Tuesday 30 April 2019

McGills Bus Blog Episode 3

Paisley - Glasgow - Paisley - Largs
Dateline Friday 26th April
fbb's bus from Braehead to Paisley was service 26 ...
... inheriting some of the historic frequency of buses between Paisley and Renfrew Ferry.
The time point in Paisley is Gauze Street, one of the main town centre roads. But where on Gauze Street?

There are three stops and shelters on the northern side of the street ...
... with the two nearest the camera being outside the Piazza shopping centre.

On the other side of the road there is also a run of three stops and shelters with the leftmost being outside the Town Hall.
A little further away and again on the south side is another Gauze Street stop right outside Paisley Abbey.
They are shown on Google Maps as the usual little blue blobs. (click on the graphic below to enlarge it)
fbb did not have time for a full survey, but generally ALL these stops are called Gauze Street in the company's timetables (although service 38 shows a less than helpful "Town Centre").

According to Google Maps the "official" (?) names of the stops are as follows (reading from left to right):-

North Side
Gilmour Street
Paisley Town Hall
Smithills Street

South Side
St Mirren Street
Piazza Shopping Centre
Paisley Town Hall
Abbey Close

Gilmour Street, Smithills Street, St Mirren Street and Abbey Close are side turnings off Gauze Street and a bit of High Street.

Paisley Town Hall (North Side) is opposite the town hall and outside the Piazza.

The Piazza stop (South Side) is opposite the Piazza and almost outside Paisley Town Hall.
There are stops on Smithills Street itself (to the right of "PO") called Gauze Street And stops on St Mirren Street called Dunn Square and Forbes Place.

Paisley Gilmour Street Station is now on County Square.

The 26 dropped fbb at the Paisley Town Hall stop and he had only to cross the road for his next bus.
This was to be service 17 from the Smithills Street stop (on Gauze Street) as opposed to the Gauze Street stop (on Smithills Street) all of which shows that a town centre bus stop plan is very necessary indeed.

The stop was shared with the 9 (First Bus) and the 38 (McGills) which are in direct competition along the main Glasgow to Paisley Road.
The 9 is every ten minutes from Paisley centre. joined by a further ten minute frequency from the Hospital (of which more later). The 36 is actually two routes (every twenty) from different parts of Johnstone ...
... plus another ten minute headway from Paisley centre - a bus every 5 minutes to and from Glasgow!
Put the two together (9 + 38) and you have 24 buses an hour along most of the main Paisley Road.

Too many? Of course it is. Neither operator will be making any money and most buses carry only a few passengers off-peak. There is a bit of a self destructive fares battle as well.

Amusingly 38s run to Glasgow whereas 9s end up at City Centre ...
... such are the co-ordinated benefits of electronic information delivery.

But fbb eschewed the main drag (it is somewhat tedious) and decided on the 17.
This turns off the main thoroughfare at Berryknowes Road ...
... and begins a series of wiggles to find its way to the Queens Elizabeth (formerly Southern General) hospital.
Here, on last year's trip to Scotland, fbb caught his Stagecoach FarceLink X19 non-super route into Glasgow centre ...
... dubbed "Farce" because it uses expensive bus lanes and traffic light priority schemes to take longer to get into the city than buses using the ordinary road system! But fbb is on the 17 via the Clyde Tunnel ...
... Partick and Kelvingrove.
But where next? Various options were originally planned, but your noble author's inflamed plantar fascia was proving troublesome so a reduced schedule was adopted.

This would be a train trip to Paisley. "copping" a bit of line "new" to fbb. More later.

But sadly the old man must have just missed an interesting "passenger" on a McGills bus in Paisley.
It was an orange snake, nicely matching the coloured blobs on the seat moquette.

Here is the full story.

A “fare-dodging” snake had to be removed from a bus after alarming passengers. The pet is said to have escaped from a passenger’s bag on Friday. (26th April).

McGill’s said on Facebook: “Our Inspector Mick removing a fare dodging ‘passenger’ from a bus in Paisley yesterday. Now safely back with its owner but we hope it ‘adder’ good time.”
Bus inspector Mick McArthur was pictured with the pet, believed to be a corn snake, safely in a bag.

