Tuesday 2 May 2017

Hello - Mellow Yellow (1)

It reached number 8 in the UK charts in 1967. Aaah - the Sixties; those were the days! The joy and delight of the youth culture exploring bus services "oop north"! Very stimulating.

But back to today's privatised reality ...

Yellow Buses (Bournemouth Corporation as was) is now an offshoot of R√©gie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP - Paris "Corporation Transport") but has not (yet?) adopted Paris' livery or vehicle style.
In 2013, RATP ditched the network timetable book.
The information will instead be available in dedicated booklets for individual services, and on-line. The specially-tailored booklets will provide all the times, plus maps, details about where to board, and diagrams of the network.

They are easier to carry and passengers can collect the ones relevant to their journeys. The new system will save money and trees and will benefit the passengers of a modern public transport company.

Every effort has been made to keep passengers involved in the decision-making process and the company believes the majority of its customers will support the changes.

But they didn't.

So, with some revisions to the network over the bank holiday weekend, there comes a new timetable book. It is spiffing in (nearly) every way.
Thanks to the auspices of bus guru and chum Barry Doe, a copy dropped through the letterbox at fbb towers early last week.

It impressed immediately.
It is ⅓ A4 finished size, often called slimline, and Perfect Bound. For those unfamiliar with this term it means that the pages are glued to form a squared-off spine.
The unfortunate consequence of this necessary process is that, where material flows over two pages, stuff can get lost down the fold in the middle.
A little more thought is needed to create a "gutter" between the two halves of the map. Whilst looking at this map, fbb was somewhat mystified by this:-
What is 132 to Winton and Charminster? Is it a bus service?
The introductory pages tell us that the booklet includes ALL the company's timetables. And the clear index page does not mention a 132.

We will look in more detail at this Perfect Bound book (perhaps not entirely perfect in its contents) tomorrow, but, in the meantime, a matter for discussion or contemplation.

The Bournemouth book was available only one week before the timetable changes from a helpful and evident enquiry office near the main central departure points for the buses themselves.
Is that early enough?

The Weymouth book ...
... was only available one week AFTER its start date and then, apparently, only on buses. There are no enquiry offices and we all know that Tourist Information Centres are generally uninterested in giving out information for tourists.

The East Devon all-mode book was available in Axminster Station yesterday morning ...
... a month before its start date, although the changes are not substantial.

Also on display were South West Trains booklets for changes (again minimal) starting on 21st May.
The early finish date (4th August) reminds us that the horrendously disruptive rebuilding work at Waterloo is bearing down on the fearful passengers. In the middle of the disruption, the franchise passes into the capable (?) hands of First Group - so fun and frolic all round!!

You cannot help thinking that there is a better way to handle timetable changes; perhps with more co-ordination brokered (thus legally) by ALL the local authorities.

Meanwhile, and talking of Local Authorities, outside the station, the electronic unreal time displays were actually working. Yippee!
These are under the eagle eye of Devon County Council.

Of course, the X51 is still shown as going to "South Station", a destination of mystery to most passengers. But these working signs present us with just a small niggle.

Yesterday was a Bank Holiday.

885 and 4 (also 30, not due when fbb was there) do not run on Bank Holidays.

Yep, you've got it! The super swishy electronic stuff was showing normal Monday times. USELESS.

Fortunately, and by pure flukey co-incidence, the X51 and X53 run a largely "daily" schedule; so their times will have been right. But most definitely NOT right earlier in the day and at evening "peak".
Which does, of course, beg another question. How can First Weymouth manage a "Daily" service, but First Taunton (30), Stagecoach (4) and Axe Valley (885) keep their connecting buses hidden away in their little sheds,

SouthWest Trains was running a Saturday service and trains to Exeter and towards London at just after 1100 were as busy (if not busier) that a normal weekday. But, for most routes, bus connections did not exist.

Public Transport is a real MESS!

Tomorrow, back to the comparative sanity of Bournemouth's new book.

 Next Timetable blog : Wednesday 3rd May 


  1. There is a fine line between making information available in good time, and too early or too late. Too early, and Joe Public will ignore the start date and turn up at the wrong time (and, yes, it does happen; JP is that daft!).
    I reckon that two weeks prior to commencement is about right.

    In re Bank Holiday services . . . the X51 X52 X53 X54 group of services are firmly aimed at the tourist market, and as such BHM is a good day to run a comprehensive service.
    On other routes . . . if under normal circumstances it's not worth running a service on Sunday, then the same normally applies on a BHM.

    And finally, Esther . . . . fbb opines that it would be a good idea if local councils should have a responsibility in law to ensure timely publication of new times on buses and trains. However, in the next breath, he shows us the confusing information on the departure screens at Axminster Station . . . . operated by . . . . that's right, the local authority!!
    Great idea, but at most LTA's there's simply no-one interested any more.

  2. Andrew Kleissner2 May 2017 at 08:15

    Here in Cardiff the electronic displays where I live were completely useless as they showed the normal weekday service. However the ones in the city centre were correct, which I find puzzling. Neither however were doing the "countdown" to the next bus in minutes, although they had been a couple of days before.

    I did however notice on our local shelter that the printed departure display had been changed to the current version, which started on Sunday. This was commendable, especially as there had in fact been no change to our particular set of services (though there had been in lots of others). For weeks the video displays in the buses have been alerting passengers to coming changes, complete with a list of route numbers. I don't know about printed timetable leaflets.

    As for "when to publicise", I share greenline727's predicament from my experiences in church. When you announce things too early, people take no notice or say, "I'll get round to it"; when you announce them later, folk say, "I wish I'd known sooner, I'm already booked up for that day". You just can't win!