Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Leeds To Thorpe Park (2)

Go By Bus - If You Can Find One!
Yesterday we learned that Thorpe Park is a huge business, residential, leisure and shopping development on the eastern edge of Leeds near the community of Garforth.

Well; it will be when it's finished.

Thanks to information from correspondent Roger, fbb also learned that its shopping "mall", called "The Springs" opened last week accompanied by a First Bus route numbered X26.
Assuming that fbb had heard of this exciting new retail experience, how might he discover the best way to get there by public transport?

Maybe start with The Spings' web site? Lots of jollity and pictures of young trendies enjoying their spendies, but there is, hooray, a getting there panel.
That's it for links from the front page! But delve deeper and you may be lucky to find this:-

A brand new, dedicated, express LeedsCity bus service will run right through the heart of the Thorpe Park and The Springs, connecting visitors from the local vicinity** as well as Leeds city centre.

Your new, limited stop services, X26 and X27 will run every 15 minutes until the link road is completed in December 2018, after which they will run up to every 10 minutes or better!

The brand new buses feature contactless payments, free Wi-Fi, USB charging points and next-stop announcements. Click here for more info www.firstgroup.com/leedscity/routes-x26-x27

Other frequent services will also run to and from The Springs and are operated by First (19/19a) and Arriva (163, 166, 402 and 403).

Click on the links below to plan your journey and purchase your tickets!




Sounds encouraging until you delve a little deeper. Cynical fbb reckon s this page was drawn up by someone who has absolutely no idea what a bus might be or how you might use it.

Arriva 163, 166 pass by on the main road but do NOT serve "The Springs" ...
... except via a lengthy walk. There is no evidence from the timetable that they do anything different.
Ditto the 402 and 402. Maybe there are plans to divert some or all of these journeys as the shopping delights develop, but nowt yet awhile.

First bus 19 looks equally promising ...
... but dotted lines usually mean a limited service - and boy oh boy is it limited!
A couple of peak hour trips for "workers" is all that is on offer. Certainly not the "frequent service" of the paragraph above.

Which leaves us with First's X26 and X27. We can click on the link and find out more ...

Leeds City - X26 | X27
Introducing our new LeedsCity X26/X27* express service that runs right through the heart of Thorpe Park and the brand new retail park, The Springs. With plenty of shops, restaurants, a cinema and even a gym; there’s plenty to do at The Springs!

Just sit back and let our buses take you there!

Click to find out more: https://thesprings-leeds.co.uk/#shopping 

* please note that the X27 service is due to be launched in December 2018.

There is no timetable, no proper map, nothing. We can, of course, click on the link to fond out more - it takes is straight back to the poor information c/o The Springs.

We might guess that First Bus was the operator of choice, even before we look at the Springs site.

But, as Roger has reported, there is nothing about the new service on First Leeds' headline page ...
... and not a proverbial sausage in any of the news and updates links.
If, however, you have the time and energy to explore First's site, you may come across this.
The "Leeds City" subhead is promoting the progressive "launch" of a major "new-look" for Leeds bus services, of which more tomorrow.
Clicking on the X26/X27 line links to the page we saw on our way from the Springs site in our quest to "find out more".

To repeat : this page does not lead further to a timetable (that would be really silly) or a proper and useful map (ridiculous idea).

As Roger has pointed out, the only realistic way users can find out about the X26/X27 from First's web site is to know, in advance, that it is there. The only useful thing we get from the obscure information page is that there isn't an X27 (whatever that might be) at the moment.

Nice to know what you are NOT running, First.

If we search for an X26/X27 timetable ...
... we will be disappointed - but persevere and ask for just X26 and, at last, we do get the 15 minutes frequency as promoted (badly).
And, to be fair, there is a "sort-of" map on the page quoted above, split into two halves for bloggable reproduction.
And it really IS as difficult to read; as the above extract illustrates.

Both correspondent Roger and fbb find it amazing that it can be so difficult to find out about what would appear to be a prestigious new route.

Maybe it began as a bit of last-minute-itis?

But it's now been going for a week or so, giving plenty of time to sort it out.

Never mind eh? All we need to do now its to find out where it stops and how much the fare will be.

** local vicinity : the X26 is advertised as "limited stop" which may well mean that links from the "local vicinity" are - sort of - limited.

Before opening those cans of worms, how about this snippet.

A Technological Bench?
fbb came across this on-line when searching for something else. He found it amusing.
fbb would need a bit more than a simple bench sit-down to recover from ANY shopping mall. Certainly a large cup of tea and a wad would be a start!
Yep, that's the idea. Even better would be the tea and a wad without the shopping "fun"!

fbb cannot remember where the bench is located.

More On The Wrong Leaflets 
The 41 suggests it goes to Kimberworth Park which is in Rotherham and to the north of Sheffield. It actually does go to Dyke Vale Road which is south east of the centre; about as wrong, and as daft, as you could get.

But the leaflet also has this on its front cover.
Thankfully there are times in the timetable leaflet - the correct times for the 41 not the 36; but fares?

Of course not : this is First Bus Sheffield publicity.

And patronage is falling because of the internet? Yeah, right!

 Next Thorpe Park blog : Wednesday 24th October 


  1. Sorry, but I think you need to look harder.

    The Springs website gives a link to the First X26 page. Click the link and that page if you scroll down has the fares and timetable links (view or pdf download). Map - the route is simple; York Road to Cross Gates and then the Ring Road. A simple line diagram is much easier to read than a detailed street map of Leeds to show 2 straight lines.

