Thursday 28 February 2019

GoAhead North West (Part 1) ...

... Or What You Get For 11 Million!
With various closures and sell-offs, First Manchester is left with three depots. Bolton, Oldham and Queens Road Manchester, the letter being sold with vehicles and routes to GoAhead. It is worth remembering that when Manchester PTE was privatised, H M Government forced the business to be split as GM Buses North (which went to First) ...
... and GM Buses South which was snapped up by Stagecoach.
Until First sold its Wigan operation to Stagecoach each has generally kept to its own; with First buying Finglands from East Yorkshire their business incursed into Stagecoach territory.

So GoAhead have bought stuff which runs mainly north from Central Manchester plus a few bits and pieces, some more significant than others.
A block of services runs north along the Bury Roads, New and Old.
93 (BROWN) runs from the City to Prestwich Tesco via Carr Croft and it joined by 93 (ORANGE) which runs from Pendleton where lurks the Salford (confusingly) Shopping Centre ...
... and continues to Bury. Everything meets up at Whitefield and then a splurges off in assorted gyrations EXCEPT the 135 (YELLOW) which has first used the Bury Old Road, then veered over to the New.

Monday to Friday frequencies are as follows:-

 93 - every 15 to Carr Clough, every 30 to Prestwich
 95 - every hour
 97 - every 20
 98 - every 20
135 - at least every 10

In the relatively recent past, the 135 was operated by branded articulated buses.
The indirect 97 and 98 (BLUE) do not seem to have been given the privilege of any route branding.

The other main block of routes is those via Middleton.
The 17 from City Centre continues to Rochdale, the 18 from Manchester Royal Infirmary to Middleton; supplemented by "local" trips on the 19.
Frequencies Monday to Friday are:-

 17 - at least every 10 minutes
 18 - every 30
 19 - every 30

The 17/18 set of routes has had red branding.
Also via Middleton are the 163 which travel due north top Heywood, then across to Bury. It is supplements by the X63 as far as Heywood only.
As can be seen, the X63 runs on Monday to Friday only at "peak flow" times.

The 163 is "at frequent intervals" (i.e. at least every 10 minutes) also branded light blue in the past.
For completeness, fbb should report that a few 162s to Norden operate at peak flow times.
These journeys do not appear on First's map!

In case fbb has got it all wrong, he should also report that the 163 is NOT on the list of buses operated from Queens Road; but your cautious blogger awaits confirmation or refutation of this important detail.

Whilst "in Middleton" we should add the 41. This was Finglands route ...
... which joined the fray along the Oxford Road via the University and the Manchester Royal Infirmary where buses run alarmingly frequently.
Currently the 41 runs every 30 minutes through from Middleton augmented from North Manchester General Hospital (NMGH) to give a 15 minute headway through to Sale.

Buses carry two "brands", namely "Cross Connect" and "Manchester Through and Through" ...
... which was part of a politically (and/or commercially) motivated campaign to create more cross-city services.

With the closure of Finglands Rusholme depot, first withdrew from the highly competitive and arguably over-bussed 42, also branded as the 41.
Tomorrow we will complete this rather shallow** survey of First Bus' forthcoming sale bundle.

It will be interesting to see what GoAhead does with it.

** and apologies for any inaccuracies. Correction are MOST welcome!

 Next Manchester blog : Friday 1st March 

Wednesday 27 February 2019

Puzzle Pictures, Places and Poles (3)

fbb never know that Basel had trolleybuses; No 3 son (who works there) didn't know either. But the former turning circle at Wanderstrasse and the remaining poles were some sort of clue.
But the 33 was the last trolley route to commence. The first was the 31, way back in 1941.

The transport authority was struggling with wartime fuel shortages and decided to convert two motor buses by adding electric power - a very early bi-mode - and install the wiring. Two pure trolleys had also joined the fleet.
Thankfully, the on-line wiring map shows how things developed.
In 1956 a route (initially unnumbered) ran from Claraplatz to Friedhof Am Hörnli.  Claraplatz was some way from the focus of trams which was mostly, as now, outside the main railway station.
It looks very different today!
The route took the buses past the end of Rankstrasse where sat a bus depot, also home for the trolleys. The depot is still there.
The Friedhof Hornli is a grand municipal cemetery.
The cemetery on Hörnli is the largest cemetery in Switzerland. It was built from 1926 to 1932 as the central cemetery of the whole canton of Basel-Stadt in the municipality of Riehen. Its symmetrical garden is about fifty hectares in size and houses tens of thousands of graves, including many well-known personalities such as Paul Hermann Müller, Fritz Haber, Karl Barth, Karl Jaspers or Jacob Burckhardt, some of which were moved here from older, abandoned cemeteries.

fbb has heard of Karl Barth!

There is a "turning circle" look to a roadway nibble at the end of the road past the cemetery (top right) ...
... but a later extension veered off left (picture above, bottom left) to a new terminus at Habermatten.

Service 34 ran along Bäumlihofstrasse to a terminus at Käferhofstrasse. (see wiring diagram).
Here poles proliferate still in use ...
... supporting street lighting. This route was also extended to join the 31 and run to the Harbermatten terminus.
This are is one of the many gaps in Swiss Streetview, but evidence of the circle can be viewed via Google Earth.
Here trolleys, trams and buses all met up, the latter two running across the T junction! Talking of poles, one at the junction where 31 and 34 met is rather splendidly adorned by nature!
It is not at all clear why the trolleybus fell from the favour of BVB.
The referendum was held, the people spoke and the Retention of the Trolleybus was defeated.
And the first shall be last! The 31 was the last to go in 2009. The vehicles ran with floral decorations ...
... and replacement buses follow similar routes.

