Monday, 9 April 2018

The Grand Tour (five)

Hey, Hey, Haymarket!
The road was one of several radiating from the clock tower, traditionally the centre of the city.
The clock remains, but almost everything else has changed.
As its name doesn't suggest, the Haymarket bus station fills the triangle between Belgrave Gate and Charles Street.
Its name was (and is) more of a hint of the Haymarket shopping centre (tired) and the Haymarket Theatre rather than being a record of its actual location.

The previous bus station was, effectively, three lanes of bus shelters and not much more.
Its replacement is a very large, very smart bus shelter with head-in stands and protection from the weather.
Beyond the departure displays are toilets (not tested by fbb!) ...
... with an arrow pointing to the Haymarket Centre. What you are not told is that almost immediately outside that doorway is the First Bus Travel Shop.
But, do not despair too much, as First's leaflets are displayed alongside the bus station information desk.
The main contenders for your custom are First and Arriva, with many other Arriva routes happening at the other bus station (St Margarets) not too far away. And leaflets for Arriva services?
They are safely and anonymously hidden behind a side window. Well, it wouldn't do to encourage passengers to find out when the buses run, would it?

There is no bus station caff (there is an excellent catering facility at St Margarets) but a small shop just outside can keep hunger pangs at bay if needed.
fbb did not need as he was being treated to a posh nosh at the hotel by long time chum David!

As well as the enquiry office and the usual electronic displays, each stand had a departure list in time order.
fbb was somewhat confused as to which bus to Rushy Mead he would need to catch as there was so much useful (?) detail.
Route diagrams are very basic and, frankly, only of use if you already know where you want to go. 
There is plenty of space in the frame to display a fully detailed map; even First Bus' own semi-geographical diagram would have been better.
Which brings fbb to another point. Nowhere could he see a network map for the city, despite the fact the one is available on-line. A printed version was not on display at the Information Desk either, although the current version is dated March 2018.
Then fbb must repeat his usual beef, namely that there are no timetables on display in any of the frames at each stand. There would be plenty of room, especially if needless repetition of (e.g.) "Rushey Mead" were replaced with something more useful.

There are plenty of buses from Railway Station to Haymarket, departing from a rather daunting island in the middle of a very busy road junction ...
... where traffic light controlled crossings prevent too many near death experiences. From Haymarket back to the station is more messy. Cross city services travelling north do not pull into Haymarket but stop near- (or not so near-) -by in Charles Street.

But there is a little list of buses that would never be missed!
But, trying not to be too picky, fbb found Haymarket Bus Station easy to use and well supplied with enough information to give its users confidence to travel.

One final moan is another "usual" from fbb.
Why are displays such as these (over enlarged by fbb!) in TIME order. Surely a passenger is looking for a route number or a destination.

"Next service 1 to Acacia Avenue at XXXX"

"Next bus to Acacia Avenue (service 1) at XXXX"

Surely more useful than the above?

fbb's chum David has sussed out a short cut to the other bus station. Leave Haymarket via Belgrave Gate, cross the road and walk through the car park ...
... then along the picturesque Sandacre Street and, there at the end, ...
... is the architecturally-challenged Gravel Street with its many entrances to St Margarets.
Easy with local knowledge and much quicker than using the "obvious" roads.

 Next Grand Tour "information" blog : Tuesday 10th April 


  1. The railway station stop is far better than its predecessors, which were on the far side of the multi-lane road, and could not be crossed in one go.
    The current arrangement is an excellent example of making a minor alteration to road layouts that benefits both buses and their passengers.

  2. There are also electronic screens attached to the walls at either end of the bus station which display next departures for each route, there are a number of corridors/destinations where you could use more than one route and the traditional RTI style is more useful here. The toilets were un-refurbished, they are cramped and a little 'tired' but at least they are there.

    The enquiry office in the Haymarket normally leaves the leaflets which haven't been put on the racks alongside (which are supposed to be for everyone not just First) on the counter so they can be seen and reached, not sure why this hasn't been done. St Margarets also have racks for operators publicity, in this case managed by Arriva staff rather than council ones, but this has been less and less filled up recently which is disappointing.

    Whilst the 22 stand is a simple one, there are a lot of stands/routes in Haymarket where there are multiple routes and/or terminal variations where the destination as well as route number is vital. I suspect that fbb will have to accept, no matter how much I agree with him, that departure lists are here to stay and that timetables at bus stops will probably be in a minority, there are a lot of customers who struggle to read/understand a traditional timetable who can use a departure list much easier. However whilst the LCC displays are not the worst out there they do miss the, what I consider vital, aspect of journey times to help identify the direct from indirect routes to locations & I would prefer a bit more contrast where there are multiple routes than the black & white, single font style they use here (they have another style elsewhere that does colour code though they did, at least initially, manage to give every operator but Centrebus different shades of blue just to confuse).

  3. Ever thought about losing the patronising and obnoxious tone?

    1. Ever thought about not reading the Blog if it offends your sensitivities so much?

    2. Ever thought about realising that people of contrary view might read this blog? Or is anyone who disagrees with the old blogger not allowed here?