Friday 7 July 2017

Not Fair? Where? Ayr? (Part 1)

Stagecoach in Trouble - 1?
There have been consistent rumours around and about that the Stagecoach Sparkle has become decided dull over recent months. Certainly the company's profits are well down and there has been much talk of the likelihood of cut-backs and fares increases. 

Of course, the press likes nothing better than a bit of bus company bashing with Stagecoach in Ayr getting a good old earful over the last few months.

At the beginning of June the service 52 was tinkered with. fbb is familiar with route and territory as Mrs fbb's long term chum Jean lives a little further south east from its terminus. Here is Jean and her hubby' farm named Furmiston.
Travel via the orange (B) road and you get to Carsphairn on the A713. Continue North west a tad or two and you are at Dalmellington ...
... whence the 52 runs every 30 minutes into Ayr.

But the natives are far from happy.
Apparently nasty Stagecoach tinkered with the timetable and Mrs McSporran's daughter is late for school. Mrs McTavish says the buses don't run to time.
One journey in two leaves the A713 at Hollybush ...
... turns left ...
... and trundles along the road to the intriguingly named village. Here's one coming the other way. 
The 52 into Ayr via Dalrymple turns sharp right ...
... to rejoin the A713 further on.
Whereas the other 52 nips smartly straight down the A713, past the Hollybush Inn as frequented on several occasions by fbb and Mrs.
Here it is on a map.
The people of Dalmellington don't like the extra six minutes of the diversion and the Dalrymple-ites would really like a reliable bus all of their own and thank you. It's not long ago that the 52 ran every 20 minutes, but still only every hour on the diversion

But that's not all.
Rumours and reports of maintenance and staff problems are grist to the journalists mill; problems which Stagecoach, understandably, has denied vigorously. But, usually, there is some truth in the rumours and vehicle inspectors have issued some prohibitions** to Ayr based vehicles.

But the knockout blow has come with news that there are plans to "revise" the bus network so that it "more closely matches the needs of the public". In fbb's public transport euphemism dictionary that means "service cuts".
Stagecoach are holding a series of "Consultation" meeting. Referring to the euphemism dictionary again, this usually means "we will try and convince you it makes sense, nod knowingly when you tell us it doesn't, then do what we wanted to anyway.

Set against this typical big bus boss behaviour is the possibility (however remote, of course) that the boys and girls of the Fourth Estate have gone over-the-top to print a sensational "bus-mageddon" story. 

We shall look at the proposed (no, the definite) Ayr changes from Monday in the blog; changes that are due to be implemented on 13th August in line with the little Scottish kiddies going back to school.

But it all does seem mildly suspicious and very much a usual recipe..

Stagecoach in Trouble - 2?
The company's difficult financial performance and its associated problems have prompted an "innovative" solution to a problem in Northampton. Here is the bus stop at the junction of Duston Road and Windsor Crescent on services 9, 9A and 9B.
The ever mysterious "they" have dug a hole at the stop, necessitating a temporary "dolly" stop.
Now that stop shape and design, plus the "T" logo, look, surprisingly familiar, surely.
Yep, you are right!

Stagecoach's finances are so parlous that they have been forced to pinch a temporary bus stop from South Yorkshire PTE and smuggle it 100 miles south to Northampton.

Shameful behaviour spotted by Alan (Northampton hack) who lives just round the corner from the crime scene.

But justice is on the way.

** prohibitions : DaFT inspectors can order vehicles off the road if they fail a safety inspection. There are various levels of "prohibition", ranging from "get in done quickly" to "this vehicle cannot be moved under its own power". Too many of these and the company gets fined, its vehicle allowance reduced or, simply, can no longer operate.

And a Dalmellington P.S.
Dalmellington used to be at the end of a branch line from Ayr ...
... famous for being one line where railbuses were introduced in a futile attempt to stave off closure
There is now no sign of the line in the town ...
... its land being occupied by a large school (The Doon Academy) and light industrial units.
The trees (top left) mark the approach of the removed track. But a quick streetview by those trees reveals a litter bestrewn footpath where once ran trains.
It leads nowhere in particular!

 Next Exeter exhibition blog : Saturday 8th July 


  1. All bus operators are struggling with dismissing concessionary fare revenue and change of contracts. Here in Dorset, Damory Coaches (part of Go South Coast) have lost out to independent, South Western Coaches who pick most of the much reduced .Dorset CC network. Damory will operate a much reduced Dorchester town service on a commercial basis, one of the many routes ditched by the County.

    Across in Hampshire, Brockenhurst College has awarded its 2017/2018 college contracts to First. Interestingly next month also sees SouthWest trains going to First from Stagecoach. The college website has full details.

    1. The easiest way to find the Brockenhurst detail is to Google 'travelling to Brock' and the new college travel arrangements 'travelling by bus' etc follows.

  2. I assume that fbb is making a joke about Stagecoach 'borrowing' a TSY temporary bus stop as the likely culprit will be the roadworks contractors themselves as they have a tendency to pick them up when packing their equipment, you assume without thinking though it may be they see them as a useful thing to have in their trucks (it tends to be local authority ones that you see in foreign climes, TfL is a common one). It is a major reason why my current employers refuse to supply temporary bus stops as you are very lucky to ever get them back once they are put out (we had three new ones when I joined and all had disappeared in 6 months). At a previous employer during a long term roadwork in the local city centre we had to send a member of staff to the local Uni halls to rescue one every couple of weeks and I would often find myself carrying it back up the road in a morning (much to the confusion of our bus driver as I walked up and plonked it down before boarding with my staff pass when the confusion would vanish) as I went to catch my bus to work after some inebriated fool had gone to carry it off and given up due to the weight 100yards down the road.

  3. Prudent contractors padlock their dolly stops to a convenient lamp post, telegraph pole etc. Sadly not always possible!

  4. Some years ago when working at Leicester City Transport one of our new 'youngsters' admitted that on one drunken night out one of his friends had liberated a dolly stop. Having gaily carried it across the city centre and most of the way home they were stopped by a Police Car. Rather than spend time arresting them etc they made the culprit carry the stop all the way back to where they got it from, whilst following behind them in the Police car. The group then had to walk across the city centre a third time to get home.

  5. Tvwoiid aloear that the newer SYPTE temp bus stops are now over sux foot in hueght.

    In the Sheffield area contractors use:

    Metro, London , some that are not real Stoks at all just signs and one which as an American school
    Bus on