Thursday, 3 September 2015

You Get Your Kicks on Route 66

As the late, great, Nat King Cole didn't quite sing ...

If you're in York, and go to Uni,
Don't consider car; that would be loony.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

It winds from Heslington into York,
More than half an hour to sit and talk.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Now you go from York Station
Rougier Street and on we go,
This fine City is mighty pretty.
You'll see the great river,
Pass close to the Castle,
Heslington Road, main campus stop.
Ron Cook Centre,
Sport village without any hassle.

Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that University trip
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that University trip
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Now don't get confused ...
... with Your Bus in Nottingham. This Your Bus is First's Your Bus having beaten incumbent Transdev to the exclusive deal accessing the private estate roads of York Unuversity. The vacation service (every 15 minutes) between City and Uni started on August 2nd and, according to First's recent press release, has done very well so far.

The new 'Your bus 66' service has got off to a flying start attracting over 35,000 customers since launch on 2 August. Customers have welcomed the high-quality bus service and free Wi-Fi with integrated ticketing giving staff, students and visitors access to the whole of the York network through First's great value fares.  Students can now also take advantage of a new 20-trip £17 smartcard ticket available on the 'Yorkey Card' ...
... from the Student Union shop or on the bus from the driver. 

The full term time 66 service starts on 28th September with 9 buses an hour running Monday to Friday with a slightly reduced service on other days, every 20 minutes in the evenings and hourly night buses. (click on the timetable for a larger view)
On the same date the University's free shuttle bus ub1 will start running every 30 minutes using a state-of-the art electric vehicle (ditto clicko); the lightning bold refers to a half hour break when Mr First plugs the bus into a convenient socket, slips 50p into the meter and charges up the batteries.
There the late night clubbers' bus (Weds |Thurs, Fri) ...
... and an early morning University to Hospital service. 
These are pretty much direct duplicates of services run under a smilar contract by Transdev.

But a new 'Your bus 56' ...
... will be launched to complement the 'Your bus 66'. It will serve the University, Student Castle and Kings Manor providing a city centre loop including Sainsburys, the station and capturing all of the main bus hubs before returning to the University.
And in case you wondered, Student Castle is a private development in the centre of York providing student accommodation. It is a "brand" ...
... with similar posh flats (?) in Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle, London, Cardiff. As a bonus, in York, you get free travel to the uni of the new 56.
And the Kings Manor?
As the city-centre premises of the University of York, the King's Manor has a sure place in the future. The staff of Archaeology, Medieval Studies and Eighteenth Century Studies have built up unparalleled reputations through innovative teaching and world-leading research, characteristics which have become the hallmark of the University.

Obviously the ub1, cb1, hb1 and 56 operate on days and at times specifically for Uni students and staff. All bus travel is FREE withing the University campus area. (again click o enlarge)
This blog was prompted by a "new livery launch" with the usual clutch of important people obscuring a good view of the buses and the livery.
And again ...
... cutting the tape for the new routes which don't start until the end of this month! And there is a third livery variant illustrated on the University web site.
Perhaps they will have all made up their minds in a month or so.

In a direct "swap round", Transdev is currently running a route similar to First's vacation-time 4 of old.
The company promised "vigorous competition" with First, despite not now being allowed on the Uni's private campus roads. There is, so far, no sign on the Transdev web site of any increased frequency from the start of term. But the timetable is dated until 19th September ...
... so what happens next? Good old Traveline gives us a clue. Transdev ups their frequency to every ten minutes. (click to enlarge the extract below)
Vigorous competition?

 Next rail blog : Friday 4th September 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

It's a Big Weekend

 Borders Railway 

Formerly the "Waverley Route" (or at least a bit of it) opens to the public from Sunday 6th.
Trains run every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday and hourly on Sundays.
Those mysterious journeys marked "A" are a tad controversial. The code translates to:-

A May not run Wednesdays and
Thursdays until 15 October.
Please telephone National Rail
Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50 or visit before travelling

That's because Scotrail may (?) be running steam specials at these times. Ordinary tickets will not be valid on these premium-fare jollies. When timetable first appeared on-line, these non-trains were not removed much to the ire of Barry Doe; but they're not there now.


Saturday is the last day of First Bus' Plymouth operation. Local bus folk have organised a grand farewell day with free rides on "traditional" routes provided by vintage Western National vehicles
According to a rather "basic" on-line information notice, these vehicles will be performing.
Blog readers may amuse themselves by researching the details.

