Saturday, 25 May 2019

How Are The Mighty Fallen (2)

In the late sixties and early seventies bus routes were transferred from mini bus terminals into Sheffield's main Central Bus Station.
The busy Bridge Street bus station ...
... with frequent services to Parson Cross and Shiregreen, was vacated. Buses terminating at nearby Leopold Street ...
... moved down the hill and longer distance services transferred from Exchange Street/Castlegate. There peripheral terminal were a deliberate policy to keep motorbuses away from trams. Two new cross-city links appeared; Lodge Moor to Gleadless (51 + 101 became 51) and Gleadless Valley to Shiregreen (28 & 43 + 150 & 151 became 47 & 48) but everything else that terminated in City came together at the Central Bus Station (CBS).

By the last pre-privatisation years of South Yorkshire PTE it was a full and busy place.
Once the deregulation chaos had settled down, the bus station entered into a period of steady decline. Whether bus operators were charged higher fees for usage or whether it was a frantic commercial desire to snaffle as many punters for and from stops nearer the main shopping areas fbb cannot, from his remote observation post, tell.

Whatever, the number of routes using the bus station has continued to decline. Recent departures have been the X1 (formerly 69) to Rotherham, the X2 (formerly 2 formerly 265) to Barnsley.

The only traditional city and suburban services left to grace its platforms are those that have nowhere else to go; i.e. they do not have a cross-city linking. Some outer suburban and inter-urban routes remain (e.g. to Dinnington, via the Dronfields, via Eckington and routes to the Peak District) but, compared with the view above, the Interhange is a quiet place.
With less buses, there are, of course, less passengers! this is a busy (?) scene on the busiest of the platforms.
Walking through from railway to city centre of an evening can be quite a scary experience ...
... with some intergalactic transporter beam having removed all life forms.

Before fbb became a married person he would call into CBS on the way home from school and make use of the cafe facilities. As part of the various refurbishments of the old bus station a sit down caff was built on platform D, additional to the original caff of A/B. It was called ...
Bar Terminal Snack
Bar Terminal nack
ar terminal nack
... depending on which letters had fallen off the fascia. But it did a pleasing sausage egg 'n' clips plus mugga which satisfied your author's modest evening appetite on many occasions.

Now there is only a little kiosk with a few sit-down tables ...
... from which to view the lack of passing omnibological activity and munch a passable "bacon on cake". (That's Sheffield-speak for a flat-ish bread roll called, in full, a breadcake!).

The walk-in enquiry office has been closed for many years and is replaced by a desk staffed by contractors from whom you have to beg for a leaflet. Far too often no such literature exists to match the passenger's needs. A colleague who collates printed information provision in the city has never - ever - reported complete availability.
The information terminals ...
... are long gone but they were very rarely working, so they are not missed!

The latest blow to usefulness comes with the recent closure of the National Express Office. This used to be a separate building (note the queue) ...
... but with the removal of the walk-in offices in the rebuilt bus station, it became a little cubby hole under the stairs.
But no more!
And NatEx is 100% NOT sorry for the inconvenience! If the company's apology were heart-felt, they should not have taken away the human presence.

You do have a couple of self-service machines ...
... which fbb has never tried to use, so is unable to comment.

And it has expensive toilets - once free ...
... now 20p2p.

It is a such a pity to see an excellent facility so underused and in decline. Compare this, for example, with the luxury at Galashiels (read again) and you will realise how the mighty has fallen.

Now here's a thought. Folk are, rightly, concerned about our air quality, particularly in city centres. How about banning all buses (no, all vehicles) from the busy High Street/Arundel Gate/Angel Street road junction area ...
... make tram (and bus) rides FREE in the city centre (within the inner ring road) and move ALL bus services to a much improved  and enlarged bus station.
There is plenty of room for extra stands in the bus layby area, on Flat Street, Harmer Lane and Pond Hill.

No buses currently use Platform E ...
... which is vast beyond measure for the level of National Express business.
You might also be able to squeeze a few more stops in the old "Little" Pond Street!
It wouldn't solve all the problems, but it would allow folk to shop with much less poison!

For tomorrow, a puzzle picture.
No answers needed; all will be revealed in due course.

 Next end of the journey blog : Sunday 26th May 


  1. Because you know that Pond Street is at the bottom of the hill and a long way from the shops. Buses take people to places they want to go, not where planners or bloggers actually think they should go. It was to big when it was rebuilt and never served its potential. Oh, the 47/48 didn't become cross city until October 1989, well after de-reg.

    1. The Interchange was unfortunate both in timing and geography. It was planned in a pre-dereg world where, in South Yorkshire, bus patronage was rising. Bythe time it opened in 1987/8 that world had gone. FBB's piece doesn't make it clear that the Interchange is around60 feet lower than the main shopping area, reached by crossing a busy road or through an unpleasant subway. It WAS on the same level as Haymarket and Waingate which have declined badly as shopping areas, and the Markets which have now moved to the Moor.Footfall in the area around the Interchange has dropped like a stone. High Street is larely buses and taxis only, has reasonable shelters and has in effect become an alternative Bus Station. Sad, because the Interchange was a well designed and attractive facility, and remains so. As for so much else, blame Nicholas Ridley!