Saturday 31 August 2019

Dark Doings in Danubia (2)

We saw yesterday that the long-standing 30/31 between  Gloucester and Coleford ...
... vanishes completely from the Stagecoach Forest of Dean network from Sunday 1st September. This seems a tad on the drastic side and fbb was anxious to see what will replace it.

The combined services (GREEN) currently provide a 30 minute service from Gloucester via the A48, and Westbury on Severn.
Also via Westbury on Severn is the hourly 23 via Lydney to Coleford (BROWN), giving three buses each hour as far as Elton Corner. Store that in your personal memory bank.

But the 30/31 continue to Cinderford with alternate journeys via Cannop (30) ...
... and Brierley (31).

Both these intermediate communities fall into the "blink and you'll miss 'em" category, although, of the two, the northern route 31 via the A4136 passes more of the less populated communities.

The replacement from Sunday is new route 22 (GREEN).
This is now only every hour to Cinderford (a halving of the old 30/31) but retaining something broadly similar to the 31 onwards to Coleford; but now via Ruardean and Lydbrook where, presumably more passengers may lurk!

The last leg of the 30 (via the fleshpots of Cannop) is now service 25 (ORANGE) ...
... something of a come-down compared with the hourly 30!

The new 23 is still hourly via Lydney to Coleford (PURPLE) but via a slightly different route from its current version.

In a desperate attempt to confuse passengers, Stagecoach is presenting the 22 and the 23 in one single timetable.
That's because 22s become 23s at Coleford and vice versa; the whole thing is one giant lollipop. It would be better shown as a complete loop with one number all the way round. The full but reduced service to Westbury on Severn could be shown on both lollipops.

This is clever timetabling, agreed, but unhelpful presentation and, remember, it represents a REDUCTION of service between Gloucester and Cinderford direct and a slaughtering of the service via Cannop.

Stagecoach make no mention of the withdrawal of the 30/31 in their publicity for these changes; quelle surprise!.

fbb hinted at the other bus change in yesterdays blog when he referred to the gluing together of former Bevans Coaches 755 (Chepstow to Lydney) and 717 (Lydney to Cinderford) with the current 24. This runs from Gloucester to Ruardean (MID BLUE) ...
... and Joys Green.
Currently this service is, to say the least, "occasional" during the day ...
... but leaps into life in the evenings to cover for route 746 which does not come out in the dark. The 24 used to be very different!
The new 24 (RED) runs as now to Drybtrook then direct to Cinderford leaving the Ruardean area to the re-routed 22.
It then ambles on (Bevan style) to Lydney and Chepstow.
The timetable is not hugely frequent but it does open up a whole range of new links.
Note that schoolday journeys are shown in BLUE whilst non-schooldays timings are highlighted in BLUE. Wouldn't it be less off-putting to customers to show just one journey in each case and offering a note at the foot of the table?

In the evenings the through links no longer apply.
Locals will understand why the 24A exists - fbb doesn't have a clue! There is a "commuter" Monday to Friday journey from Ellwood to Gloucester in the other direction.

These represent the big changes in Danubia with other alterations being merely tinkering.

As usual, Stagecoach is to be complemented for promoting a reduction in service as "improvements".

Forest of Dean Service Changes - 1st September 2019
Following feedback received from members of the public during our consultation in March, we will be making significant changes to buses in the Forest of Dean.  Most customers will see a change to either their route or timetable, with  new links created to improve access to education, work or leisure.

But not in frequency!
It's not just the Buses
Yesterday fbb had cause to visit the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital but no for personal reasons. He was acting as chauffeur to Mrs fbb and a chum, the latter needing an out patient's visit. fbb took along his trusty laptop with the intention of settling in the Restaurant and doing a few more bits and pieces for GoTimetable Sheffield to while away the happy hours of waiting.

But where was the Restaurant?

The on-line site plan made no mention of a source of nice nibbles ...
... although enquiring virtually about the restaurant itself revealed that it was on area D level 2.
But where was that?

