Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Times of Buses - Yah Boo, We Won't Tell You!

That's Travel South Yorkshire!
First are really keen for you to use their buses this Christmas ...
... which is why South Yorkshire has the worst holiday bus service of any of the large urbanised districts in the UK. Here, for example, is Birmingham

Christmas Eve
Saturday timetables will operate. 
From lunchtime onwards some high frequency routes will be reduced slightly. 
Normal evening timetables will operate but night buses will not operate. 

Christmas Day
No buses will operate. 

Boxing Day
Sunday timetables will operate until approximately 18:00. 
Some routes will operate until late evening but night buses will not run.  

Tuesday 27th December
Sunday timetables will operate and night buses will run. 

Wednesday 28th - Friday 30th December
Saturday timetables will operate with extra early journeys on some routes. 
Night buses will operate. 

New Year's Eve
Saturday timetables will operate. 

New Year's Day
Sunday timetables will operate until approximately 18:00. 
Some routes will operate until late evening and night buses will operate. 

It's not just that Sheffield's service is the worst, the biggest problem is that the key bus times are a total secret.

Here is the very pretty Travel South Yorkshire on-line "leaflet" for Sheffield.

It tells us that there are no buses on Christmas Day (fair enough) and special services on Boxing Day and New Years Day, Timetables are provided for these two special days and fbb will take a look at these later.

We are also told, that, as is a faitly common policy, services will not run on the evening of 24th or 31st. So, returning to First's seasonal publicity, this means that going car-less to your knees up is impossible. This is a really positive way to discourage drink driving by having no buses on the big party nights.
O.K., you can't blame the bus companies if services at these times lose money, but you can blame the corporate woolly thinking of the disconnected agencies which don't bring into their calculations the total cost to society of having no reasonably-priced means of getting home.

But, so be it. We are where we are. We need to plan our visits to Aunt Aggie etc for the afternoon, a nice tea and one of the last buses home.

But when are the last buses?

Here is Stagecoach's web site for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
There are NO TIMES for the Christmas Eve shut down.

But there is a link to the TSY non-leaflet which customers can download; because we cannot be bother to provide a printed leaflet.

And, as we might guess from the Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster leaflet reviewed yesterday (read again) ...

Christmas Eve - Saturday 24 December 2016
Bus - Saturday service on most routes with last departures between 1800 and 1930 with the following exception: Powells - Last journeys on service 87 between 1400 and 1600.
Tram - Saturday service with early finish around 1800.
Train - Saturday service with last departures between 1900 and 2000. Certain journeys between Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport will be amended. Please check your journey before travelling.

... the on-line non-leaflet is no help whatsoever. The non-information for New Years Eve is equally "non".

Heaven help the passenger who wants to use Powells service.

Last journeys on service 87 between 1400 and 1600.

fbb has absolutely NO IDEA what that might mean and, he suspects, neither does the compiler of the "leaflet"!

In case you wondered, there is nothing at all on First's site. Christmas, it would appear, is cancelled.

fbb is almost lost for words - but not quite!

It is a disgrace that the Sheffield Bus non-Partnership is so cavalier with its customers. The idea that you would make a drastic alteration to the timetable AND THEN KEEP IT A SECRET is indicative of the gross incompetence of all concerned.

Partnership heads (i.e. Travel South Yorkshire!) should roll - but they won't because senior management neither understands nor cares.

It is highly significant that Stagecoach Supertram (do we run buses as well?) ...
... and T M Travel ...
... neither of which is a member of the bus partnership, have both published more helpful information. fbb understands that the tram publication is (or will be) available as a real printed leaflet (a jolly good idea, Sheffield Bus non-Partnership) but does not know about T M Travel.

fbb has winged a request for "proper" last bus times to First and Stagecoach and, to their credit, First have responded promptly. thanks all concerned.

Perhaps this information will eventually appear on the company web site?

And thanks to some really hard work by the GoTimetable Sheffield team all the data currently available will be in place very soon, hopefully tomorrow. A few "display" issues are outstanding but a couple of screenshots will illustrate what will be available.

