Monday, 12 February 2018

It's All Happening (2)

Merseytravel Madness
It began with London Transport who have never produced a proper public printed timetable book for their red buses within living memory. The argument used to be that London buses were so frequent it didn't matter.
Even when a booklet was printed it mainly contained first and last journeys plus frequency in between. Leaflets for specific routes have appeared occasionally but rarely with a proper full timetable.
There was limited publicity for the new route 87 over ten years ago. Likewise useful paper maps are a thing of the past because, according to Transport to London, "there was no demand".  Of course there was no demand because TfL made is pretty near impossible to find anywhere that stocked them.

The South Yorkshire PTE removed all printed material from the Meadowhall Interchange enquiry office ...
... "as an experiment" which led, inexorably, to a decision to withdraw ALL printed timetables. No results from the "experiment" were ever documented - it was arbitrarily and subjectively deemed a success.

For the recent timetable change at the end of January, only Stagecoach bothered to produce a leaflet for its Stocksbridge group of routes; other widespread but minor changes have gone unrecorded in print. The tram frequency reduction was also commemorated with three leaflets.

Now Merseytravel have caught the same disease. This from an on-line news source.

Travellers in St Helens will be first in the city region subject to the huge change which will see a “digital approach to accessing travel information” trialled for six months.

During the pilot period, bus and rail paper timetables, area map leaflets and general ticketing booklets will be removed from the St Helen’s Merseytravel Centre and 16 other outlets, such as health centres and libraries.

Instead this information will only be accessible on-line. The travel network operator said they are implementing this because “the number of outlets receiving paper timetables and other information has reduced and increasingly more people are accessing travel information online”.

"More people"? It would be interesting to have numbers; but, of course, they are never quoted. Although numbers are, indeed, increasing, the numbers still represent a small percentage of bus users. From fbb's admittedly limited experience amongst colleagues and friends in various locations, a figure of about 10% is the general size of the on-line usage.

Merseytravel have good bus leaflets ...
... each with a "broad brush" route diagram on the front. There is a very detailed route map ...
... and, unusually for today's bus operators, a road by road route description.
Oh yes, and a timetable!
There are also area guides ...
... with good local network maps.

Presumably, according to Merseytravel, nobody bothers to use them?

But to add insult to injury, the press article also reports ...

Chair of the transport committee, which oversees the work of Merseytravel, Cllr Liam Robinson ...
... said: “As digital journey planning tools become more popular with customers in the Liverpool City Region and with the financial challenges Merseytravel faces, it is important that information distribution channels are reviewed and cost efficiently strategies deployed.

Obviously a good idea to look at making savings, BUT ...

The PTE's budget for the current financial year is ...
... a little over one hundred million pounds.

And the reported saving from withdrawing printed material from the whole of the Merseytravel area?

Merseytravel said that if this is successful the pilot “could be rolled out across the Liverpool City Region - contributing to savings of up to £140,000 a year”.

That is 0.14% of the total PTE budget.

How many passenger journeys will be lost as folk find it harder and harder to manage their journeys? Will it be more or less than £140,000?

A decision beyond belief. It is like fbb becoming excited about saving just under £1.40 on a bill of £1000.

fbb has asked (repeatedly) how many passengers have been lost in Sheffield since printed material effectively vanished. 

DEATHLY SILENCE. No one dates to ask the question

Somebody should do a proper independent survey, but NOT the PTE as they will only ask questions that prove their point.

Of course, perhaps the bus operators will take up the challenge and start publicising their own services. Surely an obvious way of helping the passenger?

How does Cumfybus publicise the 139 on their own web site? Answer; it "quotes" the PTE leaflet.

Here is the timetable ...
... showing half the journeys extending to St Helens. The map confirms this with a third chunk of cartography on the leaflet.
The route diagram on the front of the leaflet  also extends to St Helens ...
... as does the road-by-road route description.
The only snag seems to be the date on the Cumfybus version of their service c/o the PTE leaflet ...
... and the PTE's current version?
So well done Cumfybus (NOT) and badly done for the passengers. Who will police this new and efficient on-line world that we are all encouraged to use?

A Nother New Network
News is breaking that Yellow Buses (formerly Bournemouth Corporation Transport, now run by RATP, Paris City Transport) is ditching its "named" routes (sorry, "lines") in favour of the new idea, namely simple route numbers!
The network is being re-jigged and reduced in scope with some routes withdrawn without replacement (although covered in part by More - Wilts and Dorset as was).
That will be yellow, one presumes?

fbb will review the new revised rejigged (again!) network (currently announced WITHOUT timetables) as soon as he can understand it!

 More Happenings blog : Tuesday 13th February 


  1. Morebus is part of GoSouthCoast serving Bournemouth and Poole. Today’s Bournemouth Echo is highlighting their rivals (YellowBuses) forthcoming changes on 8 April 2018 - when they have yet another major (Back to Basics) change and it is indicated that a number of areas will loose out and have to rely solely on Morebus.

  2. Thanks for the comments (now deleted) pointing out yet another fbb bludner. This post did appear brief yesterday due to an bit of misplaced finger-prodding!

  3. Looking at the website - have Yellow Buses ditched all the tendered routes?

  4. You may or may not have seen this:
    Remarkably high numbers of young people refer to paper timetables and things displayed at stops. Surely the proportion will increase with age?