The creature was reunited with its owner after a phone call to lost property.

Ralph Roberts, McGill’s managing director, told the BBC News website: “Mick took one look at it and said he thought it was just a corn snake. He lifted it up and kept it safe before it could upset any of the passengers.”

That gives fbb an idea for a film ... 
... a horror blockbuster!

All the McGills staff that fbb encountered were friendly and ready to help. The buses were well kept, clean and tidy and the day anywhere ticket (at £7.10) seemed exceptionally good value for a wide and busy network.

The quality of printed publicity was excellent but its availability was poor. As ever, the devil is in the details and fbb will return soon to look more closely at some of the challenges presented by some (but by no means all) of their leaflet's presentation.

 Next railway ride blog : Wednesday 1st  May 

Monday 29 April 2019

Monday Miscellany

A Wagon - How Much?
Model retailer Rails of Sheffield has recently announced that it is producing (in association with Dapol) a wagon, OO gauge - and it will be manufactured in the UK. This has excited and amazed railway modellers with one tweeting "Pinch me, please! A pre-grouping wagon, ready to run - astounding!"

In case our loyal reader is not immediately astounded, fbb should explain. In 1923, the government "persuaded" a whole gaggle of railway companies, large and small, to merge and form four big new companies.

Great Western
London and North Eastern
London Midland and Scottish

Companies that existed before that are defined at "pre-grouping" - e.g. S E & C R, South Eastern and Chatham Railway.

So here's the wagon for real ...
... and here is the CAD version.
This is how Rails describes the project.
In fbb's youth, you bought an Airfix kit for two bob plus a tube of glue and a dob of paint. Even today you can get a nice wagon from Oxford Rail ...
...  for a modest (by today's standards) £10. The Rails/Dapol offering ...
... is a bit more expensive. Worth it? Presumably, using a photochemical process to project light through an oxygen permeable window into a reservoir of UV curable resin is more expensive than just stamping one out from a mould?

This Is Just Delightful

A Half-Hearted Apology
When fbb waa exploring Lyme Regis' short notice, short run Park and Ride, he said there was nothing on First Bus web site.

But it is in the company's new Weymouth area booklet.
The page also confirms dates throughout the summer.

Sadly it is misleading about the Charmouth Road end of the route. Instead of "a great day" panel, a map would have been helpful.

The Future's Bright; The Future's Orange
It was the oft-reviled Great and Good Doctor who balanced his closure proposals to Government with the vision of "Liner Trains" carrying containers at high speed between a limited number of mechanised terminals.

Thus appeared Freightliner ...
... seen here as a Triang model. The livery changed ...
... and changed again for the privatised company.
fbb thought the swirly yellow was ill-advised; the best liveries match the vehicle shape rather than seeking to obliterate it!

But, as night follows day, it soon becomes desirable to have a new look. Customers will be more willing to send their goods via Freightliner if the stock is painted a different colour. Out with the green and in with the orange.
According to Rail magazine, the company has painted a second loco - but in a different and lighter shade of orange.
Or is it just a slightly longer exposure - the yellow is lighter, too?

Apparently it is similar to P and F livery ...
P & F? Wikipedia says Freightliner (and P & F) are part of the Genesee and Wyoming Company ...
... whose livery is similar.
Corporate image rules O.K.!

Wardrobe Malfunction

There Lies, Damned Lies and Adverts!

fbb does not buy from ASOS, obviously - the company sells fashion stuff on-line to the young and trendy. This figure hugging item appeared a a recent on-line "catalogue".
As befits a fashion company, the photos were of high quality. A few potential purchasers did a bit of judicious enlarging and saw that ...
... to encourage the hugging of the figure policy, loose bits of fabric had been tightened by those essential items of high fashion, namely two bulldog clips.

It was not clear whether these came free with the frock or were an over-priced optional extra.

And A Map Malfunction
It is a sad fact that young go-getting executives and their go-getting staff spend most of their go-getting time in front of some sort of screen or other. They experience less and less of the real world of bus travel or train travel.