    For First this is probably not a major route launch, but something paid for by the developers. They mention it under their 28th October changes. (When was the launch date fixed?)

    Sheffield leaflets - You blame First staff for the error, but the leaflet design to me is pure SYPTE (Title and web address and the phrase operated by ...). The style of error to me points more to third party rather than operator.

  2. But we shouldn't need to look harder. If society really wishes to promote & develop public transport then all stakeholders need to make it simple and obvious

  3. Instead of look harder, I'd suggest looking at all. As usual, this particular post has been over-engineered to make First Sheffield look bad. Anon/09:22 is right: I found the X26 timetable in three clicks. Springs website > getting here > link to First web page for X26 > Timetable.

    Please remember that the "uneducated" user FBB claims to present wouldn't start with the First Group website, because he or she wouldn't know the bus is operated by First!

    What is the first page in the search results for "First Leeds X26"? You guessed it. The X26 page! THAT is how the majority of "uneducated" users will find their information, and to suggest anything to the contrary is highly dubious.

    How is the route map difficult to read? It is perfectly clear to me in its full size variant on the website. And not knowing Leeds, why do I care if it is line diagram or geographic? The main function of the service is to take me from Leeds City Centre to Thorpe Park/The Spring. What is a geographic map going to give me? Knowledge of when to brace as the bus goes around corners? The suggestion that someone would search for "X26/X27" is just plain ludicrous and defies further comment.

    I also notice there is no positive comment that the X26/X27 page includes fares information, which is another common bugbear. Presumably that would be called balance?

    Anon/09:38: I couldn't think of anything more "simple" and "obvious" than a Google search. If society really wishes to promote & develop public transport it needs an industry that works the way the public at large works, not axe grinders jumping up and down screaming "it doesn't have a map", "why is there no leaflet", "it doesn't tell you what colour the front of the bus is" and other such comments. There is a lot wrong with the bus industry in the UK, but this really isn't the example do to make that point with.

    1. I re-ordered some points when I read through before posting and I realise now there is an awkward jump in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs, when I suggest that passengers wouldn't (perhaps might not would be better) know it was operated by First, then did my sample search using "First Leeds". Ouch.

      My general point is that whether you know who runs the bus or not, the average user is likely to use a plain Google search (as Anon/11:38 suggests below) rather than spend ages clicking around an operator website (which may or may not be the right one).

      To both Anon's below: I'm always wary that it is an opinion blog, and some of the comments FBB receives are of the "glass houses" variety. Whatever we think of FBB's objectivity, it does appear that posts regarding Sheffield and/or Traveline tend to degenerate into lengthy diatribes using the most roundabout of arguments, which is a shame, because he clearly has experience he could put to good use. "No moan November", perhaps - a whole month where FBB can only exude positivity? Challenge laid!

    2. I think that they may know that services are operated by First. The basis for my assumption is that Mendip Explorer Vehicles have the fist logo on the front panel (one does not as it was repaired without) and when vehicles are crocked they are replaced with vehicles that look like first ones. Buses of Somerset have yet to get all of their fleet into local livery. When they do they will be less obvious "first" but whilst this is not the case I think that 30% of vehicles are clearly "first".

  4. Thank you "LWMB Express" for providing the X26 of comments, taking us directly there. And after two days of aimlessly wandering the side streets, stopping at every lamp post, with "FBB Motors"...

    I have said before that there is indeed much wrong with industry, but posts like FBB's are tiresome and so often miss the point. Good points are lost by trying to "score points". And that's a shame as the industry does need the users view, be that an informed, uniformed, or "from a correspondent" type point of view.

    Ironically, FBB falls into the trap of obscuring the information, and not providing a "map" to his thoughts, the very things he castigates operators for.

  5. Indeed - not wishing to join the line of people to give FBB a metaphorical kicking but I also had a go.

    Now I googled "bus Leeds to Thorpe Park". The third result (after Arriva's employee travel club and Rome2Rio) was the Thorpe Park page that FBB cites. Indeed it does mention the routes that FBB listed and does miss out the X26/X27.

    However, click on the Getting Here and public transport dropdown and it does take you to the new route. In that respect, FBB does have a fair point that the http://www.thorpepark-parklife.co.uk/travel/bus/ splash page could do with a better more obvious link.

    However, I also agree with the criticism of FBB's tone in this and other blogs. His correspondent Roger is, of course, Roger French. His own blog is superior to FBB's on a number of levels - firstly, he has the space to investigate things more thoroughly (and that's not a criticism of FBB per se). However, Roger has the experience and knowledge to understand what should and could be done and the reasons etc. This means that it is couched in more measured tones etc. Not the finger pointing and twisting of a man who can't believe that the world has changed as it has.

    As regards FBB's continued criticism of South Yorkshire, it feels more targeted as if there's some score being settled. FBB doesn't believe that the internet is knocking seven bells out of the bus industry is like denying man made global warming.

  6. This blog is entitled "Public Transport Experience". Perhaps fbb could give us a personal experience from his local area. For example perhaps trying out what may be the country's newest municipal (? pop about 3000) operator - Beaminster Town Council and that town's other services (like revised 40 from 28th Oct).

  7. According to a person on Twitter, the bench (customer recharge point) is located in the Golden Square Shopping Centre in Warrington: