Monday 31 May 2021

Monday Variety

The Best Laid Schemes O' Mice and Men ...

fbb has just obtained a transcript from a First Kernow senior management meeting held on Monday 10th May at the appropriately named preferred meeting place at Treswithian, just off the A30 at Camborne,
The chuffs meeting at the Choughs Inn ...
... were:-
Dai Rector, the boss
N Gineer, in charge of the vehicle fleet
Mark Etting, in charge of publicity
Gavin Webb-Seit, the key technology man

DAI  I think we can all agree that the programme of summer tourist bus services that we have put together will wipe the floor with Transport for Cornwall and make us loadsamoney.

Cheers, Banging in the tables. Self congratulation.

DAI  So this meeting is the opportunity for any final snagging before the big launch on 16th.

MARK  And another launch on 29th, boss.

DAI  You've done a remarkable job in sourcing 30 open toppers, N. They will all be ready?

N    Erm, not quite. The lads haven't finished the Lizard open topper yet ...
... and there are quite a few vinyls to stick on. But it all should be ready for the bank holiday weekend. Possibly.

DAI  Oh well, if the press gets hold of the delay we can always blame Covid. But apart from the Lizard bus, everything is going well for the big interchange at the Eden Project.

MARK  (Hesitantly). Oh yes, that 1030 coming together will be spectacular in the extreme.
      (Positively) A blaze of colour!
DAI  How many buses have we got in that stunning yellow and purple livery?

MARK  Definitely one, boss - possibly two.

DAI   Web site OK, Gav?

GAVIN (Hesitantly) There are a few tweaks but lots of lovely pictures, and links to all the tours and their timetables.
Including the Exeter Tour which starts on 29th.

DAI   All ready to update in a couple of weeks?

GAVIN Yes, boss ... (sotto voce) if I remember!

DAI   And on-line booking? All straightforward?

GAVIN As ever, boss!
DAI    What about the S1, S2 and S3 at Newquay
GAVIN  Sorry boss, I've never heard of them. I'll look into it when I can work out where Newquay is. 

DAI    And the new timetable book, Mark?
MARK  A stupendous production from Ray Stenning as usual. It'll wipe the floor with the opposition and their collection of leaflets.
OMNES  Boring, boring boring.

GAVIN  Do we need a timetable book; after all, all together ...

OMNES  (Raucously) IT'S ALL ON LINE! 

DAI    The book's a stunner. All ready to distribute, Mark

MARK  Pretty much, boss. There might be a slight delay at the printers.


MARK   But we will probably be changing some of the times so it will be out of date soon!

Laughter all round!

DAI     So we can look forward to loads of passengers from day one?

MARK    Passengers? Don't push your luck boss - they make keeping to time hellish difficult.

N       Passengers? Engineers don't like them. Make the buses dirty and wear them out.

GAVIN    Passengers? What are they?

DAI     If passenger numbers are a bit sparse for a few months we can always ...


DAI      And (chortle chortle) the Government's paying anyway

OMNES    Cheers, Applause

DAI      But you've all done very well! The scrumpy's on me!
Stamping on floor, Banging tables, Quaffing cider, Back slapping, Meeting papers flung uo to ceiling!

... Gang Aft Agley!

This, from a correspondent who, unlike fbb, has actually visited Cornwall recently.

There’s no printed material available for the various Adventures By Bus initiatives- much, I’m sure to Ray’s despair after burning the midnight oil to get all the ‘artwork’ finished.

(And I have admonished Ray for missing off start/end dates and days of operation on all the imagery!)

A couple of drivers told me the problem is the printer has a backlog of work following its staff being furloughed but Marc Morgan-Huws has been quiet on the subject.

Hopefully it’ll all be out soon - would ideally be for this week being half term.

What worries me is if they change some of the times for the summer holiday period, when the buses have more availability, then the printed info will be outdated.

And The Airport, Too
There has been wonder at the decision of Hulleys of Baslow to start a two hourly service between Sheffield and Manchester at about the same time as the first set of pandemic restrictions were introduced.
There were cutbacks. The short workings (X56) from Glossop to Manchester were withdrawn as were evening journeys on Fridays and Saturdays, but the two hourly schedule plodded on - not overblessed with passengers!
A  couple of weeks ago, the service changed again. Extra weekend evening journeys are back, but the whole two hour frequency now extends to Manchester Airport ...
... with the exception of the Friday and Saturday evening trips which only run to Manchester.

But along comes a further development ...
... namely "in association with Thomas Cook". It is not entirely clear what deal has been done, but the above poster has a second half.
fbb has no idea at this stage whether this offer is going to attract people to the X57; the "traffic light" system for holiday destinations is still restricting flights to some popular areas. But it another positive initiative for the small-ish Derbyshire operator which seems determined to really "go places".

And Stagecoach, Too
In a blaze of glory, and showing off their stunningly designed and branded livery (NOT!) Stagecoach have announced a new open top route in North Devon. As with First Kernow, it is a struggle to find it on-line.

This little panel ...

The 21C Buses will be launched from Summer 2021 
View timetable here
Barnstaple - Braunton - Saunton - Croyde

... leads to the complex and unfathomable timetable for the full collection of 21s ...
... mote 21Cs to Croyde Bay and 21Cs to Georgeham.

But another panel ...
... revealed by a Promos and Offers click on the home page, leads to a pretty picture ...
... which, in turn, provides a map and "promo" for an hourly 21C to Croyde Bay.
There is no evidence of a PDF leaflet!

But Stagecoach has put bus pictures on Twitter.
So that's all right then.

Other bits of "Variety" promised yesterday will now appear tomorrow.

