Saturday 10 October 2020

Saturday Variety

 Another Week, Another Close-Down

The end of a local coach company was announced a few days ago.

A long-standing Isle of Wight coach company yesterday (Wednesday) announced it will cease trading with immediate effect.

Isle of Wight Tours has been established for more than 30 years, taking people from the Island to areas of the UK such as Jersey and the Channel Islands, and further afield to Ireland and Europe.

Managing director, Shirley Winn, had earlier engaged in Zoom meetings with Cabinet politicians in a bid to gain assistance for the UK coach industry and keep companies such as hers afloat.
A few years ago (many?), Shirley Winn was Shirley Langridge and ran the Ryde Travel Office for Southern Vectis. IoW Tours had a very obvious office in Lake, clearly visible from the main road.
Their "current" vehicles are pictured below, courtesy of Alan (Isle of Wight hack), in the yard outside the Bus Museum.
It does seem unjust that our caring Government has been happy to see coaching and Tour Operators sink without trace whilst supporting the Theatre. Yesterday came the announcement that money will be made available for that essential service, namely Christmas Pantos.

More essential that Coach Tours?

Tough question.

Fun With Maps
fbb has always, since being a small boy ages approx 7, enjoyed drawing maps. For a little intellectual recreation, the old man decided to create a geographically accurate (possibly!) map pf the Ensignbus Thurrock network. It is presented here in two halves corresponding with the twoi A5 pages from the current timetable book.
(for a slightly larger image of the above, please click on the graphic)
It is very much a work in progress as fbb will be adding other operators' services plus some extra geographical reference points; unserved main roads and bits of the River Thames.

These fbb creations will become important when your noble author completes his review of the Ensign bus timetable booklet.

Talking Of Ensign

The DMS bus in London achieved iconic status for all the wrong reasons.
The Fleetlines proved unpopular in London, mainly due to the slow boarding times compared to those of the open-platform AEC Routemasters. To counter this, London Transport trialled the AFC (Automated Fare Collection) turnstile entry system on some of the fleet. This was coin-operated and was intended as a quicker, second boarding option as an alternative to paying the driver. However, the AFC system proved unpopular due to unreliability, and by 1979 the trial had been abandoned and the equipment removed.
Many of the sold Fleetlines were sent to dealer Ensignbus, Purfleet. So many vehicles were despatched there between 1979 and 1983, that the yards became known as the 'DMS graveyards' as not enough buyers could be sought.
Often vehicles could not be brought out and so rotted away where they sat, however the last of these were not finally scrapped until 1990.

However, hundreds of London Fleetlines proved popular secondhand purchases for operators throughout Britain from 1979 and during the 1980s, including the aftermath of deregulation.
There were also a number sold for export, many going to Hong Kong.
In addition, nearly 50 vehicles found operations in the United States for open-top sightseeing work.

Talking Of London
An important and frequent train service is, perversely, missing from the Underground map - obviously, because it is not run by Transport for London. But for long enough users have complained that Thameslink trains between St Pancras and London Bridge or Elephant & Castle SHOULD be included.

The dividing line between Underground and the rest of the London network is increasingly indistinct. The Elizabeth Line (a k a Crossrail) which joins two former National Rail lines WILL appear in full when it opens in 2050 (?), so why not Thameslink.

Good news!
The London TravelWatch map referred to is not a huge success either!
Whilst thrilled beyond measure by this news, Transport guru Roger French poses a secondary question to Andy Byford.
BusAndTrain User
Maybe his next ‘no brainer’ could be a bus map so people can actually see where bus routes go? 

A map (or maps) in London - what a quaint idea.

Maybe Andy might use his no-brain principle to ask TfL nicely to publish their bus timetables.

Then we could know when the buses run as well as where.

Another quaint idea.

Another Quaint Idea
An ex Underground luggage rack, bought not unscrewed, and installed in an enthusiast's cloakroom/cupboard.

Revolution In Leeds?

News is breaking "oop noorth" of the plans for Yorkshire's independence from the UK. Together with Pikelets, Lardy Cake and 'Endisons** ...
... the provisional Government is planning to prepare for allegiance to the EU by changing to driving on the right. The first left-hand drive vehicles are on order for First Bus, as the latest "green" publicity illustrates.
There is no news yet of the border posts on the M1 south of the Tinsley Viaduct.

** Endison's (or even Endo's) is the condiment of choice in Sheffield.

 Next Book Review blog : Sunday 11th October 


  1. Andrew Kleissner10 October 2020 at 07:54

    Of course, you might be wrong about driving on the right in Leeds. Perhaps there are doors on BOTH sides, and the driver sits in the middle? Or (like those old French "autorails") s/he actually drives from the front of the top deck?

  2. One could debate for ages the relative merits of different sectors of the leisure industry and still not reach a conclusion.

    But what the government hasn't noticed is that very many of the same companies who run "non-essential" tours, holidays and, ironically, theatre trips, also run school transport.

    If coaching fails, access to education may prove impossible for many children (and the local authorities charged with arranging the provision) in rural areas.

    Worrying times, for so many reasons.

    1. If a coach firm runs school contracts for LTA's, then the LTA would've been paying them throughout the Spring and Summer as per the normal contract . . . so Government (via the LTA) were actually assisting those firms financially.
      It was and is the same as those bus companies running local bus contracts . . . the LTA maintained those contracts throughout, thereby providing an essential income stream for some time.

      The coach firms whose business was predicated on holidays and day trips had no business left; so would always find financial survival more difficult (pace Shearings et al). Drivers would've been furloughed from April to October, but we're now coming to the end of that scheme. It's very sad for those long-established firms, but if you rely on one strand of income, then eventually the worst will happen.

      Saying that school transport will fold, because the holiday coach firms have gone, isn't quite right.

    2. There are two core issues with that argument:
      a. It assumes school runs are a significant part of the business, if it was as smaller adjunct to a tour/private hire operation it may have been insufficient income to support the rest of the business.
      b. It only applies to LTA contracts, it doesn't work as commercial or privately contracted (either direct with the schools or with the parents) school runs which have become a major sector in parts of the country (in the city I live in the City Council withdrew funding for almost all school contracts several years ago). A number of the recent failures of smaller operators have included issues with private schools ceasing payments to operators even when the school was still receiving income (particularly aimed at the private fee-paying schools who were charging full fees, make a profit and wouldn't support their contractors at all).
      That said, you are right that you can't be absolute, the loss of the hire/holiday market won't destroy school transport but it doesn't help and will be massively effected, if for no other reason that it reduces potential competition.