Wednesday 8 February 2023

Exceptional Exeter Excitement! (1)

Exceptional Exeter?

Once upon a time, back in the pre-technology age, a bus company would be suffering from dereliction of duty if it did not produce an annual bus timetable. In Exeter, the purchase of Devon General (which by then included the former Exeter City operation) by Harry Blundred led to the proliferation of minibuses and a similar splurge of timetable leaflets - but no timetable book.
Stagecoach continued the policy of lettered rather than numbered routes which had characterised the original City bus network.
For many years Stagecoach continued the route leaflet policy with attractive illustrated pamphlets for each lettered service.
Then the loony times began with the "it's all on line" policy of timetable leaflet secrecy. The bus companies seemed o forget that a huge percentage of their users were old codgers like fbb, most of whom would always struggle with new technology.

So no printed material for Exeter City.

Political Pottyness 
But Exeter became exceptional in another rather odd way. Three urban areas of Devon County were due to be given "Unitary" authority status. They were Plymouth, Torbay and, of course Exeter, the county town. Devon County's bus timetables show the districts of Devon county.
These areas are shown in cream; Plymouth lower left, Torbay centre right and Exeter above Torbay. But thanks to some weird political shenanigans, Exeter never became a "Unitary" - it is a District Council like East Devon, Mid Devon etc etc.

But historically The County abrogated all responsibility for bus services in the three urban areas. Exeter District was treated like a Unitary and bus publicity was left to the operators. So whilst fbb has access to a superb timetable book and map for East Devon, the worthy residents of Exeter (Exonians) are condemned to the "it's all on line" policy" of poor information.

Pathetic Paper Production
Stagecoach did produce "guides" for Exeter and Torbay while GoAhead continued sporadically with leaflets in Plymouth. The Exeter Guide as a paragon of uselessness.

On the positive side, it did have some very rudimentary fares information in very smal print.
It had a network map which was good ...
... although fbb has no recollection of the R and the S (Rufford Road circulars) appearing at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital - ever - unless anybody knows better.

But on the ngaytive side, the timetable information was pretty much useless.
A close up of route R illustrates the poor information shown.
It also explains hat the R and S serve the Hospital evenings and Sundays - which explains why fbb has never seen one! But, of course, it doesn't give you any times. After a long and tiring appointment, you step outside the main entrance and hope!

It would have been slightly more helpful if the map had shown the limited incursion of the R/S into the hospital grounds.

Now For the Shock!
For the first time for years and years and years, Exeter City has a timetable book!

And, like every other book produced by Devon County, it is a near faultless production.

fbb will pen a full review on tomorrow's blog, so asks his readers to try and contain their excitement.

The booklet is clearly labelled "produced in conjunction with Stagecoach" so we might expect it to be a Stagecoach product.

Well it is and it isn't just a Stagecoach book.

"Fresh Mud" Livery - A P.S.
Another Bristol bus that should be cleaner. At least the grunge had not (yet?) spread over too much of the lower deck windows.

GoAhead Goes Further Ahead
Following the recent purchase of Dartline (East Devon) GoAhead announced the acquisition of Southdown PSV Ltd, based in Copthorne, West Sussex.
Co[thorne is near Crawley.
The company operates a fleet of approx 30 vehicles all in a smart livery of two blues and white.
Thyre are double decks as well.
Most route involve tendered work for Surrey County Council but several are very much cross-border into neighbouring counties.
Considering also the Dartline purchase, it looks as if GoAhead is going ahead for bulk rather than high profitability!

The business will be managed by Brighton and Hove but the Southdown's identity will be retailed.

Will It Be Brown Or Grey?
Back in fbb's youth a railway wagon might appear in BR grey and/or BR brown. That was your choice for the mainstream ready-to-run market.

But what about  grey Mink?
Or even a grey Mink?
Neither, from Rapido Trains you can now buy a grey Mink ...

... 13 different versions in grey, grey or grey. You can also get versions in blue, yellow, red and (wait for it) LIGHT grey! And you need to consider whether you want your vents plated over!
Rails of Sheffield are discounting the RRP by a fiver!
fbb quite likes the yellow one. It's pretty!
AND, the vents are plated over!

And here is a real Mink so you can check all the minute detail.
Its vents are, sadly, NOT plated over!

 Next Exeter timetable blog : Thursday 9th February 


  1. In Oct 22 R and S appeared to take on everything in the city that Stagecoach were otherwise going to abandon.. thus making the circuit up towards an hour in length… good news for the schedulers looking to set a frequency of only every 30 or 60 mins, bad news if you actually want to use it to get to anywhere, cos it now takes AGES!

    To it was added to thornpark rise section of A, the broadfields part of H1 (which itself came from the more original N) and then the hospital part of H when H now doesn’t run in evenings and on Sundays, which is handy for the schedulers because that extra bit of mileage at those times takes up the slack from faster running round the loop in the off peak, to get the running time back up towards an hour! So, it’s clever scheduling, but I fear up towards a half hour dawdle from Rifford road to/from the high street, whichever way round the loop you go, for a journey of barely 2 miles, direct, is probably gonna put off all but those who really can’t find a better way to get there… I’m surprised they didn’t send it round Exwick and Pennsylvania too!

    1. Don't give 'em ideas!

    2. In peak I've seen a full seated load go from town to beyond Thornpark towards Rifford on the R so it is better used than you think and it's very clever scheduling.

  2. Does "Produced in conjunction with Stagecoach" mean "Stagecoach have financially contributed towards the cost"? If so, that's good.