Thursday 23 November 2023

Bus Travel : Enter A confusing World

Hard For High Green

High Green is a large residential area of Sheffield, developed as a small "suburb" of Chapeltown from the mid 1960s, but now a substantial residential ommeunitty. Like many such areas, it lacks local facilities so most residents would need to travel to Chapeltown for much of what they might need and, possibly, for evening socialising. And there are plenty of houses in High Green.
In the silly days of competition, both First and Stagecoach ran reasonably frequent services from Sheffield up the hill from Chapeltown. Under the Sheffield Bus Partnership for Cutting Services these were merged into a "joint" 1 and 1a combo with First going no further than Chapeltown leaving Stagecoach with the business from the estate. It warranted (apparently) a half hourly evening service.
From High Green the through service finished early, but there were later buses from the estate running back to the Stagecoach depot just south of Chapeltown. On the whole it was not too bad.

Until now, that is.

Stagecoach have cancelled the whole of the evening service! It has been replaced with a tender won by First; and here (pause for excited bus watcher anticipation) is the current evening service.
Yep, just two buses and it is equally minimalist in the other direction. Clearly that sort of offering is not going to encourage "going out" and in a few months (?) the total withdrawal of the evening service seems inevitable.

Of course, there are plenty of cars and car parking places ...
... although High Green would not be described as a high car ownership area of the city.

And, in case you suspect fbb of exaggeration, there is nothing else in the evenings, except foot, bike or taxi; none of which is ideal for pocket or human stability after a good night out!

Meanwhile, down south ...

Hertfordshire Happiness
FOUR significant new bus services have started over recent months. These are NOT like the one-bus-in-steam manifestations of Oxfordshire's generous bounty for the bus as reviewed in a recent blog ...
... where readers may remember the quality of the vehicle provided by Red Rose!
The Hertfordshire novelties are proper hourly bus routes providing  new services, mainly to communities that already had a bus service! They are paid for with money from HMG (that's money from us) under the Bus Service Improvement Plan. Here is Roger's intro.
In what was a mysterious and illogical lottery, some counties were given a huge bad of gold, whereas others got not a bean. South Yorkshire got nowt! Hertfordshire got oodles and it is the new services there that fbb will examine.

Needless to say, Roger French has already been there and fbb will gratefully rely on his earlier impressions for the first of these new routes introduced earlier in the year.

When Rog rode, there was no roadside information, no printed information, no updated map and the main stop in Stevenage was closed!
The 907 bus was, however, stopping there but you would never know! But, be reasonable, it was the first week of operation and you wouldn't expect either the operator or the county to be rushing to promote their brand new shiny three-bus service. That would be asking too much!

But the 907 has now appeared on the county's excellent network map, so fbb can work out where it goes.

Ot can he?
The map ...
... shows that plenty of buses serve the Lister Hospital in Stevenage ...
... but it would appear that only the new 907 ventures into Saintsbury's.
Is that a shelter under those trees?  The Stevenage local map tells us more.
We know from Roger's blog that the 907 stops outside the bus station on the main road at the railway station if you are going to Saintsbury's or Hospital but at stand K IN the bus station for far distant parts!. Either way there are plenty of local buses to/from  both termini,
So off we jolly well go to Bragbury End and (maybe?) Watton at Stone.
The Stevenage local map shows service SB18 along the main Hertford Road to Bagbury End, a detail not included on the full network map.
The SB18 and the 907 provide two buses an hour along this thoroughfare.
At Watton at Stone, the 907 uses the by pass except for one journey southbound and. oddly, THREE journeys northbound which call at the station. Then its a nip down the main road via Tonwell ...

... also served by the 383/384. These are a motley collection of bits and bobs ...
... and cartographically confusing. 
Surely this is simply a daft way to illustrate a bus route?
Users will be glad of the new, hourly, 907!

Cartographically (again!), it is harder to know where at Ware the 907 goes.
There is, for example, no stop shown at Hertford bus station!

