Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Partnership Proposals Perplex Passengers [2]

The Daftness of Dore (part 2)
Service 50, as extended from Ecclesall to City in 1949, did not follow that main Ecclesall Road into town.
At Hunters (toll) bar the bus veered left up Brocco Bank, serving the posh Girls High School, King Edward's Grammar School ...
... the New Teaching Hospital, later much extended as the Royal Hallamshire. For many years the service ran up Clarkson Street past the Childrens Hospital ...
... and the University.
The latter was where your esteemed author completed his academic education; and the former saved the life of No 3 son as a baby. Boy, is that an emotional place!

Later varieties of the 50 ran direct to city via Glossop Road and West Street. Just to add confusion, in recent years the long standing 50 was linked with a service to Crystal Peaks and numbered 30; then relinked to a service to Catcliffe and numbered 70. Operationally, a cross-city link helps in the efficient use of vehicles as the running time from Dore to City has, over the years, increased.

But for the purpose of the blog and to avoid confusion, fbb has kept the number 50 on the map below. Oh, all right! He forgot the renumbering! This is the map of a selection of todays services which assume relevance when exploring "The Daftness of Dore". All services are operated by First Bus with the exception of a few journeys in 272 run by Hulleys.
  70 - (50 on map) every thirty minutes  
  82 - every ten minutes to Ecclesall turning nibble.
  85 - every 30 minutes to Tesco, Abbeydale Road
272 - every hour to Castleton

So the dynamic Sheffield Bus Partnership announces a major shake-up of the routes as follow.

  70 - withdrawn completely 
  82 - extended every 20 minutes to Dore
  85 - diverted via the 70 route
272 - every hour to Castleton i.e no change
 The response is a massive scream of protest from the Dore residents.
The following letter was handed in to the South Yorkshire Bus Partnership on Monday 27th July along with a petition from over 950 Dore residents complaining about the plan to remove the no.70 bus service

We are opposed to the plans to remove the no.70 bus service and to replace it by running the no.81 out from Ecclesall to Dore.

This service is proposed to run at 20 minute intervals and is being promoted as an improvement on the current service while completely ignoring the impact of removing a service which is extremely important to people who need to get to and from the four hospitals on that route, the university and the schools and other locations along that route.

The people affected include:
• Patients attending hospital appointments.
• People visiting others who are in-patients at one of the hospitals
• People who work at the organisations listed above
• Schoolchildren at the schools

This amounts to several hundred people.

How many of the 950 protesters use the bus is far from clear; and how many of the users travel to hospitals, schools or University on the abandoned route must be a small percentage.

The credibility of the protest is further undermined by by this statement in their letter. "The option of changing at Hunter’s Bar to a no.10 (running at hourly intervals) or a no.80 (running at 30 minute intervals) ..." There is no service 80!

But the planners on the Sheffield Bus Partnership have come up with a revised cunning plan; so cunning as to be almost ridiculous in its application. Service 6 will be operated by T M Travel, otherwise First Bus.
  70 - withdrawn completely 
  81 - extended every 20 minutes to Dore
  82 - extended every 20 minutes from Dore 
   6 - via the 70 route replacing 85 as originally planned
181 - peak hour Mon to Fri trips to University and Hospital
271 - some Mon to Sat journeys via University and Hospital
272 - other journeys and Sunday service via the "normal" route


This leaves the residents of Dore village with three route numbers (81, 82, 181) instead of one; and STILL with no buses to the hospitals schools or university except at Monday to Friday peak times. The Dore timetable becomes a right muddle.

Service 272 passengers will have their journeys to city disrupted, taking them away from The Moor and the new market hall during the day at irregular and unpredictable times. The Castleton timetable becomes a right muddle. This change will benefit a very few passengers who joined the 70 at Dore Moor, Whirlow and Ecclesall bus nibble; it will be no help at all for those joining in Dore village.

The new service 6 is diverted via Brocco Bank for no particular purpose and, again, will take its regular (former 85) passengers away from shopping facilities on The Moor whilst changing the route number.


Don't change anything. The service 50 has worked well for 65 years. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.