Hence this laughable map from Arriva Crosscountry.
Note particularly that Bath has been moved to a point half way between Bristol and Weston super Mare and Castle Cary has been uprooted from the Great Western main line and rebuilt on the Bristol Taunton section.

Beyond belief - yet again!.

We should complete the McGills tour in tomorrow's blog, then move to the Borders Railway.

 Next McGills blog: Tuesday 30th April 

Sunday 28 April 2019

McGills Bus Blog Episode 2

To Infinity Braehead And Beyond
Go back to before WW2 and there wasn't very much between the "red" roads and the River Clyde.
But there will have been scraps of industry plus railway and a golf course.
In 1946 a massive new coal fired power station was opened which took the Braehead name.
It was the pride and joy of the Board and, of course, the coal arrived by train hence the ladder of sidings between generating hall and road.

The station generated power until 1984 but remained derelict and disused until the early nineties. Comparing both map extracts you can also see how Renfrew aerodrome developed into the first Glasgow Airport.
The site was not big enough and the airport moved a short distance to Abbotsinch, opening in 1966. The Renfrew site is now a housing estate with the M8 following the line of the former Renfrew runway.
fbb's 901 bus service left the motorway at Junction 28, followed the "yellow" road northwards, turned right at the crossroads, left at the roundabout to that little square of roads below the lighthouse symbol which is Breahead bus station. To the west of the "square" is the main shopping "mall" and beyond the exciting retail experience is a strange shaped block coded with one of Sherlock Holmes' "incredible dancing men".

This is "Soar", a multi- modal leisure complex with an emphasis on indoor skiing on real machine-generated snow.
There is a multi-screen cinema as well - all such fun! If only fbb had known!!

The two blocks south east of the main event are separate establishments in typical retail park style.

Breahead was, as you might expect, scheduled as a PNB after 90 minutes on a Merc single decker.
The necessary "facilities", we are told on-line, are next to Regis ...
... but fbb was unsure of the geography of Braehead's internal workings and might not have done the deed in time for his next connection. But right next to his 901 was this apparently anonymous building.
There were people inside, waiting as if for a dental appointment; and fbb tiptoed gingerly within. In fact there was lettering, large lettering, underneath the eaves as you can clearly see! Amazingly ...
... it was a near secret travel information office. There was a departure screen, a man in a yellow hi-viz "gilet" and a gents' (and on its left a ladies') waste disposal unit.
So fbb did not have to attempt an expedition to find the source of the nile some personal relief.

There was a very limited refreshment service ...
... and a ludicrously incomplete set of leaflets. ("It's not my job to keep it stocked, jimmy; we'll slot'em in if the companies give 'em to us.")
So off fbb toddled to find his next bus; a service 26 to Paisley. A quick glance at the timetable frame showed the 26 as next door neighbour of the 901 - on stand 7.
As the scheduled departure time approached, a 26 duly appeared -but going to Glasgow, not Paisley. As there are no timetables posted anywhere, you had to be pre-informed that Glasgow 26s did not go via Paisley.

After a creaky teeter past a line of shelters ...
... he eventually spied a 26 going to Nethercraigs.
Thanks to your author's consummate skill in reading and remembering timetables he knew instantly that Nathercraigs is a suburb of Paisley and this 26 was what the old man wanted.

Why no bus station plans on display? Why no network map? Why don't the timetable leaflets show stand numbers?

In fact, the 26 is, de facto successor to the multiplicity of operators of old running from Paisley to Renfrew Ferry. The revised route is along the "yellow" road (Kings Inch Road) past "Soar". At the end, the 26 turns left to take the straight and narrow wide road direct to Paisley.
Were the bus to turn right at this point it would very soon come to the ferry. Once a busy chain ferry carrying motorists and foot passengers ...
... it is now a much reduced foot passenger only boat.
It was here that Stagecoach tested its "floating bus" a while ago.
The idea did not "catch on"!

The next McGills blog will follow later. Tomorrow, to give fbb a breather, will be a collection of oddments. The gruesome twosome should be back in Seaton this evening but, with their Bible Study "5th Monday Special-with afternoon tea" to get ready for kick off at 1500 tomorrow, blogging time may be at a premium.

 Next Miscellany blog - Monday 29th April