Friday, 31 January 2020

Happier Happenings in Halton (3)

It was just a week ago that rumours began circulating of "trouble-at-t-mill" for Halton Transport. Drivers had not turned up to work and some school services had not run. the word on the street was that the company was to be placed into receivership by its owners, Halton Borough Council.

But the council remained tight-lipped despite it being known that "behind-closed-doors" meeting were on-going.

Then, just after lunch, the formal announcement came.

Amazingly, within minutes pf the formal statement, Arriva had published timetables for some replacement services. These were as follows:-

Halton 14A/14C - Runcorn, Widnes, Hough Green, Liverpool
Arriva 14A - Runcorn, Widnes, Hough Green

Halton 17 - Widnes, St Helens (joint with Arriva)
Arriva 17 - Widnes, St Helens
Arriva's contribution to the joint service was a bus every hour, so here there was an increase to every 40 minutes, not the most helpful of frequencies but and improvement on hourly!

Halton 61 - Liverpool, Prescot, Widnes, Runcorn
Arriva 61 - Childwall, Prescot, Widnes, Runcorn
the replacement 61 does not make it into central Liverpool, instead turning at Childwall near Doddy's famous Knotty Ash.
The Rocket look surprisingly modern ...
... so might be a modern replacement for a hostelry demolished to make way for yet another mega junction.
Liverpudlians will know - the pub is bottom right.

Halton 62 - Warrington, Runcorn, Widnes
Arriva 62 - Runcorn, Widnes
Arriva do not run between Warrington and Runcorn, but see below.

One week later (well, yesterday afternoon actually when fbb checked) Arriva had "upped" route 17 to every 30 minutes ...
... but leaving the 14A, 61 and 62 as shown above. It must be remembered that Arriva is a major player throughout the area and, presumably, they have no desire to take on services which might abstract from their pre C-day network.

Nevertheless, irrespective of the secret machinations of Halton Council, Arriva have to be congratulated on having these replacements up and running from Monday 27th - and, even more impressive, operation of some journeys from Saturday 25th. But obviously the Council had been giving and nod and a wink to Arriva well before the official announcement was made!

Warrington's buses, recently rebranded ...
... also entered the fray. They began by effusively welcoming ex Halton staff on social media ...
... but their detailed contribution was harder for an old codger based in sunny Seaton to discern.

In the end they are operating the Widnes to Warrington part of the 62 not covered by Arriva ...
... together with some tendered bits and pieces in Runcorn itself, e.g. 3D.
This leaves Halton's two Widnes local services:-

26/26A - Widnes Cronton circulars
27/27A - West Bank, Widnes, Shell Green

These seem too have vanished without trace at the moment, with no mention on the Council web site.

The Council is working hard with other transport providers to ensure, as  far as possible, that essential services are maintained. However, there will inevitably be disruption. The advice is that if you rely on a Halton Transport bus you should make alternative arrangements. The Council will make announcements on its website, social media and through media outlets in relation to alternative services as they are put in place and become operational.

The Board of Halton Transport and the Council would like to apologise to bus users for any inconvenience caused.

Arriva: updated timetable information
Warrington’s Own Buses: updated timetable information​​​​

Traveline, as ever, still thinks Halton Transport exists ...
... with 26 and 27 operating as before. Such is the delight and the speed of modern technology.

All together ...

 It's All On-Line - And Wrong!! 

As an outsider looking in from afar, fbb assumes that these links have not been replaced.

It should be remembered, however, that the urban areas of the North west have a complex and often unfathomable network of services so there will be other links to many of the "missing areas" - but  maybe not to the delightful (?) West Bank?

Bad News for Bath to Bowerhill
First's "Discover" branded routes were a big step forward in promoting inter-urban travel from Bath.
But now comes the news that First has de-registered the D3 from Melksham.
James Freeman explains all in his staff newsletter this week.
Doubtless someone will be found to run a poorer replacement service with a bit of Local Authority money, but it probably will be a reduction on what First have operated.

Once again, the "commercial" model fails to deliver; and passengers are now at the whim of cash-strapped councils.

It should not be like this if we are serious about the environment, global warming, pollution and the wellbeing of rural resdidents. Agencies SAY they are serious but ...

 Next Livery Delivery blog : Saturday 1st February 


  1. Faresaver already operate their X72 over the same route on a more frequent basis. They might need to take on the evening services which Wiltshire County Council currently pay First to do. Faresaver have progressively edged First out of their routes in Wiltshire.

  2. A statement on the withdrawal of First Bus service D3 Melksham – Bath

    It has come to our attention this week that First Bus are intending to withdraw their D3 bus service from Melksham to Bath on 6th April 2020.
    Faresaver buses have been operating an X72 bus service between Melksham and Bath since 2006. When First Bus cancelled the service between Melksham and Devizes in 2010, due to alleged poor usage and lack of sustainability, Faresaver stepped in and extended the X72 service to Devizes and the surrounding villages to fill the void left by First Bus. We were initially pleasantly surprised at the level of usage and in the years since we have seen this usage grow on the corridor.

    Since 2014 First Bus have cancelled the Chippenham Trowbridge Frome 234 service and the Chippenham Bath 231 service amongst others. In each case, Faresaver has stepped in to provide a comprehensive service and fill any voids left by the withdrawal of First Bus. In every case we have provided a suitable replacement to the First Bus commercial services which have disappeared.
    We now have a new opportunity to enhance the corridor between Melksham and Bath. Prior to 2006 there was one bus an hour, the new Faresaver service made this 2 buses an hour and this increased to 3 when the Devizes extension was added. The launch of the First Bus Discover network increased this to 4 buses per hour (four times the level of service previously existing). It seems there were not enough passengers for First Bus to cover their costs on this route.
    Now that the D3 is going, Faresaver are faced with renewed challenges:

    We need to try and ensure that we provide a bus service to all stops on the route currently covered. if they are adequately used.

    We need to ensure we have sufficient capacity at peak times.

    We understand that Wiltshire Council are looking at the provision of replacement contracts for the evening and Sunday bus services.

    Compared to First Group plc, Faresaver is a relatively small independent operation. However, despite this, we are perfectly capable of providing a bus network that many outsiders view with envy. We use the very latest transport technology in terms of satellite tracking, realtime data, wi-fi on bus and now contactless payments. To this end, we are relishing the prospect of providing Melksham with a bus service suitable for the coming decade.

  3. Presumably Traveline is still showing Halton Transport as operating the 26/27 because the person at Halton Council whose job it is to update Traveline has not done so!
    However, they are showing today on the Halton BC website as being operated by Ashcroft Travel.

  4. I think you'll find that Arriva operated a 20/40 minute service on the 17 with Halton's hourly contribution.

  5. FBB certainly surpassed himself today with his wiffle about the commercial model and reliance on cash strapped councils. Talk about not doing your research. Perhaps he could've had a look ONLINE. The information is there, and he wouldn't need to rely on a paper copy!!

    As has been said by the poster above, Faresaver have run on the service for many years. It is that competition that has precipitated First's exit, being unable to repulse a more agile competitor. This is despite the relaunch just over 18 months ago.

    Also, we all know about FBB's issues with Traveline and on-line information. However, in order to respond quickly in relation to these events, the ability to put things on line is much easier and smarter than more analogue methods.