Wednesday 15 May 2019

Daftness in Dartmouth (3)

Knowing no fear and without the help of safety net, fbb decided to try to unravel the deep and intractable mysteries of Dartmouth Park and Ride.
Note that the daytime service terminates at the "bus depot" ...
... the patch of fenced yard pictured in previous blogs and where a natty turning circle is provided.
That fact (?) is confirmed by the blue bus blob on Google Maps.
... and further confirmed by the Traveline timetable for Monday to Saturday daytimes.
There is "Cotton Bus Depot" towards the bottom of the upper panel.
In the evenings there is still a 30 minute service on the 90 - which seems unusual - until you realise that the "normal" 90 doubles up as the evening version of Park and Ride.
Thus the terminus is now NOT the Cotton bus depot but "Dartmouth Park & Ride".

Without a map, it has taken fbb some considerable time and mental effort to work out which way the 90 goes. But here goes ...

It leaves town via the "main" Victoria Road ...
... which makes a sort of hairpin bend to become Townstal Road where the solid orange meets the dashed orange upper left. Readers who are familiar with Dartmouth will spot a serious omission.
The red A379 is a new-ish road, leaving the old yellow Townstal Road and ploughing across the front of the Naval college - a Stagecoach 3 is seen running that way.
The 90 follows the Post Office Van into and out of town. After a short dalliance with Townstal Road the 90 (to the bus depot, remember) dives off into the estates north of the B3207 (then), the A3122 (now). A promoted road - exciting, isn't it?
fbb thinks (?) that buses follow a different outbound and inbound route through this maze  ...
... IN via Collingwood Road and Mayflower Close but OUT via Britannia Avenue (unmarked on the map above). Both routes re-merge just a short distance from the Park and Ride roundabout as they re-emerge onto Townstal Road.

But much of the above is rubbish; its rubbishness revealed by the on-the-spot knowledge from correspondent Keith.

The daytime 90 no longer serves the turning circle!

To get to the depot, buses now run VIA the Park and Ride site and through a gap in the hedge, a purpose-built gap, not one made by using an old Solo as a battering ram. The gap is near the white car in the picture below.

Which is why there was a 90 "waiting time" at the P and R site but refusing to accept P and R tickets as per Keith's original email.
Of course, there was no information at the stop by way of explanation. Except, you may recall, a 2017 P and R  timetable. People were, understandably a tad confused and a lot annoyed.

Daftness is too mild a word.

Do the Stagecoach management realise what a shambles this is? Do they realise what a poor impression all this befuddlement gives of ALL their services in Dartmouth? Do the local authorities (town and county) that look after (ha ha!) Dartmouth realise what an appalling example of incompetence is in operation?

Do these people (presumably paid quite a lot of money) even know or care where Dartmouth is?
Here is what the town web site tell you about P and R.
Don't bother to click on the South Hams link as it tells you nothing more. And a timetable? 

Of course not!

A Dartmouth guest house offers something just a little better (a little less useless); but gives contradictory frequency information.
Clicking on the green "Full Timetable" button reveals one of these ...
... for the whole year; but with no explanation as to what the colours might mean. Two half terms, for example, are shown in green (more frequent? less frequent?) as are other periods.
Keith sent a photograph of two buses waiting for their departure at the town terminus. The one at the front was going to Kingsbridge ...
... a secret Stagecoach code for Plymouth! The one in the rear claimed to be a 91 P and R. It had stood forlorn and inactive for 30 minutes before departing on the ten minute (or is it twenty minute) 2017 timetabled frequency, according to the information on the stop.

So, to summarise:-

There is no map showing the correct bus services to Dartmouth
There is no map at all for the 90 Town Service
The Traveline timetable for the 90 is wrong
Stagecoach's OWN timetable for its OWN service 90 is wrong
Daytime 90s now leave from the Park and Ride site ... BUT
Park and Ride tickets are NOT accepted
Evening 90s still leave from the Park and Ride site ... AND
Park and Ride tickets ARE accepted
Service 3 to Plymouth runs only as far as Kingsbridge

You simply could not make it up! And bus companies wonder why they are losing passengers.

Public Transport enthusers just despair, snivel pathetically in the foetal position, grab the tranquilisers and run screaming (and possibly naked) down the road.

It is beyond belief.

And a special thanks to Keith for his assistance in preparing these blogs. Without him fbb would still be in blissful ignorance, believing that Dartmouth had a good and usable Park and Ride service.

