Tuesday, 1 August 2017

And There's More ...

Any Colour - Provided that it's Red - AGAIN!
But not London this time - the city of dreaming spires and a huge death-toll from murders solved by Morse has been playing the livery game. But nobody has told the Oxford City Bus web site people.
Each bus route map is also red ...
... and when fbb was last there, so were ALL the buses.
It all began to reveal itself when Northampton correspondent Alan enjoyed a trip to the 50th Anniversary knees-up for the Oxford Bus Museum. He was transported by bus from Oxford Parkway station to the museum site at Long Hanborough.
This banana coloured vehicle was in the car park.
Note that part of its brand name had abandoned the Ford and become oddly abbreviated.
The on-line timetable index has a bit of yellow ...
... and the lines on the network map are coloured, including the 3 in yellow.
A quick scout round the interwebnet reveals some excitement from Wootton parish council ...
.... and matching publicity from 2015.
8s and 9s are orange ...
... and 5s are pink.
But fbb reckons that there might be a development in this multicoloured craze. It can only be a matter of time before some PR guru offers the (expensive) opinion that a bus company needs to present itself as a wholesome integrated brand, giving a clear unequivocal image of quality and service to the public. (See how easy it is to spew out this stuff!)

What you need is one simple brand for the whole company. Something like this:-
Quality, Distinguished, Distinctive, Reliable and Utterly Stable; that's the ticket. Whoops, sorry that won't do at all. 

And that's the swipe card!

Meanwhile in Bath ...
... Bristol correspondent Paul sends this.

The local press reports:-

First Bus in Bath have advised its passengers on their service 4 route, from Weston to Odd Down via the city centre, that their buses might look different over the summer.
It's not that long since they weren't 4 but 14!
With a number of vehicles away in Oxfordshire on rail replacement duty, the bus operator is putting their Bath Spa Unibus double-deckers on this route.

The Bath Spa Unibus have a striking blue navy design, coupled with the university branding, compared to the usual white, pink and blue buses.

Didn't Unibus used to be a deep episcopal purple?
No, hang on, University buses are orange - or were?
O.K., keep 'em guessing; they are now deep blue.
Despite the temporary change of vehicle, there will be no change to the service 4 timetable.

Andrew Sherrington, Operations Director of First Bath ...
... said: “We want our passengers to be extra vigilant over the next few weeks regarding their buses on service 4.

“We’re wary that many people will see the double-decker, branded in Bath Spa University livery, and presume that it’s going to the campus. If you’re waiting for a service 4 bus, please check the destination screen on the front of the bus or ask the driver.

“The last thing we want to happen is for a passenger to miss their bus because of this temporary change!”

Andrew continued: “On the Bath Spa Unibus passengers can still benefit from free Wi-Fi and USB charging points so they can stay connected when they’re on the move.”

Maybe it would be too simple to send the Uni branded buses to do the rail replacement stuff and not confuse passengers at all?

It never used to be this complicated.

 Next possibly abbreviated blog : Wednesday 2nd August 


  1. You must be a mind reader, I was going to suggest looking into the OBC city colours! Even more confusing is that they run joint services with Stagecoach on routes 2/2A/2B/2C/2D, 3, 8 and 9! The buses for SC are branded in the normal SC branding but then you have coloured buses for OBC!
    Personally I think they have overdone the coloured buses. Was my bus yellow? Or purple? Or green? Who knows!
    One other point you may not have noticed is that the 3A on the map is the same colour as the 8 and 9? Bonkers!
    This colour system simply does not work on routes that run alongside Stagecoach unless Stagecoach decide to brand their buses too, it works even less on routes with infrequent buses! Make the 2 and all its variants, 3, 5, 8, 9 and 35 red again! Simply red. Not confusing rainbow.

  2. In Bath purple Unibuses go to the University of Bath, blue Unibuses go to Bath Spa University. Quite simple really. Except when the blue ones are used on the 4.

    Yes, they were once orange, the colour was chosen by the two student unions after Streamline sold out to First Badgerline and they were marketed as the Bright Orange Bus. This then had a First make over into the "willow leaf" design when the artics arrived. This was officially the First livery for university services nationwide (although I don't think its application was particularly wide spread).

    Passengers in Bath will also see "Bath City" buses in mid blue (based on the colour used on the trams) and dark blue "Mendip Explorer" buses from Wells depot - as well as First's "standard" colours (old and new).

    The odd one to me is why the X39 Bath - Bristol trunk route isn't strongly branded, and in fact is run with a collection of second hand deckers with barely noticeable stickers on standard livery. Come on James (Freeman), treat it to a make-over.

    1. That 'national standard' Orange uni livery caused all sorts of fun in Leeds when it was rolled out as the other operator of Leeds city services (and who provided most of the services to one of the Unis) was Centrebus who run in Orange with a blue skirt. Opportunities for great confusion ensued though local First management were clear that it was out of their hands and wasn't an aggressive competitive move to run in similar colours.

      The point in Oxford is that due to the Quality Partnership the identity of the operator is less important as the tickets (or many of the important ones) are valid on all operators regardless of who sold them so the brand loyalty to the network is lessened as passengers can use any bus anyway. Oxford has, from what I can tell, always been fairly tight on vehicle allocations (type/batch etc) to specific routes which you need to be to adopt this level of branding. If they could get Stagecoach to adopt the same colour route branding for the joint routes (not necessarily the same style but the same colours) it would be more effective.

  3. There are two Unibuses in Bath. That to the established university uses the purple (claret?) liveried E400 MMCs. The newer Bath Spa University is served by the blue ALX400s.
    I suspect that the Oxfordshire rail replacement - which requires First to reach country stations situated no doubt down leafy lanes - is not suitable for double deck operation.

  4. The idea of the "Ox" cutoff thing was that the "x" goes up against the wheelarch so it looks like the wheelarch cuts it off - front on one side, rear on the other. It's quite a trendy branding thing.

    If you put it elsewhere on the bus with no "cutting" body feature, it looks stupid.

  5. Once again (!) FBB rails against the modern world. Moreover, the comments above highlight that FBB's Bristol correspondent is either a less than comprehensive source or that FBB is being selective in his posting.

    As has been stated in other comments, there is method in all of this viz:

    Bath has TWO universities in different parts of town. One is Bath Uni - purple buses and one is Bath Spa - blue buses. Perhaps that might be quite a boon for the many foreign students for whom English is not their first language?

    As for the use of the blue deckers on the 4, it is well known to rationale behind it. First are performing a RR that involves Culham and Radley stations - overhead foliage and other obstructions preclude the use of deckers and therefore large single deckers are specified so you can't use the blue deckers! Instead, First have mobilised the Eclipses from the Bath service 5 that has a reduced frequency and lower patronage in the summer as the student halls near Twerton are not as well utilised! However, Twerton has a low bridge so it needs single decks so.... take the big single decks from there for the RR, move the Darts from the 4 to the 5 for the summer when loadings are lighter anyway, and use the deckers on the 4 where clearances are fine. It really is that simple!!

    As for the X39 comment above, the vehicles are not exactly secondhand - they were from Bristol and employed to increase capacity as the X39 loadings continue to grow. They were to be a temporary measure hence the low key branding. There are doubtless plans but with Metrobus and other new vehicles due, things are rather fluid as to what will go onto the X39.

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