Monday, 13 May 2019

Daftness in Dartmouth (1)

Park and Ride : Poor and Puzzling?
Dartmouth has a Royal Naval College ...
... a former railway station that never, ever, saw any trains ...
... lots of visitors with and without boats ...
... and not a lot of parking. What parking there is, is mostly short stay and all very expensive.

So a Park and Ride service for the extended summer season is an absolute must. And there it is, at Townstal, on the main road into the town from Totnes (via Halwell) the A3122.
The site is also accessible from the coast road via Slapton, Stoke Fleming, and not forgetting Blackpool!
Devon's Blackpool lacks the "aura" of its Lancashire namesake - thankfully!

But, as we approach from Halwell, we pass Sainsburys ...
... which, like the Tardis, is bigger on the inside; and a clear sign to the Park and Ride.
There are more signs at the exit from the roundabout ...
... next to the unexplained Townstal lighthouse cum control tower. We also learn that the fee is a fiver for the day and we can see the parking area on our right with natty waiting room (for the "Ride"), toilets and "no entry" signs.
.The entrance (for cars) is a little further on - just follow the signs!
If you can see them. The story is taken up by an on-line report from 2017.

First of all, you need £5 in the correct change. (this MAY have changed since 2017) The £5 covers everyone in your vehicle for the bus ride, but £5 in correct change took us by surprise. We tried to phone the payment through but the voice recognition service (Ringo) was hopeless - other people near us were also trying to use it and drawing a blank.

Dartmouth issues two park and ride tickets per car -the correct ticket must be offered for the bus journey and the other displayed in the vehicle. Some people who were in the car park at the same time as us hadn't realised they need two tickets and had failed to collect both from the machine. No bus ride.

Not having the correct change and with other people around us unable to help, we then drove into Dartmouth found a parking space - there aren't many and they are for one or sometimes two hours only - they are mostly roadside parking spaces on the one way system and getting in and out of spaces with the traffic breathing down your exhaust pipe is not great!
I bought some postcards so I had the correct change, we drove back to the park and ride, got the tickets (plural) displayed the correct one and the bus arrived after about 6 minutes (they seem to come as advertised, every 10 minutes).

However, the bus then had to wait whilst the bus driver kindly went to the ticket machine to help some people who only had the one ticket ... another traveller who had tried to pay for her ticket by credit card over the phone line and was told her credit card had insufficient funds.

Another had tried to use a different ticket machine to us which had a hand written semi legible note stuck on it, "new £1 coins only" (remember this was two years ago) and "out of service." Not sure which message actually applied...bus driver was unable to help unfortunate travellers who had to be left behind because they didn't have the bus part of their tickets.

If anyone from the Town Council in Dartmouth is reading this, I do hope something can be done to assist travellers trying to access Dartmouth. This was a very poor welcome.

To add to the excitement, just before Sainsbury's, Google Streetview shows a couple of buses apparently parked in a field.
The sign reads "Little Cotton" and a map shows that to be the name of a farm along the lane. Streetview has not viewed the area recently because this is, Tada!, First Bus' Dartmouth depot.
Of course, First Bus has gone, replaced by Stagecoach in one of First's many (many many) capitulations; but Google Earth might imply that Uncle Brian's buses now use the same field depot.
Is that a Stagecoach roof seen via Google Earth? fbb is not sure. Perhaps someone can elucidate.

Be that as it may, there is also a very nice turning circle which may become important as we explore Dartmouth's Park and Ride in 2019.
Tomorrow, then, we will begin with an email from blog correspondent Keith.

Has the service improved?


And Another Goody from TSY
This really should have been part of yesterdays extended reference to the huge benefits of modern technology but, for reasons to be explained,  the blog's editorial team (Oh, OK, fbb) decided to hold it back.

Service 218 : Monday to Friday : Travel South Yorkshire
Note a Friday only departure from Bakewell at 1953.

Service 218 : Monday to Friday : T M Travel
Aha! a 1933 departure from Bakewell running 20 minutes later (i.e. 1953) on Fridays and Saturdays during the "summer" timetable period - i.e. now.

Service 218 - Monday to Friday : Derbyshire
The dagger note gives the same information as from the operator - thus it is correct.

Sadly, in preparing material for the GoTimetable technical team, fbb foolishly relied on Travel South Yorkshire.; thus missing out the Monday to Thursdays 1933. At least it was a "right side" failure but not spotted by your usually eagle-eyed blogger.

A GoTimetable user pointed out the inconsistency and, by the time you read this blog, the correction will be in place.

Effusive thanks to correspondent Peter for the tip-off!

 Next Park and Ride blog : Tuesday 14th May 


  1. The lighthouse/control tower is what is left of when the site was a heliport for the college complete with hanger at one point. I believe they moved the heliport to inside the college grounds. The tower I think was left as a reminder of the sites past life. Little cotton farm is indeed still used by stagecoach as a depot and was taken over when first left the area.

  2. While on the subject of GoTimetable- it still shows 31c/31f/31t, but these were deregistered back in October.