Sunday, 21 October 2018

Weekend Collection (2)

It's Everyone Else's Fault ...
And, pray, why might that be?
Really? fbb has been told on a number of occasions that the footfall in Sheffield's City centre had declined "dramatically" and it is all the fault of the internet.

Might there be other reasons?

1. Punitive increases in fares to "encourage" passengers to by a day ticket (which has also increased in price).

2. Lack of printed publicity for timetable changes; publicity appearing several weeks after those changes.

3. Apart from the day ticket (etc) there has been no route-by-route promotion of new services for many years. What limited advertorial stuff (i.e. other than a plain timetable) has been weak.

4. Appallingly inaccurate maps displayed at bus stops.

5. Unreliability, mostly due to road works and high levels of traffic, but a good heap of the problem deriving from poor on-street regulation of the service.

In steps councillor Ian Aukland ...
... to challenge the "blame everything on the internet" excuse.
Purely? Mainly? Partly? fbb's would suggest vehemently "Mainly".
But well done Mr Aukland for challenging the excuse and pointing out that the Bus Partnership, Buses for Sheffield, Travel South Yorkshire etc. etc. are no alternative to good, well publicised services.

So come on First. Offer a maximum single ticket of £2 and a £3 day ticket on (say) services 75 and 76; increase the frequency to a combined every 5 minutes (from every 6) and have some "inspectors" to regulate the service with a hot spare available to help cover any breakdown in service. Oh, yes. Paint the front ends bright red.

There will be abstraction from parallel services but you might see an overall growth of numbers on that corridor.

Instead of whingeing about the internet (which you cannot change) try making a difference with things that you can improve.

Go on - try it!

Another Re-organisation Delivers?
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) is the public body responsible for co-ordinating transport services in the West Midlands metropolitan county in England. It is an executive body of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), with bus franchising and highway management powers similar to Transport for London. TfWM's policies and strategy are set by the Transport Delivery Committee of the WMCA.

TfWM's initial priorities are the expansion of the Metro through East Birmingham, Brierley Hill and Birmingham Airport, improvements to the M5 and M6 motorways, and new cycle routes as part of a metropolitan cycle network. There are also plans to work with central government over the future of the underused M6 Toll.

And they have announced, of course, a new unified brand with all buses being red ...
... all trams blue ...
... and all trains - who knows?
The first results of this TfWM re-think have been missed by fbb, so here is a bit of old-ish  news.
These services are now joint between Diamond and National Express ...
Buses of both operators are in the new standard red livery with operator logo above the doors and "West Midlands Bus" and logo on the bodysides. Also:-
From Sunday 2nd September 2018, National Express West Midlands and Diamond Bus will work together with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) to provide a new joint timetable on services 31 & 32 (currently known as the 301 & 302), which will carry the new West Midlands Bus branding.  The introduction of a joint timetable on these services means that in most cases, National Express West Midlands and Diamond Bus customers will be able to board the first bus that comes along. 

For the most part, buses on this route will bear the new West Midlands Bus branding, with customers able to distinguish the operators by the company logos which will be visible just above the doors.

The launch of the new joint timetable marks the end of the Walsall service numbers 301 & 302, as these will be known as the 31 & 32 for both operators from this date. 

On close inspection, the new livery, which appears to be a simple red all over ...
... actually has a lighter red (vermilion?) splodge on the front which merges into the darker red via a bit of TfWM logo "netting".

More importantly there is reasonable ticket interavailability on routes where the two operators used to compete.

The best value on bus ticket available to buy is the Diamond Value Day ticket £2.80 (£1.50 child) which you can purchase on both Diamond and National Express and is valid on ANY 42/43/43A service.

Diamond is now also accepting and selling National Express daysavers and travelcards. National Express are also selling Diamond Value Day & Week tickets which are valid on all 42/43/43A services and other diamond value routes.

This comes at a time when the two Buses for Sheffield operators have stopped accepting joint tickets on their join routes.


That Leyland National
Thanks to a correspondent who put fbb (and possibly the man in the Peco Shop) right by telling him that the model he has just bought is originally from the Tower Models range.

This could explain why fbb could not find it in the former Parkside Models range!

But there it is ...
... and the green version as well.
Intriguingly an EBay offer ...
... shows the Manchester version to be released later by Peco plus an RT and a London Tram. The RT was also available in  red.
fbb knows nothing about the Routemaster (Keil Kraft). This is also a plastic kit but advertised as 1:72 scale, slightly larger than exact OO and the size used for model aircraft.
Maybe, as our correspondent deduces, these were all moulded by the same company?

Delay Repay Repercussions
fbb and Mrs fbb, you will remember, travelled to Glasgow to join their Scottish rail-holiday-by-coach. The outward trip was significantly delayed by a lack of electric string at Carstairs and their return journey by a lack of signals between Waterloo and Clapham Junction.

