Friday, 22 September 2017

Airport Identity Crisis


Robin Hood, Robin Hood, an airport, so we're told
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, the Finningley of old
Go catch a plane, by bus is good
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood

We've changed the name to Doncaster with Sheffield as a plus
Better than an outlaw loyal to the king.
But what name do you look for when you're travelling by bus
It is just a real confusing thing ...

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, an airport, so we're told
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, the Finningley of old
Go catch a plane, by bus is good
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood

RAF Finningley was famous in the 60s as a base for Britain's massive Vulcan Bombers ...
... and, years later, Air Shows were served by trains from Doncaster, latterly to a temporary platform.
Meanwhile campaigners had long since advocated an airport for the Sheffield area. Before fbb took to himself a wife, the proposed location was Todwick (arrow, centre right).
Nothing happened.

The small Sheffield City Airport opened in 1997 ...
... but failed to live up to its promise and closed in 2008.

Robin Hood Airport had opened at Finningley, now devoid of RAF activity, in 2005.
Because this would accept "full sized" planes it would, it was hoped, develop into a rival for Manchester, East Midlands and Leeds Bradford facilities.

Many observers though the name "Robin Hood" was the wrong choice ...
... bringing possible confusion, via Nottingham, with East Midlands. Common sense eventually prevailed and it is now Sheffield Doncaster Airport with a passing reference to he of the green tights.
In the early days there was a burst of public transport activity with many joining the fray to get passengers and workers to and from what everyone hoped would be another "honeypot" traffic objective.

The early list included Stagecoach's X19 from Barnsley via Doncaster ...
... and Wilfreda Beehive's express from Doncaster ...
First rather half-heartedly extended part of its Finningley service to the terminal but with weak branding.
Nottinghamshire tendered for hourly services from Worksop (X30) and Retford (X28), the latter disappearing fairly quickly.
Buses were given a trendy dedicated livery ...
... and versions were available as 1:76 models, presumably because of the special paint job.
Decline began with the Lynx X28 and X30, followed by the tendered (?) 707 just leaving the X18 and the local 91. In May 2016 the 91 disappeared and journeys to the airport became part of the existing Finningley service 57 as 57A.

Then came the announcement that Stagecoach were pulling out of the X19 and reverting to running between Barnsley and Doncaster only. Usually First pulls out and Stagecoach drops in, but this time a replacement X4 was provided by First.
The 57A was withdrawn as part of this change. A recent change has seen some X4 journeys diverted to the iPort Short workings to the iPort only are numbered i4 ...
... not to be confused with Nottingham's i4.
No. neither did fbb.
iPort is an abbreviated version of "Inland Port".

The X4 from Doncaster thus became the ONLY bus service to the Airport running every 30 minutes.

Then, from 3rd September, Stagecoach started their service 737 from Sheffield ...
... complete with two pieces of printed publicity. One, with core information in Polish, looks trendy and quality; whilst the other makes the service appear a half-hearted after thought.
Notice that the posh, attractive leaflet (with fares) offers buses to Sheffield Doncaster Airport whilst the boring small leaflet is for people going to Robin Hood Airport. First Bus, always in the front line of up-to-date stop naming (ha ha!) runs to Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
But, in the same document, Travel South Yorkshire, show this in the index.
It looks as if some people at Stagecoach Yorkshire and South Yorkshire PTE are not quite with it! Yet their map is spot on.
A identity crisis indeed.

Remember those trains, running to a temporary platform. It is proposed to spend £150 million on a dedicated station and branch line from Doncaster, presumably using most of the old trackbed.
Steve Gill, chief executive of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: "Doncaster Sheffield Airport is one of few regional airport sites in the UK which offers unconstrained physical and airspace capacity with the existing runway able to accommodate a throughput of 25 million passengers per annum, providing an international gateway serving the east side of the country."

"An airport station could mean London is less than 80 minutes train travel away, and in many places quicker than travelling across to Heathrow or Gatwick on already congested routes."
A study is under way. Thanks Steve!

 Next fragmentary blog : Saturday 23rd Septmber 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Daftness in Derby (2)

The Free Market At Work?
Dunn-Line was based in Nottingham, England, with services throughout Nottinghamshire operated from depots in Nottingham and Tuxford. The company was also a large operator of National Express services and its coaches could be seen throughout the UK on scheduled express routes.

In March 2006 Dunn-Line was sold to Veolia Transport.
The Dunn family went on to run various aspects of Rotala and Yourbus. Veolia sold its Nottingham bus and private hire coach operations to Premiere Travel ...
... in January 2011, along with between 30 and 40 vehicles. The following month, its National Express coach work from the city passed to Yourbus.

Veolia had grown by acquisition with the aim of becoming a national "force" in public transport, but found that it was not the money making machine they had expected and rapidly disposed of its operations, returning to the safer field of emptying the bins. Premiere expanded rapidly in the "Greater Nottingham" area with a substantial amount of aggressive competition (hence the free bus to Cotgrave, above). Unsurprisingly Premiere went bust!