Timetables for Boxing Day and New Years Day will be added ...
... and times for the Christmas Eve and New Years Eve early shut down will be shown in the index display.
It would appear that GoTimetable Sheffield may be the only place to find these early shut-down times.

This blog is shorter than originally planned because fbb's input to GoTimetable involved busy tapping and typing from 0800 to 1700 leaving less time han usual to complete the past. The omitted bit is a few comments on the actual level of service on Boxing Day and New Years Day.

This will now appear tomorrow.

Last journeys on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve have just appeared on the Stagecoach Sheffield web site. Hooray! Travel South Yorkshire please note.
But nothing for services operated by Stagecoach Chesterfield and Mansfield.  That leaves Stagecoach service 43, 44, 50, 53, 70, 71 and X17 shrouded in mystery. Perhaps you have to go to Chesterfield to find these?
Advent Calendar
So the gift of "free will" seems to bring the consequence of "bad stuff"; and for however many thousands of years passed from pre-history to the end of what we call The Old Testament there is a roller-coaster ride of Good News and Bad News, Success and Failure, Progress and Regression.

Time and time again, holy bog guys (the prophets) poured out their vision of a better future. Here is Isaiah again:-

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decode by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
And in a challenging vision of Peace on Earth ...
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopards will lie down with the goat. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Surely this vision is totally unrealistic. There is certainly no sign of it in today's' world.

The world will never be like this - it is just unnatural and beyond belief, surely? Unless, of course, Isaiah and his like were looking far beyond conventional human existence?
 Next Seasonal Service blog : Wednesday 7th December 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Christmas Day Buses ...

In South Yorkshire? Really?
And, new for 2016, on Boxing Day in Rotherham as well, thanks to the Bus Partnership?
True, but not quite what it seems.

Of course, there will be no printed publicity for the festive season (and a Merry Christmas to you, Travel South Yorkshire!), so the hundreds of thousands of folk who don't (or can't) go on-line will have to rely on hearsay and rumour or, most likely, stay at home.

The pattern is dismally familiar.

Christmas Eve and New Years Eve - early shutdown.
And details of the last buses on each route? TSY is keeping that a secret, presumably so that residents who "risk it" will get stranded or have to call a taxi. Or they will simply stay at home. Which, obviously, means low passenger numbers after about 1700; which means, obviously, the service can be further reduced next year "due to poor usage",

Clever plan, eh?

Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day - no buses.

We will return to the eagerly anticipated "except for" later.

In Paris, on Christmas Day, the Metro will run a Sunday frequency from about 0530 until after midnight. Trains will be full, as usual.

In London, Christmas Eve services will finish early, i.e. between 2330 and midnight. On Boxing Day there will be a Sunday service. On that preeminently urban and busy area, the Isle of Wight, there will be services every day over the holiday period and, yes, that does include Christmas Day.

Adequate Boxing Days services will run in that backwater of bucolic sleepiness, namely Bristol City, likewise Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.  But in Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster no buses will run on three of the holiday days.

But, hang on a tick, what about the "except for"?

And here the excitement is palpable. There will be buses on Christmas Day! Here is the timetable.

TO Grimethorpe

From Grimethorpe

TSY doesn't tell is who operates these routes.

So what's Grimey got that the rest of South Yorkshire and most of the rest of the UK hasn't got? It's got XPO Logistics!

XPO  Logistics?
No, neither had fbb.

XPO Logistics was founded in May 1989 by Michael Welch and Keith Avery as Express-1 Expedited Solutions, which specialised in time-critical, high-value shipments. The company was purchased in August 2004 by Segmentz, Inc., a transportation firm that traded publicly as NYSE AMEX: SZI. In 2006, Segmentz changed its name to Express-1 Expedited Solutions, which had become its main operating unit, and began trading its stock under the new symbol XPO.

In September 2011, American businessman Bradley Jacobs gained approximately 71 percent ownership in Express-1 when he led an investment of up to $150 million, including up to $135 million through his firm Jacobs Private Equity LLC, which is XPO's largest stockholder. He assumed the roles of chairman of the board and CEO, announced plans to move the company's headquarters from Michigan to Greenwich, CT, (USA!) and changed its name to XPO Logistics.