As the panel above suggests, many of the vehicles found continued use elsewhere in Europe. notably in Brasov in Romania.
Many retain their basic Basel green livery, some with a little variety.
Other more modern trams went elsewhere.

Whilst tram routes are being extended at their outer ends, there is no talk of a totally new service of any kind replacing traditional diesel or gas motorbuses.

Maybe the trolley will enjoy a revival, but the betting is on battery electric (or hydrogen fuel cell) with no expensive overhead wires to install or maintain.

Here in the UK, however, bosses from both First and Stagecoach have recently gone public with a clear statement that, on cost grounds alone, diesel buses are likely to be around for a long, long time.

We shall see.

And talking of pollution, this from a contact in First Bus. The incident developed yesterday afternoon.

We have just been informed of a situation that is escalating at Nether Edge in Sheffield.

A cyclist has stopped our bus 60742 from leaving the terminus by sitting in front of the bus.

His complaint was that the bus was throwing out to much pollution.

The police called to clear the cyclist but he has now escalated the situation by inviting some of his fellow cyclists and informed the press.

There is now a TV crew and the newspaper in attendance at the scene.

fbb will add pictures if any materialise.

Tomorrow we shall pop back to Manchester to complete the story.

 Next take-over blog : Thursday 28th February 

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Puzzle Pictures, Places and Poles (2)

Up The Pole In Basel?
At Wanderstrasse, No 3 son had inadvertently photographed a pole. It was tall and thick and both son and fbb did wonder. Then there was this picture (on-line) of a bus on service 33 and showing Wanderstasse on the electronic blind.
Look carefully and you might spot a couple of sticks reaching skywards from the roof at the back of the vehicle. Service 33 was operated by a trolleybus!

Hence the poles.

An on-line search brought more pictures assorted of 33s under the wires including very old four wheelers ...
... this one about to use the turning circle (now abandoned) as explored in yesterdays blog. The shop on the corner behind the trolley now sells computers!
Then we have articulated trolleybuses of various kinds.
Fortunately some kind soul, possibly a member of the Swiss Trolleybus group ...
... has posted a list including all the vehicles that BVB operated.
Also on-line is an overhead wiring diagram which shows exactly where the 33 went.
Its city terminus was the Badisher Bahnhof ...
... station for Deutsche Bahn trains and a little bit of the German state entirely surrounded by Switzerland. It crossed the Rhine on the Johanniterbrücke and on to the (sort of) western bank ...
... where it joins the present 33 which starts from near the Schifflande. The old 33 (and the new!) continue south-west down the Schützenmattstrasse before passing the Schützenhaus. (Shooting Club???)
Started in 1561, the Schützenhaus was ready in 1564. As the only surviving municipal shooting club in Switzerland from earlier centuries, it is today a modern first-class restaurant. According to its original purpose, the ground floor was used to store the firearms in the "Känsterlin" and other materials needed for firing, while on the first floor there was always the great room of the shooters, whose windows from three sides covered the stained glass windows of the thirteen ancient places and numerous Obrist- and Mitmeisterscheiben are decorated. (courtesy of Google Translate : the Swiss German was beyond fbb's "O" level standard of 60 year ago!!)

It is indeed a very large and very posh restaurant specialising in the genuine Basler gastronomic experience - which No 3 son says is of barely average quality, very expensive and involves pouring cheese over anything on the menu.

Perhaps a little unfair, but here is the lunchtime menu at the Schützenhaus; readers may amuse themselves by doing the sums and contemplating the bill in pounds sterling.
Then, talking of cheese; an evening menu of Fondue ...
... is priced at 40SwF per person for a meal for two. £30 each - OUCH!

But we are not stopping. The 33 - trolleybus and today's bus - continue via Weiherweg and Schutzenmatt Park ...
... before joining Wanderstasse itself. The 33 trolleybus soon arrives at the terminus ...
... which is actually at the boundary of the city of Basel.
And what is Basel-Lanschaft?

After 1830 there were political quarrels and armed conflict in the canton of Basel. They ultimately led to the separation of the canton Basel-Landschaft from the city of Basel on 26 August 1833. The two half cantons agreed in principle to merge, but in 1969 the people of Basel-Landschaft voted down a referendum on this proposal in favour of retaining their independence.

That vote was not the end of a close relationship between the two Basels. The two half cantons have since signed a number of agreements to co-operate. The contribution of Basel-Landschaft to the University of Basel since 1976 is just one example.

But there is more.

Whilst exploring the  Schützenhaus restaurant area on-line, fbb came across this piccy:-
 And this trolleybus history note:-
So the 33 has been a bus before (although maybe not numbered 33?).

From 1923 tram 2 ran as a circular (BROWN line on diagram below) ...
... from the German (Badischer Bahnhof) station, via Johanniterbrücke to Sch&uumltzenhaus then on to the SBB (Swiss) station and back over the Wettsteinbrücke to the start.

A history of the 2 Circular is available on-line (from a different source with a lesser command of English!) and for fbb's readers to enjoy???

The former tram 2 ceased in 1966 to be replaced on its northern section by motor buses which in turn were replaced by the 33 trolley, although fbb cannot discover at which point the route was extended to the Wanderstrasse loop, but fbb guesses that it was in 1968 when the trolleys started.

Finally it was in December 2004 that the 33 reverted, once again, to motorbus operation.

Again, fbb cannot find at date for the extension beyond Wanderstrasse, but, in view of terminating buses being shown on Streetview, maybe only a few years back at most.

Tomorrow we can complete the history of the Basel trolleybus network.

 Next Basler blog : Wednesday 27th February