But there was a grand plan near the entrance which did not mention "Area D" but told fbb that the Restaurant was "P".
But where would you go for a "P", Bob? A look at the site plan ...
... and you get a Restaurant but no "P". Indeed the only place where "Restaurant" and "P" appear together on signage is ...

... at the door of the Restaurant. Obvious but only when you get there!

And then you realise. O and P are "block" numbers, each block being two storeys high. You also might realise the blocks O and P slot in, unlabelled of course, betyween blocks N and Q. The "P" for the restaurant is indeed on "Level 2" opposite but not part of  "area D".

Seemples? NOT!

fbb did find it; there was free wifi and he was able to uncircularise route 26 and 26a and complete the "stop names standardisation" list! Job done!
 Next Weekend Headlines blog : Sunday 1st September 

Friday 30 August 2019

Dark Doings in Danubia (1)

No, neither had fbb!

But Gerald of Wales ...

No, neither had fbb!
Gerald of Wales (Latin: Giraldus Cambrensis; Welsh: Gerallt Gymro; French: Gerald de Barri; c. 1146 – c. 1223) was a Cambro-Norman archdeacon of Brecon and historian. As a royal clerk to the king and two archbishops, he travelled widely and wrote extensively.

Well, this Gerry ...

... writing in the 12th century, refers to the area as Danubia which may translate as "land of Danes" following the Viking settlements in that era. It is possible that an original name Dene developed from this.

fbb refers, as you all will have worked out, to the Forest of Dean!

The Forest of Dean is a geographical, historical and cultural region in the western part of the county of Gloucestershire, England. It forms a roughly triangular plateau bounded by the River Wye to the west and northwest, Herefordshire to the north, the River Severn to the south, and the City of Gloucester to the east. 
Links to the big bad outside world are made at Gloucester, centre right and Chepstow bottom centre - both just off the map above.

The major bus operator in the area is Stagecoach but independents can be found in various locations. Earlier this year, one such gave up the omnibological ghost and Uncle Brian the Bearded stepped in to save the day.

Hurrah for the white knight Sir Brian!

The expired routes were by Bevan Coaches of Lydney, which withdrew from traditional (and mainly tendered) stage carriage services numbered in the 700s. Bevans ran from Chepstow to Beachley, for example ...
... now with Stagecoach.
According to occasional correspondent Richard, whose information provoked this blog and tomorrow's, it is a rejigging of some of the ex Bevans routes that has formed the core of a major re-organisation of Forest of Dean services from 1st September.

Chepstow and Lydney 755 ...
... and Lydney to Cinderford 717 ...
... have been incorporated into the most significant revision of bus services in the area for some time.

First, the good news. The information is readily available on line and has been available in good time. The even better news, if you happen to be passing through Gloucester and can spot the hub, ...
... is that you can have paper copies.

Don't panic Mr Mainwaring, it's the bus station!
And the possible bad news?

The publicity does not make it clear how you get a timetable leaflet if you live in Lydney, Chepstow, Cinderford, Coleford etc. One might guess that "hubs" have long since fallen from the centre of "spokes" in most locations.

There is also an on-line map of the new network.

And therein lies the second bit of less than good news.

Here is the current map (excuse fbb's scribble!) ...
... and the much changed new network.
Both can be enlarged with a click. But they do look very different. That is because the new map has been rotated approximately 45 degrees clockwise.

A small and typical fbb "picky" point? fbb does not think so. Most people struggle with maps, and the different orientation, done for no obvious reason, doesn't help those that struggle.

fbb has unrotated it to show a similar shape ...
... which probably makes it even more confusing!

Equally unhappy is the fact that the various villages etc shown on the two maps are not the same.

Here is the current (till Sunday) A48 ...
... showing plenty of passing places; and here is the larger-in-size replacement ...
... with far less detail.

You might be forgiven for thinking that the cartographer of the new map simply did not bother to look at the old; or (more likely) Mr Stagecoach Gloucester did not bother to specify that similarity would be helpful to the public.

A useful rule of bus maps is that, as an absolute minimum, they should show the same "time points" as the timetable using the same names and then, where space is available, show any extra places, preferably in a different font.

