Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Exceedingly Enigmatic Exeter Experiment (1)

 An Apology

It is one of those weeks - again! There's our duplicate Christian meetings to prepare, there are blogs to write, Christmas decorations to install and Sheffield Supertram timetables to update.

Then, after lunch ...

But, seriously folks, things are a bit busy for a few days. And poor Mrs fbb has developed a challenging mix of sciatica and a painful hip problem, so fbb has additional domestic duties.

Such are the delights of being old!

Blogs will be a little curtailed to release a bit more time for "life"!!


Reaction To THAT Map

fbb was very nearly apoplectic when a chum sent him details of the neorw maps published on line by Stagecoach South West. He briefly compared the above with an extract from the old map, out of date admittedly, but worth considering.
For the record, route D has been incorporated into route H and route J is now a circular continuing from Digby to the north. All will be clear in due course.

fbb did contact the Stagecoach boss Mike Watson offering to draw a correct map (free of charge!!) to replace the appalling effort currently on offer on-line.

Mike explain the philosophy behind the new map which aims to show useful places of interchange between key routes; but he did admit that he had not realised than there were some mistakes. There are a lot of mistakes.

Anyway, fbb has been invited to the Stagecoach bunker at Matford to "have a chat".

In return, fbb said her would prepare a sample map for "further discussion", because, frankly, the old man could not understand how the new map would help anyone get anywhere.

So work has started on a sample area and the challenges are immediately evident. fbb's first task was to reproduce a something similar to the old map above. It is a bit too big for a blog, but you can click on it to enlarge it.

fbb will examine these challenges in turn.

Par and Ride Services

Honiton Road site (top right) is colour coded RED ...
Some sources on line call it something different ...
... they call it "Honito Park and Ride", which is very much isn't.
It also says parking is free for two hours, just enough time to get into Exeter, buy a coffee and get back. fbb thinks parking is free all day, but you pay for the bus. When Streetview last passed by it was £11.50 for a week.
But the Hoiton Road site was on the very fringe of fbb's chosen sample area. The "Sowton" site was both more relevant to the area chosen and more complicated to follow.

Here is a larger extract from fbb's proto-map extract.

One immediate question to be asked is, "Where IS Sowton?" The answer may surprise our readers - it certainly surprised fbb.

Simply Super Statement from Swindon

Swindon Corporation Transport was a typically staid but reliable municipal operator that morphed in to Thamesdown ...
... in recognition of its desire to become a regional operators rather than just a town bus service. It did just that but slowly began to have huge economic problems which eventually led to a sale to GoAhead. Then followed another makeover ...
... first to "Thamesdown, Swindon's Bus Company" - and then ...
... just "Swindon's Bus Company. What goes around, comes around!

Local resident Ben sent fbb pictures of a leaflet that popped through his letterbox ...

... a very well presented invitation to use the town's buses ...
As is the current craze, the leaflet extolled the environmental credentials of the bus ...
... including a slight debatable question.
But, more importantly and more usefully, the leaflet included some discount fares offers.
It's App based, which is a pity, but presumably the technology will stop you using the offer for ever and a day.

Whatever - it is a small but significant effort at Building Back Better.

Well done GoAhead Swindon!

And thanks Ben.

 Next Exeter map blog : Thuraday 25th November 


  1. Re the Stagecoach map, I'm not sure why they feel the need to replace that style. It is very clear and aided by including unserved roads to to help readers orientate themselves. Still, such is the way of progress.

    1. I'm not sure this has anything to do with progress and everything to do with cost-cutting (sorry Mike, "the philosophy") doesn't wash with me.

      The new Exeter map is bad, but the Devon-wide network map is tragically even worse.

      If Mike didn't realise there were any mistakes, then I'd ask why not? Who's signing this rubbish off and why isn't Mike actively checking that key pieces of publicity for the company he's running aren't error prone!? Saying he didn't realise there were mistakes isn't good enough, anyone who knows the business should be able spot them instantly, some are glaringly obvious.

    2. Two-thirds of the Honiton Road P&R site has been given over to a Covid test facility. Parking is free all day but the bus service has been reduced to just two buses, one every twenty minutes. I guess that helps with the driver shortage but the buses run very full, often late and often single-deck. The passenger experience is far poorer as invariably there is no longer a bus waiting at the stop.

  2. Ben: it suggests that you have minimal knowledge about running a bus company. The MD is unlikely to sign off publicity. The MD will set the strategy and direction. However, it is fair to criticise the marketing team though, as they should be the people signing it off!

  3. Quite the opposite. This isn't about micro-managing the sign off of every piece of publicity, but about having proper oversight, pride and attention to detail. The hallmark that is evident in MDs of what are widely considered as "leading operators". Here we are talking about a new style of map - apparently with the strategy of "showing useful places of interchange between key routes". The MD absolutely should have due oversight and ensure that what has been delivered meets the strategy that has been set. There is no point setting strategy and direction if your not ensuring this is being delivered. Even a cursory glance at this map, as FBB has clearly set out, shows these maps to be inadequate. Perhaps this MD needs to spend a little more time focussing on his product - the buck stops at the top.

  4. I think you maybe disconnected from the real world. I admire your aspirations, I really do, but if the MD was there for everything, you wouldn’t need anyone else!

    1. Thank you for you condescending concern about my connection with the real world... again this isn't about micro-managing everything

    2. At none of the bus companies I have worked for would an MD check new publicity and only at one, after a restructure which meant that the marketing team reported directly to the MD rather than another board level director, would the MD have any significant input in new marketing output. It is about trusting the managers you have to avoid getting bogged down in the detail of one area unless there is an issue and given Stagecoach South West is in the middle of a major driver crisis and an industrial relations dispute his focus would understandably be on that rather than a routine change in marketing - as you say focussing on delivering his product through a crisis rather than a routine change.

  5. Complete rubbish, the MD should pick up any new company publicity and within a couple of minutes (or less!) realise it is riddled with errors and ask questions of the person signing it off!! Of course Stagecoach SW has repeatedly cut back to the bone to increase profits (before Covid!) & suffered as a result.

  6. In case anyone was wondering, the Ben that sent the leaflet (me) is not the same person as regular commenter Ben