To really understand, fbb has turned to the computer generated map on the Intalink web site and hoofed up the enlargement,
So that tells us that the bus serves all stops along the main road between Ware and Hertford then runs almost non stop for quite a while. 
The exception is a stop at Pinehurst. Although other services wiggle round this new-build estate, the 907 only calls at the edge doing a U turn at an "entry" roundabout ...
... before continuing non stop to Hoddesdon.
There are plenty of buses south from Hoddesdon ...
Including the Central Connect 410 ...
... which is copied by the 907. Like the 907, the 410 runs hourly and, like the 907 does not go to Cheshunt! It really is annoying when timetable compilers and presenters strive to confuse the user.

Brookfield Centre ...
... includes a hyper Tesco on the edge of Cheshunt. 907s (and 410s) do not  make it to the town centre. So why call it Cheshunt?

So we can conclude, as did Roger French, that the 907 serves no new communities - everywhere on the route already has a bus service. There are some frequency improvements on various sections of the route together with some additional longer links to shopping facilities.

The only conceptual improvement is between Hertford and Hoddesdon where the 907 runs almost non stop.
... but, centre to centre, the 641 (Uno who!) is one minute quicker!
Drat that diversion via Pinehurst; but, at least, the 907 serves a bit more of Hoddesdon.

As fbb seems to be saying again and again, it will be "interesting" to see what happens when HMG's bag of financial support becomes, inevitably, empty.

Perhaps buses will be re-nationalised before then?

Hopefully, the rest of the big route additions to the Hertfordshire network will be easier to follow?

 Next Intalink blog : Friday 24th November 


  1. Hertfordshire seems to be using the funds in the same way Kickstart did back in the 1990s. Probably a bigger chance of commercial success than the evening and Sunday additions made by some authorities.

  2. The 907 provides much more the you state

    For Example: Ware High Street to Stevenage Bus or Rail station - Mon to Sat

    383 - twice a day in 35-40 mins
    384 - 5 times a day in 65 mins
    907 - 13 times a day in 32 mins

    383/4 - No Sunday service
    907 - 11 times on Sunday

    The 383/4 is a village service, where as the 907 is an interurban.

    You should not belittle the local professionals.

    PS. The SB18 is a last minute contract to reinstate the 30 min service to Watton at Stone. It must have missed the county map update.

  3. I would suggest that these new routes are not similar to Kickstart in the short term. What they provide the county is better interurban services on the basis that car travel will decline as petrol/diesel phase out and there needs to be an alternative already in place.

    Hertfordshire is mostly car and train use - running commercial bus services doesn't happen.

  4. Not quite true to say the 1/1A is High Green's only late evening service; you've forgotten about the 29, which has journeys from Chapeltown to Penistone at 1900 & 2130, with a return journeys at 2037 and 2307. So High Greeners can definitely have an evening out in Penistone!
    The recent cuts to late evening services within Sheffield follow recent additions to late evening services into Derbyshire - so Bakewell and Castleton in the Peak District now have a similar or better evening service than a Sheffield suburb like Dore. This of course is due to Derbyshire getting plenty of BSIG money while S Yorks got nothing.

    1. Stocksbridge, which is apparently important enough to justify the restoration of its rail link in the post-HS2 wish list, has a similarly austere evening service.

  5. The 907, like all these HCC new services, are primarily designed to enhance existing corridors where the council would like to see improved frequencies but by stitching together sections into longer routes they add the advantage of new strategic connections. So the 907 enhances the frequency between Stevenage & Hertford & provides a decent direct service between Stevenage & Ware, restores a decent service level into the Brookfield Centre (which used to have much more than the hourly 410 pre-COVID) & adds new cross Hertford links that have proved surprisingly popular from the off. It may not do anything entirely new but it does a lot that is very useful and proving so in the real world. I would point out that the Brookfield Centre is in Cheshunt, it may not be the centre but it within the bounds of Cheshunt and when dealing with such a long distance bus service just using a local name for a shopping centre could lead to more confusion for non-local passengers of where the route actually goes to.