In 2009, former Dunn Line GM Scott Dunn started YourBus.
It began with Local Authority tendered work plus National Express contracts acquired from the "old" company. The next development was to start competitive copy-cat services on routes that were hitherto the prerogative of Nottingham City Transport (NCT). It began with "Orange Line 36" tagged "yourcity36" ... 
... but later changed to YourBus Y36 ...
... possibly under legal pressure from NCT under the "Passing Off" legislation. Orange Line 36 looked too much like an NCT service. This was followed by Y4, Y5 and Y28, again near copies of the NCT or Trent versions. Y4 and Y28 died in 2016 with Y36 closing earlier this year. Y5, linking Nottingham and Derby, remains.
Having failed in a bid to dislodge the incumbents in Nottingham, the battle then moved to Derby.
In late 2016 services 20 and 26 started ...
... this time in direct copy-cat competition with Arriva.
Whether this approach is commercially successful for You Bus is unclear, but, undaunted, the company started another copy-cay service in February of this year with their 1 and 1A Alvaston circulars.
Spot the difference- Arriva below!
Regular blog racers will know that this situation cannot last. Cynical blog readers will wonder what Your Bus are suicidally up to, having failed in Nottingham. The only outcome is that one of the operators must capitulate and pull out or simply lie down and die completely. (Maybe you cannot really die partially?)

And it won't be Arriva who have the resources to stand the losses, should they so choose.

Our total number of buses on the route has now doubled to 16 an hour. But Derby Council Leader Ranjit Banwait ...
... is concerned about 20 buses an hour to Alvaston.

In steps Arriva to "respond" to the Your Bus onslaught on it profits with ... Tada! ...
... the F1; where F is for Fast. Introduced, say Arriva, "in response to customer requests for a fast bus into town" (yeah, right!) buses run every 15 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime.
Buses serve the centre of the housing area in a loop ...
... then run direct via Shardlow Road and London Road before jiggling via Pride Park into the City.
These two maps are spun through 90 degrees with North to the left. A revised route and timetable has been registered for the end of October but no details were available in time for this blog.

As an aside, Arriva has managed to cloud the issue by combining 1. 1A and F1 in to a gloriously off-putting comprehensive timetable on-line.
There must be at least THREE bus stations in Derby? There is a separate entry for the F1 which does, sensibly, have just the F1 times in case you never find the 1/1A; thanks to Arriva's unfathomable ordering of the timetable search list.
Best not try to understand Arriva's combined on-line map either; it doesn't show the F1 properly.
fbb reckons that Your Bus 1/1A will not last much longer than Christmas, at which point Arriva's F1 will, despite "customer demand", also vanish from the face of Alvaston.

Does this silly competition help the cause of public transport? Absolutely not!

Maybe next will come an even more aggressive and desperate fares war, but, in the end, it does not take much prophetic skill to map out the future.

Tomorrow, returning to sanity, we explore an Identity Crisis.

 Next airport blog : Friday 22nd September 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Daftness in Derby (1)

This is Ranjit Banwait ...
... leader of Derby City Council. In the local press ...
... he is quoted as asking a telling question.
Readers of this blog may be surprised to hear of a councillor wanting less buses - what crisis in these two districts of Derby provokes the Council Leader to call for a reduction in service?
The village of Alvaston has existed since at least the eleventh century. Rapid expansion came in the second half of the 19th Century and in 1904 the electric tram replaced the horse-bus service and, with the advent of the motor car, London Road became the A6. Alvaston became part of Derby in the late twentieth century.
The smaller, neighbouring village of Boulton has been swallowed up by Alvaston, and Boulton is rarely referred to by name.
The green road running from upper left to lower right is the "new"A6; the "old" A6 is the yellow road which sort-of parallels it. The A5111 is the Derby ring road and the red road is Derby's London Road.

This is an extract from a map of the City's trolleybus network.
Trolleybi ran south from the centre to Shelton Lock (at the bottom of the map) and as a circular via the Normanton Road (off the map, left), round to Alvaston "Blue Peter" (map, centre right) ...
... and back via London Road (and vice versa).
As the areas of Alvaston and Boulton developed they were served by motor bus routes.
Former trolleybus routes (40 and 41) are shown in a 2014 map in BROWN ...
... but still showing something of their heritage. Former bus routes, but expanded, are in DARK BLUE (43 Boulton Lane) ...
... and LIGHT BLUE (44/45 Alvaston Circulars).
Apologies to knowledgeable folk for this simplification!

Derby Corporation Transport had became Arriva, of course, and the most recent developments show former trolleybus routes and bus routes merged into a mega Alvaston "lollipop" and (a year or so ago) renumbered 1 and 1A both running via London Road.

Today's map looks like this:-
The  former trolleybus circular 40 and 41 have become a more prosaic (and much less frequent) 4 and 4A.
But back to the 1 and 1A.
Arriva runs every 15 minute both ways round the "head" of the lolly.
If fbb's mathematical ability is undiminished by age, the above timetable gives us eight buses an hour. We need to find another 12 to explain Councillor Ranjit Banwait's expressed concern. Back to the Derby Telegraph.

The city council, which Mr Banwait has led since June 2014, has no control over service frequencies or route choices of private bus operators.

In a letter seen by the Derby Telegraph, Mr Banwait outlined his frustration to a Government traffic commissioner.

Traffic commissioners are responsible for the regulation of bus, coach and goods vehicle operators, and registration of local bus services.

Councillors can be somewhat ignorant of the workings of Public Transport industry, but one thing is certain. The Traffic Commissions have no powers to force any company to reduce or increase the frequency of any commercial bus service. Councillor Banwait's letter is a waste of time.

Tomorrow we will find the extra journeys, a search which takes us, in recent history, to nearby Nottingham.

 Derby Daftness revealed : Thursday 21st September