Wednesday 13 September 2017

Whoop With Joy : Throop Ahoy! (1)

One of fbb's lifelong ambitions has been to catch a bus to Throop; and he thought that, last Saturday, his joy would be unbounded as he planned a bus trip to that very place.
While Mrs fbb was deep in prayer and bible study at Bere Regis, settled in a lovely little Congregational chapel ...
... her dutiful hubby and driver for the day had hot-rodded it to Wood station to catch the 1045 to Bournemouth. The plan was to ride on three routes which took the buses a little off the "beaten track" from the busy frequent services. 

In January 2017, Yellow Buses (formerly Bournemouth Corporation Transport, now an offshoot of RATP, the Paris City bus company) ...
... rejigged most of its core routes and gave them letters and names. The few remaining number-only services were lettered and named from May this year.
Whereas "R" routes run from R1 to R6, there is only one Dolphin Line, the D1. It looked a little out of the ordinary. fbb is unfamiliar with the history of Bournemouth's routes, but this offering looked very much like a glueing together of lots of little bits that didn't fit with the "main line" Bs, Ps, Rs and Vs.

It starts in Poole and wiggles to Bournemouth ...
... via Lower Parkstone and Penn Hill.
fbb joined at Bournemouth The Square, stop "O"; confirmed by a green label on the stop ...
...  and a departure shown on the electronic display. there was info in the frame on the shelter ...
... in the form of a comforting departure list in matching green. fbb was going all the way to Christchurch, so all was hunky dory.

Maybe not quite and hunky and dory as it should have been.

The electrons said "Christchurch", the stop said "Christchurch" and the list of times said "Christchurch" which, any normal passenger would assume, meant an hourly service to Christchurch.
Note (1), unexplained on the departure list, means DOES NOT go the Christchurch!
Which is why you really should put timetables up in bus stop frames and not departure lists with explanatory notes missing.  Fortunately fbb's 1040 departure did go all the way; and, as we come to expect with these things, at 1040 the departure disappeared from the electronic screen but no bus appeared.

It was ten minutes late. But the ride was fascinating. The first leg ran along East Cliff with splendid sea views to the right ...
... and splendid apartment blocks on the left. The route then turned inland and ran via the Littledown district of large houses with multiple cars, unlikely to provide huge number of passengers.
They didn't.

The Hospital is an important calling point, where no-one boarded or alighted as the bus effectively U-turned to go back south.
A left turn at Pokesdown Station ...
... led towards Southbourne, passing near the head of Fishermans Walk ...
... an attractive park that leads back through pleasant suburbia to the cliff top. From here a cliff lift will take you down to the beach.
It was at Fishermans Walk that the monsoons arrived, such that fbb nearly missed this well known feature of the area.
More glimpses of the sea at Belle View Road, Southbourne ...
... plus a close-ish encounter with Hengistbury Head, a rather splendid excrescence that is but a "short walk" from the D1.
Alas, fbb's tight schedule did not allow him to avail himself of this particular delight. And so a turn northwards took the D1 into Christchurch itself.
But not just yet! We first cross Tuckton Bridge (barely strong enough to carry fbb?) ...
... to travel north on Stour Road.
Does anyone remember Tucktonia?
Tucktonia was a late 1970s theme park located on Stour Road, Christchurch, Dorset, England. It was officially opened on 23 May 1976 by Arthur Askey.
It originally occupied 4 acres of the 21-acre Tuckton Park Leisure Complex. The park was closed down in 1986. The site has since been redeveloped for residential use. (Tuckton Bridge upper right)
fbb went once and was very impressed with the spectacular models, mainly of London

Just within touching distance of Christchurch High Street our D1 looped via a bit of residential Tuckton, only to turn back south again before approaching Christchurch via Willow Drive with glimpses of the imposing Priory over the rooftop.
By now, our bus was nearly 20 minutes late; which left fbb with a big problem.


The story and the journeys continue tomorrow.

