Thursday 8 October 2020

On Line - In Print - On Screen (2)

The Good (Part 1) ...

Today, Ensignbus retains a small bus service network centred on Grays station and Lakeside Shopping Centre. It also regularly provides buses for rail replacement services to train operators including Abellio Greater Anglia, c2c, Southeastern, and Transport for London.

Ensignbus also operates a dealership selling used buses from several major UK and Irish companies. In 2016, it became a dealer for BCI products, starting with the BCI Enterprise high capacity integral double-decker.

The company acts as a partner to Vantage Power, a firm developing technology to retrofit existing buses with diesel-electric hybrid engines.

Ensignbus maintains a fleet of heritage buses with AEC Regent III, AEC Routemaster, Daimler Fleetline, Leyland Titan, MCW Metrobus, and Scania Metropolitans represented.

As well as being available for charter, Ensignbus operate these at an annual running day on the first Saturday in December each year.

The company was founded in 1972 by Peter Newman ...

... who remains as chairman with the two "boys" as directors.

It used to own the London Pride sightseeing company and developed the global City Sightseeing brand before selling on the open top businesses.

But it was this picture that arrived via twitter that aroused fbb's attention ...
... a timetable book no less. An email to Ensign produced a near immediate response as the above volume thudded through the letterbox at fbb mansions. Interestingly, included in the envelope, was the previous edition, abortively produced within days of the dreaded lockdown and thus, effectively. never used.

fbb will return to the March issue later, but, for the time being, will review the booklet dated from 29th August 2020.

The first thing that greets you when opening the timetable is a list of changes ...

... followed by a colour coded list of services operated.
As an enthusiast for the science of bus timetable book "construction and use" ...
... fbb was mystified by the cross references between routes 73, 73A, 77 and 77A and intrigued by the three services at the bottom of the list numbered Z1, Z2 and Z3. fbb cannot remember ever having seen buses numbered with a Z prefix, Z, obviously, for AmaZon at Tilbury.
When motoring journos review new cars, that often find something to be a bit negative about; the shape of the gear knob, noise from the aircon, front nearside wheel missing etc. etc. fbb's disappointment (and it IS the only one) with this excellent booklet is the poor quality of the network map.
If you are a local, what is "drawn" is probably adequate BUT, for an outsider or a visit from a newcomer moving in, it is not easy to follow. fbb has travelled on the Tilbury Ferry and connecting circular 99 (DARK GREEN) ...

... and the X80 (DARK BLUE) back to Kent via the Dartford Bridge (a k a Queen Elizabeth II Bridge).

The X80 runs hourly ...
... with a prettier presentation in print than on-line.

... with views very spectacular ...

... very industrial and very, erm, flat!
The 33 (DARK PURPLE) from Grays to Chafford Hundred Station seems simple enough to follow ...
... until you look at a real map!
Grays is bottom right, Chafford Hundred Station is centre left...

.... not the most beautiful of surroundings! The actual route looks something like this ...

... so a bit more complex than a straight line! (Or so fbb thinks!)

But the wrong shaped gear knob does not detract too much from the snazzy limo and, for those that are local to the Grays area, the booklet is of very high quality.

But fbb loves a challenge; so for his timetabular satisfaction, the old codger will attempt to unravel the rest of Ensign's services, using map, timetables, fare tables (you get fares on-line but not in the book) and without the use of a safety net.

Chadwell St Mary looks fun!

The Bad!

Readers will remember that, earlier this year, (and BC) Go Ahead Oxford Bus announced a new AirLink service between High Wycombe, Maidenhead and Heathrow Airport.

The Oxford Bus Company has announced a new Airline service, the X50, providing improved connectivity between Heathrow Airport and major towns.

The new luxury coach service will provide additional links to Heathrow for workers and passengers in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

Launching on Sunday, March 29, the X50 service will primarily connect High Wycombe, Maidenhead and Heathrow.

It also provides rail-air links to Heathrow from towns on the Chiltern Line, including Bicester and Banbury.

Only it didn't. Due to the Virus, it never started.

But, as they say, IT IS ALL ON LINE! The timetable is there ...

... plus all the other promotional guff - but is it running? There is a note in red which tries to explain something.

Unfortunately, due to the current conditions related to COVID-19, the launch of the X50 airline service between High Wycombe, Maidenhead and Heathrow Airport will be delayed until 31st August 2020 or until coach services can return to operating as normal. Further updates will be posted on our website as soon as possible. We remain very committed to the X50 project and are looking forward to beginning the service when conditions return to normal.

So is the X50 running or not? Did it start on 31st August?

"Not" seems more likely - but it isn't really clear.

If nothing else, the August date should be removed IF it hasn't started. Has anyone tried to catch it for the last month and a bit?

Tomorrow, more Good from Ensign and a bit of "Ugly" from Northampton.

 More Timetable Book blog : Friday 9th October 

1 comment:

  1. There is a High Wycombe to Heathrow coach service according to the 30 August 2020 schedules... but it is not the X50... at least not yet.
    The Oxford Bus Co's Airlink services (currently LHR & LGW to the airports and OXF back to Oxford) have added a stop at High Wycombe Coachway. It may not appear on OBC's direct publicity, but it is in Traveline (if any readers know where to look) and in OxonTime.