Now we know.
On the site of the former Houghton Main Colliery ...
... and alongside the new Park Springs Road ...
... stands a huge warehouse which XPO Logistics run on behalf of a fashion company ASOS.
ASOS joins Sports Direct in getting a bad press for the way it "exploits" its staff.
The GMB trade union claims warehouse staff are so tightly regulated on their work rate that there is no time for some to make the 15 minute walk’ to and from the loo – and have to use the drinking fountain instead.

The union claims workers are expected to ‘pick’ 65 items an hour from a vast network of shelves at the distribution centre in Barnsley, South Yorks and might be expected to pick about 800 in the course of a shift, walking up to 15 miles in the process.

Deanne Ferguson, regional organiser for the GMB, said: “This leaves staff with no other choice but to use the water stations to urinate in.

“Some ASOS workers are suffering sickening indignity which must stop. ASOS must explain to its employees why they are treating them with such contempt and denying them common decency.

“The people of Barnsley care and will be disgusted to hear these reports. Workers at ASOS are genuinely scared as they have been told their jobs will be at risk if they resist, so the GMB has had to organise underground in ASOS.”

The online fashion retailer strongly denies the claims and says there are toilets within four minutes of every point of the warehouse which employs around 4,000 people.

Some of these 4000 will be working all over Christmas, hence the need for bus services. These are timed for shift changes throughout the holiday period.

But Rotherham has another holiday period "except for" on Boxing Day.
Buses will run between the Town Centre and Maltby every hour from 0832 to 1832.

So what has Maltby got that the rest of Rotherham hasn't? Answer, absolutely nothing! Earlier this year the former route 69 between Sheffield and Rotherham was speeded up (not much), diverted via Meadowhell shopping centre and linked with former services 1 and 2 to Maltby.
This created First Bus' new X1.
Illogically and unfairly for the rest of the town, this ensures it gets a very feeble Boxing Day bus service ...
... but only to the Quilter Road wiggle.
Strange happenings in South Yorkshire and even stranger decisions for Sheffield, as we shall begin to explore tomorrow,
Advent Calendar
"And God saw that it was all good" ...

... we read on the sixth day of "creation" in the book of Genesis. So those who want God to get rid of evil "at a stroke" will see that the environment was perfection "in the beginning".
But Eve was tempted to take the forbidden fruit (no mention of an apple in the Bible!) and from that moment on, things started to go wrong. The primeval pair became conscious of and ashamed of their nakedness ...
... and were kicked out of the garden.
Perfection is spoiled.

The Bible does not demand that these stories are taken literally, although some believers are happy to treat them thus. "Adam" means "the man" and Eve means "the source of life" i.e. woman! So the poetic ideas depicted in Genesis 1 are a clear statement about how the ideal "man" and "woman" developed.

So God created mankind in His own image; in the image of God he created them - male and female he created them. (Genesis 1 verses 27).

And there's the snag. Give your top creation the ability to think, to decide, to develop, to invent and investigate - free will, it's called, an attribute of the Divine - and the price you pay is the risk that wrong choices will be made.

And only one little wrong makes the perfect imperfect.
 Next Sheffield non-leaflet blog : Tuesday 6th December 

Sunday, 4 December 2016

A.D.D.L.E.D. (part 2)

fbb has just bought a new phone to improve the quality of his pictures but had huge problems in transferring them to the laptop. So back to the old phone and fuzzy close-ups. fbb will work out how to do it one day!
Connie (call me Con) Fu Zhiong continues ...
fbb reported yesterday on the first part of an address by the "top girl" in the Arriva Design Department Leaflet Excellence Division (read again) ; a talk given in response to winning the most prestigious publicity award at the recent "do" at the O2.