824 KDV - Western National Bristol FLF
468 FTT - Western National Bristol FLF
AFJ 706T - Western National Bristol VRT
LFJ 847W - Western National Bristol VRT
VDV 134S - Western/Southern National Bristol VRT
270 KTA - Western National Bristol SUL
L401 VCV - Western National Dennis Dart

Departures are from Bretonside bus station but as fbb researched this bit, there was nothing about times etc. on-line.

Should be a good day!

Then on Sunday Stagecoach takes over to run a limited selection from the former First network. Plymouth Citybus had withdrawn from competing on the Tavistock and Mountbatten services (Scaredy cat???) but Stagecoach changed its mind to "have a go" over the Tamar in Saltash.

See "Collusion or Confusion in Plymouth 2" (read again).


First also ends its association with Hereford on Saturday 5th.

Once a Midland Red area ...
... home to a little slice of the minibus revolution with Hoppas ...
... First never seemed to get its network right. fbb ran a web site for Hereford Council in a former life and the number of network changes was horrific.

Anyway, it all goes on Saturday. See previous blog, "'Ereford Extraction" (read again).

Will there be a heritage buses celebration. No. Will there be public celebration? In a different way, possibly. The city network is taken over by Yeomans Canyon with very little change.
Yeomans C anyon, already opertors of some
Hereford city service on tender

Service operated by Yeomans Canyon Travel. Minor timetable changes
including Sunday service 71B
operating via Moor Park Road not Ferndale Road.

Service operated by Yeomans Canyon Travel.

Service operated by Yeomans Canyon Travel. Minor timetable changes.

Service operated by Yeomans Canyon Travel.

76/76A BARTPONSHAM existing tender by Lugg Valley

77/77A/77B HOLMER existin tender Yeomans Canyon

Service operated by Yeomans Canyon Travel.

Service operated by Yeomans Canyon Travel.

81/81A COLLEGE GREEN  existing tender Yeomans Canyon

Service operated by Yeomans Canyon Travel. Minor timetable changes.

It is a pity that this opportunity hasn't been taken to sort out the messy network; did you, do you really need 27 route numbers for such a small geographical area? I am sure that St*g*c**ch would not countenance such nonsense. Maybe that will come with time?
 and a Cornwall P.S. 
Thanks to the hard work by Graham of the Plymothian Transit blog (a keen watcher of the VOSA registrations site) we can guess that local Newquay operator A2B is giving up its attempt to compete with First.

Unless they have something else up they omnibological sleeve?

What goes around, comes around. Some years ago fbb rode on this bus when it was operating a Velvet (of Eastleigh) service into Southampton; an abortive attempt to compete with Blue Star. The bus was driven by boss Phil Stockley.
 Next bus blog : Thursday 3rd September 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Alan's Been Spotting 'Em ...

... The Trams in Nottingham!
The two-line extensions to the Nottingham tram system opened with hardly any advance announcement on Tuesday last, 25th August. Our Northampton correspondent paid a visit ...
... noting a splendid caff at the South Clifton terminus ...
... and excellent tram spotting and lunch eating facilities at Beeston's Tesco. The big windows under the "Tesco Extra" sign provide an excellent viewpoint; there's plenty to see.
The blue line ...
... runs from Clifton to the station continuing to Phoenix Park (and Ride). The Green Line starts at Toton Lane ...
... running via Chilwell, Beeston, The University, Queens Medical Centre (aka Hospital!) and on through the city to Hucknall. Monday to Saturday frequencies are impressive ...
... on the joint central leg (left) and pretty good on the new bits (right). Even on Sundays you won't have too long to wait.
The publicity also includes a full timetable (secretive Manchester Metrolink, please note), certainly as a downloadable and possibly (heaven forfend!) as a printed leaflet!
You may have never heard of Broxtowe ...

The district was formed on 1 April 1974 by a merger of the Beeston & Stapleford urban district, the Eastwood urban district and part of Basford Rural District. The borough's name was derived from the old Broxtowe wapentake of Nottinghamshire, which covered a larger area. The district was granted borough status in 1977.

... but the Mayor (lady with escort hubby) of this artificial district performed the obligatory opening "thing".
On the first day, even the first trams were exceedingly popular.
fbb does not think that everyone was offered chanpagne!

