Thursday, 30 June 2016

O Deary Me, Try Looking for Three ...

... Where Can it Be?
Once upon a time route 3 in Sheffield looked like this ...
... being the clockwise version of Sheffield's superb Outer Circle service. At the same time it also looked like this ...
... as the trunk route between Sheffield and Mansfield. Now but a shadow of its former self it is route 53 run by Stagecoach.

After Sheffield's 3 was reorganised (non-circling) as routes 2 and 59, the number was re-used for half of service 4 ...
... which initially and confusingly used the same route number for "both ways round" a big loop between Ecclesall and Millhouses via Dobcroft Road (DR) or Springfield Road (SR).
After another period in the route number limbo, 3 reappeared as part of the ill-conceived "new network" (aka service reductions) in November 2015. The former service to Nether Edge (historic number jungle as 61, 63, 97, 98, 22 and 56) were attached to a re-routed 76 (City to Firth Park and Meadowhell) as a brand new 3.

And here it is.

As a passing thought, the provisional GoTimetable Sheffield allows you to ask for service 3. Because computers are stupid you do get other services, for example,  beginning with 3 but the simple independent "3" comes first.
Tap on the "3" and, of course, you get a timetable **.
So off to the the fount of all knowledge timetabular in South Yorkshire and we search for "3".
In fact there are 51 entries in no particular order provided when you search for "3"; including maps and rail timetables which are not numbered "3" and a bus service whose position in the "3" list is beyond belief.
Maybe it is there because of its start date.

Very useful. NOT!

What isn't there, however, is SERVICE 3.

Confused by this omission, a blog comment writer actually contacted the PTE at the beginning of May and received a prompt-ish reply dated 6th May.

Here is the verbatim epistle.
And here is fbb's correspondent's comment:-
To which your frustrated blogger adds:-

The PTE has proved itself super-ineffective time and time again with its management of the detail of publicity via its IT department. Two months have passed since they were alerted to this particular problem. But they still cannot find service 3. Over the past days we have seen profoundly weak management of the route changes in the University area. fbb has attended numerous meetings (at the PTEs instigation but at his own expense) over the last 5 years AND NOTHING EVER CHANGES.

Should these people, spending our money, be trusted with anything to do with public transport?
Four noble souls have contributed massively to these latest Sheffield blogs. Thanks to David and Roy who sent the photographs; thanks to John who helped sort out the routes and thanks to xxx who began the abortive search for service 3.
** and a splendid map, shown here in two bits; north of the city .,,
... followed by city centre and south.
Imagine, all Sheffield timetables (including the 3) available with a few simple prods on your phone or laptop.


 Next Flixbus blog : Friday 1st July 

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

An Academic Problem (3) ...

Superior Shelters Sadly Sacrificed
To save our hard-pressed readers the effort of clicking back to yesterday's blog, fbb republishes the two maps of the route changed for TO city buses in the environs of Sheffield University. Here is how it was until June 13th:-
And here is how it is now.
Whilst the map might suggest that the diversion is straightforward, in practice it was not. The right hand turn from Western Bank into Clarkson Street ...
... has been proscribed for many, many years.

Aside : it is weird that the change of one letter from prOscribed meaning "forbidden" to prEscribed meaning "authorised" should be yet another feature of the daftness that is the English language.

A new chunk of bus lane and re-jiggled traffic lights enables buses (ONLY) to turn right.
The building on the right is the celebrated Sheffield Childrens' Hospital which saved the life of the fbb's No 3 baby and has powerful emotional bonds for the old man and his Mrs. Its "to city" bus stop was just out of shot left.
But it isn't any more.
Getting from stop to bus lane would have been tricky, so the stop has been moved back up Western Bank ...
... but not so the shelter. But at least it has a bus stop sign.

The sign on the now-closed shelter is a joy and a delight.
The quality of the presentation is astounding. The very small arrow next to the "p" of "bus stop" points in the wrong direction.

Here is one of the first buses to make that right hand turn.
The single deck 52 is followed by a service 51, the vehicle being one of two painted in heritage liveries three years ago for the centenary of the Lodge Moor service.

Things are less dandy on Durham Road. Here a Stagecoach 52 enjoys the new Durham Road Stop ...
... with plenty of yellow paint on the road ...
... and a shiny no stopping sign.
Is there a bus stop flag?


Is there a pole on which to hang a flag?


Is there a bus timetable?

A what? We don't do timetables at stops in Sheffield.

Is there a bus shelter?

What a silly idea.

Here are the facilities on Western Bank that the Durham Road stop replaces.
And to complete the richness of the new bus facility, the on-liner route map ...
... and list of a stopping places ...

