Tuesday 16 August 2016

Boosting Buses in Bath - or Not? (1)

September 4th, start of the autumn term at school, is a popular time for bus service changes. We have already had a look at badly explained, badly publicised changes in Sheffield and well explained well publicised changes in Bristol. This week we move a few miles eastwards to take a look at Bath.

The fbb family paid a state visit to Bath many, many years ago, driving from the Isle of Wight. fbb remembers little of the trip except calling in to the Pump Room.
Sadly, the original and superb Bath Chairs were unavailable on the day of their visit. Now these were public transport of quality!
There were the Roan Baths to see, gently steaming ...
... but the highlight that stuck in the chubby one's memory was of "taking the waters".

The hot mineral waters in Bath are the only hot springs in England. Rain water from the Mendip Hills filters through an underground layer of limestone in the earth. Down, down it travels to about 14,000 feet, where by geological wonder it is then pushed back up through the earth along fissures and cracks in the limestone rock formations to the surface where it flows out into three springs, heated by the deep-level strata. Around 250,000 gallons flow from the earths surface every day, which the bath houses are built over. The water's earthy tone and taste account for the minerals that dissolve from the rocks as the water passes through it.

The "taking" took place in the posh restaurant, where a glass of the hard stuff could be purchased from a liveried flunky complete with wig, opulently embroidered tabard and white silk pantaloons. Later pictures show a snivelling serf performing the complex art of bathwater serving.
For the record, the H2O tasted very "flat", slightly flavoured with bad eggs and unpleasantly tepid. fbb felt no benefits other than a slight nausea which quickly passed. The rest of the family was, understandably, revolting/revolted by their tentative sips.

The gang had parked at the oddly named Odd Down Park and Ride. From memory (not always reliable) the parking was unimpressive, the bus a rather tired Olympian and the fare was £1.80 each for the adults and free for the kiddies. The fbbs were the only passengers on a mid morning run into the city.

Things have moved on since then. Two services run from Odd Down, one to the Hospital ...
... numbered 42. This interesting route runs every 30 minutes, Monday to Friday only ...
... but, between 0900 and 1600, divertes in to various housing areas for pre-booked passengers, thus taking on the role of a cheap taxi to the Hospital.

Neat idea, eh? The "pre-book" roads are shown in a lighter blue.  

The other, the "proper" park and ride to the city centre, has gone posh since fbb's historic visit.
The trendy logo also appears on buses ...
... and signs.
Parking is free and you pay for the bus. Fares are standard across all three P & R sites.
Odd Down is on the south of the City ...
... joined by Newbridge on the approaches from the west and from central Bristol.
The third site is north west.
Each route has a separate terminal loop in the city, which is probably a good thing as it should encourage the hesitant visitor to avoid catching the wrong bus.
The three routes are operated on behalf of the nattily named Bath and North East Somerset Council by First.
Obviously it is straightforward to get to Bath by train with a centrally placed station. There are good bus links for nearby towns; but, should you travel by car, the Park and Ride is strongly recommended as parking in the centre is fraught and financially frightening.

Tomorrow we take a look at the bus network, the more urban routes being in the hands of First. But other operators are there in some profusion, especially on inter-urban routes.
The fbbs are currently entertaining two grandsons (till Wednesday afternoon), No 3 son arrives on Wednesday morning to put the finishing touches to the GoSheffield App; and the old man and his Mrs are off on Holiday on Saturday for a week.

Retirement is great!

The quality of blogs may suffer due to "operational reasons".
 Next Bath bus blog : Wednesday 17th August 

1 comment:

  1. I do hope this will be a balanced piece and not just an exercise in knocking First.

    There are some cuts to some services such as the 4 to Bathampton and the 38 around Keynsham. Also, the 1 is split and there are renumberings to some services so that will attract FBB's ire.

    By the same token, the U2 is introduced whilst the 15/16 get a brush up with refurbished (albeit quite old) deckers. Somerbus's withdrawing of their 175 is now replaced by a new First service (though probably a defensive measure in all fairness) and the 172-4 getting a makeover too.

    The U1 is due new fleet (8 new deckers) joining a Bath fleet that has benefitted in the last 4 years with the U1 deckers joining 32 other new vehicles and a now reasonable age profile.

    I suspect that FBB will also highlight the removal of the circuitous 178/379 Bath-Radstock-Bristol services. From an outsider's perspective, that may seem retrograde. However, as anyone who uses the routes will tell you, the sight of seeing a 178 then a 173 then a 379 in quick succession points to the volatile Bristol traffic destroying any form of headway. A sensible move IMO

    Let's see what FBB has to say on the matter....