Or have the "improvements" in service (i.e. making them worse) been generated by consultants looking at statistics on a screen rather than understanding travel patterns in Sheffield?

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the way in which this revised revision is being communicated to the travelling public.
No, it hasn't!
 Next bus blog : Thursday 8th October 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Partnership Proposals Perplex Passengers [1]

Stagecoach web site Saga
Like Billy Bunter's oft expected postal order, yesterdays arrival of the "new" and "exciting" on-line extravaganza looked very much like the return of the old, boring (and over-complicated) facility.
Looks very much like the new one doesn't work properly. What a shock!

fbb has written in the recent past about this beautiful piece of PR "spin" whereby the removal of dozens of buses from the streets of Sheffield is vaunted as an "improvement". Previous blogs will  be referred to where appropriate. Since the initial proposals there has been a nominal "consultation" whereby a small number of Sheffielders (the few who would understand the PTE's proclamation) have made suggestions and (usually) adverse comments.

So there have been changes to the original cunning plan.

The new network of largely reduced frequencies will overwhelm a largely uncomprehending public in a few weeks. There will be no printed timetables and no leaflet describing the revised revisions.

The plan leaves only a few traditional routes unscathed ...
120 : Crimicar Lane - City - Halfway
 52 : Hillsborough - Crookes - City - Woodhouse
 51 : Lodge Moor - City - Charnock
 95 : City - Walkley
... whilst a further few are almost recognisable, but with "tweaks".
 81 : Ecclesall : City : Stannington
 82 : Ecclesall : City : Hall Park Head
 88 : Bents Green - City - Ecclesfield
 69 : City - Rotherham
 25 : Bradway - City - Woodhouse
Elsewhere, confusion and comprehension carnage are complete.

As the details are revealed on the Travel South Yorkshire web site, fbb will try to expose some of the more contentious changes and speculate on their effect on the "average" passenger.

So, here goes with:-

This small Derbyshire (sic) village lay between the A621 to Bakewell where lay the four platform Dore and Totley station ...
... and the A625 where Dore Moor Inn provided a refreshment stop on the perilous journey to Castleton and, ultimately, Manchester.
Dore and Totley Station is still open but reduced to a one platform unstaffed station for the stopping Hope Valley train service provided by Northern Trains.
The Dore Moor Inn ...
... remains a popular drinkery and eatery some 200 years after it first opened. Halfway between the two was a small village community.
There have been strenuous efforts to conserve as much of the old community as possible ...
... but, inevitably, housing has spread up the hill from the A621 ...
... and, to a lesser extent, down the hill from Dore Moor. 

In 1929, Sheffield Tramways and Motors took over an indepedent bus service which ran from Dore Village to Ecclesall, where a splendid shelter, toilets and turnaround were eventually provided on the main road.
The luxurious edifice still stands, but fbb suspects that the "facilities" for tram and bus drivers, also oft used by fbb, have long since been bolted and barred.
The trams pulled into a terminus on Millhouses Lane just behind the photographer ...
The turning circle has returned to use as the terminus for First Bus 82 and much fine Sheffield Gold has been spent on improving the layby and providing a shiny new shelter for buses that don't turn round there.
The bus from Dore was numbered 50 and from 1930 was operated under the aegis of Sheffield Joint Omnibus Committee; costs, vehicles and profits being shared with the railway companies.

In 1949 the bus route was extended from Ecclesall into City via Hunters Bar, Brocco Bank and the University.
And thus it remained, with minor adjustments, right through the horrors of privatisation, looney competition and absorbtion into the First Bus conglomerate.
Until ...

We will continue the tale tomorrow.

Unless, of course, the "team" at Stagecoach can find the right wires to solder and right buttons to press; in which case the oft-delayed review of the (yawn) exciting new web site will interrupt.

 Next bus blog : Wednesday 7th October 

Monday, 5 October 2015

First Bus Fun (?) with 241

fbb's second visit to Glasgow was in May 1972. His first had been ten years earlier whilst on an all-line rail rover trip with Alan the future Northampton (and elsewhere) correspondent of this blog! The 1972 visit was to stay with the parents of a wee Caledonian lassie who was soon to become the Mrs.

