Thursday 28 September 2017

Critical Cymric Contrasts (3)

Good Grief : Ghastly Gwynedd 
Gwynedd used to be very pro-bus. It encouraged operators to add a red wedge to the front of their vehicles (and insisted for Council subsidised services) and marketed the network as Gwynedd Bus. Privatisation put paid to all that, but at least there was an excellent timetable book ...
... complete with network and local maps similar to the excellent Conwy production, still available.
Northampton correspondent Alan has recently been in North Wales, travelling round using a bus and rail rover ticket. After finding no printed information at Llandudno Junction station and only departure lists at the stops, he moved on to Bangor.
It is an attractive station in very good condition. It has three bus bays right outside the building ...
... lots of information boards and a bus stop sign.
Investigation via Google Maps reveals that lots of buses stop outside the station building itself or nearby. (click on the diagram below to enlarge it - just a bit)
Stop J, says Google, has 22 more routes stopping there!

BUT ... as you may have guessed ...

Alan was frustrated (but not surprised) to find the same lack of information (on line and for real) at Bangor Station. He could, of course, trot round and see what the timetable frames had to offer; but we will take a look at these tomorrow.

He then found his way (being a clever lad) into the centre of Bangor. He was looking for Bangor Cloc.
Just as an aside, an internet usage warning.

Search for Bangor clock and you might see this.
It is most definitely a clock and it is most definitely in Bangor - but Bangor in Northern Ireland where it is called "The McKee Clock". The cloc(k) in Bangor Gwynedd (Wales) looks like this.
But you can walk round it and peer in all directions and you will not find a bus of any shape, size or colour. You might catch a glimpse of one if you look down the remains of Fford Garth ...
... because at the far end there, straight ahead but out of sight of the cloc, is the cloc bus terminus.
Turn left a the end of the cut-through and you will find the Arriva enquiry office ...
... where correspondent Alan could get Arriva leaflets and the Conwy timetable book. Gwynedd stopped producing their book a few years ago but it is, as they say, all on-line.


Here is Gwynedd's bus map.
That's it - there is nothing else of a cartographic nature.

Also on-line is a PDF "information leaflet", consisting of a near-useless list of bus services in numerical order with no index of place names, a list of operator phone numbers but no indication of which operator runs which route ...
... and this.
As the county produces nothing by way of a co-ordinated set of timetables or maps, fbb wonders what you might find in these places. A few years ago, he asked in Dolgellau and was shown a ring-bound folder with everything included and asked to pay to have specific pages photocopied. As a visitor, how would he know which pages he might need?

But all the timetables are on-line in exactly the same format as would appear in the printed timetable book if they printed one.
Notice, in passing, that Gwynedd has no truck with the "Platform 5" appellation at Llandudno Junction.

But the fact that these pages are all prepared in a ready-to-print format begs the question, "why don't you print them?" All the hard work is already done. Is the Council really saying that this minimalist saving is making any tangible difference to their budget; the cost is much less, fbb would suggest, than that of filling a few potholes. (Not that pothole filing should be neglected!)

Tomorrow, excitedly, we can take a look at what you might find at the bus stops at Bangor not-the-cloc; and we travel south to Caernarfon.

P.S. Lest fbb were to be attacked by ferocious hoardes of Gwyneddians, baying for his blood in response to the epithet "ghastly" ...
... the old man assures readers from the Principality that his antagonism is directed towards public transport information, not the people or the place!

Mae Gwynedd yn lle gwych
ac mae'r bobl yn gyfeillgar iawn.

 Next Gwynedd blog - Friday 29th September 


  1. It is unfair to blame privatisation for the collapse of Bws Gwynedd. Crosville Wales was privatised in 1987, and most of the other operators were already privately owned.
    In fact, deregulation did Gwynedd an enormous favour, as Bob Saxby, the county's public transport manager has recounted on more than one occasion. Mileage went up and costs came down as Crosville lost marginal work to lower cost operators.
    In fact, so successful were the county's initiatives that operators took routes over as commercial propositions. This enabled them to dispense with the full range of Gwynedd conditions, which in time brought about the end of the 'one size fits all' network.
    There was more on this subject in the Buses 30 years of deregulation special issued last year.

  2. There really is less and less money to pay for things like bus timetables which are used less and less by actual passengers

  3. Indeed this is very true.
    At my local authority we used to have a full time publicity person, with a part time assistant to help at times of mass mailing. Both are now gone, along with the publications they used to produce.
    We used to have one person looking after Traveline data and another doing the Real Time data. One person now has to do both roles.
    Our bus team had a manager and two sub-teams of 3 people each to look after both local and school buses. This included roadside displays. There is still a manager, but now 3.5 (one is part-time) people do the work of 6. This ,means that the majority of roadsides are now done by the operators, and in the case of two (1 a group subsidiary, 1 an independent) do a very good job by and large. But there are gaps in the offer.
    In the same period demand for school transport has shown an increase, while the understanding of parents wanting the "perfect solution for their child" when the team has consider hundreds of children has markedly declined.
    Similarly, the team are under great pressure from road works. While its good that the roads are being maintained more stringent Health and Safety rules require larger areas to be closed off to allow safe working, and in many cases that now means a road closure and not single lane working under temporary traffic lights. These diversions take much staff time to plan, and communicate.
    All that means that the team is almost at breaking point, something else will have to give, and very soon.
    As much as all of us really do want to do more, the reality is that we can't.

  4. Just a thought. Why should a local authority be expected to do the operators' advertising or them? County Councils don't have to promote Tesco's business.

    Tender conditions should include a requirement to produce adequate printed and on line publicity

    Companies that don't do a good job should have their registrations cancelled by the Traffic Commissioner.

    That would show them!