Wednesday, 16 May 2018

It's About Time (2)

Tram Timetables in Sheffield ...
... were, like the Laws of the Medes and Persians, unchanging; so the whole of the Monday to Saturday network could be shown on one page of the 1951 Sheffield timetable book.
Note the "frequent service" from Walkley of a tram every four minutes. On the other side of the city "cars" only ran every 8 minutes to Intake, but the Prince of Wales Road service (every 5) compensated for the halving of the through service. A second page gave Sunday times ...
... which showed only minor differences other than a later start. There were pages for early morning, late night and special works "cars" but you had to guess or learn by experience how long your journey might taken. As, generally speaking, motor vehicles did not choose to get in the way, the trams were frequent enough and quick enough to keep their passengers very happy without a detailed timetable.

1956 Came The Bus to Walkley
fbb does not have a very old 95 bus timetable, so we go, again to 1970 ...
... when buses ran every 12 minutes from Tinker Lane and every 6 minutes from South Road. Did Tinker Lane and Bole Hill Road passengers feel the need to consult the timetable?
Roll forward to 1980 and all buses run through to and from Tinker Lane, every six minutes Monday to Friday ...
... and every FIVE on Saturday.
Many Sheffield city routes were more frequent on a Saturday due to the popularity of city centre shopping.

Privatisation Looniness
Sheffield Transport became employee-owned Mainline ...
... with Yorkshire Terrier ...
... joining Andrews Sheffield Omnibus in the futile competitive fray.
Both 123s ran through to Crystal Peaks ...
... but after Stagecoach took over Terrier they moved their 123 elsewhere.
Sheffield Omnibus was bought by Mainline leaving the 95 from Walkley in the hands of First after their take-over of Mainline and its acquired subsidiaries.

Some of the above may be incomplete (or just plain wrong!) but, during the competitive nonsense, the passengers had buses coming out of their ears. If you did not mind which outfit was running the bus, turn up and go meant just that - turn up, wait a minute or two and "Pay and Go" - no need to take two buses into the shower.
Sorry, wrong marketing ploy!

Present Day Truncated 95
For a while the simple 95 became complicated. It was linked with various suburban routes and, if fbb remembers correctly became at 94, 95 and 96 continuing beyond Intake. Then all that fun and frolic was jettisoned and the poor old 95 became a simple run from Walkley into the city ...
... terminating (?) via a large loop at the Interchange.
Monday to Friday service has become every ten minutes ...
... but notice that, as evening peak approaches, every 10 becomes every 11 and then every 12. When fbb was a lad, buses were more frequent at peak times! Only a blog or two ago we were looking at "production-led" timetable in France - herewith a typical UK example. 

On Saturdays (onetime every FIVE minutes) the good folk of Walkley have to cope with a bus every 12 OR every 13 minutes.
Surely this difficult to remember schedule must be off-putting to casual users. Not only is 12/13 minutes a long time to wait if you just miss one, but any small disruption can multiply the angst. 

But it gets worse. In just over a week, First and Stagecoach introduce "a slight reduction" in frequency of most busy cross city services. The "excuse" is that the droves of students have gone home and revenue takes "a big hit".

So the 95 drops to Saturday frequency (every 12/13) for the "Summer", i.e. three months (June, July August).
Until this year it was only for less than two months (July and August) and originally for "the school summer holiday" period.

We are not told how big the hit might be, but fbb guesses that whilst it may be "big" on 52s, 120s and possibly 95s which serve the "proper" Sheffield University, he seriously doubts the size of the "hit" on 1/1A/24/25/78/83/83a/88, none6 of which goes near the big Uni "target" destinations. Maybe the upstart Hallam University also packs up early and loses passengers from its city centre campus?

How many non-student passengers "leave" never to return?

Buses for Sheffield (BfS) was promoted as a policy to attract more people by providing a better service.

There are rumours that a further chunk of BfS publicity will descend on an unsuspecting and hitherto unresponsive Sheffield public at the end of this month.  Is is really the best PR to reduce frequencies at the same time?
Buses for Sheffield have co-ordinated Sheffield’s bus services to provide a unified service that works for everyone. By working together, we can offer more frequent bus services (up to every 10 minutes in some cases) on key routes in the city, and provide more efficient services to make life a little easier for our customers. 

Not for three months of the year, we can't!
Today the fbb's are off to the Isle of Wight. The Secretary of the church which the old codgers used to help lead died recently after a long period of illness. The crematorium funeral will be followed by a service of thanksgiving at Clarence Road Evangelical Church at 1400.
'Tis just round the corner from the Red Flannel ferry terminal in East Cowes.
Therefore, out and back by train and ferry (the cheapest option), the fbbs will join the service after lunch with chums (Senior Isle of Wight correspondent and his Mrs) at the Lifeboat, close to the church.
If they ever get there, that is.

Expect a passing blog comment or three in due course about ineffective journey planners!
Beyond Belief Episode 56
fbb was scanning the TV listings in The Times after dindins yesterday evening and his eye caught this programme on Channel 5.
Eagerly, your elderly blogger sought out he "Viewing Guide" to see if this might be better than an evening of Soaps, Gritty Dramas and Soppy Reality shows.
Looked promising until you read the text.
Erm, no! And treble no!

The High Speed Trains does NOT tilt. It has never tilted. It will never tilt.

