Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Departure Lists : The Challenge (2)

Other people have written software to create departure lists, but obviously NOT suitable for the GoTimetable data which is based on the concept, not of "the journey", but on "the timetable" which is loaded into the database as a lump. So let us look more closely at the challenges of 27, 29 and 29a.

Here, by way of reminder, is fbb's rather clunky map.
The acutely observant amongst our readers will have spotted immediately that there has been a change since a similar map was published in yesterday's blog. Yes, of course you did!

fbb had added Gullivers Valley, a newly opened kids theme park and "resort" (huts rather than hotels) which has just opened.
When the fbb's three boys were small and delightful, the family paid several visits to Gullivers Kingdom, then the only manifestation of Gulliver outside Liliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa and Houyhnhnmland!

Back to timetables!

It ought to be straighforward. First Bus operates an hourly 27 and an hourly 29 between Rotherham and Swallownest. After grazing outside the Co-op (left, in picture below) ...
... buses proceed differently.

The 27 (PURPLE) does a huge circuit of housing from Swallownest, via Aughton, Aston and back to "opp" the Co-op ...
... whence it sets off south again to find its way to the dubious delights of Crystal Peaks shopping centre. The route has two functions; it links most parts of greater Swallownest with Rotherham AND it gives those residents the opportunity to shop at Crystal Peaks.

The 29 (ORANGE) serves much less of the community, namely only the Lodge Lane area ...
... before nipping off to Wales, Kiveton Park and Harthill.

The X5 (BLUE) runs half hourly from Sheffield; the others (X54/X55) will pop into the story later.

First Bus shows the 27 and 29 on one table with the usual acres of blank spaces.
Travel South Yorkshire (TSY) simply reproduces this table in its "temporary" timetable index. In happier pre-virus times TSY chose to show the two separately.

That enabled the 29a to be included with the 29.

Which is where the fun begins. Let's get note "A" out of the way. Pre cut-backs First 29s became First X54s at Harthill. 
The X54 (BLUE) ran from Sheffield via Treeton, Aughton and Swallownest to Aston and Todwick and on to Kiveton Park and south to Harthill where its transmogrification to/from a 29 took place.

But the X54 is suspended (virally) as is its chum the X55.

Except it isn't. For reasons best known to South Yorkshire PTE it still runs on Sundays but at no other time of the week ...
... and, again on Sundays only, X54s become 29s and vice versa - well they nearly all do.

But T M Travel who runs the 29a and X54 don't tell you that!
No mention of Todwick on most journeys. Here's how the Rotherham departures SHOULD be shown.
So back to TSY's 29/29a pre virus timetable.
All buses (29a and First's 29) call at the Lodge Lase Nickerwood Drive stop ...
... Nickerwood Drive being the turn off Lodge Lane as shown in the above snap.

All buses (T  M Travel's 29a and ALL First's 29s) call at Kiveton Park - near the crossroads ...
... at a stop which in fbb's youth was called Kiveton Park Hard Lane and now is sometimes known as Saxon Inn.

So, to summarise.

We have First Bus timetables for the 27 and 29 which are correct but could be more helpful,

T M Travel 29a timetables which are incorrect,

TSY timetables which make a mess of combining the 29 ad 29a.

Fortunately we are spared the task of dealing with service 28 ...
... which only ran BC.

But we cannot ignore Worrygoose Lane - yet another oddity on the 29a and one which was NOT present BC.
But fbb will save that joy for tomorrow.

From Alexander Dennis
We are helping National Express West Midlands take its first major step towards a zero-emission bus fleet with the supply of 29 electric double deckers built in partnership with BYD Europe.
A stationery Zenobe Energy battery helps balance the load on the grid.
Leaving aside the fact that a paper battery might not do much good, are we to assume that a non-mobile battery pack is needed in case the National Grid runs out of juice?

Is this not just a bit worrying as we rush headlong into decarbonisation?

Never mind - Amazon seems to sell a lot of "standing still" products.
From First Bristol
Yet another new livery - branding for route 24 ...
... which runs from Southmead Hospital ...
... to Ashton Vale.
Looks like yet another complicated route for fbb to explore!

The bus certainly looks much better than its previous livery style.
The new nearside has a selection of place names served by the 24 ...
Would such info be more helpful if it were in route order; if some of it were not sideways and if some of it were not yellow on slime green?

A triumph of Stenningitis over passenger helpfulness?

But it is better than the previous effort at branding ...
... which probably did not create a lot of desire!

The Great Carriage Shed Rebuild.
As half expected, the windows are too big, so one line of pains needs to be removed. A bit of a pane, but the result is in better proportion to the building as a whole.
Now comes the hard bit - cutting neat and accurate holes that are the right size in which these beautiful windows can sit prettily. fbb is terrified he will mess it up.

 Next Departure List blog : Wednesday 15th July 


  1. Andrew Kleissner14 July 2020 at 06:25

    I wonder if the purpose of that battery is less about back-up and more to do with evening out the load? Obviously one doesn't know what deal they have with the energy company, but one could guess that they are buying cheap electricity at night. Charging the battery then could perhaps provide a resource for top-ups during the day. It could even be that they are not permitted to take "juice" out of the mains at certain times as this would overload the local grid - I know that one recent electric bus initiative in London involved laying an entirely new suberranean circuit.

    By the way, you correctly made fun of the mis-spelling of "stationary", only to fall into the trap yourself with window "pains"!

    1. As the press release says, and FBB himself quoted, it is about balancing the load of the draw from the grid not providing a theoretical emergency backup. By this they mean ensuring not all 29 buses are feeding off the grid at the same time by charging the batteries when the buses are out/fully charged and then feeding this to the buses at the end of the day when they park up and are plugged in. One of the big complications, and the major source of delay in launching fleets, is the infrastructure enhancements required and particularly the beefed up connection to & capacity of the grid. The National Grid are not quick in getting this type of enhancements complete and certainly struggle with the speed of projects that launching a new bus fleet entails. This may be a temporary system to allow the fleet to be launched whilst awaiting the National Grid enhancement though Stagecoach use a similar system for their electric fleet in Guildford as a permanent solution to reduce the cost of launching an electric fleet.

  2. Andrew Kleissner14 July 2020 at 06:27

    Or did you do it on purpose? - I think you may have done!

  3. In simple terms for the Bristol 24; a double deck bus and a low bridge aren't a good combination, hence the 24a shuttle bus single deck... when the shuttle goes to bed, the 24 has to go the long way round to get to the 24a terminus...

    1. I sometimes wonder if being allocated to drive the 24A is considered to be a punishment or a boon at the depot. Endless (mostly passenger-free) 5-minute circuits with a 10-minute layover each time...