Thursday 31 August 2017

Petre Street Peters Out (1)

Sheffield Route-Slash Shock!
In Sheffield Petre Street runs north-east from Burngreave to Grimesthorpe, seen here on a Streetmap, running from bottom left to top right.
It once had trams ...
... but these were withdrawn early (for Sheffield) in 1925, to be replaced by a bus service.
All along the road, to the left and to the right, was residential accommodation; but in the late sixties demolition began and continued until the mid seventies.
At the Burngreave end (Streetmap lower left) some new housing replaced the old as here in Canada Street (CAN ST), then ...
... and now!
At the Grimesthorpe end there was limited redevelopment around Margate Drive.
But in between the two, a blasted heath ...
... slowly filled up with "light industrial" premises.
Buses showed this on their blinds ...
... which was odd, because there was no "Reform Chapel" on Petre Street.

Buses, by now numbered 34, actually ran in a loop at the Grimesthorpe end ...
... with their "time point" being the Wesleyan Reform Union Chapel (Don't ask!) on Upwell Lane.
Buses waited time outside the church, but on Sunday mornings a special stop was provided 100 yards further along Upwell Lane so buses starting their engines would not disturb worshippers. As far as fbb can tell, the church is still in business.

The loop is now very similar but enforced by a revised road network ...
... but today's Petre Street services still operate that historic twiddle.

In 1970 the service was extended further north-east to low Wincobank. This scheme was designed to provide links from developing housing off Holywell Road into the city centre.
The one bus an hour extension also provided a limited service to Standon Road ...
... and, back at the redeveloped Grimesthorpe, part of the service visited a mini loop at Margate Drive.
Under the People's Republic of South Yorkshire, with its highly subsidised bus system, further services were developed to serve "difficult areas" between Holywell Road and Upper Wincobank but under privatisation and commercialisation many of these were not viable.

Rather than increasing our readers' confusion, let us jump to the very recent past.

We have a service 35 along Petre Street ...
... running every 30 minutes and diving off he main drag into the various chunks of residential development. fbb uses the route number casually but various combinations have been used, each change brings just a little more confusion. As of today, there is still a bus every 30 minutes along a near deserted Petre Street ...
... although half the service in numbered 70. The route(s) still clamber up into the estate off Holywell Road ...
... and one bus an hour (35) nips up and down Standon Road after the obligatory diversion to visit the glorious Meadowhell shopping centre.
If you have followed all this, you need some kind of endurance award; so we pause until tomorrow when we chart the changes from Sunday 3rd and see just what Liz Weber is complaining about.

 Next Petre Street blog : Friday 1st September 

Wednesday 30 August 2017

How To Make Public Transport Difficult (2)

Cat Out Of The Bag In Sheffield
The local paper (The Star) has finally got hold of the news concerning bus service changes from September 3rd.
The paper quotes a Ms Weber of Grimesthorpe who will be inconvenienced by changes to service 35 and 70 in her locality. She goes on to list the usual: old people getting to hospital appointments, old people getting to the shops.

When fbb accepted the "King's shilling" and undertook to help First Bus with their printed publicity for the changes, he agreed to maintain confidentiality until local publicity took hold.

So in very broad terms, the paragraph above is correct. Whether the "inconvenience" is as far reaching as the piece by Mr Peace suggests is debatable and fbb will look at the changes (as always with a critical eye) in more detail on due course.

Ms Weber goes on ...
It is true that First will be providing cover for some Bright Bus routes; it may be true that these school runs are more profitable than poorly used "normal" services. fbb cannot compute whether First's "peak vehicle requirement" has increased, decreased or remained the same as a result of the forthcoming changes.

Of course The Star does not remind its readers that First Bus is in business to make a profit; not to be kind to Mrs Weber and her chums. The job of providing socially essential but non-commercial services is part of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive's responsibility. fbb, again, will look at their replacement routes, but, in the meantime, can assure his readers that they also come under the heading of "Making Public Transport Difficult".

The article does not mention that First's "Partner" (snigger snigger), Stagecoach, has completely withdrawn one Sheffield city route, cut one route short and made the timetable much harder to understand on a third.

They are both at it!

Back To Paisley's Silly 66!
At first glance there is another service between Gilmour Street station and Glasgow Airport. Back in the days of the great Great Britain Bus Timetable, the route was always part of the Paisley local service network. Here is an extract from Arriva's timetable of a few years ago when it was service 60.
The ancestor of today's 757 to Airport and Clydebank was Arriva's hourly route 300 ...
... also via the airport. Today, McGill's service 757 merges the two functions. This runs every 15 minutes "round the houses" like the 60, but continues to Clydebank every half an hour.
The 757 reduces to hourly on Sundays as No 3 son discovered when travelling to Largs over a week ago. But here comes the 66, unspotted by fbb when planning his lad's journey.
It runs to the Airport every 30 minutes BUT ONLY ON SUNDAYS. the departure list adds to the fudge ..
... as the last three journeys "terminate at Barrhead Station" which is nowhere near Glasgow Airport (north of Paisley) and in completely he opposite direction (south of Paisley)

It would appear that the Sunday 66 follows exactly the same route as the 757 ...
... which leaves Smithills Street Paisley on the hour, just eleven minutes before one of the 66 schedules. The difference is that the 66 provides a 30 minute frequency to Dykebar Hospital (see timetable extract above). It is a "cross town service".

