Friday 30 September 2022

Vive La Difference - Encore! (1)

Contrast and Compare

It has one of the above and a bit of the below.
The "city" area is about the size of here ...
... a settlement dear to fbb's heart. But the "greater" urban area is closer in population to here ...
... with the two UK locations joined by the M1.

The furrin' place in question has its own language.

The language is a Southwestern Brittonic language of the Celtic language family spoken in part of modern-day France. It is the only Celtic language still in use on the European mainland, albeit as a member of the insular branch instead of the continental grouping.

It was brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages, making it an Insular Celtic language. It is most closely related to Cornish. Welsh and the extinct Cumbric, both Western Brittonic languages, are more distantly related.

Having declined from more than one million speakers around 1950 to about 200,000 in the first decade of the 21st century, the language is classified as "severely endangered" by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. However, the number of children attending bilingual classes rose 33% between 2006 and 2012 to 14,709.

Time for teasing is over. 

The town in Rennes "capital" of Brittany with a city population similar to Northampton and an urban area population similar to that of Leicester. The local language, related to Cornish, is Breton.

The wiggly metal roof (a bit London Bridge-like but even more wiggly) is on Rennes railway station. When fbb passed through 63 tears ago (with dad who was off to buy cabbages from the farmers around Brest) the station looked very different.

This original station was built in 1867 and lasted until a major rebuild in 1996. fbb prefers the old one.
An then along came TGV Ousest! 

Put it all together and you get this very clever montage. (No sound)
1996 cubes ...
... become TGV sinuosity!
And translucent sinuosity to boot!
Nope. fbb still doesn't like it - but he has to admit that it makes a point. It is likely to create desire in a big way. 

It is all probably finished by now!
Place de la Republique looks great.
And there is plenty of the pittoresque as well.
But there is oodles (there are oodles?) of public transport for fbb to explore.
But Rennes has something that neither Northampton nor Leicester possesses - and neither of those splendid boroughs is every likely to possess.

We will see what it is in Monday';s blog.

 Next Variety blog : Saturday 1st October 

Thursday 29 September 2022

Shevington Moor Is All On Line ...

... Or Is It?

In attempting to advise technophobe Richard as to the best way to visit his elderly cousin at Shevington Moor, fbb has identified the nearest stops to coz's domicile and the buses that stop thereat. The 111 runs in both directions whereas the 640 and 641 are opposites. At a quick glance, fbb could also discover the destination of these routes and a departure list from the stops.
This is fine if you are going, but not much good if you are coming. In any case Richard would be happiest with some sort of timetable extract, even if it were perforce rudimentary. Richard is well aware that his chances of obtaining anything in print to accompany him on his travels are less than nil.

In the back of fbb's mind was the shadowy memory that the 111 in Lancashire was once operated by Fishwick, a company now deceased.
An even shakier nuance of memory was that the 111 was taken over by Stagecoach when Fishwick died. There were a few pictures on-line that offered some confirmation of that snippet of shadowy Poirotesque "leedle grey cell" activity.
But whether that was still true after Covid, staff shortages, the efforts of Mr Putin and the vagaries of our shaky commercial system of bus operation, has to be somewhat uncertain.

One source of timetable information is, or course, Traveline. The list of 111 services was quite long and fbb will not print them all here ...
There are 18 111s nationally and none of them ran from anywhere in Lancashire. So had the Stagecoach's 111 followed Fishwick's ditto to the great bus garage in the sky - had it ceased to be?

Asking Traveline suggested that it has, like the parrot, shuffled off this mortal coil!
It is not looking good.

What about the 640? That looks very much like a First Bus route (now an ex First Bus route) ...
... and indeed it was. Of course First threw in the Manchester towel spectacularly a while back and sold the whole caboodle (except the Busway routes) to Go Ahead. Previously they had sold off their Wigan depot to Stagecoach, So, once again, it was anybody's guess which company might provide a timetable for Richard.

