Sunday, 1 March 2020

Weekend (And A Bit) Mixture (1)

Une Très Bonne Idée
From today, all public transport in Luxembourg is free with the exception of First Class travel on trains. To put this in context, the whole nation has a poulation of something over 600,000 - about the size of greater Sheffield!

The politicians accept that the cost will fall on the taxpayer ...
... but the system is already heavily subsidised.

Car ownership in Luxembourg is the highest in Europe as per this diagram which shows cars owned per 1000 of the population.
Another thought provoking statistic shows the percentage of GDP (all the lolly the nation earns) that each nation spends on its public transport. 
We are always ready to bleat about our fares being the "highest in Europe" (they aren't always!!) but from a taxpayer's point of view we get a very cheap deal indeed.

This would make it much more painful to, for example, make buses and trains free in Sheffield.

Maybe a brave government (when might we get one of those?) should have a go. We are anxious to reduce emissions and extend our "green" credibility, aren't we?

Well maybe we are if the Government (i.e. the taxpayer) doesn't have to foot the bill and we can bask in the political myth of "low" taxation!

Best Birthday Card?
Dangerous to assert, but the card from our Isle of Wight correspondent (who likes the epithet "senior") combined fbb's interest in public transport with another of his occasional enthusiasms - although the series which ends today has been, mostly, VERY disappointing - namely a certain Science Fiction series on the telly.
"Full right up, mate - but there's another one behind!"

Livery Delivery North East.
Bus 685 runs all the way from Newcastle upon Tyne to Carlisle and is operated jointly by Arriva and Stagecoach.
In more recent times it has been blessed with a dedicated livery applied to the vehicles of both operators. Here is Arriva ...
... and here is Stagecoach. Spot the difference!
But a recent tweeter posted this picture of a "Cross Pennine" branded bus going to ...
... Whitley Bay from Newcastle.

Unless fbb's geographical knowledge has detereorated at a similar rate to his knee joints, he is fairly certain that a trip on the 306 does NOT cross the Pennines. Not much point in branding your buses, Arriva, if you use and confuse by going in the wrong direction. It doesn't, as they say, create desire!

Bad house point.

Livery Delivery South West
Exeter has three "normal" Park and Ride services. They are colour coded as from Honiton Road - RED ...
... except when it is yellow!
Then there is Matford in a tasteful BLUE ...
... and Sowton which is GREEN.
But when fbb was in Exeter on Tuesday last he saw two "green" Park & Rides; one was PINK ...
... and the other was WHITE.(white!)

Not so much creating desire as creating confusion?
All three are in the hands of Stagecoach; but there is a fourth operating on Mondays to Fridays only from a well-hidden Digby site to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
It is currently in the hands of independent Dartline.
This service also calls at the same Sowton site as the Stagecoach GREEN but, obviously, only runs to the Hospital. The buses are BLUE to avoid confusion with the Matford Park & Ride.

To help all and sundry understand, the Hospital service (which calls at Sowton P&R) starts from Digby P&R ...
... which is but a short step along the road to ...
... Digby AND Sowton railway station!
The two are very close.
Exeter City (Stagecoach) buses call at the Park and Ride AND the station ...
Route H, of course (!) runs via the Hospital!
But, according to the map NOT route D!
Except that route D is timetabled at the Park and Ride AND the Station.
Of course, the confusion is easily explained (?) - route D turns into route H somewhere in Digby and route H turns into route D.

Just to clarify matters, however, route I and J DO serve Digby but do NOT run via either the Park and Ride OR the station. They pass happily through the stops at Tesco, also served by D/H and H/D.
Maybe the older map is a tad more helpful but it is pre I/J?
Isn't bus travel so very straightforward?

Don't bother to answer!

Diamonds At Bolton
Rotala's Diamond bus bought First's Bolton depot and services. The company has just announced a huge order for brand new buses.
The order is for 163 new vehicles of which 128 Streetdecks will be for the Bolton business.
In view of the uncertainty of the future of commercial bus operation in Manchester, consequent upon Mayor Andy Burnham's decision to go for a London-style franchised system, this would seem a very courageous decision.

But Rotala are between a rock and a hard place.

As part of the take-over of First's business, they have only agreed to lease vehicles from the outgoing incumbent. Sooner or later they have to replace these.

The big buy is brave indeed, but probably necessary. 

Let's hope for Rotala's good and Manchester's stability Diamond have got their sums right.

Watch this space!

Nice to see, however, a launch accompanied by a preserved Bolton Corporation bus.

 Next Weekend Mixture blog : Monday 2nd March 


  1. Re the 685: Arriva North East are particularly good at putting wrongly branded vehicles onto services. It is almost more unusual to see branded buses on the correct service. Not good, though.

  2. Re: free public transport in Luxembourg - you have to remember that people spend a lot of money buying, running, insuring and maintaining their cars (or their employers pay all or part of those costs). Thus, the important question is whether the cost of the fares is the principal reason that people don't use public transport. I suspect that it is not.

    If the new policy is designed to encourage people to abandon their cars, and use public transport instead, I suspect that it will have only limited success.

  3. Er, fbb, Sowton was blue (as per your photo, not your text!) and Matford was green. More recently those two routes have been combined as green, running between the two sites. Presumably in the future, Matford, Sowton and Honiton Road will all have white buses with bits of green vinyl under Stagecoach's awful new 'liveries'.