But, apart from a couple of trips, it does not serve the Airport on Mondays to Saturdays.
There is no cross reference on the 757 timetable OR the 66 timetable to explain that there are three buses an hour to the Airport on a Sunday! Had this been explained, No 3 son might have caught a 66 to the station after he landed (on a Sunday) rather than walking.

But the bafflement of the 66 is greater for Dykebar Hospital customers.
There is no cross-city 66 on the McGill's map. Worse, there is no Dykebar Hospital! It should be below of the purple line (route 70), a tad "south" of Todholm and near to Lochfield (upper left on the Google Maps extract below.)
But neither the Hospital nor its route 66 appear on the McGill's map/ Clearly something has happened and the map is either incorrect or has not been updated. There is a route 70 on the map ...
... but no route 70 in the list of timetables.
Somewhere along the tortuous line of the privatised bus industry, the destination Dykebar Hospital, served by Arriva in the recent past ...
... has been lost and then found by McGills.

fbb's detailed knowledge of Paisley's bus services is pretty-near non-existent; the days of competitive minibus madness post-deregulation ensured that what little understanding the old man once had was soon dissipated in the chaos.

Maybe some more knowledgeable bus watcher can explain?

Whatever the reason, much of what is "out there" at the moment is confusing to the point of misleading for the potential passenger. Regulars will no doubt cope, as ever.

One thing that a PTE could do is to give folk a co-ordinated overview, bringing together commercial and tendered services from assorted sources to help the likes of fbb and son in their befuddled state. 

Clicking on McGills service 166, you get the Strathclyde PTE leaflet ...
... which shows three Sunday evening round trips on the 66 and nothing else.
And where might you find this snippet of infromation if you arrive at Gilmour Street station later on the Sabbath? Not on the 757 panel; nor on the main 66 (Sunday only) panel, but on a third and separate page with those three trips lurking at the bottom right hand corner.
And there is one final twist of insanity. Stratclyde PTE has a map showing their three Sunday evening 66s running via the estates (Shortroods), the same way as the daytime service.
But McGills disagrees!
Crazy, yet again!

Tomorrow fbb returns to the simple insanity of Sheffield - but at least, having lived there for 20 years, he can understand it.


P.S. Thanks to Sheffield correspondent Roy for passing on the article from The Star - fbb has been expecting something similar for a couple of weeks.

 Next Sheffield blog : Thursday 31st August 

Tuesday 29 August 2017

How To Make Public Transport Difficult (1)

This Time It's McGills
But not the McGills Bus Service Ltd Barrhead of old.

The McGill's Bus Services name first came into use in 1933. This company was based in Barrhead and owned by the McGill family. It expanded significantly during the years leading up to bus deregulation, but in July 1997 sold out to the major operator in the area, Clydeside 2000, in the face of significant competition from independent minibus operators.

Clydeside 2000 became Arriva Scotland West

In July 2001, Arriva decided to withdraw from its Inverclyde operations, which were loss-making and faced significant competition from independent operators. Its Greenock depot was sold to former GMS owner Alex Kean and the Easdale family with each owning 50%. The McGill's Bus Services name was revived by the new company and a new livery of blue, white and gold introduced.
Then in March 2012 Arriva sold its remaining operations in Scotland to the (new) McGills!

We learned in an earlier blog that, when fbb's No 3 son joined them in largs he flew from Gatport Airick. Because of sloppy timetkeeping by EasyJet, he missed the bus from Airport to Paisley and decided to walk. He had plenty of time and enjoyed the fresh air and the architectural delights of Paisley.
But returning southwards on Thursday, last, he decided to avail himself of the bus link from Gilmour Street station to Glasgow Airport.
fbb was well aware that the bus required was the 757.
It is hardly what you would call a premium service despite the smooth-looking vehicles that now grace the route.
In fact the 757 is a concatenation of lots of little local bits in Paisley and Erskine with the Airport in between. The exciting bit is the trip over the little used Erskine Bridge.
Mrs fbb's late Aunt Jean was less than impressed with this novelty. "You wouldn't get me up there," she announced, "and you shouldn't go over it in case it breaks!"

Back to the 757. It leaves from a posh shelter on Old Sneddon Street ...
... near the rather unimposing back door of the station.
It has been Scotrail-ised since Google Streetview passed by.

In the shelter were three timetables. There was the expected 757 ...
... offering a 15 minutes daytime service to the Airport, adorned, as we come to expect from a departure list, with a selection of notes.
Fotunately, McGills confirms that the notes are irrelevant for airport passengers.
So far, so good. No 3 son caught his bus and arrived at the airport slighly bemused by the circuitous route. Being used to the likes of Gatport Airwick he found the approaches to Glasgow's much smaller facility slightly bemusing; "it's like an airport on a housing estate," he opined.
But then came the killer blow.

"But dad," he demanded, "why didn't you tell me about the 66?"
It is the 66 that makes things difficult, as we shall see tomorrow.

 Next 757 blog : Wednesday 30th August