Friday 16 February 2024

A Recipe For Success?

What Makes A Good Bus Company?

It All depends!

If you are an employee, you will want high wages, good working conditions and job security.

If you are a shareholder or Managing Director you will want good profitability with hefty dividends as a return for your investment.

As a Local Authority you want all of your voters to be satisfied without needing to pay out subsides.

As a Passenger you want low fares, frequent services and high quality buses, preferably from a stop very close to your front door.

As a Politician you might want competition to drive down fares and enhance service quality OR you may want to run things yourself freed from the profiteering shareholders.

How is it going for you Mr Burnham? 

It does seem that smaller companies make a better fist of bus business ...
... but it does call for very hard work, long hours and doubtless a good number of sleepless nights. There is always the temptation to sell out when a good offer arrives as with York Pullman to First or GoCoach to Hulleys!
The remaining Local Authority owned (at arm's length, of course) companies seem to be managing the impossible equations better than the big groups.

Edinburgh, Blackpool, Nottingham, Reading ...

... (stunning new buses for the "Lion" route between Reading and Bracknell) being good examples of operators seemingly able to succeed and, in some cases, expand. Edinburgh (Lothian) have just taken over Eve Coaches ...

... also operators of mainly tendered bus services in East Lothian.

Brighton and Hove have perhaps lost their way a bit after the GoAhead take over and the retirement of Uncle Roger French.

Cardiff, after a long hard struggle with competition, now seems safe and secure.

A week or so back we saw an example of how well a Local Authority company can strive to do the best for its passengers.

Back in late 2023, the operator was struggling with its route 27.
Buses originally ran straight up the Thornhill Road to Rhiwbina. At the Nine Giants pub ...
... which is ...
... a brand name rather than a feature of the central heating), the route turned right and ran via the Thornhill estate back to its northern junction with Thornhill Road. 
The 27 used a lay by on Excalibur Road,
From there it was "as outward route reversed". 

In the lay by opposite you might espy a service 28 bus which has arrived via Heol Hir (Llanishen). The 28 serves Thornhill via an anti clockwise one way loop.
But there was this problem with the 27. Running time was just not quite enough and reliability was suffering. It would likely suffer more with the universally unpopular Welsh 20 mph speed limit policy.

So what to do?
Increasing the running time would cost an extra bus and would not generate any extra revenue. So, the standard policy of negativity would be to reduce the frequency to every 15 minutes and (if possible) use double decks.
But let the company explain, as it did in excellent fashion when revealing the problem to its passengers.
So the 27 now loops in the opposite direction to the 28 but still runs every 12 minutes.
The route map is given in full (fbb shows only an extract) ...
... and the revised timetable emphasises the circular nature at Thornhill.
Some customers were disadvantaged. It is no longer be possible to get from Templeton Avenue TO Sainsburys. A walk to the Nine Giants for the 27 or to Heol Hir for the 28 is now necessary for trips TO the store.

Coming back is OK.

But Cardiff Bus is to be commended for an innovative solution which goes some way towards satisfying all the various desires and aspirations.

A chocolate peanut or two would be well deserved.

Unboxing Excitement
Readers may well remember fbb's disappointment and frustration at discovering that Hornby had introduced TWO different brand new TTA tank wagons.
When fbb saw these pre-production models he thought that Hornby had decided not to issue both versions. When it appeared that both were available  but not well publicised, fbb then found that almost every retailer has "sold out" on their web site - and that included Hornby itself.

One or two companies were still inviting pre-orders but, when fbb tried, he was informed that the "end ladder" model was already out of stock.

fbb was afeared that he might never be able to complete his "every different tank wagon" collection.

It was at about 0200 on Saturday that an abed but slightly insomniac fbb was scanning sellers of R60208, more to see if any of the "sold outs" were promising extra supplies. And lo and behold up popped ...
... who claimed to have one left! Maybe they were one of the traders offering pre-orders when fbb trawled the sites on previous occasions. 

So, without much hope of success, fbb ordered the one remaining single ladder version straight away and the order was duly processed. 

It arrived on Wednesday.
And it was, indeed, R60208 and it was as detailed as fbb's green BP tanker ...
... but, like the real thing ...
... it does have just one end ladder not the two as on other versions.
Sadly, however, his unwanted order mistake of a second R60209 (green BP) did not sell. Second attempt!

Unwanted Hornby R60209
BP tank wagon - unopened
And here, as Sams Trains would say, is the end of the box.
The model has an RRP of £34.95 and postage is usually extra at about £4. Some retailers discount by a few pounds.

Because this is a stupid fbb bludner, he is offering the model at ...


... including P&P.

Takings will go to  T E A R Fund Christian charity.

If you wish to avail yourself of this bargain offer, please email fbb at ...

... giving you real name and real address. fbb will then email back with details of his true identity and the address of fbb mansions. Upon receipt of your payment by post, which can be cheque or 40 second class stamps, the model will be posted promptly.

Thank you.

 Next Variety blog : Saturday 17th February 


  1. Brighton and Hove is not owned by the local council . . . it has been owned by GoAhead for something approaching 30 years.

    1. Since 1993 in fact, then absorbing Brighton Buses in 1997, itself privatised 4 years earlier.

  2. Can we swap the chocolate peanuts for malteasers instead? We explained the rationale - the usage outward towards Sainasbury’s is low, so overall the vast, vast majority gain for restoring the given of reliability.