With the new extensions, the system has gone all self ticketting with on-board occasional checkers and thunderous warnings about non payment. This sort of system was hugely succesful in Sheffield (NOT!) and soon ripped out and replaced with conductors. Time will tell in Nottingham. But at least enjoy the instructional video; no doubt enjoyed by a microscopic percentage of potential passengers.
OAP passes provide free travel. HOORAY. But only for Nottingham City and County residents. BOO! But a day fare is only £4 which will hardly break the bank.

There are now seven FREE park and (pay for the tram) ride sites ...

Open 7 days a week, our sites are cleaned daily and patrolled by staff as well as monitored by CCTV. Park Mark approval means those sites have met the national standard for UK car parks that have low crime and measures in place to ensure the safety of people and vehicles. There are disabled and parent & child spaces close to tram stops and some sites have cycle hubs for secure cycle storage.

... which means that it is barely worth anyone's while to drive into the centre of the town.

So successful are the two long awaited extensions that other districts are already asking for their own routes.

Gedling Borough Council leader John Clarke wants to see a new line built to serve Carlton, Netherfield, Arnold and other areas to the east of the city.

His plea coincides with the publication of a study analysing whether the tram could be extended to Kimberley. (probably by an extension from Phoenix Park P and R on this little map.)

The report, commissioned by Broxtowe Borough Council's previous Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition, said it would cost up to £168 million to extend the network by three-and-a-half miles to Kimberley along four possible routes.

But the council's new Conservative administration said it would not currently back the proposal after the disruption caused to Beeston residents and businesses by tram works. Other destinations mooted include East Midlands Airport, Long Eaton, Eastwood and Heanor.

The promoters of HS2 envisage a tram extension to the East Midlands station near the former goods yard at Toton, presumably a simple extension of the new "green" line.

Mr Clarke said: "It's our turn next in the east of the city. Our residents put a fair amount of money into the first line through the county council tax and we think it's our time."

Under a conservative government, a possibly unelectable labour party, a moribund liberal democrat gang and with a conservative local authority? 


 Next bus blog : Wednesday 2nd September 

Monday, 31 August 2015

Besançon [5 ... You'll have to wait for the Buses]

So Here's More Trams.
Crossing the River Doubs for the fourth and final time (Pont de la République) we come to the branch to Gare Viotte ...
... where tram route 2 diverts from the main line.
From here on we have half of the frequency to Chalezeule.

We pause to note that each tram is named and bears a picture if its patron as shown on below.
The pictures are accompanied by an autograph, so you have to be well-up in Besançon history to recognise them. fbb did, however score a point with pioneer film makers, the Lumière brothers ...
... but having two of them portrayed on the tram was a bit of a clue! The full set is listed here (in French!)

But we ride onwards and north-eastwards along pavement-less Rue Fontaine d'Argent (Silver Fountain street) again, thanks to Streetview's incinsistency, before tram ...
... and after; with traffic now restricted to residents only.
fbb surmises that this section is more about regeneration rather than carrying present crowds.
The route includes one section of single track ...
... where even the inventive Besan&ccdeil;onais couldn't squeeze in two!
Fort Benoit really is a fort ...
... but few tram passengers will explore it. Their main destination is a huge and rather tatty retail park ...
... seen here in the tramway construction phase. Buy your bathroom here! The terminus at Chalzeule is equally uninspiring ...
... but with plenty of space for redevlopment and, presumably, another huge park and ride.

The vertical bar of white lights shows that the route is set, back on to the verdant double track, ready for the departing tram as the sun sets slowly over lorry driver David's brief but revealing visit to this splendid system.
Whilst relishing this system (in a town the size of Worthing, remember) we do not relish the crazy French lack of tidy timetables. Peak times Monday to Saturday ...
... trams run at a non repeating every 8 minutes where 1 and 2 are together, but this leaves an utterly forgettable every 16 at Calezeule. On Saturday mornings ...
... every 12 (OK) but every 24 (not OK) to the station and Chalzeule. As for Sunday ...
... every 13, 18, 14 and 15 minutes at Hauts de Chazal with, well, dont even try to do the sums after the split.

fbb did say that he would give his loyal readers a run-down on the buses and he will, honest injun.
But there are a few UK bits and pieces that need a blog or two, so we will return to Besançon soon.
And not just cars!
Lorry driving chum Dave was stuck in Dover yet again last night. Blocked, ironically, by a lifeboat.
Thousands were delayed.
The port has now re-opened.

These days, a holiday at Bognor is beginning to sound more attractive!
 Next bus blog : Tuesday 1st September