But doesn't the TfGM (formerly Greater Manchester PTE) have an up to date "Timetable Library" on-line? They always used to have one and it was easy to find from their home page.

Try finding it now!
TfGM have an unusual definition of "easier" in their vocabulary! Try "Journey Planning"?

It is most definitely NOT a timetable!
What about scrolling down? Hooray. "Timetables".
That just takes you back to the search for bus times" page as shown above. Grrr!

Where is that pesky timetable library? 

Or has it, like so much that is useful on line, been consigned to the electronics dumping ground in favour if the slow and tedious Journey Planner? 

After some brain crunching frustration fbb tried "Bus Routes" - another clickable box on the same multi-(dis)functional page.
And there was a list of bus routes in numerical order.

How nice.

fbb discoverd by brave experiment that if he clicked on one of these little boxes ...
... he could get, wait for it, not just the "route" ...
... but the operator ...
... a map showing Shevington Moor ...
... and, joy of joys, the timetable!
So fbb was able to call Richard back (after The Archers, of course) and guide him to his coz's pad. fbb could even tell him to get off at the first stop past the Foresters Arms (assuming the pub still exists!).

It looks open on Streetview.
fbb was so excited that he had unravelled the Gordian Knot of public transport information that he completely forgot to check whether TfGM thought the 111 existed.

Traveline interspersed journeys on the 640 (CORRECT) ...
... with journeys on the 635 involving a 20 minute walk (POTTY) ...
... but with not a dick bird about the 111.

But the 111 is still there in the TfGM well hidden, almost secretive, timetable library.
It is still operated by Stagecoach (probably not according to Traveline?) with one bus an hour running through to Preston and back.
If it actually exists it would be a tad quicker than the 640.

Only time will tell whether Richard actually made it to his cousin's, or, whether, like tens of thousands of other former bus users, it was all too complicated and he simply gave up!

Who could blame him?

Blogging Pressures!

Yesterday at 12 noon fbb sent off 186 timetable pages to the technical people that make GoTimetable Sheffield happen. These updates had been completed in less than four working days since the delayed data appeared in an accessible form.

Approximately 30 of those pages are not yet fully updated but have a groveling apology on them.

The changes happen on Sunday 2nd and Monday 3rd.

On Monday 26th September a chum was in Sheffield and was given the instruction by fbb to spy out any information about the changes.

There was absolutely nothing to be seen!

Whilst most poor quality spreadsheet timetables had appeared on-line by that Monday morning the main operators were not so helpful.

fbb received an email from First Bus yesterday ...
... which, effectively, said "First Bus can't be bothered"!

Stagecoach does a better job but keeps it all several clicks away from the home page.

Changes to timetables from 2nd October
21 Sep 2022 to 12 Oct 2022
From Sunday 2nd October there will be changes to some routes and timetables in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.

You can find full details about your service on our October Service changes page. 

Here you will find the Stageoach changes.

T M Travel lists the changes but no timetables are obvious.

The following new services will start:
8/8A - Birley - Crystal Peaks (Monday - Saturday daytimes) and Sheffield - Birley (evenings and Sundays)
9 - Sheffield - Darnall (Monday - Saturdays) and 9A Sheffield - Darnall - Manor Top (evenings and Sundays)
31 - Sheffield - Hillsborough - Loxley
41 - Sheffield - Frecheville (certain journeys Monday - Saturday)
117 - Rotherham - Bramley
142 - Alfreton - Belper - Nether Heage
150 - Clay Cross - Alfreton - Matlock
181 - Sheffield - Dore
X7 - Sheffield - Maltby

Hopefully, fbb's final batch of updates will get there on time.

Have A Break : Have a Re-Build
As a bit of relief from the tension of timetable transferring, fbb began the process of moving his scenery onto the new baseboard area.. Next comes track and re-wiring. The engineering team ...
... well, fbb with a screwdriver, moves in next week.