As the "relationship" developed, your curious (but not quite so chubby) author set about developing his knowledge and understanding of the bus network based on that fine city. Much of the detail of that early understanding has sunk below the recoverable level of the coal measures of fbb's brain.

But he does remember rich blue buses at the depot in Milngavie ...
... and a deep and distinguished red at Anderston bus station.
Most intriguing geographically were buses labelled "Central". These seemed to go everywhere! They appeared at Drumchapel housing scheme, ran all the way to Helensburgh in the west ...
... and set off south-east to places like Lanark, Carluke and even to Biggar and Peebles. (click on the map below to enlarge it.)
fbb then had no idea where any of these were, but they seemed a long way away.
A notable destination for Central for several reasons. It was the end-point of the longest two routes operated (242 / 243), it lay deep in Eastern Scottish territory (Eastern had a depot in the town) and it was the most easterly point in the Central network.

The Glasgow to Peebles journey time in 1960 was 2¾ hours.
The fare was 6s 4d (32p) single, 10s 7d (53p) return.

fbb is grateful to the Central SMT web site for re-awakening these distant and sporadic memories with a list of Central's longer distance routes from Glasgow. This is the "network" of 240s in 1975:-

240 Lanark - Glasgow
241 Carluke (Roadmeetings) - Glasgow
242 Peebles - Glasgow

243 Peebles - Glasgow
244 Biggar - Glasgow

Through buses from Glasgow to Peebles had disappeared by 1979; and by 1984 only Glasgow Lanark and Glasgow Carluke remained. Privatisation, aggressive competition from the former Glasgow Corporation and a self-destructive strike diluted Central's Lanarkshire network beyond belief. In the end the remnant of the once huge and one proud operation ended up as part of First Glasgow.

Something of the 240s clung on to life ...
... under various attempts to rebrand and rejuvenate the business ...
... and, today, First's longer distance Lanasrkshire network ...
... is the 240 from Glasgow running to Pather or Carluke.
.The 241 and 242 are relegated to local links; 242
.. from Over- to Holy- town and 241 from Motherwell to Cleland.
Both pass through the former mining town of Wishaw ...
First Glasgow has recently made much of an improved service on the 241:-


Bus passengers in Lanarkshire are set to benefit from a month-long promotion on one of First’s busiest services in the area. Frequency of Service 241, which takes in Cleland, Wishaw and Motherwell has been increased with buses now running every 10 minutes rather than every 15 Monday to Friday.

The 241 takes in key stops along its route, including Wishaw General Hospital and Motherwell Railway Station. A promotional fare has also been introduced, representing a discount of up to 60%.

Bus travel on the 241 will cost just £3 return, regardless of the length of journey travelled. Previously return fares had cost either £3.20, £3.60 or £5 depending on the distance of travel.

Margaret Mayer, Lanarkshire Business Director for First Glasgow ...
... said: “We’re working hard to improve our services and attract new customers, while rewarding those who already regularly travel on our buses.

The special £3 fare promotion will run from 31 August until 30 September.

And again, even more recently\:-

The special £3 return fare promotion will now run until 31 October 2015 and is also valid on service 266 between Wishaw and Motherwell.

The cynical amongst our readers will look at the fares quoted above and wonder just what percentage of 241 passengers will benefit from the big reduction from £5 to £3. fbb guesses that most will only save a paltry 20p with a few saving 60p. But it makes for good PR and any reduction is worth grabbing!

So a slightly muted three cheers for First. Two other less attractive thoughts from fbb. The press release was illustrated by a nice shiny new Enviro 300 ...
... branded, NOT for the 241, but for route ...
... 201 from East Kilbride to Airdire. Another slightly less favourable "gloss" on this offer is discovered when you look back about 5 years when the Great Britain Bus Timetable showed the 241 as running ...
... EVERY 10 MINUTES. Big improvement today, then?

