Monday 28 June 2021

Monday Variety

Forthcoming Book Review

Ben Colson was a Stagecoach boy for many years, then left the comforts of uncle Brian's leadership to start his own bus company in North Norfolk. Norfolk Green was hugely successful with improved services and a very clear corporate identity.
Then Big Ben retired and sold out to his former employer, Stagecoach. In a surprise development, Stagecoach soon pulled out completely leaving a clutch of independents to scrabble for the remnants.

Ben has written a book, and thanks to author Keith Shayshutt, fbb has a copy to review, seen below posing on the old bloke's tidy coffee table.
Note the telly "remote", some Gorilla two part epoxy glue, a damaged Hornby tank wagon and a few other bits and bobs. Notable also is a pot thrown (as in made on a potters wheel, NOT aimed at fbb in frustration and anger) by No 1 son.

The problem with Colson's self-published oeuvre is that it is packed full of words; it is not a compendium of pretty pictures of buses. So it will take your author some time to read it - there is a "Rebus" to finish first!

So thanks for the book and the opportunity to write a review which will follow in due course!

Flagging It Up
Stagecoach, as the major operator, has a contract with Northampton Council to maintain bus stops and the information available thereat within town and around. Alan is really excited to report that shiny new flags have appeared in his territory, namely Duston to the west of the town centre.

Actually he thinks they are sticky backed plastic stuck back on the existing flags, Blue Peter style.

The first he noticed were on Main Road and Ryeland Road ...
... where run, variously, 9, 9A, 9B (GREEN) and 5 (PURPLE). As you might expect, having been installed by Stagecoach, these stops show Stagecoach routes 15 and 15A (PINK) which do not go that way at all!

Well done, Stagecoach.

Alan also points out that Old Duston, viewed c/o Google Earth, doesn't look very old at all.
That is because the Kent Road area is NOT Old Duston; technically it is Upton.
The real Old Duston is where "Main Road" is written on the above map extract and bits of it are palpably old.
There is plenty of room to get the "Old Duston" in the right place ...
... although it would need to be done properly, not by way of an fbb bodge!

Then there was this bus stop flag backed stickily at Northampton station.
The implication is that everything is run by Stagecoach ...
... except for route 18 which, in the smallest possible type, is shown as a Uno route.
The 18 is part of the group of services operated on behalf of the University of Northampton.
But Alan was particularly interested in Stagecoach routes 7 and 7A ...
... which are shown on bus stop flags on both sides of the road at the railway station.

These services run to the eastern District of the town ...
... and are coloured YELLOW on the Stagecoach network map. There is nothing yellow at the station.
But what does the timetable show?
A  ludicrously complicated on-line timetable (see duplicate journeys and M-FX meaning Monday to Friday only) there is one service 7 journey from St James End NatWest Bank ...
... which doesn't exist (it is now a Food Plus supermarket) but there is no 7A from St James past the station and certainly no 7 or 7A to St James. The bus stop flags are mostly completely wrong!
However you look at it, for a so-called high quality national bus company, it is VERY POOR INDEED. As Alan opines, "If bus companies don't know where their buses run, what hope is there for the population that wishes to use them?"

But with their weedy new liveries, what do you expect?

Alan has contacted both Stagecoach and Britannia Bus (of invisible service 34 fame) and waits replies with eager anticipation.

Printed Publicity - On Paper - Really?
One of the developments brought about by the need to do something to get folk back on the buses after HMG has warned people of their inherent viral danger (almost certainly non-existent) is the arrival of bus publicity that isn't simply "all on-line".

The latest is from new-logo Cardiff Bus.
It does what it says on the tin; providing ideas for day trips by ordinary service bus in and around the Welsh Capital. fbb has not received a copy (as yet), so a full review is not yet possible. But the leaflet looks great and will, surely, attract passengers to take a ride, notably after months of house arrest.

On a similar theme we nip northbound to Manchester ...
... where Go Ahead North West have taken space in the freebie "Metro" to welcome passengers back. As well as the dreaded lurgi, this ex-First Bus operator has had "challenging" industrial relations problems.

It is good that the company has chosen to go for the wider coverage in a "throw-away" journal (cheap advertising?) which might be even better were it to go "mainstream"!

And talking of Publicity Matters, tomorrow we travel even further north to to the land of thistles, midges and haggis!

 Next Publicity/Technology blog : Tuesday 29th June 

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