Crookes  Crookes Road  Broomhill  Whitham Road  Western Bank  Sheffield  Gell Street  Glossop Road  West Street 

... have not been updated. Likewise the journey planner remains in its pre 13th June timewarp.

The provisional GoTimetable Sheffield App was, of course updated promptly. The whole update process for the University timetable changes was completed in less than one hour.
And that included all the maps.
Of course the team of which fbb is a member does not have access to sophisticated mapping software; fbb just draws them.

How Quaint!

And a P.S. Yesterday, a comment writer upbraided fbb for daring to criticise the PTE who were unable to update stuff until 17th July because the service changes had not been registered. From the same date a new 52 timetable has now appeared. The magenta line on the map is now correct ...
... but there is no stop shown on Durham Road (with city centre facing arrow). The list of stopping places is still wrong.
And the Traveline journey planner?
Still wrong.


Tomorrow we remain in Sheffield and go on a search for a secret bus service.

 Next Sheffield PTE blog : Thursday 30th June 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

An Academic Problem (2) ...

Beautiful Boulevards Bother the Buses
Sheffield University has a Cunning Plan to link the once-separated Engineering Departments on Mappin Street with the rest of the site which straddles the busy Western Bank. (see yesterday's blog). They are calling it a "gold route".

It will start at the Arts Tower(left) ...
... thrrough a new garden areas on the line of the former Winter Street. New pedestrian crossings are being created on Western Bank with mega road works happening at the moment.
No buses now travel towards city via Western Bank, so the bus lane has been removed and the road lanes are being shuffled to give wider pavements as well as the new crossings. Quite what effect all this will have on Sheffield's peak hour traffic is unclear but there are those who wonder why students cannot trot a few yards up the road and use the massive underbridge.
When fbb was being academic (?) students simply walked across the road, largely oblivious to passing traffic! But there was less of them and less of it back in the early 60s.

The next part of the "gold" route is via a pedestrianised Leavygreave Road (or is it Leavy Greave Road?)
at junction with Hounsfield Road

at junction with Upper Hanover Street
The route is marked by the line of trees running from centre left to the former graveyard at St Georges Church, itself now re-fettled as a lecture theatre. A bigger crossing is planned to avoid trams and buses on Upper Hanover Street.
Then a rather seedy route today ...
... will eventually achieve "gold" status under this £8 million mega plan.
Just as an aside, a bit of personal nostalgia. All three of fbb's sons were born in the Jessop Hospital for Women, the scanty remains of which are the red brick building beyond the modern "thing" on the left.

Time for an fbb map! Please note, we are only looking at bus routes TO the city centre; if you read yesterday's blog assiduously, you will remember that routes FROM the city are all unchanged.
In 1967 inbound 52s and 95s were diverted via Leavygreave Road and Gell Street to ease traffic flow at the junction of Upper Hanover Street and Glossop Road, where left hand turns were banned.
Nearly thirty years later, this decision made it easy for the tram to make the tight turn! Thus it is that the desire to close Leavygreave Road and the bonus of losing buses and a bus lane on Western Bank lead to a significant rejig of city-bound routes.
For service 95, the change involves no infrastructure  work. Buses use Broad Lane and then turn right ...
... into Mappin Street and along past the Engineering Departments ...
... too rejoin their former route via West Street.

Travel South Yorkshire, the publicity arm of the PTE, has provided an update. (staggers in amazement) Here is the on-line leaflet route map ...
... which doesn't mention Mappin Street; and the ill-defined list of stopping points which does.
Before we rush to congratulate the PTE on its prompt updating, please note that the new non-leaflet is dated ...
... 17th July, over one month after the change. The leaflet is actually to herald a school summer holiday service reduction and the route change appears co-incidentally.

Needless to say, the full Sheffield route map remains (a) wrong cartographically and (b) not updated.
He/she who drew this has clearly neither understood the road layout or bothered to double check what happens "for real" on a map. The road layout at the Brook Hill roundabout is just a joke.

Again, the PTE pays fat wedges of money to purchase these maps from a contractor.


Equally unsurprising is that the journey planner, part of the dubious Traveline, is also not updated ...
It asks you to walk from a stop on West Street not now served by the 95.
Why is it not updated? Has the timetable change come as a big surprise to the PTE?

It never ceases to amaze the old man that an organisation with huge resources; staff, technical and financial, cannot be bothered to keep its stuff up to date. It takes a matter of minutes to amend maps and hardly any time at all to input a timetable change into a well designed Journey Planner database.

Perhaps that is the problem?

Never mind, things are generally much worse with the 51 and 52.

As will be revealed tomorrow.

 Next 51/52 blog : Wednesday 29th June