After a short coffee break, the audience returned. to hear Connie expound on the principles which had lifted the "Groby Road" leaflet into the first place.
Producing high grade timetables is a huge challenge, but my team has excelled this time," said Con with obvious pride.
"We followed the recommended practice of mixing Monday to Friday and Saturday tables, thus ensuring than explanatory notes would proliferate ...
...even on a very simple table. Of course we used the excuse that we were saving space, paper, fossil fuels and the planet which goes down well with the Daily Mail brigade. Of course it would have been quite easy to find room for separate tables.

On the 29A/29X things get even better with a few triangles to add to the fun."
"They tell you about journeys extended yo Burton upon Trent, but as that information is almost impossible to obtain and totally irrelevant to this leaflet, including it to clutter up the information was a real point winner!"

fbb noted that a nice touch here is with the use of 29A. There is no 29, of course.

The highlight was a whole page of journeys from Coalville. There are 17 on the page and only one doesn't have some sort of note. A magnificent achievement!"
At this, the audience erupted into tumultuous applause.

"And did you notice," Connie continued, "the last line on the 27 timetable above. All blanks! In fact we have managed to show only two journeys all day as running to Markfield Road."
1835SO, 1840SX and 2305!

Gasps of admiration from the crowd.

"In fact they ALL go to Markfield Road! How delightful is that?"

The audience erupts into gales of laughter and applause.

When the approbation quietens down, Connie pronounced even more delicious features of this prize-winning leaflet. "Look at the repeat pattern on the 29A/29X timetable." fbb did, obediently.
He noticed the the 29X called at County Hall at xx14 (it is limited stop) whilst the 29A does not stop there despite NOT being Limited Stop.

Connie was now shrieking with exuberant joy. "All buses stop at County Hall," she cried with tears running down her cheeks.

"My team have done a fine job on Sunday," she added ...
... "They've put a Saturday/Not Saturday note on the Sunday timetable."

More gasps of admiration. "But I have left the best bit till the last. Here is the WHOLE Sunday timetable from Leicester to Coalville."
"And I am going to invite you all to join in an informal quiz. The prize will be a box of 2000 of these leaflets to share amongst your bus management friends so that they may learn from the successful team"

Here are Connie's questions for our blog readers to attempt to answer.

1. Is there a 2155 from Leicester?
2. When is the last through bus to Burton upon Trent?
3. Explain the 34* time against "Amazon"!

There was a mischievous glint in madame speaker's eye and a few clever listeners grabbed their leaflet to see if anything was printed thereupon to help. Hooray, there was.
So that cleared everything up! Or didn't?

The afternoon concluded with the presentations of the actual award.
And well deserved it was, too. In fact it was not "the actual award" because, as was befitting for a Bus Leaflet celebration, the plaque had not yet been delivered from the manufacturer and would arrive well after the event! A "photoshop" mock-up was the best that the organisers could manage.

It was a pleasure for fbb to be present at such an enjoyable and informative event.
But who will be able to "top" this wonderful entry for the
AWard For Unbelievable Leaflet
in 2017?
Advent Calendar
 Where did evil come from? God? The Devil? Mankind? If God really created man, why didn't He create him good?

Heavy philosophy here!

This is Lucas Cranach:-
Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 to 1553) was a German Renaissance painter and printmaker in woodcut and engraving. He was court painter to the Electors of Saxony for most of his career. He lived at the time of the Reformation, whose cause he embraced with enthusiasm, becoming a close friend of Martin Luther. He also painted religious subjects,

Here is his literal view of The Garden of Eden. Very "Black Forest".
The Garden is the painter's idea of perfection; his interpretation of the purity and magnificence of the Creator's work. And there ...
... is God in his cloud.

God created Man out of the "dust of the earth" ...
... and Woman out of Man.
Yuk! Very messy! And the old-man God then tells Adam and Eve that there is plenty of everything for them; life can be trouble-free and wonderful. But keep clear of that fruit!
Whilst we might find Lucas' strip cartoon (appropriate for Adam and Eve; snigger snigger|) farcical, it illustrates in a literal way that the Bible shows God as "creating" a perfect sin-free environment.

But is there some sense beyond the stylised anthropomorphic (i.e. giving an idea human form) artistry?

Maybe there is.
 Next non-Leaflet blog : Monday 5th December