Tomorrow we stay with Stagecoach to explore something of the new service X2 between Barnsley and Sheffield.

But Hold On Just One Moment ...
There is hope yet for the Dartmouth chaos and that lies with Devon County Council who still produce timetable books, yes, indeed, printed on paper and available free.

Within the pages of the precious production for South Hams we have A MAP ...
... which reveals that fbb got is wrong (in part). It is still incorrect at the terminus though, as are the timetables for service 90. But there is a Park and Ride timetable, difficult to unravel at a glance but it is there.

Perhaps scissors and a pot of glue could be bought our of Stagecoach's limited resources and the map (amended) and Park and Ride timetable could be provided to help Dartmouth's essential visitors to know what is happening. But first, get the timetables right.

 Next publicity blog : Thursday 16th May 


  1. Devin County Council's website has a good (current?) Map of the 90 route. But makes no mention of the 91...
    (Which means it is less visible than
    That county's the 5th-Saturday-only Tavistock-Dawlish 112!).

  2. The excellent South Hams bus timetable from Devon County Council ( does show a Dartmouth town map including the 90 town service, and has a timetable for the Park and Ride (currently the 2018 timetable though). An updated version is due to be published on May 27th.

  3. FBB does have the knack of making a mountain out of a [very small] mole hill.

    I had a meeting in Bath this week, and opted to Park & Ride. Although I know First operates the Bath P&R I simply Googled Bath Park and Ride, got immediately to the Bath & North East Somerset website which told me that buses leave Lansdown P&R site every 10 minutes and the journey takes 12 minutes.

    I had a little distance to walk from the city centre bus stop to my meeting, so 12 minutes wait (worst case) plus 12 minutes journey, plus a short walk, hmm, best say that I need to be at the car park 30 minutes before my meeting.

    Could I have made the journey in less time if I'd looked at the timetable? Possibly. Could I have driven to the car park, found a place and got to the bus with sufficient precision for the information that the bus departed at 1324 to be useful? Not if I wanted to allow for following tractors, or unexpected road works on the car leg of my journey.

    As it was there was a bus waiting as I arrived at the car park and that bus was still there when I was ready to board. Likewise in the city centre the bus was waiting, and the closet I got to a timetable was glancing at the real-time display which said "5 mins". It all worked fine; correct and up to date timetables on-line and on stops being irrelevant.

  4. The exact route of the 90 can be found by using the "Plan a journey" section of the Stagecoach website, then "Show details" which will show a map of the precise journey in question.
    Outbound 90s from town run relatively direct; the return journey is a much bigger loop, accessing Britannia Avenue via Davis Road.

  5. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
    Park & Rides across the country tend to be contracted to the local authority, which control almost every aspect of the service.
    On the whole, I'd no more complain to the operator (often hidden by a dedicated livery) than I would consider complaining to whoever it is that collects my bins, rather than the council that contracts the service.
    If the bus wasn't in Stagecoach livery, would most people even perceive it as a Stagecoach service?

  6. Due to incompetence, fbb forgot to add the South Hams timetable note. But it is now added above. It is still not right.

  7. Apologies for a late response.

    I've been visiting Dartmouth, off and on, since 1969. I've never found any reason to visit Townstal and I dont see this changing. Most visitors are interested in the old part of town and the riverside. The 90 exists to take residents into town, and more importantly, back up the steep hill. I'm sure that the locals know where it runs amd where the stops are.

    There are two ways to approach Dartmouth by public transport. Via Paignton and then bus or steam train and ferry. The train is the most scenic, but is not ideal with luggage. For a holiday, you are better off catching the 92 which calls at Totnes station. This runs along the main road in Townstal and would be the best approach for anyone visiting Townstal. No need to go into the town centre at all.

    The last time I stayed in Dartmouth centre was in 2005, when our flat came with a permit for the town centre car park, so we didnt have to use the park and ride. That year it wasn't operated by First, but by something ancient and anonymous in dealer white. In contrast, my last visit for the day, in October 2017, saw a smart Stagecoach E400 on the service.

    Going back to part one, £5 in change is nothing! When we went to Looe in 2009, we did have to use the main car park without a permit. The ONLY way to buy a weekly ticket was to feed £25 (or thereabouts) into the pay and display machine in £1 coins! Fortunately, the flat owner did warn us. And there is a different system in 2019.