Friday 16 September 2022

Controversy In Cornwall (1)

One B-I-G Timetable Book

This is truly an unusual product. Available free, it consists of 112 pages in full colour on good quality paper. The pages are not numbered so fbb had to count tem and the 112 (e and o e) includes the covers.

Also included in the book is a small selection of gorgeous pictures of the county from the air ...
... sadly with no captions or guidance as to how you might get there by bus.

There are two identical copies of a promotional page from (First) Great Western Railway ...
... but with no other rail or joint bus/train ticket information anywhere to be found. You would have though GWR could have used one of their pages for a rail map and frequency guide or even paid Cornwall Council a small bribe to include rail tables.

There is a huge two-page spread extolling the virtues of the new fares structure, reduced via heavy subsidies from HM Government.
There has, as yet, been no peep from the Council about how well this fares reduction is going. Has it significantly increased ridership? A 33% reduction in fares needs a 50% increase in passengers to balance the books.

Two things are certain; that hasn't happened and shows no signs of happening. But but we can hide behind COVID by way of blame.

Secondly HMG is not going to be keen to continue such a massive subsidy beyond the present "experimental" period.

Then, of course, we all wonder how this is going to fit in with the announced £2 fare cap for early next year.

Could be financial fun all round?

And then there is the network map.
Spread over two A4 pages, it is still too small. fbb is currently struggling with cataracts, but he can usually read a bus map.  It is not really possible to replicate the difficulty of reading the detail, but it is not easy. Here is an enlargement (about 2 times) of one area.
There are no town maps, just broad brush diagrams (two pages worth) of the "cheap" fare "Town Zones".
Whilst they do show the limits of the zonal fare' availability, you have to know the area to understand them. And they are no use for finding your way about.
And so to the timetables.

The first thing a user notices is the huge amounts of blank space. The biggest blank is service 2 from Plymouth (in Devon) through the passport checks on the Tamar Bridge and into Cornwall.
What a waste. But there are many other places where half a page is just empty.

The other problem, out of the County's control, is caused by First Bus and its route branding.

This takes most of First's routes to the back of the book ...
... and away from their logical companions. So the question is, is it "Coast to Coast" OR U1 and U1A, the latter being a bit messy anyway. What is wrong with good old 41? Or was it 42?

Be that as it may, it looks as if First have abandoned their own timetable book in favour of the biggie.
The old triumviraten of area books ...
... had the advantage of fitting into a reasonably capacious pocket or handbag. The new book does neither so is far less convenient for the peripatetic publicity pondering passenger, purposefully planning their proposed perambulation in Penzance.

But how good is the book in content and presentation of its timetable pages.

More tomorrow.

In Praise Of Famous Men
In yesterday;s Bus and Train User blog, Roger French said a fond farewell, not to HMQ, but to Roger Bramber, photographer extraordinaire.
Roger B died last Sunday (aged 78) in the Royal Sussex Hospital at Brighton. His connection with Roger F and, indeed, with this blog, is as a regular supplier of photographs for Brighton and Hove's bus timetable book, also A4.
Sadly, the only (other) example of an A4 timetable bok appears to be no more. Despite being a B&H production it included all operators' services including St*g*c**ch 700! Now there are only on-line links on the B&H website.

Changes have been made to the web site presentation with the dramatic move to the 24 hour clock - after about 64 years of usage elsewhere.
Will Brightonians ever get used to it?

And where are the excellent printed maps that used to be such a help in that timetable book.

Oh, of course, they are all on line!

It Arrived!
Due, according to Royal Mail Tracked 48, between 0959 and 1359, it actually turned up nearly one hour late. But fbb doesn't think the lads at Seaton's delivery office have much truck with new fangled technology.

But it came ...
... and the outer box was the right size for the model, positioned diagonally and protected by wadnibs. 

For those who do not remember, "wadnibs" was the word invented by the fbb's late No 2 son to describe the expanded polystyrene, erm, wadnibs - as illustrated above.

More on the tank wagon in due course.

 Next Cornwall Controversy blog : Sat.17th Sept 


  1. I think you are being a tad harsh on Transport for Cornwall. By all means criticise authorities and operators who fail to produce any publicity.

    Save your bile for them, but don't slag off an authority/operator partnership that manages to produce a comprehensive timetable book.

  2. I agree with FBB that the maps are too small to read comfortably. Splitting the maps into three areas (with overlaps) would have been better.
    Back in the day, printers would have "fillers" to use when pages were unfilled fully . . . day ticket details and so on.
    And saying that the book is too big because it is comprehensive?? If you want comprehensive, then it will be big!!
    Kudos to the County for (eventually) fulfilling the promise of comprehensivability (!) in both ticketing and timetabling . . . now we wait and see . . .

  3. Books like this are great - provided they are readily available (and displayed!) in TICs, libraries, community centres and other such places. There is little point ISTM in having them on buses as one is hoping ro attract new riders.

    But ... such books suffer from one fundamental flaw, which is that they will inspire no confidence if times are changed after their publication. If you're going to print such books, they must state clearly their start and end date and operators must stick to those dates for changed (or, of course, state differences on individual timetables). That's what BR tried to di - yet even they had to issue Supplements, which you wouldn't know about if they came out if you'd already bought the book.

    1. Under the Enhanced Partnership service changes are at three fixed times per year: weekend before Easter, weekend after August bank holiday and end of autumn half term. Now, whether that means a supplement or another new book at the end of October remains to be seen.

  4. Also it's missing timetables and the blank spaces not being used makes it too thick. It's a good attempt but not the best.

  5. Incredible negativity from FBB about the low fares scheme. He seems to have written it off even though it's not yet even been six months since it was introduced.

    The scheme lasts for several years and is not about freezing fares. They'll increase gradually during the scheme, but hopefully will find that sweet-spot where they still end up significantly lower than what they would have been without the scheme, but with significantly increased passenger numbers. I have heard figures of around a 10% increase in passenger journeys so far, which has to be encouraging - unless you're FBB, that is.

    1. 10% is way below what such a significant reduction should generate and is thafc10% vs last year or a non covid year?

  6. Reduce fares by 50% increase passengers by 10%!!
    IS THAT ALL???
    ..and then you say the dates are going to start ramping up again?

    Well it’s all doomed to failure, but I guess that’s what happens if you put laurel GCB and hardy CWL COUNCIL in charge.. I wouldn’t put either in charge of running a bath!