetable, but it is sometimes a question of where to get it from. As the bus companies become more monopolistic the councils can stand back from publicity.