Monday, 21 May 2018

And Four Come Along At Once (1)

Is Demand Responsive Responsive?
The phrase usually refers to something between a taxi and a bus, serving rural areas with some form of advance booking. Demand responsive in urban areas has surfaces on several occasions. When fbb was wooing Mrs fbb-to be, he took her on the Hampstead Garden Suburb service from Golders Green station.
Booking was by phone. Of similar vintage was the Woughton (pronounced Wuff-ton) Dial-a-Bus ...
... serving embryo districts of Milton Keynes. fbb remembers the occasion. He, plus Northampton correspondent Alan, alighted from a real bus in one of the many blasted heaths that would become the new city. First find a phone box, then attempt to describe the pick-up point. Both these algorithms were fraught.

Eventually a bus came a delivered the gruesome twosome to Bletchley.

Stagecoach had a go with their Taxibus in Petersfield ...
... but it was short-lived.

Using old technology ...
... was slow and expensive. Along come smartphone Apps linked to clever "ride sharing" software and it all gets much more feasible.

Arriva Click began in a small way offering pre-booked services between The Kent Science Park ...
... and Sittingbourne Station. The service has since expanded to cover a much wider area.
The system is straightforward. Book your journey using the App, pay using the App and your minibus comes for you at a time which arrives via a txt on you phone.
£7.50 - OUCH! (fbb thinks the fares structure has changed since that price was quoted)

Cunningly, fares vary according to distance and are reduced for more than one person making the same journey. Generally prices are cheaper than a taxi, but a lot more expensive than a conventional bus.

Ford have started their "Chariot" service of "vans" (their description of a minibus, not fbb's).
Four services are running in London. But unlike the Sittingbourne service which runs all day Monday to Saturday, the Chariots only operate at peak times and with "peak flow" i.e. to get you to and from work via a suitable station.

fbb took a look at the Nuxley Navigator (joyous crazy names!) which links parts of Erith with Abbey Wood station, ready no doubt for the Elizabeth Line (a k a Crossrail) service.
It illustrates how Ford's Chariot service works.

Firstly, it uses a fixed route; but as all journeys have to be pre-booked, it will, presumably, miss out bits where there are no customers.
Abbey Wood station is just off the map, upper  left. It passes through places which are unfamiliar to fbb; West Heath, Bedonwell and Lessness with stops marked by the little blobs. There are no stop poles or flags, everything is delivered via the App with each stop given a detailed name..

The route ends on Charlton Road, Erith ...
... outside No 8B (centre property above).
It must be a great thrill for the owners of 8B to have a bus terminus outside their driveway!

fbb was able to "sample" possible journeys without downloading the App and inadvertently spending money on journeys he would never use. Oddly, a trip from Kempton Road to Abbey Wood ...
... was possible BUT from Erith and District Hospital, not much further away ...
... Chariot would no carry me.
fbb is renowned for a stubby-fingered approach to so-called smartphones so might have done something wrong or just plain silly; but the results for Cartlon Road seemed illogical.

And for those with better knowledge of Red Bus routes than fbb, this Cartlon Road is served by London Buses B12 ...
... which runs from Erith to Joydens Wood.
One of the dubious delights of this London Buses service is that it trundles round the Joydens Wood loop in the opposite direction after about 12 noon.
Carlton Road and Erith General Hospital are on there somewhere, up at the top, near Erith.

So Ford's Chariots do impinge on "normal" bus services, but whether they actually extract any significant revenue therefrom is, currently a matter for speculation.

Without the App, fbb could not find any prices, but, again, they are claimed to be cheaper than a taxi but, obviously, more expensive that a "proper" bus.

Ford's operation is present in a number of USA cities and, presumably, the aim is to make a profit.

Tomorrow we move to another experimental demand responsive service which started last week in Bristol, and it involved the normally risk-averse First Bus.
Hat Eating Delayed
On Saturday last, fbb reported on another piece of publicity nonsense from Travel South Yorkshire. The on-line non-leaflet for joint services 7 and 8/8A showed a reduction in frequency Monday to Friday to half hourly for the 7 "for the summer period" (period assumed but not stated) but with the 8/8A being left at every 20.
This showed the ludicrously daft situation of two buses running over most pf the route at exactly the same times viz. 1232 from Manor Top to Ecclesfield, a joy repeated every hour.

Of course it was a nonsense and fbb's hat (he never wears one, so the offer was meaningless) will not be consumed.

First Bus have published their 8/8A timetable (without adding in their partner's route 7) ...
... and it, too, is reduced to every 30 minutes.

fbb does wonder when the TSY gnomes will find out and, more importantly, when they will think about telling the good folk of Sheffield. Remember that nobody will be providing any printed timetables for this THREE MONTH service cut.

Beyond belief YET AGAIN.

Now what have you been saying, folks, about a steady decline in passenger numbers?

Not to be outdone by PTE incompetence, First Bus is still ostensibly running a different service on some selected days of the week. Last time it was Friday that had a special timetable exactly the same as the normal one; for the 8/8a it is now Monday.
Maybe there is a prize for spotting the difference between the Monday timetable and the Tuesday to Friday version.

Several services (notably in Doncaster) do not run on Mondays at all.
 My First Mile blog : Tuesday 22nd May 


  1. Isn't the 28 May a Bank Holiday......

  2. As far as I am aware the Arriva click service is financially supported by the Kent Science Park and was introduced as part of a new approach in developing and expanding that site. Presumably that is why it initially only catered for people travelling to/from the KSP and its low fare.

    When Kent County Council was considering a major reduction its budget for supporting bus services a few months ago both the Click and Chariot operations were suggested (by Councillors) as ideal alternatives that would reduce the cost of such provision. It was then pointed out that the cost of setting up such operations was more than the total budget saving they were seeking!! They are not a cheap alternative.

    Its worth noting that as part of the supported 'rural' network peak time journeys had been operating by Chalkwell between the KSP and Sittingbourne Station for some years and they carried reasonable loads. With the introduction of the Click service that traffic was lost and the relevant journeys were withdrawn. That will probably have an effect on the cost and potential future of that wider traditional rural network. With some local town services in the map area also being financially supported the options are there!? But what happens when the support from KSP runs out?