Saturday 9 February 2019

Weekend Follow-Up

Snow, Snow; Thick Thick Snow
fbb was in trouble again for asking a question. The question was whether it was right for Plymouth City Bus (GoAhead) to cancel all its services to carry students at Callywith college (Bodmin) home when snow was falling. This aroused the ire of comment writers who accused fbb of inadequate research (incorrect) and criticising the operator (which he didn't).

West Country buses did get stuck in various locations; some quite badly and most because of incompetently driven cars, abandoned cars and inadequate gritting.

Here is a report from First Bristol's staff news letter. (the panels can be enlarged with a click)
The author of these two pieces is James Freeman - the big cheese himself.
The abandoned 376 is a sorry sight.
And then there is this heart-warming tale from First Kernow.
Well done Pam.

fbb well remembers a "snow" incident on the Isle of Wight. Rarely, snow fell (on and off) for most of a working day. The police "ordered" Southern Vectis to pull their buses off the road "on safety grounds".

Southern Vectis challenged the "order" and told the Bill that they would withdraw their services only if the police banned all private motorists from the roads as well also "on safety grounds".

All services kept running and everyone got home that evening.

For a good number of years, the fbbs lived at the top of Crimicar Lane in Sheffield; this view is from half way up.
The bit outside the house was very steep.
At 1000 feet above sea level, the weather was often "challenging". And it still is!
But, back then, Sheffield City Council always prioritised the gritting and clearing of bus routes; the buses must get through. Indeed, the best weather forecast was the gritter trundling laboriously up the hill at about 0300. Standard procedure then was to check the weather on waking and, if white over, leave for school early - if necessary without breakfast. (Shock horror).

fbb was never late at school for his teaching duties!

But, as an anonymous may advise, things aren't like that in the real world today.

Well, they should be.

More Transdev Publicity
What a good idea? Loss of revenue? Not too much on a Sunday. Boost for PR  - enormous and probably cheaper than a conventional publicity campaign.

And while in Harrogate ...
... we all know about the company's electric fleet for the town services. What fbb did not know, however, was that the vehicles used a pantograph charging station.
Once the bus is positioned under the bar, the pantograph descends and makes contact with two bars on the bus roof. Seemples.
The charging "docks" are at Harrogate bus station.

We've also worked closely with Harrogate Borough and North Yorkshire County Councils and the electricity infrastructure owner Northern Powergrid to install the infrastructure for the new buses. Charging masts are in place above three departure stands in Harrogate Bus Station, each fitted with a built-in transformer which converts uprated power at 1600 volts AC into a 600 volts DC supply, delivered via a pantograph on the roof of the bus. In addition, each bus will receive an overnight charge at the depot every two days to maintain peak performance.

Press reports have challenged the "green" credentials of the scheme, revealing that, initially, go juice has been provided via a diesel generator unit!!!

The eight electrics operate of routes 2A/2B (Bilton), 3 (Jennyfield) and 6 (Pannal Ash). fbb would love to have shown you these routes on a network map - but Harrogate Buses do not provide one.

How Soon We Forget
Our national rail network continues to attract more passengers. The numbers are astounding, especially when you realise how much the network has contracted.

This map arrived in fbb's in box recently.
Huge growth in passenger numbers on a much smaller network. Despite reported dissatisfaction levels, the companies must be doing something right!

 More stuff tomorrow.

 Next "stuff" blog : Sunday 10th February 


  1. Harrogate Bus Co don't have an online network map but they do have detailed route maps, zoomable and showing locations of all stops.
    They don't show realtime info as yet but that appears to be the way they are heading from the error messages displayed.
    Not perfect, by any means, but better than many

  2. Oh fbb why do you always find fault with eveything you review. All harrogate services have individual leaflets (widely available) with timetables and maps. These are also online and on the (amazing)! Transdev go app which will even show you where your bus is.

  3. Andrew Kleissner9 February 2019 at 12:27

    It's easy to criticise the Beeching cuts, and lots of mistakes were certainly made - such as the closure of lines in areas of predicted rapid population growth. Of course this was the time when everyone thought that the car would be the answer to everything: it was only as the years passed that this idea was shown to be false. Also the concept of the social railway still lay in the future.

    However what fbb fails to note is that rail travel has increased hugely (which certainly wasn't what the politicians believed in John Major's day and has left the industry frantically trying to rebuild lost infrastructure) alongside a generalised growth in mobility and travel - and indeed population growth. So I think that's it's part of a much wider social change - the era of many people walking each day to their job at "the works", taking a week's break at Bridlington, having their extended family living just up the road, and doing all their shopping on the local High Street is long gone. How much that has been influenced by planning and political decisions is, of course, a moot point!

  4. Andrew Kleissner9 February 2019 at 12:32

    Cardiff Bus trialled the pantograph system (together with one or two others) last year. They will be getting about 36 electric buses shortly but I don't know which system they will be using.