Sunday 4 August 2019

The Sunday Variety Show

It's All Happening In Sheffield
May be better to say that quite a lot will NOT be happening!

fbb has already outlined the loss of two "old friends" routes that have been more or less stable for 93 years (the south western section of route 4) and a modest 65 years (via Upperthorpe route 31). A whole raft of timetable changes happens from 1st September varying from a bit of tinkering with existing times "to improve reliability", changes of operator "the tender round", service cutbacks and wholesale changes of routes.

Only two services offer improvement and fbb will return to the detail in dues course.

But the GoTimetable App and web site ( and one of fbb's tasks is to get the new information to the technical people in good time. Thanks to excellent co-operation from Stagecoach and First Bus the main changes should be in place in a couple of days.

To compound the situation it has been decided to improve the presentation. In the past thee index has merely warned the user that "timetable ends" on the appropriate date and that a "timetable starts" usually on the next day.

This time, because the changes are many and varied, the presentation will be improved. Some changes are negative but simple to explain as with service 36.
Occasionally, as with route 31 featured in this blog a few days ago, the change is more complicated.
Here it takes bits of three services to offer some sort of replacement for one. It is all designed, as you can see, to encourage more people to travel by bus. (Sorry that should read "to NOT travel by bus").

Sometimes the techie people send stuff back to fbb for corrections and further investigation.
A simple stubby fingered typing error (2109 for 2019) produced an end to the current 43 to Chesterfield in 32,900 days. GoTimetable is ever anxious to give plenty of notice!

Yesterday was a corrections day and it was (a) infuriating (b) frustrating and (c) very hard work. More particularly it does hurt fbb's brain, even though he made the mistakes in the first place. Thankfully the input side of the data management system checks timetables and blows bells and rings whistles if things don't make sense. (Although it was unconcerned about a 32,000 day wait for a new timetable!!)

Then new maps have to be drawn. (Have to? The team chooses to.

So here is the part of the revised 56 ...
... with a radically revised and very much less convenient route through the city centre because the Council has decided to close a road and restrict hand right hand turn to "green" part of the city centre and make life much more difficult for bus passengers.

Then there's the new 32.
Currently fbb is posting a thumbnail of the proper map pending further checks on which way the bus actually goes. Neither the operator (First) nor the PTE has published a map. So it is a close perusal of old routes, new routes, lists of roads and street maps to get it sorted.

Please don't consider being sympathetic; fbb is not forced to do this work. Believe it or not, he actually enjoys the challenge.

Is it possible to explain a complex and far reaching set of timetable changes in a way which can actually help the badly-treated bus passengers of Sheffield cope with a "very poor do".

There will be more about some of the changes in later blogs, but over 100 timetables (one for each route in each direction) have needed to be edited, processed and propelled protesting into a complex but brilliantly designed database. (And fbb has had absolutely NOTHING to do with the technically side, thankfully).

As fbb types this, he is watching with half an eye, the Channel 5 programme about Crossrail. 

At least GoTimetable will be ready for 1st September although the "lesser" operators have, so far, not co-operated in supplying data in good time. 

A Moan About Magazines
Yesterday fbb was teetering round his local newsagents when he spotted a "different" copy of Hornby magazine.
It was the September edition published on 1st August!
Presumably, this nonsense has been created because, over the years, publishers have moved their on-sale date earlier to be on the news stands before their competitors.Then the competitors move a few days earlier and so on.

fbb bought the magazine.

It tells you about these ...
... laser 3D printed miniature people about 23mm tall. The spiky bits are part of the moulding process and you have to trim them off before painting. They are, of course, expensive. You can even go to one company and they will make you an OO scale model of yourself, scanned "while you wait".

Or you could buy this OO gauge locomotive.
It is, as our readers will recognise, A Bulleid diesel developed for use on the Southern Railway but used, mostly, on Midland Region expresses from Euston, notably The Royal Scot.
The model will cost you £179!

If you are a N gauge modeller (2mm to the foot) you can by a Wainwright 0-6-0 tender loco.
The detail is amazing for a model that is barely 1¼ inches high and 4 inches long. A snip at £114.

There is lots more in this excellent magazine and it is well work a look - even if it is running a month early.

Hotel Happiness!
A recent tweeter posted this picture.
It is a rack of bus timetables (increasingly a rarity in themselves) on display at a hotel at East Midlands Airport.

When did you last stay in an hotel which offered good bus information - even if bus routes passed the door.

Surely an hotel is a place where people stay who might just be persuaded to explore by public transport. The general response from hotels is that they would be only too please to display leaflets but the bus companies don't bother to supply them with any.

It is all too much trouble. 

It is this lack off concern for good publicity that is directly leading to the repeated cut-backs in service outlined in the first item in this blog.

Oh, so disappointing.

From Our Company Web Site ...
The yellow/orange screenshot was taken from the website of Powells Bus, based at Hellaby near Rotherham. Its main business is with school contracts, but it does run some "normal" bus services. One is the recently introduced X7 between Maltby and Sheffield.
It runs every 30 minutes.

Here is what the company offers on line:-
A tap or click on the yellow band does, indeed bring up the timetable which started on 3rd March.

Sadly, for passengers, the timetable changes on 22nd July.
It was still half hourly but with changed times.

Sadly, for unexplained reasons, the service returns to what it used to be from 1st September, namely a few "commuter" journeys at peak times, Monday to Friday.
Maybe the existence of a Stagecoach service, also every 30 minutes, from Bramley (near Maltby)  to Sheffield might have been a contributory factor?

fbb has asked for the new timetable but so far, response comes there none.

Powells Bus is now owned by C T Plus which has its origins in Hackney Community Transport.

 No idea what will be in the next blog : Monday 5th August 

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