Wednesday 2 February 2022

Familiarity Breeds Excellence

The Devon Timetable Books ...

... must be some of the best nationally; the best of what os now a very small selection of Local Authorities bothering to produce comprehensive timetable information in the form that MOST people want it, namely some form of timetable book. The books are FREE.

Each book carries a list of changes since the last edition ...
... but these are few. Discounting Covid disruption, the last change in fbb's local Seaton area was the extension of service 9A hourly from Seaton to Lyme Regis.

There is a map of the East Devon area, an extract of the interactive map reviewed yesterday ...
... and a thorough and well laid out index.
The first timetable in the book is Exeter City service K which creeps into the East Devon Book because it does serve East Devon - just.
It is so "just" that the service doesn't creep on to the interactive map. The "SCIENCE PARK" is just across the boundary between Exeter City and East Devon ...
... marked by the long dashes down the central reservation of the M5. Lots of new housing is being built on Tithebarn Way ...
...with plenty of car parking space.
Anning Road, however, and the science park itself, is, as yet, untouched by the Streetview roving camera ...
Thew other "new" area covered by the book is the overspill "town" of Cranbrook. This is north of the former A30, itself just north of Exeter Airport.
As part of the service 4 group of routes this town now has a bus every 20 minutes ...
... Monday to Saturday and a relatively recent Sunday service, now with some journeys as far as Honiton.
Development of Cranbrook continues apace; this is the "Court Royal" stop ...
... as yet lacking a court of any kind!

Not all services in East Devon are unscathed by the vagaries of the bus industry. A year or two back, fbb attended the launch of the Stagecoach Gold version of service 57 to Exmouth and Brixington.
It ran every 15 minutes.
Today Gold is old and the 57 runs only every 30 minutes!
Some fall from grace!

the East Devon book still show an eclectic range of rural links ...
... including the truly wonderful 899. The 1240 from Sidmouth is the most interesting journey.

There are pre-book taxis ...
... and trains appear at the back but, sadly NOT up to date. The service from Axminster ...
... is currently mangled and actually running every two hours from Exeter to Salisbury with a change there for London. fbb did try to find the current timetable ...
... but clicking on the SWR web site links produced not a jot of information. Nowt happened!

But this shambles should not detract from an excellent timetable book.

Well done Devon.

And fbb has just spotted yet another useful feature. If you do not want to tackle the interactive map or "turn over" the pages of the e-book, there is an index in route number order alongside the e-book display ...
... which takes you straight to the timetable you want.


If Devon can do it, why cannot all local authorities do it?

Tomorrow, we go to Wales.

 Next Newport blog : Thursday 3rd February 


  1. Buckinghamshire County Council used to do excellent timetable books, two covering the county. But, alas no more since a few years back. They do however have reasonably decent "proper" timetables on their website, and a page warning of any upcoming changes.

  2. Andrew Kleissner2 February 2022 at 14:13

    Ditto Suffolk, also no printed books any more:

  3. Barry Doe still produces a listing of timetables across the UK . . . it's rather sad now, with the number of "no publications" listed outnumbering those listed.
    Of course, one of the functions of an "Enhanced Partnership" is to improve information. However, even the "daddy" of them all, Intalink in Hertfordshire, still doesn't produce printed timetables, although the website is excellent, and the printed maps were updated at least twice a year, pre-Covid.

  4. Here's a question to exercise FBB's brain: what is the connection between Cranbrook and Ilkley? And, no, the answer is not a long and complicated bus journey!

    1. Andrew Kleissner2 February 2022 at 19:09

      I rather suspect that shepherds have something to do with it!

      Talking of printed timetables, I do wonder how people are supposed to get them if they actually exist. Yes, they can be placed on buses, but that's only useful for those who use those services. Many Tourist Information Centres and bus station Enquiry Offices have been closed. Not everyone has a library near them although that's an obvious place to have them, as are local authority "hubs" where they exist - but someone still has to take the timetables there, and ensure they are replaced when services change (which seems to be an almost weekly occurrence at the moment). There are no easy answers.

  5. In decades past, each bus garage had inspectors that were responsible for ensuring that drivers reported for duty and buses ran on time. As part of their other duties, they would distribute timetables and maps to local agents.
    I know . . . I did it!!!

    Even local authorities that do publish timetables don't distribute them properly . . . I visited Hampshire County Hall at Winchester to pick some up . . . they had to post them to me, as nobody knew where they were stored . . . the lady who did know was out for the day!!!

    It's not actually difficult . . . one member of staff rings each outlet every few weeks, and then has a day out by car delivering the new issues. But it does need a tiny bit of organisation . . . and the will to do it!!!!

  6. I travelled once on the 899 between Sidmouth and Beer. It was an Optare Solo down the very tight lanes of East Devon. We had an American couple on board and they couldn't believe how the bus managed to squeeze down the lanes. And meeting oncoming vehicles was a joy ! The driver managed it with cool professionalism, but the Yanks were on the edge of their seat.

    Memories are made of journeys such as this.