Sunday, 24 October 2021

Sunday Variety

Steps Back In Amazement!

... was the catchphrase of the late Eddie Large (above left). fbb can only echo the sentiment with even more disbelief. Roy, from Sheffield, has sent a picture of a printed leaflet (shock horror!) produced by First Bus (No, it cannot be!) in Sheffield (surely not?)! It is widely available (draw dropping aghastness!) on the buses.
It contains the same summary of changes that appears on First's web site, so at least passengers will be aware that something is happening next weekend. (click on the graphics for an enlargement)
fbb is not sure that we need the twee graphics for "timetable change" - they are ALL changed timetables - or even for the route change.
Why not just write "route change"? But it is a leaflet, simple, clear and informative. - and far more effective than a well hidden page of web site stuff.

The back has an advert for drivers ...
... and a warning about the call centre's being busy.
How about adding a few more "agents"? There will be plenty of "managers" around - or perhaps they are out driving?

So hearty congratulations to First for doing the right thing.

Timetable leaflets?

Maybe a step too far. fbb has asked his Sheffield contacts to keep and eye open for revised departure lists at bus stops. Will they be posted before the change?

Also, on a slightly positive note; the PTE has replaced its badly presented copies of the company working timetables ...

... (with unhelpful "carry over" to the next on-line page as shown above) with their standard non-leaflets.
Sadly, there is nothing positive that can be done with the utterly non-joint service on 83 and 83a.

Now all we need is copies of these non-leaflets printed and obviously available at the travel centres.

Equally Exciting Essex Exclamation!

A dew days ago there was much twittering about First's smart fairly new livery for their X10 and X30 buses to Stansted Airport.

The bearded bus beautifier from the Bush (actually Shepherds Bush) was going on about "Creating Desire"; but one of the pictures was puzzling.
It was a picture of an Essex Airlink bus about to stop at Rectory Lane Debden. It's near the end of the Central Line and with no connection to the airport!!
What is worse, it was showing router 35.
Bafflement reigns OK.
Thankfully Roger French reveals all in his latest blog. But look at Rog's twitter link!
Now this is getting silly, isn't it? Here we have yet another First Bus operation producing printed material. Actually it isn't much ...
... only running on Tuesdays in school terms - obviously on the back of a school contract. But it does provide a good weekly shopping link to the retail flesh-pots of Chelmsford. Roger was impressed (steps back in amazement, yet again) with Firsts simple paper leaflet, although fbb thinks the design emanated from Essex County. It is not very First-like.
The note ECP means that our old fogeys passes are valid! From 0845! Bonus!

Building Back Badly in Barnsley
There are many good things that make Barnsley outstanding. There was the old bus station and the old market and there is the new bus station.
And for ever always is the Barnsley pie and pea dinner ...
...with dayglo green sloppy peas (more liquid than the mushy) eaten, of course, with a spoon.

The service cut backs in Sheffield are nothing compared with those in Barnsley; all because of "staff shortages"!

Yeah right!

Here is just part of an extensive list which includes almost all of Stagecoach services in and from the town.
Most notable is the X10 between Barnsley and Leeds. It had posh buses ... 
... with arging points ...
... and ran every hour. Because of "the driver shortage" (yeah, right - again!) it has been slashed unmercifully to two peak hour trips Monday to Friday.

Forget the X10, says Stagecoach, go by train! 

Don't be conned by the staff shortage bleat. Yes there is a need for more drivers, but nowhere near as many are being saved by these swingeing cuts. The two "leading" (joke!!) bus companies in South Yorkshire are using the uncertainty of future funding and the staffing crisis to reign in their services to preserve profits until such time as the new-fangled "partnership" money bag is revealed.

And the public will suffer and many of the services will not return.

As the company explains ...

From Saturday 30 October, we’re making temporary changes to some timetables to help us run more reliable services while we recruit more bus drivers and we’re hoping to return to normal timetables as soon as we can 

Of course they are!

They are "Building Back Better" by giving a whole new meaning to the word "Better".

  The "First Sale" item is postponed until tomorrow.  

 Next Variety blog : Monday 25th October 


  1. Sorry but you are talking garbage. I am aware of a depot belonging to a big group which lost FORTY FIVE PERCENT of its daily mileage on one day in the last couple of weeks, mainly due to sickness and the resulting staff shortages meaning work couldn't be covered. I am also aware of another which has TWENTY FIVE vacant lines on rotas totalling 115 lines.

    So it's unsurprising that service alterations are being made. No conspiracy at all!

  2. Much as most operators would like to pay their drivers more, revenue is still typically around 15% below normal. No-one is sure whether the new Bus Recovery Grant will cover all of this - unlike its predecessor CBSSG, there is a complicated formula which means only an unknown proportion will be received. Fewer drivers and fewer services are likely here for some time. Better all timetabled journeys run, rather than random cancellations depending on which shifts get covered on any one day.

  3. At the beginning of September First SY were short of 66 drivers: they need 870. 92 had left in 3 months. Anecdotally Stagecoach Yorkshire are in an even worse position. The staff shortage is not invented.

    1. So if I was a manager and I saw a driver a day was leaving over the course of a month I’d be doing something about it by midway through the second month, rather than just let it carry on and on so as they are 90 odd short after 3 months!

      There may be a driver shortage that everyone could see coming apart from the managers at some big bus groups, but I think FBB is merely pointing out that it’s a mighty big coincidence that the covid handouts from Govt that they have gotten so used to - to pay to run emptier buses for the last year or so - are now stopping, and they now need to make a bit of a contribution towards the recovery themselves henceforth, like MANY other businesses affected by covid, but the big groups are reluctant to do so, and can’t even be honest about it, and THAT is what is also driving these service cuts, in reality…

    2. Go on, then . . . what would YOU do, Anon @ 2239??
      You can see from above the actual statistics in re driver numbers . . . these are by no means unusual across the industry.
      Your passenger numbers are not rising fast enough . . . Government have decided to cut the Covid subsidy from 1 September, but won't yet tell you what your next monies will be.
      You have a bunch of drivers leaving to go drive HGV's for big bucks.
      You have older drivers deciding that they've had enough and will either retire or go part-time (and in many companies thay're refused part-time so quit anyway).
      You have no money available to increase pay rates (which in any case were only as much as the business could afford anyway).
      You have new recruits interested in becoming drivers, but DVLA at Swansea are unable to process even provisional licences (which are required to start to learn to drive a bus) in a decent timescale.
      Once you have trained the new drivers, you have to wait for a test slot, and 30% of those new recruits will either not reach testable standard or will fail the test, despite considerable training time given.

      Frankly . . . reducing services is the last thing that a bus operator wants to do, but what is better . . . unadvertised gaps in an hourly service, or trimming back a higher-frequency route that doesn't carry that many passengers now anyway??

      Go on, then . . . tell us all how YOU would fix the industry?? Maybe you have the golden answer . . . but somehow I doubt it . . .

    3. Well said @greenline727. Add in to the mix that in addition to permanent staff departures many companies are also dealing with high levels of staff sickness. It really is a perfect storm of challenges. Remember also, that it's tough and stressful for those drivers still working - be kind to them, it's not their fault services are missing. All round it's better to reduce frequencies than skip random journeys. Of course the other alternative is to take the Transdev approach of pretending the problem doesn't exist, not inform passengers of missing journeys, whilst pumping out PR tweets about how "amazing" your buses are ...

  4. Seen on a Hulleys bus last week- 'The whole world is short of staff. Please be kind to those who turn up.' Well said!