 Next Throop blog : Thursday 14th September 


  1. You seem to have a misunderstanding of how the RTPI systems work. In the photo of the RTPI display above no journeys are being displayed in 'Real Time'. If the system is not tracking the vehicle when the due time comes most systems will simply knock the untracked journey from the display as it knows no different. On our local system 'Real Time' journeys are shown in number of minutes until the bus is approaching the stop when the status changes to due. Upon arrival at the stop the journey disappears from the display.

  2. I think that Peter knows that. Our local system (Cardiff) works the same, however I don't know how it tracks the buses as, at my nearest stop, several buses can be allegedly within a few minutes, count themselves down to "due", then disappear without a bus turning up! Methinks there's something wrong with the tracking. Is it done by satellite or roadside monitor or what? (This is not helped by the fact that one operator doesn't track at all).

    1. Most actually run off a mobile phone based system, a lot of newer ones use the ticket machine as the source (earlier ones may have a separate box that communicates with the tracking system though this will still connect with the ticket machine to identify the journey). Despite what a lot of people outside the industry seem to think, unless you go for an extremely expensive system like London's I-Bus, these systems are far from perfect and reliability could be better. As I think we all know mobile phone reception can be patchy in quite strange places (though especially outside the large towns & cities) and they need data to exactly match to identify the journeys (a driver entering a 1 rather than 1 0 would do it). It also does rely on the data put in, the people who set up the data have to tell the system how long it takes to get between bus stops (if they say it takes 1 when it takes 3 mins it will show as due for longer than it should) and we have often come across bus stops whose location is out by a hundred metres or more which could result in a tracking bus disappearing from the screens before it actually arrives(until these tracking systems came in the actual location of the stop to the metre didn't matter so errors never got corrected). Setting the data up for these systems is a time consuming task (and requires specialist scheduling systems to produce the output) and you can see how smaller operators with few office staff and relying on excel to produce schedules (the modern equivalent of a man with a pencil & a graph) couldn't provide the data needed in the timescales needed, if at all.

  3. D1 - The Poole section was originally Hants and Dorset (later Wilts and Dorset) operated as route 151, at some stage W&D gave it up about 15/20 years ago as uneconomic and the subsequent route was tendered by Poole Council and won by Yellow Buses. At some stage the 20 was extended to Castle Point when Bournemouth Council rejigging (reducing) their tendered routes. Then when Yellows (or Bournemoth Transport Ltd) brought the tendered (numbered) routes into the alpha (named) lines it merged with route 33 to Christchurch.

    Someone will correct/update my comments from Peters Bournemouth correspondent.

  4. FBB is entirely right that the D1 is a gluing together of lots of bits of old routes and links that have no other service remaining, for instance the Littledown roads used to have about four buses an hour in the days of the 33/34/35, but when Transdev redrew the network and moved more routes along Christchurch Road it was threatened with no service at all until the council stepped in and funded that stretch with one of D1's predecessors. Similarly the wiggles around Poole, Southbourne and Christchurch were all once hourly journeys on routes that provided links lost from the high frequency routes being made more direct. Gradually these hourly routes were cutback and merged together themselves, leaving us with the extremely indirect but very interesting D1.

    Following RATP's latest network redraw it's the only bus to go all the way from Poole to Christchurch (something that only a few years ago would have had about 16 buses an hour between More and Yellows) but at an eye-watering 87 minutes scheduled running time (and as FBB found out, often a lot longer due to the area's congestion) no one would catch it when changing at Bournemouth would be far quicker. For instance as shown on FBB's map excerpt the time taken for a bus to go from Bosconbe to Pokesdown via Christchurch road is normally about 2 minutes. The D1 takes about 20!

  5. Tuckton Bridge was built in 1905 used the Hennibique ferro-concrete system that enabled the Bournemouth tram route to Christchurch to cross the River .Stour. It now has a weight limit and buses are not supposed to pass each other on the bridge.

