Monday, 10 April 2017

That's The Way To Do It! (1)

Three to Admire : D & G Bus
fbb is enormously grateful to Julian Peddle (JP) ...
... involved for many years in numerous bus operations in the UK. One of his current interests is High Peak Buses, based in Buxton, formed under the joint ownership of Trent and D & G. JP (a reader of this blog) was kind enough to forward to fbb mansions a selection of bus publicity. A bag of bus timetable books and leaflets brings a joy to the heart of fbb and a spring to the old man's arthritic step.

First out of the envelope were three booklets for D & G. The company has had an "interesting" history since being founded in 1998 by David Reeves and Gerald Henderson. JP bought Gerald Henderson's share of the business in 2006 after the original founder's untimely death.

But this blog is about now, not history and here are the front covers of the three booklets.
For those who, like fbb, are not 100% with it in this part of the UK, here is a thumbnail sketch of what happens where.

 North Staffordshire 
Think Stoke on Trent, home to First Potteries (remember the short lived "fruit" branding?) where D & G operates a mix of commercial and tendered services.
fbb is informed that Staffordshire Council have given up amending their network maps, so many of them are out of date. Yet another example of the desire of local authorities to encourage the use of public transport - NOT!

Because the book only contains D & G routes, the bus on the front is so lettered.

 East Cheshire 
This time we are in Crewe, Nantwich and Congleton. Here several routes and parts of routes are tendered by Cheshire East Council. Helpfully the booklet includes High Peak services in the area, so the front cover now has a High Peak bus peeping over the hill, top right.
Sweet. Note, for those seeking to economise in their artwork, that it is the same bus with the same driver but different livery applied. Not just sweet but neat!

This time we have routes mainly based on Stafford and Stone. There are no maps in the books; probably a wise move as some of the services are some distance apart and could hardly be called a "network"; but fbb is particularly entertained by the diagram for Stone's town services.
Maybe a few arrows to show which way round the loops the buses go might help; but, from timetables and map, your perspicacious blogger concludes that one bus ...
... chugs happily round the streets of Stone. It goes S1, S2 or S4, S3 and S5. Maybe it now has a newer bus than this one, with fleet number 110?
Fleet number 110 is now one of these ...
... based in Crewe.

The Mid-Staffs booklet contains timetables of three operators ...
... so we have an anonymous version of the bus on the front!

"Select Bus Services" is a name hitherto unknown to fbb. The company operates in the Wolverhampton and Stafford area on services tendered (or part tendered) by Staffordshire Council.
Three of the routes, 876, 877 and 878 look very mach like old Midland Red route numbers and in the last batch of Great Britain Bus Timetable data 876 and 878 are shown as being run by Arriva, Midland Red's successor in the area.
877 is shown as a Choice Travel tendered route.

The third operator, Midland Classic, will feature later n this series.

All things considered these are superb booklets.

Now a question which will be repeated (one way or another) after each of this short series of blogs. You may remember the pathetic reply that First in Sheffield sent to one of fbb's correspondents who queried the lack of printed timetable information.
So how can D & G manage it? Are they making more money that First in Sheffield? Or, perhaps, do they care more about their customers? Perhaps D & G would like more customers? And First Bus in Sheffield?

You do wonder.
Eight days, for the purposes of this blog!


Yeshua Ben Yusuf  has entered Jerusalem on a donkey amid shouts of praise and the scattering of palm leaves. Such a welcome would be reserved for a conquering king arriving in peace to take his rightful place on his rightful throne.

Get the message? The people who praised certainly did; but they were looking for a political or military solution to Roman occupation. But Yeshua's (Jesus') message was of a very different kingship and the need to deal with a very different problem.

Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, and said to them, “It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it a hideout for thieves!”
This was not the luvvy-duvvy Jesus that some would want; this was violence - with a whip!

fbb's Minister read a short "meditation" on this topic yesterday morning. Too long for a blog, so fbb will summarise.

If Jesus came to Seaton today
He would be welcomed as a star
Thousands would flock to hear him.

But he would need to be warned.
Stick to religion.
Don't interfere in politics
Or big business
Or our private lives.