Once upon a time The Times (a k a The Thunderer) was respected world wide for its accurate and solid journalism. Maybe Channel 5 had given the journo some fake news (not unknown!) but it must take a particularly half-baked hack to mix up the HST with the APT.
 Fair Fares, Farcical Fares blog : Friday 18th May 


  1. There's a wee bit of a conundrum when planning bus service frequencies at present . . . . it goes like this:

    When do most of the passengers travel? At present, it seems to be off-peak.
    Do they pay lots of money? Erm, no . . . generally they pay nothing, and bus companies get reimbursed (poorly) by someone else.
    So who are the passengers at other times? Well, in the evenings not many people at all, because the pubs are closed and satellite TV has killed off the cinemas.
    What about the "rush" hours? Well, not so many passengers now, as people work in all sorts of places, many where a commute by bus just isn't feasible any more; that means that congestion gets more severe, which stops buses progressing at good speed.
    So how does this affect bus timetables? Well . . . . it's not sensible to add more buses into the cycle when fewer passengers are travelling, so the answer is to gently widen the frequencies to add in extra running time.
    But won't that put passengers off? Actually, probably not . . . if the bus is advertised as every 10-11 (or every 12-13) minutes, the waiting time for Joe Passenger is insignificantly increased, and if the bus then arrives at 17:23 instead of sometime after 17:23 depending on traffic, then everyone's happy!!

    That's why, on high frequency routes (which TfL classify as every 12 minutes or better), times get widened slightly at peak times. Remember that, unless the frequency is 1>9 minutes, the TC's require a full timetable for monitoring purposes.
    I'll bet that, in most conurbations, buses shown as "every 5 minutes" are actually scheduled at every 5-6 minutes at many times!

    Who'd be a bus timetable planner? Everyone thinks they can do better!!

    1. Research, by user groups not operators, has pretty much universally shown that peak passengers aim at a specific journey that will get them to & from work on time. This means that:
      a. Frequency is less important than reliability.
      b. Simple to remember headways aren't as important at these times as people remember the times of their bus not all buses. (when I used the bus to get to work I caught the same pair of buses in every day, the return would be slightly more variable as it depended how quickly I could get out as to whether I could get the bus in front after it had looped through the bus station with a small list of times for my buses home as there were 4 routes which ran from different stops as the only common point was between some of them was the junction at the end of my road as one pair crossed the others).

      Off-peak people are often less time-tied (so won't always catch the same journey every time) so a simpler & easier to remember headway timetable is better. As greenline has said we no longer see the big uplift in peak passengers that existed in the past so you can't afford to just add extra resource in (a couple of vehicles coming off school withstanding) to carry no extra passengers. Also driver shortages mean trying to avoid too many unattractive or anti-social shifts such as split shifts which are often caused by putting extra buses out just to cover the peak periods (so again extra cost for no real extra income to fix a problem that the customers don't really care about).

    2. Sadly FBB has slipped into the trap yet again. The bus industry has to do what its customers and potential customers want, not what someone observing from afar likes.

      You'll note I use the term "customer", not one I'm generally comfortable with, as I still prefer passenger, but actually when thinking of the overall package "customer" is probably more accurate. No longer is someone happen to merely pass[enger] from A to B, but they wish to consume the WiFi and USB charging, enjoy the air con, the tables, the designer interior (and whatever else the industry has dreamed up this week). And "every 10 minutes" perhaps prefixed "up to" or suffixed "Monday to Friday daytimes" etc is part of that package.

      Now I can hear our blogger saying that WiFi, USB charging, air con, etc are all unnecessary to him, and I'd agree that they are for me too. But with low ENCTS reimbursement rates the focus needs to be elsewhere. After all how dire does a service need to be not to use it when its free?

      So take the next step, the gadget enabled target generation probably care nothing for timetables and actual frequency, but are more likely to have their regular journey saved to their app and with a click or a swipe can see that the bus is, say, 3 minutes away. Does it matter if its late, off headway or otherwise upsetting to the timetable studier? Not one bit. In reality its more a case of "I'll get the one if its a few minutes away, if not I'll grab a coffee and get the one after".

      Times change, in more ways than one!

    3. Andrew Kleissner16 May 2018 at 21:40

      Perhaps we're dealing with several different demographics - the gadget generation at work or on a night out, the "oldies" going to the shops, kids going to school or the leisure centre. Each may access the information in different ways (and need different kinds of information).

  2. Yorkshire Traction bought Sheffield Omnibus. The ASO name was used by YT for the combined Terrier and Omnibus network in the end.

    You forgot about the shorts to Commonside and Elm Tree which fitted in to the 6 minute frequency in the peaks.

  3. Andrew Kleissner16 May 2018 at 08:31

    Ipswich trolleybus timetable (December 1939 - came with my Corgi model!). Not bad for a smallish town, albeit with quite a lot of industry. But they were different days ...

  4. Andrew Kleissner16 May 2018 at 08:34

    Current Cardiffbus Service 57/58 (same along most of the route but each serves a different loop in the Pentwyn estate for about a mile).

  5. The HST programme on Channel 5 had its share of gaffes and journalistic hype (working against deadlines, the HST saved BR from death etc etc) but nowhere did it claim that the HST tilted-it clearly contrasted it with APT which did.

  6. As per Dennis above. Why do TV documentaries have to be so hyped up and unnecessarily over dramatic these days. Spoils potentially interesting programmes for me.