  6. Thanks to all of you for your contributions. I do understand how electronic real and unreal time works. My point is that, with easy access to GPS tracking, the system SHOULD be able to tell me whether the bus is on its way. If it can't, the screens are useless. I can see "unreal time" information on the paper departure list at he stop.

    1. But GPS is only a small part of the equation in how these systems work. The systems I have been involved in require a TXC file to be uploaded to the back office system that contains the schedule details and the ticket machine inputs that relate to each journey.

      All systems ultimately rely on the correct inputs being put into the ticket machine and available mobile comms to enable journey matching to take place in the back office system that allows predictions to be generated.

  7. I remember visiting Tucktonia. A splendid place for all youngsters, much more compact than today's overpowering 'theme parks'.

    The only problem was that, by then, Tuckton Bridge was no longer being crossed by trolleybuses.

  8. My memory of the H&D network in Poole and Lower Parkstone goes back to 1948 when lowbridge Bristol K and AEC Regent buses from the former Bournemouth depot worked the hourly route 14 from Bournemouth via Upper Parkstone, Sandecotes Road, Compton Avenue and Lilliput Square to the Blue Lagoon. (In the late fifties there was an untimetabled relief to the 09:00 M-F service from Bournemouth; this was a highbridge Bristol KSW from the former Parkstone depot and it ran from Upper Parkstone to the Blue Lagoon, leaving there again at 09:30 for Bournemouth as a duplicate to the regular Bournemouth depot working. From 1957 dual-doored Bristol LS single-decks also appeared occasionally on the route.)

    W&D withdrew the 14, and the Compton Avenue/Sandecotes Road section was served by a shortlived routing of the 150 Bournemouth - Swanage buses. When Yellow took over, the hourly Bournemouth - Lilliput link was restored and extended to Poole via the former half-hourly H&D route 31 (which became W&D 151, I think). Later this was diverted away from Lilliput via Broadway Avenue and other roads which were not made up until after 1960. So there is now no service on Compton Avenue and the bus stops have been removed (unlike the former Judd's route in Whittlesey where Stagecoach bus stops are still in place on the unserved roads).

    Penn Hill Avenue had a quarter-hourly service on route 1 in H&D days, operated by Poole depot with lowbridge Ks. This became 101 under W&D and was taken over by Yellow, who ultimately withdrew it.

    Finally Penn Hill also had an hourly route 9 bus from Bournemouth to Canford Cliffs Road and Compton Acres; this didn't survive into the W&D era and Canford Cliffs Road has been unserved since its withdrawal.

    1. Happy memories of working on the 1 along Penn Hill Avenue (known to Poole depot crews by the disrespectful nickname of Crab Alley. Route 1 was a self contained four bus working on the 15 minute frequency as mentioned. The one exception being the first 1 from Poole which worked an 89 to Wareham from Bournemouth. The 9 and the 14 were primarily Bournemouth depot workings in my time with H&D (1960s).

  9. Unfortunately I can't do some investigating of FBB's sign on Saturday as i can only look back three days on my system, and also I'm on holiday in Yorkshire. The Bournemouth and Poole RTI system runs on TransXchange files which run inside each sign and display the schedules for all services. There is then a Siri feed from the sign servers to the operators own RTI schemes (Yellow Buses and morebus each run their own internal RTI schemes) so all predictions pass from the operators to the signs. The TransXchange files are the ones created by the operators so everything runs on matching data. Normally we get well over 90% real time on the signs but it is dependant on each operator delivering their predictions over the network. As the whole thing runs on mobile phone Sim cards there are locations where coverage of the comms is variable, and unfortunately Bouremouth Centre is one area where on some days we get full RTI and on other days none at all. We're about to fit a mini WiFi transmitter on one of the big totems to bounce the signals to the shelter signs.
    The D1 is as has been described a mix of sections of route that have over the years lost more frequent services and we are currently looking at it again as it regularly suffers from the level of delays FBB mentioned.
    Ken Traveline Dorset

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