Monday 27 November 2023

Hertfodshire Happiness (3) The 725

Livery Delivery - A P.S.

The four new routes currently being examined in some detail by fbb are branded in the timetable PDF tables as Connect Herts with, of course, a logo. But, as noted by Roger French, there is really no other sign of the brand. Rog pictured a departure list or two, again with no branding.
If course, there are no timetables anywhere, just departure lists; and no printed leaflets either. For short frequent routes, departure lists are just about OK, but the 725 is long so a user might want some clue as to when they might get there. Such information is on the departure list if you can be bothered to do h maths!

But on his trips out, Roger did photograph one rather uninspiring livery on a 907 ...
... complete with equally uninspiring logo.
Nothing on bus stop flags either.

Superb 725 But Not Superb Enough?
Then there is the problem of what, on the ground, "limited stop" actually means.

Here is a paste-up of the THREE routes that run between Stevenage, Knebworth and Welwyn Garden City (WGC). On the left in BLUE is the original 302, next comes the new 725 and on the right the new 908.
At a glance, you can see that the new 725 misses out some stops but follows the same route as the 302 via Digswell Park. The 908, as we saw in a previous blog, is different.

Only a local can answer fbb's next question. If the 725 omits "less used" stops, how much is gained by being limited stop. Furthermore, how frustrating will it be to see a 725 bus zooming past on the same route as the 302?

Here id a VERY MUCH summarised timetable extract of all three services between Stevenage and WGC.
Now here's an idea! Wouldn't it be easier for the public if the 908 were a short working of the 725 with both following the current 908 route and both being limited stop? Ot maybe neither running limited stop between Stevenage and WGC. 

Readers can amuse themselves by compiling a combined timetable in the opposite direction!

But; is there really enough business between Stevenage and WGC to justify FOUR buses an hour? The likelihood is that the commercial 301 on this section will become non-viable due to abstraction of traffic by 725 and 908.

So let us look at a timetable extract for the 725.
It doesn't appear on the network map so fbb will have to do a bit of investigation.

Is it reasonable to assume that from WGC the 725 follows the same route as the 724?
The 724 (above) has point times at New QEII Hospital and Hatfield Galleria. Are these served by the 725?

No to the Hospital according ti the on-line computer generated map.
And no to the Galleria ditto.
This is a pity. A simple doubling of the 724 frequency between Hatfield and Rickmansworth would be easier for the travelling public and better PR for the bus in general.

The difference in route means that 724 and 725 do not run at an even frequency. Surely it would be better if they did?

And The 721?
This is perhaps the strangest of the four. In the first place it runs ONLY on Mondays to Fridays.
Between Luton and Harpenden ...
... and between Harpenden and St Albans ...
The 721 follows the same route as part of the 321 (below).
The 721 (below) adds an extra 30 minute servicer over the top of the 321's every 30.
The running time is the same between Luton and St Albans so fbb assumes that it is not limited stop. So why 721 and not 921?
And again, is there enough business to justify FOUR buses an hour between Luton and St Albans. There are oodles of trains as well although St Albans station is less than ideal for the city centre but has good bus connection's up the hill to the town.
The St Albans to Hemel Hempstead section ...
... parallels the 302 with possibly some detailed differences at the cathedral city.
The 302 runs to Hemel Hempstead station (a recent extension) but the 721 doesn't.
Once again you might query four buses an hour between St Albans and Hemel Hempstead and the consequences of the 721 taking business from the 302.

You could end up with four journeys every hour, all non viable!

 Next Stockholm blog : Tuesday 28th November 


  1. Historically there were 4 buses an hour between Stevenage & WGC & St Albans & Hemel and the reduction is relatively recent (one of the Arriva Herts melt downs but I think pre-COVID) so there probably is an expectation of the likelihood of there being demand. I was never convinced that the drop was justified by low usage, unless poor delivery by Arriva really destroyed demand in recent years. Only the Luton to St Albans section is improved from a historical perspective and even here it is only going from 3 per hour to 4 per hour (the 321 reduced frequency to fit the 721 in alongside). It may not generate enough passengers in the end but it isn't an unjustified service level and does have historical justification.

  2. 725 - It short cuts in Hatfield / WGC and serves the side of the Galleria and avoids the hospital.

  3. It is also the case that, as we have seen in countless locations over the years . . . frequency begats patronage. A 1 BPH service requires a timetable, as does 2 BPH; 3 BPH is almost (but not quite) "turn-up-and-go"; 4 BPH is almost (but not quite) "timetable? What timetable"!!

    We are told that 908 (alongside 390) is increasing passenger numbers along that corridor . . . I'm as surprised as anyone, but well done to HCC for spotting the demand.

    I like the overall network, although the "round-the-corner" nature of 721 . . . I'm still not sure about that. The interworking between routes isn't always perfect, but probably the best possible without chucking extra buses at it . . . and 1 extra PVR needs 2 extra drivers, so at the very basic cost level that'll be well north of £100K a year!!

    I note that 724 gets a timetable change in Jnauary 2024, so hopefully that'll ease some of the interworking quirks.

    Overall . . . it's a brave attempt to use BSIP+ money to attract more passengers, which is what it's all about. I was a bit of a "nay-sayer", but now . . . I wish it ever-increasing passenger numbers!!

  4. Apologies . . . don't know why anonymous appeared @ 1013 . . . I'm greenline727!!

  5. I'm no expert on Hertfordshire bus services, but this looks to me like a good use of funding. It would be good to see other local authorities doing something similar.