And what happened to fbb's review of Stagecoach's new website, due (according to Stagecoach South West) on Sunday 4th? This happened!
We’re busy upgrading our website to an exciting new version, so please visit us again from Monday, 5 October 2015.
If you need to plan a journey right now, please visit Traveline
Thank you for your patience,

Try again to write a meaningful review tomorrow?

 Next bus blog : Tuesday 6th October 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Customer Service & Church Service

Snippets from our Correspondents

 A Weypac PS 
(from yesterday's blog) Thanks to our Senior IoW correspondent for remembering that the Leyland coaches were originally owned by Hills of Tredegar, also trading as Globus Gateway.
For Southern Vectis use, they were given "heritage" registrations,
Neither fbb nor his IoW man know what happened after Island life.

 Stagecoach South West awarded 
Fron the company newletter.
We have scooped the award for Large Bus Operator of the Year at this year’s routeONE Awards!Launched in 2005 and now in its 11th year, the routeONE Awards is firmly established as the number one event in the coach and bus industry calendar.

As "number one" as all the other awards ceremonies?

The award for Large Bus Operator of the Year (over 150 vehicles) is for the bus operator who best demonstrates that size really does matter, proving that passengers really do benefit when bus services are provided by a large operator.

Well don the lads and lasses at Exeter etcetera.

 Breakfast buns and bunny 

October 5th-9th is National Customer Service Week.

Stagecoach South West again!

We will be handing out breakfast items such as mini muffins, cereal bars etc. to customers on routes across the network at morning peak next week. We are hoping that Gary the Rabbit ...

... will join in the fun at Exeter bus station , while customers on Gold in Ivybridge, on the 2/2A around Saltash and at Barnstaple bus station will be treated to breakfast on us.

Gary first appeared to publicise the "Hop 12" relaunch of the service to Brixham. [Rabbit : hop hop : tee hee?]

 Rugby World Cup 
This was composed before England won/lost yesterday (delete where applicable). So congratulations/commiserations (ditto). Alan, our Northampton correspondent, had cause to observe arrangements for conveying the crowds from Milton Keynes former bus station to the stadium.
Alan reports:-

France v Canada at Stadium MK Thursday October 1st, 2000 to 2200

There were shuttle buses to the stadium from outside the theatre and from outside the former bus station across the road from the railway station. There were more than enough buses provided. The buses came from

Arriva London
Arriva The Shires
Stagecoach Oxford
Stagecoach Midlands (inc Leamington Unibus)
Sullivan Buses
Z and S

There were reported traffic delays on the A5 but X5s were diverted between Buckingham and Milton Keynes via the A422 and Stagecoach had vehicles on standby.

I did not wait until 2200 to see what happened when 28,000 people all tried to go home at once after the match

Seems a bit better organisationally than First Bus at Lyme Regis!

 Church Service 
Correspodent John sent fbb this picture.
It was parked in a yard opposite St. James the Great chuchyard at Alderholt (B3078) between Fordingbridge and Cranborne.
The bus is, of course, an ex London Transport "Airbus" vehicle.
It has had various identity "refreshes" but its present use is to support the work of the Deanery of Wimborne (Church of England marketing consortium!?). In the Parish web site we read a little more.

New bus-iness …a bus is a rare enough site in our village, so the glimpse of a double-decker bus this past month, in the car park across from St James’ Church, has been remarked on by many as they drive up Daggons Road. It isn’t, perhaps sadly, going to be taking village folk to market, or Castle Point. It belongs to a new charity set up by the Wimborne Deanery of parishes (of which St James’, Alderholt, is one) and will be available to our and other nearby villages as a resource for youth and community work. 
Lewis Pearson, its manager. will help form teams of local people in the places the bus visits. This new venture began after Easter 2015 and so we hope to see the bus return to being a regular youth drop-in for Alderholt.

And here it is in service in The Big Smoke.
Buses and the Church - an ideal partnership for fbb. If only he were XX years younger?

 Running a little late? 
Announced for arrival several weeks ago but (inevitably, it's an IT project) delayed ...
... the new Stagecoach web site is set to launch today!

fbb will evaluate (harmless if undertaken with appropriate safety precautions) and report tomorrow.

If it happens this time.

 Next bus blog : Monday 5th October