If he chose to try to change these things ...
 Next Buxton blog : Tuesday 11th April 


  1. High Peak is NOT a joint venture between Trent & D&G but between Centrebus & Wellglade (owners of Trent but if you look at how Trent don't really acknowledge the existence of the sibling companies it seems an important distinction to them). Centrebus is now majority owned by Julian Peddle (Julian bought out the last two founding shareholders two years ago to gain control before that he was a large but minority shareholder), whereas D&G, Midland Classic & Select Bus still have control in the hands of their original founders (or some of them) with Julian Peddle having a minority stake which allows the companies to access his experience and connections to help develop the businesses.

    1. The front cover design you mention is actually a Centrebus design that was borrowed by D&G after first being used on the joint Macclesfield booklet. Not sure whether this cover will see much more use, Centrebus are starting to move to more personalised designs with recognisable local landmarks and in some cases more realistic cartoon buses that are recognisable as members of the fleet. It has been suggested that D&G may move back to using actual photos for the front cover art of their future books.

  2. A little bit of unintentional "market research" for you to ponder.
    Our major group subsidiary recently changed it's timetable for the frequent service through our town, which led to two contrasting conversations.
    At church a retired but not quite old enough for a Concessionary Pass person asked me "has the bus timetable changed? I see they've changed the board". (The roadside displays changed from a full timetable in corporate blue to a departure list in route branded green, so it was obviously different without the need to study it). I confirmed that there was indeed a new timetable, but still at the same frequency. "I better check the board then, I've got to go to the hospital next week".
    Whilst out a hike I mentioned the imminent timetable change to a 16 year old Sixth Form student who uses the service every day. "yeah, I've seen the posters on the bus, but I haven't checked the changes yet" and which point he whipped out his phone, went to the operator's website, saved in his favourites list, found the new timetable, checked his regular journeys and announced "not much different".
    The retired and the teenager, both important segments of the market for bus services, and neither mentioned a paper timetable. The operator concerned does produce publicity, and you'll usually find a supply of timetables and other relevant leaflets on board (an advantage of route specific/branded buses), but they don't seem to be important to actual users.
    OK, my sample is perhaps too small to be meaningful, but I'd suggest it has a degree of validity as they are real life examples, discovered just in the course of life without seeking to get an opinion.

  3. A bit of a general comment, but nonetheless germane . . . . . the bus stop timetable is useful to confirm previous researches; the interwebnet is useful for researching from a distance; the timetable booklet is useful if (1) access to the interwebnet is faulty or not available (not everyone has a smartiephone); (2) useful if a selection of journeys is being undertaken.

    My company (two commercial routes plus a contract for the local County) produces a timetable booklet for all timetable changes. 28 pages; full colour; includes maps and timetables and some fares information. The cost? For 10000 copies, including design and compilation . . . . just south of £2000, or 20p per copy. OK, the maps are extra, but only around £250 for initial cartography and similar for subsequent amendment as required.

    Was it not the great Barry Doe who opined "better to have 99 contracted routes and publicise them than 100 contracted routes and tell no-one about them!"

    What does Joe Public want from a timetable book? Bus Timetables! Maps would be good as well. Frankly, that's it, and if you keep it simple then the cost need not be great.

    If only . . . . .

  4. Thank you greenline727 for pointing out that electronic platforms complement print and vv. Bus stop displays reinforce the information. Maps should be compulsory so an intending passenger knows a bus actually runs to their chosen destination. Passengers seek confirmation at every step of the way.

  5. "Passengers seek confirmation at every step of the way" . . . . how true!
    I was in Shrewsbury on Saturday, needing to catch the 1620 on Route 511 to Whitchurch. The timetable near the stop confirmed 1620; the more general list of departures at the other end of the bus station showed 1605. The 1620 timetable showed June 2016 as the valid date; the 1605 timetable showed January 2017. I don't possess a smartiephone, so was unable to seek confirmation elsewhere, and there were no leaflets in the (otherwise) well supplied Bus Station office.
    The result? I hung around the stop from 1600 onwards just in case. The bus turned up at 1620 . . . a very pleasant ride out in spite of Shrewsbury being grid-locked with queuing traffic {apparently the Park and Ride buses are being chopped soon . . . not enough passengers!}
    The worst bit? Both timetables were maintained by Shropshire CC!!