Wednesday 19 October 2022

Poor Quality and Tired ...

... Is Exeter's Park And Rired

Yesterday was fbb's key appointment at the Devon Eye Hospital, part of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital known, pretty much universally in the area as Wonford! Attendees for an eye examination are warned not to drive but to use a chauffeur. So fbb asked Mrs fbb to fulfil that role.

Unimpeded by eye drops, fbb took the wheel from Seaton to Newton Poppleford FREE car park, as shown above (fbb limo on left) equipped with "the usual offices" seen on the far right.

The aim was to catch Stagecoach 9/9A to Sowton Park and Ride site, then transfer to the hospital P&R thence.

It was for a 1000 approintment and the fbb's parked promptly ay 0825. Why so soon?

Check out the timetable!
Note that the 0828 and the 0842 both arrive at Exeter Bus Station at 0917! Note that between the 0842 and the 0914, there is a bus at 0747 (!). The fbbs went for the 0842 but fortuitously caught the 0828. There was a huge queue at the Exmouth Road roundabout caused, in part, by a busted Majestic coach partly on the roundabout.  So a journey that should have been 25 minutes took 45.

Because it was "twirly", the fbbs had to PAY on the 9/9A. Only £6.50 each! Yikes. For a 25 minute ride. Again, Yikes!

In Exeter the Park is free and the Ride buses charge fares and use all stops - but they still do not carry route numbers.

The service from Sowton is the GREEN route, but to find its timetable you need to know to type in GRN in the Stagecoach web site. 

But do not expect a green bus on the GREEN Park & Ride. The 0928 departure was pink!
Later buses that fbb espied were in both versions of Stagecoach standard livery.
Many successful P&R sites nationally have indoor waiting rooms, toilets and a member of staff to advise and guide. As you can see, Sowton Park and Ride has a bus shelter. And that's yer lot!

This P&R runs cross city to Matford. Also not far away is the Honiton Road P&R ....
... which does not "ride" along Honiton Road. Oddly. It runs along  Pinhoe Road via Whipton and then cuts across to the Honiton Road site.
There it is, on the map, the RED Park and Ride shown as a pale blue line. Oh, yes!!

Frequencies are poor. Both run every 15 minutes Monday to Friday and every 20 on Saturday. From memory (never the most reliable) they once ran every 10/12. Mon to Sat evenings the sites are open till late but you need a "proper" bus to get there ...
There aren't many such in the evening.

And Sundays?
Never mind, the RED is soon to be withdrawn and replaced by a development of the 4 to Cranbrook. Of which more in due course. The new service WILL run via Honiton Road to the Honiton Road P&R!

And by the way, don't expect to be able to find the correct timetable for the GREEN. Some versions on-line are palpably out of date.

Those Mondsy to Friday extensions starting from Astral Way no longer run. The timetable on the Stagecoach web site is, presumably, accurate as they run the buses - although that is never a guarantee. 

Timetable information at the shelter was poor. There are three timetable frames: two at one end of the shelter (not inside the shelter, you wouldn't want passengers to keep dry as they searched for their times, would you?), the third frame was right at the other end of the shelter.

Frame 3 was the Stagecoach frame ...

... which had a big departure list (NO timetable, of course) for the long distance Falcon, and a very small poster for the Park and Ride. The timetable was too small to read and ....
... was at least two timetable changes out of date.

One of the other two frames ...

...  showed the shuttle to the Nightingale Hospital (on an industria estate, somewhere) ...

... which was fully branded ...
... for the 118 Rail Link from Okehampton station to Tavistock.
Jolly good! NOT.

Every Nightingale bus that fbb saw carried a standing load of fresh air and not a single human passenger.

But the fbbs were not Parking and Riding into the City, they were Riding the 9/9A then nipping across the road and Riding the PR3 to the Hospital.
Also operated by Dartline, the PR3 vehicles (whatever happened to PR1 and PR2?) were in a dedicated livery and generally underused. The fbbs caught the 0930 from the P&R which carried 7 persons, but later in the day loads were between 2 and zero in both directions.

The timetable looked complicated and fbb must try to unravel its oddities some day.
There is, for example an SPR3 ...
... and a mysterious Digby Park and Ride. More research needed.

Thanks to a Government decision, the P&R services are not classed as real bus services; they are non essential so you have to PAY - even after 0930. The return is £2 but reduced to £1.50 if you carry an old fogeys card. In general, buses run every 15 minutes/

It is all part of our wonderful FREE National Health Service - but at least it is cheaper than parking at the hospital. But the fbb's paid £16 for their free NHS visit plus car to Newton Poppleford.

You may have noticed that the FOUR timetables on display (not in the shelter) are all to a different design, ensuring that using them is more complicated than it need be; if you can find them, if course

So it was that the fbbs got to the Hospital in time for the old man's 1000 appointment.
It was lengthy, partly due to a technical fault which meant that pictures of the fbb eyeballs could not be viewed for an hour or so. But patience for the patients and all was concluded .

General Park and Ride Conclusion
To get people out of their cars and reduce stress and congestion in Exeter, Park and Ride needs to be much, much better - BUT it is getting much worse.

Personal Note from fbb
It is confirmed that I have "wet" Macular Degeneration in both eyes, the left being worse than the right. It cannot be cured as it is one of the delights of the ageing process. BUT the damage at the inside back of the eyeball can be "stabilised" with regular injections of some clever drugs. I start a monthly course of such scary jabs into the eyeball as soon as possible.

Cataracts? Forget about them! They might be sorted when (and if!) the other "problem" is under control.

Ultimately I have to trust the skills of the NHS, but as I serve a much higher Authority, I am happy to trust God to help me work through this!

He always does a splendid job!

Faced with a day of great excitement yesterday, the planned Bedfordshire blog is postponed by just one day.

 Next Bedfordhsire blog : Thursday  20th Oct 


  1. The Nightingale Hospital was in the former Homebase store that is on the corner of Moor Lane and Osprey Road, just a across the road from the Red P&R. Moor Lane is not an easy road for pedestrians to cross.

  2. With the dedicated RED being axed, presumably intending passengers returning from Exeter on the enhanced 4 and 4A (continuing to Cranbrook & Exeter Airport) will have to alight on the wrong side of the busy main road by the pub some distance from the actual park and ride car park and then potentially walk with their shopping?

  3. Why did God give you failing eyes in the first place?