Sunday 10 February 2019

Weekend News Items

What a Surprise
The BBC is running, yet again, the story about declining passenger numbers and the likelihood of further rural bus cuts  in the wake of poor local authority finances. It is, of course, all true but totally unnecessary. There are a whole range of other ways of financing any bus services that can never be commercially viable.

How about doing a Switzerland? Let local authorities present their taxpayers with a plan via a local referendum and allow the council to raise the necessary money itself, hypothecated (cannot be used for anything else) for the planned bus services. 

Of course, the problem doesn't go away if the community votes against the subsidies - but at least the public then knows who to blame and who to vote out at the next local elections. At the moment the council blames the government while the government proudly reports on its huge bag of gold provided for the local authorities.

We give them the money, say the soundbites, and it's up to the local people to decide how it is spent.

Yeah, right!

And the 544, pictures above. It terminates at the entrance to Lyth Hill Country Park ...
... by the uppermost of the  signs. When Google Streetview passed by the flag was missing off the pole.
It may not be an "essential service" for the country  park, but maybe it gets some folk from Lyth Hill Road ...
... as far as Sainsburys!

Wetherspoons Whether You Like It Or Not ...
... often choose to name their pubs after local landmarks or people. It is not difficult to spot where this pub/eatery is located.
Yes, have a house point! It is in Leyland, Lancashire.
And here is a Stagecoach bus stopping a few yards along the road.
Sadly its is not a Leyland Lion. But, for the heritage enthusiasts, this one is.
It is looked after by the Ribble Vehicles Preservation Trust. Thanks to Roy (from Sheffield) for the original Wetherspoons picture.

Plus Ça Change
Old railway posters are hugely enjoyable. The sun was always shining, the sea a glorious blue and the beaches packed with happy holidaymakers.
Although highly stylised, a visitor to the town who might walk up the (steep!) hill to the golf club would turn and see a view almost unchanged.
Large boats no longer call and neither are there any fishermen at work, but it is still much the same sleepy resort. But, please note Southern Railway, there is (and was) no golden sands! Seaton has a steeply banked shingle beach.

And here is Sidmouth, viewed from Connaught Gardens.
The only visible "novelty" is the walkway at the foot of the cliffs nearest the poster's view point.
If you know your Sidmouth you will see that the poster "suggests" only limited golden sands (correctly) whilst leaving the shingle (the majority of the foreshore) as a hint in a duller grey-yellow.

Of course, what IS missing is the "fast trains" from London Waterloo. Even way back the description "fast" was a little over optimistic - but each day there were through coaches detached from expresses at the junctions for a quaint (and very non fast) amble coupled to the branch line train.
But there is something very cosy about the two sea front views - still very much a part of the towns today.

Routemasters In Llangollen
Spotted by the eagle eyes of Sheffield's Roy, news of a new business venture in North Wales.
One tour (two departures) will run to the spectacular Horseshoe Pass ...
... with its impressive scenery.
The Ponda Rosa might make a pleasant stop.
The second tour is to the near-unpronounceable Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
This is an amazing piece of engineering and those with a modicum of disposable funds will enjoy a canal boat ride across.
Or you can walk!
Either route is a bit scary! Three round trips are run.

The Routemaster's web site does not make it clear whether you can book out on one trip and back on a later journey.

Raspberry Pi
Thus diminutive computer ...
... costs about £30 and is a fully functioning machine. OK it does need keyboard, monitor and power supply - but it is still great fun and fully workable.

fbb uses a similar but if kit configured to work like a RISC OS machine (descendant of the BBC computer) to do all his map work and timetable editing. It is thoroughly reliable, though it did come with a proper tin box and a power supply.

The Raspberry Pi people have just opened a shop in Cambridge (where the diddy thing was invented).
Apparently it is very very cool - so fbb guesses they must have some powerful air conditioning to counter some of the heat from the processors!

Tomorrow, a lovely timetable book!

 Next Bedford blog : Monday 11th February 


  1. If I take your point correctly? Should a public vote goes against spending on bus services we will know to blame those who voted against it?

    Surely spending on road schemes would win almost every time? If not by public vote it will happen in the council chamber. Its happened here with funding for an expansion of P & R (set out in the new local plan) transferred to the ten most needed highway improvements. Job done!

  2. Curious to see Tipton St.John gain an 's' on the former Sidmouth Junction sign...

  3. The crucial difference with Switzerland is that there is a national consensus (only questioned by the far right) that quality public transport is a high priority and is funded to match. Referendums (what could possibly go wrong?) don't really come into it as a rule, though they do have some influence on the policies of urban operators (e.g. Zurich has sometimes put the purchase of new trams to referendum). The Swiss tend not to elect governments that regard public spending as robbery, and Austerity as a virtue-or think that halving the cash that local authorities have to spend on all services, not just buses, as an acceptable way to run a modern state.

  4. Asking the public is all very well, but has predictable results.

    "Would you like to cut bus services and thereby isolate villages?" - NO! and even car drivers respond thus.

    A year or so later....

    "Would you like to pay a little more for car parking to maintain the service and continue to help subsidise local buses?" NO!

    I've been closely involved in both consultations (albeit with rather more detailed questioning than my headline summary) for my employer and I'm pleased to say that our Councillors have decided to keep the buses running with only "good house-keeping" reductions while implementing most of the car parking increase plan.

    But we can't be far off the point where we have to ask people to choose between two unpopular outcomes; whatever FBB might like to claim the simply money isn't there under the current system.