Friday 21 October 2022

It's Rotten for Potton (2)

Stagecoach Can't, So Up Steps Grant

Grant Palmer Limited is an ambitious, family owned business established in 1999. From small beginnings, the business has grown to run a fleet of 33 buses on a network of local bus services and bespoke contracts, serving the communities of Bedfordshire, all run from a modern depot in Flitwick.

Our team of 50 drivers, 5 engineers and 4 cleaners is hand picked to ensure we can provide a friendly, approachable, but dependable service for all our customers. Our customers expect it of us. Keeping it local, and in the family, is one of the keys to our success.

Grant Palmer established the business in 1999.  As managing director he oversees the strategic development and operational performance of the business, ensuring we run a safe and dependable bus service for our customers.To this day, it's a locally owned and family run business, putting the needs of local people, our customers, first.Our team of 50 drivers are at the heart of our business, ensuring we deliver the best standard of customer care and reliability we can. 

The company already runs one ex Stagecoach route in the area, historically between Bedford and Biggleswade ...

Journeys continue to Hitchin ...
... running approximately every hour.
Interestingly this offers a faster route to Biggleswade than the 73, and significantly faster than the 72 the long way round via Potton.
So it really comes as no surprise that Grant Palmer Ltd will be running a replacement for Stagecoach 72 and 73.

Grant has quite a lot to say about what the company is offering/.

From Monday 31st October, services 72 and 73 will operate to revised timetables with buses operating six days a week, every hour between Bedford and Sandy with further extensions to Potton and Biggleswade.

So the service will be reduced to half its present frequency ...
... and the 72 will no longer continue from Potton to Biggleswade.

It's rotten for Potton, but maybe not too rotten?

The new services will benefit from capped contactless payments- with weekly tickets costing no more than £26.40. A range of tickets for families, students and groups provides excellent value. Bus tickets can be purchased onboard or in advance from the Grant Palmer smartphone app. Customers can track their bus, receive push notifications and find full service information through the free app.

At a quick glance, these fares seem to offer better value than those charged by Stagecoach.
Two high specification buses will operate on the new route with convenient USB charging onboard and high back seating. Low emission engines will improve air quality for all across the county.

A full printed guide for the service will be available in advance of the service starting from bus stations, local libraries and travel interchanges.

What a very good idea that is! Perhaps if Stagecoach had adopted a similar publicity policy, the company would not be slashing services in the area?

No doubt Stagecoach have given up on printed material because it is all on line.

The new Grant Palmer leaflet will doubtless contain a route map (remember Stagecoach's all on line offering?) ...

... similar to the version on their web site ...
... so hourly Bedford to Sandy ... then two hourly to each of Potton and Biggleswade.
There are expanded town maps of Sandy ...
... and Biggleswade.
The blue line is the aforementioned route 74.

All this smacks of a genuine effort to provide a service that will attract more passengers and might, just might, be capable of reverting to its erstwhile frequency.

It is all very positive!
A correspondent, who is a much respected bus manager, suggests some alternative thoughts.

They are very very short of drivers at Bedford, so the 72/3 is 5 PVR , and getting rid of it will help. If you saw the figures , and I’ve not seen pre pandemic numbers, the current passenger numbers do not justify a bus every 30 minutes and the route must be losing a fortune. The hourly service GP has come up with is the logical was forward.

What they next need to do urgently is sort out the utterly useless 188/190 to integrate with the 72/73

Whilst passenger numbers would dictate a cut to hourly it’s the driver situation that’s caused Stagecoach to abandon the route, and hopefully provide a more reliable service to the remainder of the network. If you look at the daily list of cancellations you will understand the problem.

Our correspondent mentions again the 188/190 run nowadays by Herberts Coaches. Looking at an fbb map drawn for a previous Potton blog, we can discern two things.
Firstly: without the 72, there are still buses from Potton to Bigglswade.

Secondly: some re-organisation of the whole clutch of services between Biggleswade, Potton and Sandy would seem a better way of saving money (and drivers!) than the present route tinkering policy!

Sandy is off the map, upper left!

More thought and more "joined-up" planning are called for here. Don't expect anything like that to happen - after all it is in the hands of a small unitary local authority!

And A Shock In Minehead
Correspondent David advised fbb to sit down before reading his e-mail. Unlike today's youff, fbb is not normally in the habit of perambulating with a "device" attached to his lug hole with superglue.
This is David's local bus stop in Minehead, service 28 from Taunton, provided by (First) Buses of Somerset.
David's flabber was totally ghasted when he noticed that the timetable frame contained ....

... wait for it ...

... timetables.
There was no sign of the universally offered (because the computer system does them), but only useful to regulars, departure lists.

Timetables, what an excellent idea!

It is a wonder that no one has ever thought of doing that before.

But, worry not, it will never catch on because it would be helpful to potential passengers! And, obviously, the ways of the confuser must be right!

In a heady mixture of disbelief, wonder and total shock, fbb had to resort to a glass of milk and the bottle of sleep-aids!

 Next Variety blog : Saturday 22nd Oct 


  1. To think that United counties and then Stagecoach had a garage in Biggleswade until 1991, (change of premises 1989 due to uncle Brian selling off the property assets, as he did all over the place), but continuing as an outstation right up until as recently as 2018, and shortly it’ll be no presence there at all!

    1. Actually Grant Palmer have purchased the old stagecoach site in Biggleswade so maybe watch this space !!!

  2. Isn't it the usual story? Close local depots, the dead or low use positioning running = unviable. Defy gravity.

    All new Pantomime Dame Doris has to do is wave a magic wand and bring back the era of cheap energy!