But the A48 maps above may provoke surprise amongst blog readers who know the area and its buses better than fbb.
What has happened to the (relatively) long standing route 30/31?
It has gorn!
fbb will (try to) explain tomorrow.

The comment writer who complained recently that there was "too much Sheffield and Northampton" may like to consider these points.

1. you get what you pay for!

2. fbb can only write about what he knows or has been told.
    His crystal ball failed completely in 2010.

3. Today's blog (and tomorrow's at least) are from information received

4. fbb is only too pleased to receive information which might lead to a blog
    and will use it if at all possible. Pictures help.

5. fbb does (despite opinions to the contrary) have a life!

Thanks to all who keep the old man informed.

Also : rumours are spreading that Stagecoach is about to unveil a "completely new livery" - shock horror! Pictures of any sightings will be gratefully received.

Any "Stuff" to
 Next Forest of Dean blog : Saturday 31st August 

Thursday 29 August 2019

Back to Brackley : Bus and Builders (4)

first - an apology
No 3 son and fbb spent some time yesterday reviewing data for GoTimetable Sheffield and correcting those little niggles in the timetables that lead to odd results on screen. It is very detailed but tedious work, thankfully aided by a bit of software wot the boy wrote. At 2000hrs both brains became a gibbering heap of stale blancmange and work stopped for the night.

Then fbb started on this blog. Please excuse and deleterious consequences.
The 500 bus from Brackley to Banbury could easily be used to connect with trains northbound to Brum and southbound to London. But the bus does not stop at the station.

Here is a big difference between UK transport non-policy and that of most European countries. In France, Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany inter alia you would expect buses to call at a major station. In the UK, sadly, it is the exception; and the mantra of commercial viability makes any moves to improve interchange opportunities extremely unlikely.
Two options exist in Banbury. Arriving via the Middleton Road there are stops a short step before the station bridge (depending upon your definition of "short" and "step"!)
Walk on past the lights and you can turn left ...
... and enter the station via the shiny multi-storey car park.
And have no fear, this is a proper entrance complete with a staffed ticket window ...
... not just a "back door" for season ticket holders only.

After Middleton Road, the next stop is the town centre itself. As you approach the road junction you will see lots of lovely Stagecoach single deckers (mostly) grazing peacefully in front of you.
This is Stratford Bridge Street where all the town services congregate.
As you can see, various route merges and withdrawals have left service B3 to B6 inclusive plus B9.

B5 and B6 run every 12 minutes; B9 every 15, B3 every 30 and B4 every hour - not bad for a small town network.

But your 500 will eschew this accumulation of services and turn right to a bus station ...
... in Debenham's back yard. fbb  has never been to Banbury bus station so cannot comment on its facilities, but there appear to be toilets if nothing else.
But fbb can find no sign of any enquiry facility either at the bus station (top left in the aerial view below) ...
... or at the small depot (above, bottom left.
Of course IT IS ALL ON LINE.

There is a little back entrance to the bus station, however, if you know it is there ...
... and a quick nip across the road and into Bridge Street and on to the the front entrance of the station.

We could, no doubt, feel an affinity for the ancient nursery rhyme!

500 bus to Banbury Cross,
Catching a train, they don't give a toss;
Finding leaflet or someone who knows,
You might have to guess which way the bus goes.

During the period of the Reformation Banbury had three crosses. The High Cross, otherwise known as the Market Cross, was situated in Cornhill, just off the Market Place.

The Bread Cross was situated at the corner of High Street and Butchers Row. It was a large, covered cross, made of stone with a slate roof so that the butchers and bakers who had their market stalls there could keep dry in wet weather.

The White Cross lay on the western boundary line of the old town borough, at what is now the corner of West Bar Street and Beargarden Road, but little is known about it. 

The "modern" Cross  is Victorian.
In fact, the 500 doesn't go near any of them!

How much easier it would be if the buses all left from the station forecourt.
There is oodles of room.

Maybe a few extra folk would use the bus to get the train if they did!

But that would never do.

Tomorrow, hopefully we go to a Forest.

 Next Danubia blog : Friday 30th August