A Cake For Philip
The windscreen isn't quite right - but who cares, it's a splendid cake. Here's the real thing ...
The route is branded "Trax" ...
It is a Trnsdev route ...
... running every 20 minutes on the joint 467/468 service.

fbb has no idea who Philip the Twitterer is! But he does like orange-iced cake!

Tomorrow we go to a town the size of Northampton - but in Europe.

 Next metro blog : Friday 30th September 

Wednesday 28 September 2022

It IS All On Line ...

 Isn't It? Jane Cole IS!

Ms Cole is boss of Blackpool Transport, still a Council Owned Company and she is the first ever woman President of the prestigious Omnibus Society. One of the roles of the Presidents is to host and help organise an official "Weekend". This is a long weekend beano of buses with visits, posh dinner and an informal dinner. If you are "into" buses, membership of the OS is compulsory and the "Weekend" is the highlight of your omnibological year.
Feel free to peruse the programme - it is all on nine.

fbb is not a member; no antipathy is involved, but he has too much else to do and "Weekends" impinge on Church attendance which is something of a priority..

The next character in our tale is chum Richard. He has TWO residences, one in Cosham and one on the Isle of Wight. Both are full of bus "stuff" leaving little room for home comforts without moving several heaps thereof. Clearly a man after fbb's own heart.

It should be ssid, at this stage of the narrative, that Richard has a profound phobia of technology. He listens to the "wireless"; he answers his phone with a four digit number that was superseded 50 years ago, he has failed to grasp the benefits of a mobile phone and refuses point black to espouse a "computer". Not a bad policy at all!

Some of his aquainances suggest that he wanders down to Monkton Mead Brook with two large pebbles from Ryde beach in order to do his weekly wash!
Not true!

But Richard is a kindly soul and as well as extending the "weekend" with an exciting rail trip to Clitheroe, he was desirous of visiting an elderly cousin. Said coz, Richard advised, lives at Standish - only, of course, he doesn't.

fbb was astounded that Richard was able to provide the appropriate PostCode, a technology which  he can cope with. It only involves "writing"; the actual workings of the technology can remain a mystery.

It turns out that Ricard's destination was Shevington Moor, in the shadow of M6 junction 27.
He telephoned fbb for some transport advice, namely how to get to Shevington Moor. He did have a printed timetable in hand.
Richard's was dated 1967!

Oddly, it wasn't much use. But there was a suggestion that, back in 1967, Ribble 113 served the area.

Nope! Not any more.

Richard seemed keen to catch a train to Preston or Chorley and strike out from there.

But for those who will not, cannot or choose not to use modern technology, there is no chance of resolving the problem easily. Of course he could have telephones Traveline - but the bus industry makes us pay to find out what they sell, and pay a.lot. Best avoided if possible!

But he rang a more reliable source (modesty is fbb's only fault!) So your technology user fbb started with Google Maps, found the cousin's address and sought info for the little blue bus sop icons that pop up if you enlarge the map enough.

The nearest stops, depending on direction, were clearly labelled.
Prodding a little more fervently, you get a list of departure times at each stop which show an "ultimate destination", but, obviously not departures from anywhere else..

So Preston or Wigan it is! There is no railway  station called Shevington!

So all we need now to assist Richard in his relatively adventurous quest for a relative is some timetables.

Journey Planners are no good because they would involve "technology" on the go and we all know how Richard feels about such things.

But that's where the problems really began.

To be continued ...

Unique Event
After nearly ren years of residence at fbb mansions in Seaton, the private car parking arya was EMPTY (apart from the fbb limo) for the first time. Actually quite weird.

Printed Print Reprint
A simple idea. Posh cover with smple printed timetables inside created as for working timetables. So reprints are cheap. Well done Cardiff!

A Network Map!
Instead or (or as well as) maps of their own services, L N E R are now displaying a superb National Rail network map at their stations.
The map above is on show at Wakefield Westgate station. But fbb does have a problem ...
... shouldn't there be a sign telling you where the lift might be?

A Different Day Out

 Next Shevington blog : Thursday 29th September