Tuesday 31 October 2017

Weird Happenings ...

But First The Last
From Sheffield Roy, pictures of the last T M Travel journeys on Service 65.
Both vehicles are from a batch operated by Metrobus in their Transport for London fleet ...
... from which they retain their TfL red paint job. Were T M Travel bosses hoping for huge numbers of Nostalgia Nuts riding the last ever T M Travel trips on the 65?

Note for High Peak Buses - double deckers would be a marketable attraction for the route, especially in summer.

Nippy Nips No More
Nippy Bus was founded in September 2004 beginning with five partially demand responsive bus services, 4 of which (N1, N2, N4 & N5) started from market towns via villages in South Somerset to Yeovil serving parts of the town before reaching the centre. Route N3 operates as a local circular town service within Yeovil. After First Somerset & Avon cutbacks the company launched daytime services route N7 to replace First's 61A and route N8 to replace First's 56 under contract to Somerset County Council.

But ...
... it Nips no more.

Weird Happenings 1
Remember Towcester to Brackley where a service of zero buses during the day is to become a bus every 30 minutes? (read again). There was a comment on the blog that this change, due from November 5th, was postponed; but nobody seemed to know why.

Steve Burd, Stagecoach boss in Northampton then explained the problem.

Shortage of buses?
Shortage of staff?
Major road works?
None of these. Apparently the bus stop NaPTAN code for Catch Yard Farm Estate did not work and so Stagecoach's registration went phut.

Stagecoach submit their registrations electronically via the over complex, over engineered, over costly system adopted to make life difficult by The Traffic Commissioners.

Beyond belief.

Sorry folks, you can't have your buses because the confuser is confused!

Weird Happenings 2
Hot news from Birmingham.

To speed up the buses, Travel West Midlands are ...
... closing nearly sixty bus stops that are "little used"

But surely if these stops are "little used", then the rarity of a passengers will hardly delay the service? Generally Birmingham Corporation's lovely circular bus stops ...
... did tend to be close together. This encouraged folk to catch the bus because the stops were nearer their homes and places of work.
Here are some that are removed from the 45 and 47.
So this one stays ...
... this one (Breedon Road) goes ...
... and this one stays.
Looks pretty arbitrary to your author but maybe local knowledge supports the plan.

But then fbb was always well aware that bus services would run so much better without all those pesky passengers wanting to travel.

Weird Happenings 3
Hot news from Sheffield Supertram.
About time too! Trams are often packed to the roof, even off peak, so an improved service is long overdue.
Sounds a good plan.

And how is this improvement to be achieved?

Monday to Friday off-peak and all daytime on Saturday the previous 10 minute headway extends to every 12; harder to remember and longer to wait. Good news indeed.

Yes, it is hard to believe - but the same twaddle is being promulgated by the PTE for whom Stagecoach runs the tram on a contract.

fbb found Supertram on-line, (which no longer has its own web site), after a struggle; but when he searched for news of this change, this appeared.
Now that would be a major improvement in the service - all the way to Northampton.

fbb was looking for a quote which had appeared earlier, but had since disappeared from the Stagecoach pages. But, no worry, the PTE prints the quote.
Sure thing buster. Reducing the frequency is a really good way to attract more passengers!

That's where fbb has been going wrong all these years. Fancy not understanding that more people will travel if you run less buses or trams. This should be a major part of any college or university Transport Management course. It is truly revolutionary.

Or truly weird.
But today (or, more specifically, tonight) is Hallowe'en.

Of course, Hallowe'en used to be about rejecting the devil and all that he stands for. Sadly, commercialism and "letting the kids have a bit of harmless (?) fun" has turned it right round. Hallowe'en now seems to exalt the world of evil and the occult, however lightheartedly.

Why pumpkins? They were originally designed to scare off evil spirits, based on several spooky folk tales.
 Turnips, not pumpkins!
Wouldn't it be more wholesome to use All Hallow's (i.e. Saint's) Eve to do good and kind things for people; November 1st is All Saints Day. Our world needs a few more Saints, surely? Certainly we could do with less horrible things.

In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honourable.

From the Bible : Paul's letter to the Church at Philippi : Chapter 4, verse 8.

 Next Daventry blog : Wednesday 1st November 


  1. I notice that you refrained from using the actual communication form nippy bus to their employees. It isn't very professional at all.

  2. NAPTAN codes . . . . yes, over complicated and designed for easy lookup by search engines (find all mentions of ANYTOWN, search further for THISESTATE or BUSSTOPNUMBER, then present all the findings to the enquirer who will go "HUH" and give up. Of course, all done without human input, so that saves some jobs.
    In re Supertram loadings . . . . whilst I can't claim to have done exhaustive research, my trips on tram routes out towards Halfway and Malins Bridge certainly don't show that trams are rammed all day long. Trams to Meadowhell, yes, but not the rest.
    In re bus stops . . . . . decades ago bus stops were set at 4 stops per mile, subject to local exigencies (roundabouts, gyratories and the like). When an old folks home was opened in between stops, local pressure required an additional stop ("ah, but we can't expect Mrs Scroggins {who is 97 and still with her own teeth} to walk 1/8th mile to the bus stop"). Bus stops also get temporarily inserted for major road restructurings and never removed afterwards.