The return fare for the two old crocks was :-
Virgin West Coast replied with a cheque for the whole of the outward leg in three days - i.e. £124.75.

In a slightly more tardy fashion, South Western Railway returned the lolly direct to your author's bank account.

They sent the full return fare of £249.50!!! (this is subject to confirmation upon receipt of the next bank statement, but this is what they said they had sent.)

Neither company asked the fbbs to specify their fare, merely to send a scan of their tickets.

This means the luckless holiday travellers have made a 50% profit on their return travel.

Wherein lies a moral dilemma. Should the honest pair of perplexed pensioners attempt to return the over-payment - and if so how?
Tomorrow we go to Thorpe Park

 Next Leeds blog : Monday 22nd October 


  1. The problem with buses in Sheffield is money. The local authority has no money for subsidies or by the quality of output, sufficient staff to keep up with error free timetable publicity.

    The competition between First and Stagecoach has led to both not running adequately profitable. First South Yorkshire is bankrupt about from guarantees from corporate and made a another loss for the 2016/17 year. The drivers had an above average pay rise. Perhaps First corporate should give up and liquidate South Yorkshire, but then there would be very few buses and who has the capital to buy the 600+ buses they currently run.

    Your suggested day ticket prices are substantially out of date. Some sample Adult day tickets are First Bristol inner zone is £4.50, inner and outer zone £6.50, Stagecoach Exeter £4.00, Exeter plus £6.00.

    Not many people can pile it high and sell it cheap and go on to become Tesco or Stagecoach. Once you have got big and the competition has followed your lead how do you stay big with all the overheads and new people like Aldi and Lidl using another model.

  2. Online internet shopping reduces bus travel. Dunno about that. Mine usually involves "click and collect" as I'm too tight to pay for delivery. That is followed by a bus journey to the nearest Argos, DIY shed, M&S etc to collect pourchase. This is often followed by another bus journey to take stuff back that doesn't fit, or that I've been told that I can't keep, by a higher power.

  3. And as those of us in the industry will bang on about ad nauseam, lowering adult fares has significant impact on concessionary fares reimbursement.
    First are doing a fantastic job at carrying more people in Bristol, but the two most recently published accounts show losses increasing from £1.9m to £6.4m. Thus far, it would not seem to be a recipe for long term survival, though we'll have to wait till January for the next set of accounts to see which way it has moved.

    1. The Bristol losses above are for First Somerset and Avon, which is now First West of England (formerly Bristol Omnibus Co from 1887). First Bristol had an increased profit from £0.8m to £3m over the same period. First Bristol is now First Bus Central Services and all assets and operation in Bristol was transferred to the other company. (formerly First Bristol was Badgerline from 1987). The combined operating accounts due publicaly in January will indeed be interesting to read - does success equal profit or loss? Many companies go bust by being too successful.

    2. Ah, good point Anonymous. I forgot the merger was as recent as it was.

  4. Whilst there is no longer a man with a clipboard stood on the High Street regulating buses, this job is still done - by a man sat behind a computer screen watching every bus on the network being tracked.

    The mutual acceptance of each others bus only day and week Sheffield tickets by First and Stagecoach just on routes 52 and 120 was an odd hangover from the days of the 'Optio' trial which got replaced by the bus partnership and the Citybus tickets valid on all operators services so wasn't really relevant anymore.

    Things like increased internet shopping, out of town retail parks, flexible working arrangements and increased availability of car parking in the City Centre have all genuinely had effects on both demand for travel and increased road traffic congestion.

    HOWEVER - like Councillor Auckland I do feel the main reason for the fall in patronage in some parts of the city was the network reorganisation (ok, call it cuts if you like).

    Using the Bradway area as an example as I know it well, there used to be two main bus services (as well as the local minibus M17 which still exists) - the 25/25a and 293. The 293 ran half hourly via the most direct route into town taking 20-30 minutes, it also provided a link to neighbouring Dronfield. The 293 no longer exists so Bradway has no quick bus to town and no bus at all to Dronfield.

    The 25 had a popular part of the route (London Road) removed, the Wollaton estate loop in Bradway was changed to only be served in the outbound direction and extra bits of route such as the Lowedges estate and Queens Road was added that extended journey time.

    The 25 bus now takes up to 50 minutes from Bradway to Sheffield Centre. Bradway is 5 miles from the City Centre. Many Bradway residents say they no longer use the bus as it is unacceptably slow.

    Meanwhile Northern are gradually improving the train service at nearby Dore & Totley station (Sheffield in under 10 minutes!) and volunteers from the Bradway community action group have been helping upgrade the woodland footpath down to the station so it can be used all year round.

    Just a shame there is no bus link to the station...

  5. incidentally in 2013-2015 weren't the buses enjoying something of a boom as a result of parts of the tram system being closed for rail replacement...

  6. My last two Delay Repay claims (Trans Pennine and Virgin West Coast) have resulted in compensation of 100% of the ticket price when I only claimed the 50% I was entitled to.