 Next Variety blog : Tuesday 1st June 

Sunday 30 May 2021

Sunday Variety



Today's service is live and ON-LINE
back in the Church.
 Click on this link (here),
which will take you to the YouTube page.
Then click on the icon for today's date.


One Of The Knowledgeable Chaps ...

... is Minster Grant Shapps!

A couple of questions for the minister.

Have you tried to travel across London by bus WITHOUT a timetable? Millions have to do it every day and those that travel only occasionally simply do not know how long their journey might take.

When will the bus between Seaton and Axminster be upgraded to, say, a ten minute frequency?

And who is going to pay for these vastly improved services?

The mind boggles.

Fine Dining With Liquor?
Illustrated above is a plate of "liquor", a delectation popular with Londoners and served with pie and mash. It surprised fbb to see that "liquor" was on the menu of a recently launched charter train.
On 29th May (yesterday, no less), the HST, thinly disguised as The Midland Pullman ran a tour from Eastleigh to Cornwall.

At first glance the train didn't ever reach Cornwall and fbb doubted that they would sell many tickets for about 12 hours in Westbury ...
... delightful though it be!
But read further ...
... and we find that the train does go all the way to Penzance. Indeed it is pictured above at Dawlish!

Once upon a time excursions by train were a cheap outing - but, alas, no longer!
Although fbb would love to go Pullman Dining, the price is a bit steep for a day out on a 50 year old diesel train - and anyway fbb is too far from Eastleigh to enjoy the whole ride. But the on-line sample menus (on a web site unsuited to mobile phone) are impressive.

Tricolour Melon Salad
 Fresh Blueberries, Minted Syrup
Served with Tiresford Farm Natural Yoghurt,
Honey and Seeded Granola
Grilled Back Bacon, Cumberland Sausage,
Stornoway Black Pudding
Griddled Flat Mushroom,
Roasted Tomato and Baked Beans
 Freshfield Farm Scrambled Eggs
Kiln Smoked Haddock ‘Colbert’
Steamed Spinach,
Freshfield Farm Poached Egg,
Chive Hollandaise, Caviar
Morning Bakery Basket
Netherend Farm Salted Butter,
Selection of Preserves and Honey

Dinner was equally superb ...
... BUT!
Liquor really doesn't match the proffered quality!

fbb thinks they might mean Liqueurs!
It would be nice, wouldn't it?

Publicity Matters - Especially With New Services
First's Exeter Tour, right in the heart of Stagecoach territory, is being heavily trailed on Twitter where, as we know, all Exeter visitors have their eyes glued every day to find the best things to do! 

The bus is smart, so much so that fbb is considering a nip to the County Town to have a trundle.

The Twitter teases tell him nothing - but thanks to an innate perspicacity and understanding of the foibles of the UK's public transport, fbb knows that it will all be on-line (of course) and the requisite web site is "Adventures by Bus".
And what do we find as of 1900 yesterday.?
What does "Coming Soon" mean? fbb thought the tours were starting this very weekend, today no less, but are they? Clicking on the above panel produces a sparse list of stops ...
... and lots of pretty pictures of Exeter places you might like to hop on and hop off at!

But no times!

You can book on line but only if ...

To use mTickets you will need to have the First Bus App installed on your mobile and have a registered mTickets account. The First Bus App is available on iOS and Android. Buy online and send the tickets to your First Bus App or to someone else's. To send to someone else, the other person must have the First Bus App and an existing mTickets account on their mobile phone at the time of purchase — simply enter the account email address of the person travelling when prompted during checkout.

Can you pay the driver? Dunno.

What is the fare?

One piece of information advises £10 per adventurer then £5 for any accompanying adventurer.

Elsewhere it lists fares at £10 Adult, £5 Child - not the same thing at all.


NO start date
NO timetable
NO route map
POOR fares information
NO dates or days of operation
NO printed leaflets?

This is NOT (very very NOT) the way to launch a new bus service.

All we have got is some pictures!
A smart, distinguished bus whose operation is a closely guarded state secret.

Publicity Matters - Also With Existing Services
A few days back, fbb was bemoaning the stupidity of Stagecoach's one-colour-fits-all livery policy, especially that one of those colours is motorway maintenance yellow.

Service 700 no longer runs all the way between Portsmouth and Brighton in one bum-aching go, but connections are available and all bits of the journey are still possible although taking a little longer if a change of bus is required.
The buses are smart and distinctive ...
... creating desire, you could say. But the new paint job is neither of these.
And look closely at that weak white lettering.
Portsmouth, Chichester, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton. WOT no Brighton?


This One IS Running!
But it takes resilience to find it!
Again we have Twittered Tease ...
... of a bus that has NOT travelled far.  It was previously at Bristol and ran topless from Weston super Mud.
And before that it was a real bus!
Publicity? fbb does not know about printed material but on-line, c/o First Cymru, we have ...

... oh dear?

Nothing obvious - but if we persevere, we go to ...
...which leads to ...
... and, at the bottom of the page we find this bright, breezy and attractive note.
A click on the arrow get us to this ...
... and, at last, some timetables.
And that is all there is. Pathetic.

The Swansea trip to Bracelet Bay ...
... much of it along the route of the former Mumbles Railway, is very pleasant.
The Porthcawl route, however, seems rather weedy ...
... with a poor service, obviously tied in with some school work to save operating costs. Trecco Bay is a huge, huge caravan an chalet park ...
... with an activity centre where, we are told ...
... the fun never ends.

Maybe not the most scenic of open top bus tours. fbb will not be rushing!

But even the on-line publicity is appalling.

Generally speaking, do First Bus actually WANT passengers on their tourist routes?

More stuff tomorrow -  including
Hornby and The Beatles
Hulleys and Thomas Cook
Coastliner and Skipton
and even more!

 Next Variety blog : Monday 31st May