Wednesday 1 February 2017

Ashford's Astounding Announcement (2)

Dangerous Ground.
fbb made a reasonably successful career of talking with passion and enthusiasm about topics where he knew very little - he was a schoolteacher! But here things are more terrifying. This blog has already received two knowledgeable comments about Ashford, and fbb's accuracy nemesis, Man of Kent, will be poised to put the old man right.

So herewith an apology in advance. In the post that follows, your apprehensive author will only refer to stuff that he knows for nearly certain. Experts in the public transport of Ashford are, as always, welcome to add comments of correction or derision.

The last collapsing remains of the xephos database is our starting point (last partly updated c. 2006). The index shows a selection of longer distance (inter-urban) routes ...
... and a hotch-potch of local services numbered in a mix of single digits and 500s.
The third page of the index introduces "The A Line" ...
... the beginnings of a programme (?) of Ashford route branding. Its  success, as ever, is illustrated by an "A Line" bus ...
... on route 3! Plus Ça Change!

Later came the "B Line" as running in Ashford ..
 ... and the "C" Line on service in Hastings, naturally.
The xephos database was becoming unreliable in the mid 2000s so the above might not be 100% accurate.

Roll on ten years and much is the same, only operators and numbers have changed.

11 etc (Kent Coach Tours) to Lydd now Stagecoach
666 (Kingsman International) to Faversham now Stagecoach
297 (Arriva "Trans Weald") to Tenterden now Stagecoach 2
523 (Poynters etc) to Biddenden now Stagecoach 123
652 to Canterbury renumbered 1
525 Aldington is Kent Coach Tours 125
Almost all the local 500s have been subsumed into Stagecoach local services (some "village" 500s have vanished!) leaving just a route 113, also Kent Coach Tours.
This town route serves districts to the south of the town ...
... with plenty of cars and parking spaces, so possibly not the best "bus territory".
Maybe one day the 113 will be absorbed into an even bigger loop on route A? But, for now, everything else is part of the empire of Sir Brian the Bearded.

Following on from the earlier "A, B, C Lines" all Stagecoach town services are now lettered.
Ashford experts will doubtless know what happened to D and F and confused old codgers like fbb should know that what appears to the (in sequence) the capital letter "I" is actually the number "1".

It is to these town services and the changes due in a few weeks that we will turn tomorrow.

In the meantime, those who love to reminisce about the long routes that ran in Kent and Sussex in "the good old days" may like to rejoice in the fact the Stagecoach 1 and 2 operate "through" in Ashford ...
... so you can enjoy just over three hours of bus comfort (?) and delight (?) between Canterbury and Hastings.
And finally (for today!) Wikipedia Worshippers may like to muse on the full and frank review of Ashford's bus services in the article as headed below.
If you wonder what is written in the "Local" section, here it is.

In the 1970s the A292/A2042 Ashford Ring Road was created around the town centre and is well known for being popular with boy racers.
The Ring Road was conceived to relieve traffic congestion along the previous main thoroughfare through the town centre, the narrow East Hill. There is work under way to convert the Ring Road to two-way operation to minimise the "race track" feel and help bring the isolated town centre back into the rest of the area. There are plans for a fast link between the town centre and the suburbs and main amenities, creating an alternative to the car called "SMARTLINK".

Oh, goody!

All references to Smartlink have vanished from Kent County Council's web site, but the proposal (of ten years ago!) was for three dedicated "high quality" bus routes.
They are loosely based on current routes C (south east), E (north) and G (south-ish) but extended into areas of future development. Smartlink was due to start in 2012.

Don't hold your breath!

 Next Ashford blog : Thursday 2nd February 


  1. Yes, the Xephos data is very much out of date - too much to go into detail here. With your later list, the Ashford - Tenderden leg of the 297 (it extends to Tunbridge Wells) reverted to it's original 295 number and became Stagecoach 2A via Woodchurch; Stagecoach 2 runs via Bethersden and used to be the 400.

    The 113 only runs hourly and is a KCC tendered route, having lost it's Saturday service some time ago.

    As for the lettered routes, the D used to be a shuttle between the Town Centre and the Ashford Designer Outlet centre. There has never been a route F.

  2. Thanks Darryl. Your input is much appreciated.