Thursday 28 September 2023

Euphoria : Manchster's "New" Bus System

Bee Network Starts (Sort Of)

A chum emailed fbb earlier this week asking (Excitedly?) about "all these new bus services in Manchester".
GoAhead in particular has gone for this big time.
The company have drafted in extra drivers from all points of their operating compass to ensure their bit of the franchise works without a hitch. And they have dressed them all in yellow!
The shirts are a far nicer, a far richer, a far more distinctive yellow than the pallid shade on the buses!
Not only that, but these new livery buses have been running around for weeks. Weak Launch?

There is even a commemorative medallion to show how good it all is.
Wow! It has a certificate of authenticity as well.

Mayor Burnham has been telling us how wonderful it all is - maybe better to say how wonderful it all will (might?) be in a few years'time.


Mr Burnham said: "I'd like to apologise straight off to anybody who's been affected by late-running services or services not turning up, but I would ask that they understand the scale of what we've had to do in the last 48 hours."

He earlier explained the network's inception comes four decades after the last time bus services were in public hands.

"In that time routes were cut, fares went up and passenger numbers halved," he said.

"[But this] will be a regulated system that will put the public interest first. If buses don't turn up on time or don't turn up at all there will be consequences for the operators.

"We are cutting the cost of fares across Greater Manchester by 20% offering new combined bus and tram tickets so moving very much towards the London model that works so well."

Mr Burnham said the network going into operation was "a hugely significant moment".

"It's about public transport having the public interest back at its heart," he continued.

"It's about getting people out of their cars using buses and trams."

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "We're supporting passengers and local economies by investing £3.5bn into England's buses, protecting routes and capping fares at £2.50 until the end of November 2024."

Sounds a bit like the "old dawn", old polices and old management (bus companies and PTE) with yellow buses and and a new name.

So What IS Changing?
At the heart of the change is "Franchising". In this version of the franchising model, the local authority (Transport for Greater Manchester) decides what routes to run, what fares to charge and, in essence, collects all the money. All publicity, fares deals, special promotions etc rests with the authority.

All the operator has to do is to drive the buses and collect the fares.

In fact the bus company does not care whether it carries any passengers at all.

From the passenger's point of view, the bus ride will be no different from before. You will get in, pay your fare, enjoy a ride and get off.

But the first day did not go well!

Obviously the press is going to latch on to every moan available.
Perhaps it was foolish to think anything much would change from day 1. 

Here is an old TfGM timetable leaflet ...
... and here is a trendy new Bee Network leaflet.
Spot the dramatic change!

The timetables look the same ...
... indeed, apart from a few minor tweaks, they are the same. The leaflet maps are as awful as ever they were ...
... and the new Bee Network maps look remarkably similar to the old TfGM network maps.
That is because they are identical! There have been no changes to the network whatsoever.


It is all very much "same old, same old!"

Surely, with all the resources available, the PTE could manage some bright attractive leaflets? Apparently not!

Here is a video deploring the use of pallid yellow unbranded buses on the Leigh Guided Busway services.

The new Bee Network certainly sounds wonderful ...
... but there is one tiny little snag.

Mayor Burnham has no idea where the money is coming from.

 Again : The West Lothian Question - Friday 29th Sept 

Yesterday's blog was not published until 1100 due to utter incompetence - AGAIN! So here it is, repeated.

By Bus To Palma Nova

Sad to say, rather than flooding fbb's in-box with pictures, timetables and maps, No 3 Son seemed to feel that he was in Palma Nova for a holiday! What better holiday can there be that riding around on an excellent network of red and yellow buses?

The kids today? Sigh?

So fbb had to work it out for himself. The old man decided to take a virtual ride from Palma itself along the road to Palma Nova and beyond. It all kicks off at the superb underground bus station, plonk in the centre of the city and fully integrated with trains and metro.

fbb also has the full network diagram which is a good quality PDF file, so will enlarge really, really well.
But it is a bit baffling. Remember fbb's mantra, "you can be either compressive OR comprehensible but rarely both"!

Google Maps suggests that there are several routes that trundle along the busy coast road via Palma Nova and Magaluf.

104 to 107 follow the same route to the resorts and then spray out to various locations at the end. Thankfully, every route has a proper timetable and a computer generated map.
104 to 107 leave Palma conventionally, but join the coastal motorway to whizz westwards. The 108, by the way, does not use the motorway.

The four routes soon return to "ordinary" roads.
A short nip down the hill and you are on the sea front road! Here is one doing it!
Of the four routes going thisaway, fbb decided to virtually ride the 105.
It looks straightforward, doesn't it? A nice straight pink line south from Magaluf to a terminus at Sol de Mallorca.
Oh, how deceptive a simple diagram can be!

Although the 105 wiggles frantically along the top of rocky cliffs and crags, you hardly ever see the sea. The view is obscured by greenery and the highly priced residences that do have a view.
Eventually the terminus is reached and it is superbly underwhelming!
The stop is opposite a small casino.
But, if you walk on a bit, views of the sea are to be had.
And there are steps which lead down to the rocky coves, in this case ...
... Cala Xada.
Real timetables are displayed at the stops; here is an extract of that for the relatively infrequent 105.
The more frequent 104 has its repeat pattern ...
... in Spanish, Catalan and English.
... and there is a good service until late.
Impressive, eh?

One thing is certain. Were fbb ever to visit Mallorca, there would be at least two full weeks' of bus riding before the old man ever thought of hitting the beach.
Thanks to No 3 Son for enticing his old man to take a look. Pictures did arrive but mostly of timetables in the rain ...
... a bus shelter in the rain ...
... and a real time display in the rain.
fbb does not know what the sideways display might be there at the top!

Also passing was a tib articulated bus which No 3 Son explained to his house mate was "a bendibus".
Yes, there would indeed be plenty for the old bloke to investigate. Forget the bars, beaches, birds** and booze; explore the buses!

** of the feathered kind, of course!

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