Saturday 14 January 2023

Saturday Variety

How To Attract And Keep Passengers?
Some commentators have written that GoAhead's Blue Star has "run First Bus off the road". Not so! When Stagecoach demolished Lancaster City Transport (LCT) in the early days of deregulation, well, THAT was running an incumbent off the road. In the face of an utter onslaught by Sir Brian the Bearded (although he was neither at the time!) LCT packed up and went home. THAT was a textbook case of how to "run an incumbent off the road".

Blue Star has seen commercial opportunities in the slow decline of First, has resisted First's feeble fight-back and won the slow war of attrition. Whether Blue Star will make any money from its unexpected (?) business growth is, at the moment, debatable.

To what extent has first been the architect of its own downfall? 

fbb looks at a couple of sample areas.

The map at the top of ths blog is from 2011. It shows Butts Road as an integrated service via both directions and numbered 11 and 12 in YELLOW. Hamble is route 16 in GREEN,

Now move on just one year to 2012.
The 11 becomes 9 in YELLOW, the 12 becomes 5 in BLUE. The 16 becomes 6 but remains GREEN.

Next we go to to 2014.
The 5 has now become GREEN and the 6 changes to PURPLE,

2017 brings more change ..,.
 ... as the 5 disappears from Butts Road and the 6 reverts to GREEN.

The present map style has changed, thankfully, so by 2023 ...
... the 9 has vanished from the map (without explanation) but still runs, and the 6 resolutely remains GREEN. At least it is a better map, albeit incomplete.

Obviously, it was not possible to merge ex First Bus services with Blue Star without some change and, sensibly for the benefit of its own customers, the GoAhead company has kept its own route numbers and renumbered those from First into one compatible series.

As a reminder, on Blue Star's new map ...
... the 9 becomes 10 and the  6 becomes 15

If Blue Star have got it right (and it is a very big "if") the new network should remain stable.


Of course there are other factors than numbers on the front of the bus and colours on a route map; like the more important frequency and fares. But the repeated map changes were, surely, symptomatic of weak management and a lack of wholehearted promotion of the network.

City Reds was too little and too late.

And a "Handy Guide" ...
... is no substitute for a proper timetable book.
fbb is extremely grateful to correspondent Peter (another Peter!) for sending the above information.

Butetown Bonus
A short branch runs from Cardiff Queen Street station to Cardiff Bay station, the latter being not the most impressive of termini.
Searching for any location on Google Earth that matches the illustration of the new station at Butetown is fruitless. fbb presumes the stop will lie between Bute Street and the A470 Lloyd George Avenue opposite the unlikely site of SIX places of worship!
Here is/was the Orthodox Church of St Nicholas. plus several others ...
... quite an ecumenical enclave!

So comes this announcement.
The picture is NOT of the new Butetown station as you might expect, but an artists' visual of the fettled-up Cardiff Bay station. Note the terraced property.
Nobody seems to have decided what Butetown station will look like although work is due to start "soon" or "immediately" depending on your source of information.

Aha, some on-line sites much further down the search lists DO have a diagram, here viewed from above Lloyd George Avenue side.
The entrance will be near the existing (?) bus stop.

Electric Dream Evaporates?
Well it isn't, quite!

UK battery manufacturing start-up Britishvolt has been saved from the brink administration after securing additional funding.

It was reported yesterday that the company had lost a £100million Government investment and had no source of revenue, so was seeking a fresh £200million investment to keep the wheels turning. The threat of administrators being appointed was looming as the Government rejected a £30million advance in funding.

Sources have now told the BBC, however, that Britishvolt has managed to scrape together enough funding to survive for the short to medium term, although the identity of the new backers is unknown.

And this ...
The future is far from clear, say some analysts, with Electric Vehicle manufactures, particularly in the USA, who are subsidising the so-called "Environmental" products with on-going sales of gas guzzling large cars and trucks. Currently the sums for an all electric future just don't add up.


More Buffers From The Old Buffer
fbb is up-fettling one of his cheapo loco purchases. He bought this one because he had never seen it advertised and wondered how it would perform.
It uses the basic shell of the Hornby Type 6 shunter but with no detail added. It is very much a "toy".

The first thing that fbb found when he opened the box was that three of the shunter's buffer heads were missing.
Now, of course, fbb could order a pack of cast buffers, drill out the buffer beam, glue in the buffers and carefully paint them. Chances of success - a little less than nil for a significant amount of cash expenditure.

So how about finding something that could be stuck in where the buffer heads weren't. Some time ago, the old man bought a kit of HO potted flowers to adorn Peterville station. It turned out that they were simply too fine and fiddly for fbb's stubby fingers and now with eyesight problems as well.
So in the bits box they went for future use in some way. 

Plant pot trays make good buffers ...
... as do discs of greenery to fit in the larger pots.
Both will be painted mucky grey in due course. 

More about the fettling project later.

Only A Half Truth!
This item looked weird. How could East Yorkshire justify a brand new town service in Brid; when all over the country such services are being reduced or withdrawn.

Of course the company is not really starting a new service. Except that it is!

The town's route 4 ran every 30 minutes.
It still does, but half the journeys now follow a slightly different route and are now numbered 4A. 
s is so often the case with these computer generated graphics, the map is singularly unhelpful.
In fact it looks as if half the journeys go the opposite way round one of the loops. So it is even less of a "new service".

Talking Of HO Flowerpots
What might this become?

Answer tomorrow.

 Next Variety blog : Sunday 15th January 


  1. Andrew Kleissner14 January 2023 at 07:31

    What seems to be missing from the Cardiff announcement is the projected extension of the line, with tram/train on-street running, to the rather more convenient terminus by the Millennium Centre. Has this been dropped, one wonders?

  2. Extensions beyond Cardiff Bay to Porth Teigr and Newport Road are currently being consulted on so the rebuilt station would at least have passive provision for future extensions.