Tuesday 7 March 2023

Autono muss Omni buss : What a Fuss (2)

Towers Tumble : Buses Rumble

For passengers whizzing past on their Great Western train, the power stations at Didcot were a very clear landmark. 

They were built on the neck of land nearest to Didcot, land that had once been part of the military facilities.
Didcot "A" was completed in 1968 and started generating power in 1970. All six cooling towers were built for "A". Because it was coal fired and it would have been uneconomic to fit additional flue cleaning "stuff", the station closed in 2013 and the three southern cooling towers were demolished in 2014. The chimney lasted untouched until 2020.
Didcot "B" started producing power in 1997 as a gas turbine generator. In 2014 a fire destroyed part of its far less spectacular wooden cooling system.
It also had a much smaller chimney as there was less yuk to get rid of.
The three remaining cooling towers from "A" were demolished in 2019, not without some controversy.
It is believed that the debris from the falling towers clouted the pylon and shorted out some "big electric", hence the loss of power to local homes.

But pretty much nothing remains today and the site is awaiting redevelopment.

But before we look a bit closer at the autonomous driverless bus with driver, it is worth reviewing what bus services are available at the Milton Park Estate. There is a jolly video which is visually pretty, with a dainty little tune, but which actually tells you very little.
The Milton Park web site directs its users to a bus leaflet.
Here is a simple departure list of buses from Didcot Parkway station (and back!) ...
... which offers NINE buses an hour Monday to Saturday and three uneven departures an hour on Sundays. 

Most of these departures are simply "normal" buses from Didcot to the west and north that happen to run via Milton Park. 

The leaflet has a map.
Notice that no buses actually penetrate the various roads on the Estate, everything simply runs along Park Avenue, its "spine" road.

A quick look at the routes may be of interest.

X2 - Didcot Abingdon Oxford every 20 min

X32 - Wantage Didcot Oxford every 30 min

X36 - Wantage - Didcot every 30 min

We have already met the 33 - Oxford Didcot Wallingford every hour ...
... which shares a table with the 23 Didcot Wallingford Henley.

But the 23 doesn't serve Milton Park! Yet it does on the map.


But it gets slightly worse because on another map, also currently promoted by Milton Park, things look a bit different.
We have no 23 but a 99A and a 99C which look like being Anticlockwise and Clockwise versions of a circular service. Calling up the service on-line (it is, as you may well know, ALL on-line!) ...
... we see an hourly service each way round.

But the leaflet map (remember?) ...
... show 23 and 99 but direction less.

Assuming that the leaflet map is the newer of the two (although there is no on-line reason for this rash assumption) we might try looking up the 23 timetable as opposed to that bit of it which shares the route to Wallingford with the 33.

Of course you find what you want by looking up the 99.

Here you will find a departure list for the 23/99 to Milton Park; a useless map ...
... and a proper timetable for the 99 only.
Yes, confused.com indeed.

What fbb THINKS has happened is that the 99A/99C has been withdrawn and replaced by less frequent extensions of the 23 from Didcot to Milton Park. To enhance the 23 at peak times, extra buses run, but not as 23 (logical?) but using the former number of 99.

All the best, Didcotters, if you can work that out from the information available to you.

There is one last puzzle.
Idly driving virtually along Innovation Drive, whilst looking for evidence of the military origins of the estate, the Streetview noddy car passed a bus.
It appeared to say "Milton Park" on the blind and was in a version of Milton Park blue livery. But there was, in Streetview's day, no evidence of stops on Innovation Drive and current maps show nothing going that way!

And here is an on-line photo of said bus.
It is captioned "new for the Milton Park Shuttle operated by Courtney Coaches."

And, amazingly, it is all on line

There is a detailed and complex timetable (extract only below) ...
... and a somewhat baffling map.
But the Shuttle no longer operates!

Such are the joys of modern technology.

In case you have a clever thought, Thames Valley Buses, successor to Courtney, doesn't run to Milton Park either.

So tomorrow we put the latest new technology into its Milton Park context.

 Next Autonomous bus blog : Wednesday 8th March 

1 comment:

  1. Not really sure how FBB could be confused if he just looked at the operator's website: the timetable available there shows the 23 has been serving Milton Park since September 2022: https://passenger-line-assets.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/oxfordbus/THTR/23-timetable-20230108-b72511ca.pdf for the latest timetable, and https://www.oxfordbus.co.uk/network-changes/9a440fdd-7a67-4ae4-a673-424375f824ae for the service change notification.

    The area around Milton Park and Great Western park has changed significantly over recent years as more and more housing is completed - bus services have changed frequently, and not surprising places like Milton Park haven't kept their own leaflets up to date. The Milton Park map appears to be dated 2021, so clearly significantly older...