Saturday 2 February 2019

More Maltby Mix-Up Muttering (2)

Commercialism Trumps Customer Service?
Our readers are invited to decide for themselves whether the timetable revisions due for 3rd March will work financially and be helpful to the passengers. The two do not always go together.

Currently the Steel Link X1 service runs every ten minutes Monday to Saturday daytime between Sheffield, Meadowhall, Rotherham and Maltby.
Also between Rotherham and Maltby is a half hourly service 10/10a which (unlike the X1) runs via Rotherham District Hospital and Flanderwell. The 10/10a routes diverge between Maltby and Edlington.
In the evenings it would appear that there are no service 10s between Rotherham and Maltby; but this is a lie and a delusion. X10s, running as part of the X1 service via Rotherham and Flanderwell change, as if by magic, into 10s at Maltby. Neither the PTE nor First Bus bother to tell you this on their timetables. Resolutely the X10 terminates at Maltby ...
... and on a separate piece of publicity (without the requisite cross-reference) the 10 starts from Maltby. You just have to know!

From 3rd March the integration of X1 and X10 becomes complete with all X10s working "cross Rotherham" and on to Meadowhall. Here is the Saturday schedule.
Two journeys an hour are excised from the frequent non-BRT Steel Link X1 and become X10s. They run via Flanderwell as before (see running time between Wickersley and Bramley!) and call at Maltby before, like the evening (and Sunday) X10s continuing to Doncaster. The consequence of this is that buses to Salisbury Road and Quilter Road (both numbered X1, of course) ...
...  are reduced from every 20 minutes each to every 30.

Another consequence is that buses on Dale Hill Road (called Chadwick Road in the timetable!) are reduced from an even every ten minutes to and uneven  xx43, xx53, xx13 and xx23 past the hour and the equivalent in the other direction; disappointing if you don't work it out properly and have to wait 20 minutes in the rain!

But at least First now tells us that X10s continue to Doncaster and refers us to a full 10/10a timetable. Much better.
No mention of the secret route via Flanderwell, however.
Did you spot fbb's bludner? In the first iteration of the above map the twerp got Wickersley and Bramley the wrong way round.
There is another change. The Markfield Drive excrescence in Flanderwell ...
... is no longer served by the X10. Other services replace it but less frequently.

The X10 throws yet another surprise with its route nearer to the centre of Rotherham. Currently buses 111, 112 and 114 serve some of the housing areas north of Broom Road.
The historic Far Lane circulars (111/112) are withdrawn completely from March 3rd and replaced by a diverted 114; a horrendous reduction! So, of course, the 114 jiggle off Broom Road become a wiggle on the X10.
And the X10, unlike its predecessor the 10, does not run via Rotherham Hospital.

So, to summarise; on Saturdays:-

Less buses to Maltby estates
Inconvenient frequency on Dale Hill Road
Timetable "secrecy" of Flanderwell and Herringthorpe diversions
Withdrawal of services from Rotherham hospital.

Saving of substantial operating costs for the former service 10

But some things are better on Mondays to Fridays.
There are EIGHT buses an hour between Meadowhall and Maltby, four X1s and four X10s. This still means the same reduction in services to the Maltby estates (from every 20 to every 30) but at least Dale Hill Road has an even interval 15 minute headway. 

But Flanderwell (hidden between Wickersley and Bramley, remember) now gets a bus every 15 minutes! Possibly the best ever service to those areas!

But the super zappo Steel Link non-BRT frequency between Sheffield and Meadowhell is reduced from every 10 to every 15
Only two of the X10s continue to Doncaster as on Mondays to Fridays.

So, to summarise; on Mondays to Fridays:-

Less buses to Maltby estates
"secrecy" of Flanderwell and Herringthorpe diversions
Withdrawal of services from Rotherham hospital
Reduced frequency between Sheffield and Meadowhall


Improved service from Maltby (& Flanderwell) to Meadowhall
Clock face interval on Dale Hill Road (see Mon to Fri)
Possible improved revenue (see below)

It is hard to evaluate the Monday to Friday cost impact. The "turning short" of X10s at Meadowhall will save resources there which are in part redeployed on the 15 minute frequency. With running time savings by not serving the Hospital, the Monday to Friday service may be cost neutral. 

Generally speaking more buses will carry more passengers, so a bonus in the piggy bank for First. Possibly?

A deeper question, however, it to ask whether the increased complexity of the Maltby "network" will be off-putting to many passengers. Will that possible loss of business be offset by gains from the Monday to Friday improvements?

It all looks a bit of a gamble.

But there is one final fearful factor for First.

Once upon a time, there was an hourly service 87 direct (as direct as it could be) between Maltby and Sheffield.

Currently Powells bus operate a scattering of peak hour peak flow buses on route X7 Monday to Friday only.
These serve all the Maltby estates (and Flanderwell) ...
...then whizz non-stop into Sheffield via the Parkway. This fast road (well fast, except at peak times) ...
... is seen above, sinuously running from the Bawtry Road (top right) into the city (bottom left) where it dumps its traffic only a short distance from the Interchange. Running time is 50 minutes (possibly less for off-peak journeys) compared with the X1 (via Rotherham!) of one hour and twenty long grinding minutes.

From March 3rd the new X7 will run every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday.
Will this lure Maltby-ites fast into the centre of Sheffield rather than more slowly to Meadowhall and very, very slowly into Sheffield?

Time will tell.
Ah, those were the days!

 Next weekend catch-up blog : Sunday 3rd February 

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