Friday 11 February 2022

Helpfully At Havant

Booklet For Bedhampton!

Before we look at one of Hampshire's bus timetable booklets, a little historic background may be of help. Portsmouth was built on an Island, chosen because the harbour inlet provided a superb anchorange and thus an eually superb naval base.
The harbour, to the west of Portsea Island, remains imporant today ...
... although there is less navy than there was, but with passenger and freight ship[ping playing an important part in the local economy.

But post WW2 expansion brough a ticklish problem; there was not much land on the Island left to expand on to! So dvelopment spread from the A3 ...
... and to the north of the little market town of Havant.
As part of an operating agreement, this led Portsmouth Corporation bus routes way out into Southdown rural territory and brought frequent Southdown routes into the city. Portsmouth City became First Bus and Southdown was snaffled by Stagecoach which all leads to some territorial oddities.

From Portsmnouth, First Bus dominate the A3 corridor with stagecoach handling everything close to Havant including routes from the estates intoi Portsmouth as well as serviced fro m Havant over onto the A3 corridor.

Thus in the Waterlooville (A3) area, rotes D1 and D2 (GREEN), 7 (MID BLUE) and 8 (PURPLE) are run by First in Portsmouth ... 
... and 37 (PALE BLUE) and 39 (YELLOW) come from Havant and are Stagecoach services. MV2 is an infrequent service to the Meon Valley.

Meanwhile the Portsmouth "overspill" estates of Leigh Park etc ...
... are (with one exception) all Stagecoach. The 20/21 (ORANGE) and 23 (RED) run into Portsmouth having started their circuitous routes at Havant bus station.

The exception is route 27 (PALE GREEN) which was once a half hourly group of services ...
... operated by the much loved Hants and Sussex company later Emsworth and District.
With the demise of Hants and Sussex, the service very soon became a much slimmed down tendered route operated by First Bus.
How the mighty are fallen!

As well as the main Havant map, the two routes on tp Hayling Island are shown separately.
This little map does include the panel that says (in white on grey) "Link to Portsmouth via Hayling Ferry" although there is no link from Hayling by public transport to get to the ferry..

The third map is of the Petersfield area, a third map in a third style.
There isn't very much to Petersfield itself, which is why there is a real need for a printed network map. Most services call at "The Square" ...
... AND the station.
But some only serve The Square, so the detail on the map becomes very useful.
fbb wonders if the map is displayed at the station?

So Hampshire gets a good house point for good local maps, and a slightly less cheery vote because of the lack of a network map. Devon, you remember, include an extract of the full county map in each of their area books.

In case PD1-5 bother you (it bothered fbb!) it refers to services by the Harting minibus.
Basically these services run into West Sussex, so maybe it is a bit too much to expect Hampshire to provide a map!
The Harting Minibus is operated by Harting Minibus Community Interest Company. Everybody involved is a volunteer; we have no paid staff. As a result costs are minimal, and with the help of funding grants from West Sussex County Council, together with various fund raising activities, fares are kept to a minimum and are significantly lower than commercial services over the same routes.

West Sussex has at least an on-line map ...
... but cops out by labelling ALL FIVE routes as "H".

Back to the Havant Book. Of course all timetables are there in full including all the frequent services in full detail ...
... with not a sign of frequency lists! EXCELLENT!

 The  Hayling Ferry is there ...
... but, oddly, so is the Gosport Ferry which has no real connection to Havant or Petersfield. 

There are no Isle of Wight Ferries and no trains. 

East Devon versus Havant / Petersfield, contrast and compare!
If the Devon books had up-to-date rail rimetables - probably an impossibility at the moment - there is no doubt that books local to fbb are better. They also have the benefit of a network map extract which is lacking with Hampshire. The Basingstoke frequency guide is disappointingly inadequate, so the fbb vote (ignoring rail out if respect to current timetable instability) is ...

Havant and Petersfield  9/10
East Devon             10/10

The less palatable conclusion, however, is disappointment and frustration that more local authorities, soon to be the route whereby bus funding is disbursed, seem so willing to watch passenger numbers decline for want of cheap printed publicity.

Local Authorities, please note : if you are really serious about pollution, the environment, reducing car usage etc. etc. you should be promoting bus services in as many ways needed to reach ALL potential passengers, not just hiding behind the oft repeated phrase, ITS ALL ON LINE!

Bus operators ditto. Maybe you could work together in some sort of "Enhanced Partnership". What a good idea!

And the policy MUST include good timetable books.

 Next Variety blog : Saturday 12th February 


  1. In general, I agree with FBB's scores for these timetables . . . Devon's is the gold standard that all LTA's should aspire to.

    However, I'd just point out that the West Sussex map referred to is dated 2019 . . . hardly up to date!!
    Hampshire do produce a printed map as part of their range of publicity, and it's on line as well, AND it is dated 2021 as well . . . perhaps that would've been a better example.

    Oh, and FBB . . . your apology is still eagerly awaited . . .

    1. I fear you may be waiting some time, greenline727.

      Thank you for your info the other day about print runs etc. Thinking of bus rear adverts, I did suggest that it should be in our Enhanced Partnership that if we bring an element of publicity to the table our operators should stop accepting adverts for cars. We'll see how that goes when we get away from outline EPs and into the nitty-gritty delivery schemes.

  2. Surely one of the major problems of timetable books - apart from actually getting them into the hands of people - is that changes may be made once they've come out. It's not practical to send someone round every library or TIC with an amendment sheet each time that happens; and impossible to do so once people have taken them away. So, unless bus operators rigorously maintain services or only change them at infrequent specified dates, people can be left at bus stops waiting for services that have been altered or no longer run at all. At least online can be easily kept updated, very necessary in these days!

  3. That's a very good point . . . and part of the Enhanced Partnership background is exactly that . . . to limit changes to a specific number of dates.
    They need not be standard across the country . . . so in holiday areas it could be March/October for the holiday routes and September for the schools.
    In pre-Covid times (I guess we'll have to get used to saying that; like BC and AD!!) . . . Devon used March and September, with an amendment leaflet (if required) for January.

    Nothing is impossible . . . and perhaps we just need to re-invent this particular wheel . . . !!

    1. You are very welcome . . . there is no monopoly on ideas . . . if I am honest, I pinched that slogan from another operator (too far into the mists of time to remember now . . . !!).

  4. This is all becoming very reminescent of the oldest debate about serving ourselves or the passengers. If they ask for a good change, it's a long time to wait for up to six months, and they'll probably find an alternative, meantime.

    The old saying is that a bird in the hand is worth two (or more) in the bush.

    From my, admittedly limited, experience the biggest problem for operators is retaining the passengers they've got, as much as trying to attract those they haven't. I have a very simple test, does the measure help or hinder. We can carry on wishing for ever. If the passengers can't rely on the bus, the bus can't rely on the passengers. For every passenger that speaks up, most don't. They'll vote with their feet, and maybe when we find out, it's too late.