Wednesday 12 July 2017

Not Fair? Where? Ayr? (Part 4)

More Like A Bus-Mageddon?
The Daily Record coined the term when referring to "proposed" changes in South Ayrshire upon which Stagecoach is "consulting". Yesterday's blog looked at Ayr town routes an concluded that most of the "scything" was relatively low-key with only one group of two services suffering a major cut back.

But for the interurban services it is  very different matter. The map below summarises the current network. (click on the map for an enlargement)
Solid lines represent a bus every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday, dashed lines show and hourly service. Grey lines indicate services that have no change of frequency from the 13th August, the start of the Autumn school term in bonny Scotland.

58 and 50, diverted in Ayr and away from Culzean were covered in Part 2 (read again) but retain their combined half hourly frequency as far as Girvan.

52 has been a bone of contention since changes in June and featured, in passing, in Part 1 (read again) but remains half hourly to Dalmellington.

Service 4, the traditional all-stops route into Glasgow ...
... and the prestigious motorway X77 ...
... also to the capital city, are both unchanged each offering a bus or coach every 30 minutes.

So to the areas where cuts are "proposed" but will, of course happen despite the "consultation"!

 Service 14 
Currently this runs every half hour between Ayr and Irvine.
Alternate journeys divert to different locations and, in the traditional past, the service would have warranted two numbers, but not so in today's unhelpful thinking.
They are all 14s/

Under the plan, these will continue to run every 30 between Ayr and Barassie ...
... but an as yet unnumbered hourly route with provide a totally separate link between Troon and Irvine.

Next, we need to examine the complicated set of routes to the east of the town.
 Service 42 
This runs every 30 between Ayr and Cumnock via Drongan. The link between Cumnock and Muirkirk is hourly with a connecting through bus (!!) for most of the day, but a connecting non-through bus in the evenings.
Peak hour X42s omit Drongan and the evening Muirkirk non-through connecting buses are numbered 42.

Under the cut-back plan the half hourly frequency will only run to Drongan, anything beyond that is scythed to once an hour. Map to follow below.

 Service 43 
Currently every 30 all the way, a similar chop is applied here.
This time, Tarbolton is the limit of the "every 30 minutes".

 Service 43A 
Currently every 30, again ...
... gets chopped to hourly.

The results for this group is shown below with hourly route shown as dashed lines.
The Cumnock to Muirkirk link remains unchanged.

The net effect of these "timetable adjustments" is to halve the number of uses to large swathes of the Ayrshire hinterland. Of course there is a bus policy gamble here.

By chopping services to "more closely match demand", i.e. to increase profits, is there a danger that even more passengers will desert the humble bus, buy a car, buy a bike or simply shop locally and not travel so often. In other words the net result of the cull may well make the hourly service unviable and we all know what happens then.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the Stagecoach crown!

But lest we may be forced to weep copiously at the sadness of things for the residents of Cumnock (as opposed to the New variety), it is worth remembering that they also have to buses and hour to Kilmarnock (X50/X76) ..
... one of which continues to Glasgow (X76).
Well, they have at the moment!

A Pleasurable Aside
One of the privileges of occupying fbb mansions in Seaton is the enjoyment of Mrs fbb's horticultural skills. Here, for example, is the scene on the back fence near the tradesman's entrance.
Sadly, the matching pots on the other side of the gate are rather spoiled as someone has left a currently unkempt model railway in the corner!
If only Mrs fbb (or even her chubby hubby) could remember what the pale blue potted flowers are called.

 Next variety blog : Thursday 13th July 


  1. Change to survive. - we may not like it. Does change work, sometimes yes, sometimes not!

    Many of Dorset's residents were not given a choice - the County has pulled the plug on many routes - ending many In 9/10 days time.

    Then more changes are coming in Bournemouth from 3 September at Bournemouth Transport - Yellow Buse.

  2. I know that buses offer a service rather than a product, but I don't understand why people can't see that a bus company is no different to a supermarket. Both provide something to customers in return for the customer's money (albeit many bus customers 'pay' with an IOU and the local council picks up the tab [at a reduced rate] at the end of the month).

    My local Morrison's is currently undergoing a refurbishment. No consultation, no information, no leaflet with the revised store layout (although there might be one on completion of the works; think of this stage as a bus on diversion due to a road closure with no information). All we have on several closed off areas of the shop is "We're working to create a better Morrison's" (or words to that effect) and stock appearing in unfamiliar locations, under blank overhead aisle marker signs.

    When I last visited the pre-packed cheese selection was half what it had been, and in a different place. No notice, no drama, no newspaper headlines, just a much reduced range, which had to be hunted down. Is this change permanent, or just during the works? Who knows, there was no information posted, no leaflet to pick up, and no staff nearby to ask.

    While I was chatting to the lady on the checkout she said even the staff come in each day not know what has been moved where. But she added "it'll be fine when it's done and in a month we'll have forgotten how it used to be".

    But if Morrison's ran buses this would be splashed over the papers, there would be angry customer protest groups, and no doubt blogs stretching for days bemoaning the latest changes and lack of information. But aren't Stagecoach and Morrison's both doing exactly the same thing, trying to earn a return for their investors?

    1. Whoopee!! Welcome to Realist's Corner! It's been awfu' lonely here in the past!

      Nobody likes change for change's sake, and strangely enough bus companies are no different . . . . if it ain't broke leave it well alone.
      After a while, though, any decent business will review its financial performance, and see if all parts of the business are performing adequately. If not, then action needs to be taken, otherwise the business might fail.
      Why should bus companies be any different? And as the checkout lady (almost) said . . . . in a month, we'll have got used to the new times anyway!

    2. Morrison's has one of the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of UK supermarkets.

  3. Quite Right, Anon above. But there is one slight difference. We could manage without Morrisons, possibly in extremis, we could survive without cheese (perish the thought!) but for many, survival without buses is more difficult.

    1. Fair point, fbb, but . . . . . I've been following the Dorset situation closely, being reasonably familiar with the County's buses over 15+ years.
      Yes, the "conventional" network has been slashed and burned to the bare bones now, but with very limited exceptions, many of the deep-rural services have carried no more than penny numbers of passengers for several years now. If only three people use a bus trip lasting an hour, then the trip doesn't deserve to survive.

      I've also been researching the Community Transport sector in Dorset . . . . there are very few communities that have absolutely nothing available, and perhaps booking a car to take you shopping once a week at a time to suit you is the way forward for Mrs Scroggins now. Rural communities can be very supportive of local residents in many unseen ways.

      I'm not saying that I agree with Dorset's approach entirely, but maybe it's the best of a bad job now.

  4. Troon to Irvine is proposed as an hourly 14B. All the proposed timetables can be accessed via a link in the Promos & Offers section of the Stagecoach West Scotland website.
    Having visited Ayr last summer for the first time for several years, there is no doubt that the retail offer is declining, in turn impacting on passenger numbers. These proposals seem sensible in as much as they largely preserve higher frequencies nearer to Ayr - and my own observations were that passenger numbers did not justify the higher frequency on some of these routes. It might also relate to cuts in reimbursement for concessionary passengers, whose numbers are in decline in many parts of the UK.

  5. Not 100% sure at that resolution, but your bonny purple things in the pots look like Ageratum to me [never thought I'd put that in FBB's blog]