    As a bus driver - the frustration of setting off from a stop only to get the dreaded "ding" before even engaging second gear and then stopping 150 yards down the road for one passenger to alight, and then having to force a way back into the continuous stream of traffic only for the dreaded "ding" to sound again is utterly soul-destroying.
    It's one reason why bus drivers in urban areas tend to quit the job . . . if bus stops went back to 4 stops per mile then bus services could be speeded up, traffic flow would improve, noxious emissions would be reduced (emissions are worse from a diesel engine when it's working harder) and we'd all be fitter 'cos we'd be walking more.

  3. My experience of Supertram is much the same as GreenLine727's. Indeed, in mid afternoon I was the only passenger as the tram gently rocked and rolled along the Herdings branch - which was more like a Belgian Vicinal route than urban city transport.

    The timetable changes are what several bus operators have had to resort to elsewhere - or add extra buses. It shows the limitations of a street tramway - though unusually, of course, they have some extra rolling stock - widely rumoured to have cost getting on for £4m each. That could buy a lot of buses....

    I find the NAPTAN excuse at Stagecoach Midlands somewhat pathetic. If I need new stops created, my local authority contact will usually have processed them within an hour, and they appear on the system at the weekly update. Perhaps Stagecoach don't update their own systems at the same frequency, so maybe they only have themselves to blame. NaPTAN administration works well if you follow the rules, but don't expect it to do so if you try to take short cuts.

    1. It may depend on your area as to how good it is, we have spent months trying to get a stop moved on a new housing estate without success as the council do not accept that the road round the estate is open, that the stop has moved or that our buses can serve it - possibly because the road & estate has not yet been handed over to the council. As it happens this is, I think, the same local authority that Stagecoach would be dealing with. Each local authority will have different quality at dealing with things and many are quite slow/poor at keeping stop databases up to date and how they do it. One of our main authorities has a habit of not deleting 'unused' stops but moving their location to county hall which is fine except where they are still attached to a service that suddenly appears to shoot across the county and back in the middle of the route, all this is done without warning (so the first anyone knows is when they look at the scheduled route in the tracker) and when asked for a list of the changes just sent out a spreadsheet of every bus stop in the council with no explanation to help find new/moved stops (though they are reasonably quick in moving/adding when requested) - you clearly have a good local authority.

  4. Wouldn't it be more wholesome to use All Hallow's (i.e. Saint's) Eve to do good and kind things for people; November 1st is All Saints Day. Our world needs a few more Saints, surely? Certainly we could do with less horrible things.

    You don't do irony do you?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I do agree about Herdings Park. That bit always was a waste of space. Why not close it and use the trams to maintain the ten minute frequency?

  7. A big well done to Buses of Somerset. Their replacement for a Nippy Bus service starts tomorrow. The time table has appeared on Social Media https://www.facebook.com/groups/SomersetCTBC/?multi_permalinks=2485145791502962%2C2484174918266716&notif_id=1509453321070323&notif_t=group_activity but also has a picture of a correctly liveried bus with the correct destination on it. These things help.

  8. "fbb found Supertram on-line, (which no longer has its own web site), after a struggle" - really? Just type in Sheffield and Tram into Google and it's the top hit!

    Also, appreciate the pressure on your time when constructing this blog but.... don't merely copy Wikipedia as per the Nippy Bus scope of operations. That description is very out of date - better to have been either vague or ask one of your correspondents. However, it's another one of the interlopers that First (in another era) allowed to wander into Somerset and set up shop that has gone following Webberbus and Crosville (for the most part), as well as Cooks/Stagecoach and largely pushing Damory back to their Blandford roots.

    As for Greenline's comments on bus stop spacing, he's absolutely on the money. Many places have seemingly seen the appearance of the odd bus stop, just here and there and nothing to worry about, until you see the compound effect of them all!

  9. Andrew Kleissner1 November 2017 at 07:59

    In the days just before Dr. Beeching, British Railways simultaneously dieselised branch lines and sometimes added extra stops (usually just basic halts). The idea seemed good: but trains take a long time to start and stop, so their speed advantage was nullified. Most lines closed after a few years. (Examples: Tetbury, Ballater and Bodmin lines).

  10. Being a West Midlander I can say that some stop removals didn't surprise me - a few did. There have been some moans but not an outcry. I look forward to hearing the effects on journey times in due course.