Friday, 28 July 2017

Branded Buses; Bland Buses; Well Planned ... (2)

Any Colour As Long As It Is Red ...
... or yellow, or blue, or orange or purple. The return of the craze for all-over advertising buses in the Metropolis makes a nonsense of the edict that all London Buses must be plain red to reinforce the image. 

Route 724 was a Greenline service from Gravesend to Windsor.
Subsequently, following the demise of the long distance network, it has been branded ...
... privatised and unbranded ...
... threatened with total withdrawal, renumbered X26 and ignominiously truncated to a plain red non-event.
Before "mainly red" became "totally red", Metrobus managed to maintain a smidgen of its identity with a bit of blue and yellow.
Withing living memory, there have been a number of route branding "crazes" whilst retaining "mainly red".

The 38 with a weird font was a case in point.
Some services gained a sort of yellow ribbon effect on the side.
Whether putting a large number 11 on the front, right next to the same number 11 on the blind was really helpful is a moot point ...
... but route details were repeated to the right of the blind display, just next to the blind's route details. There was also a route "strip" at cantrail level. 

Such whimsies disappeared, as did intermediate route details in favour of a simple ultimate destination.
From too much information is changed to too little?

From white on black lettering ...
... to yellow on black lettering ...
... and now; back to white on black as on the Borismaster, above!

But, guess what, the powers that be at Transport for London have come up with yet another jackpot idea.

The think tank has been working on overdrive. "How about ..." say the lads and lassies, "if we put route branding on our all-red buses."
Wizzo!

 "And, while we are at it ..." chortle the excited planners, "put the route details along the side instead of those horrid adverts."
Super smashing!

"And - it gets better ..." they exude, warming to their task, "... we can put some odd-shaped and trendy bits of colour on the back of the bus so folk can see that it is a trendy clourful route branded route!"
Ace!

"And - even better ..." they cry as tears of inventiveness dampen their cheeks, "we can tell people how often their bus might run at the same time."
Wowsers!

The originality of these ideas is truly mind-blowing.

The new “Tube-style” design approach aims to make the UK capital’s buses “as simple to use as the London Underground”, says the Mayor’s office.

The trial – which is taking place in Barkingside, east London – will see individual bus routes given their own colour in a system similar to the one used throughout London’s Tube network.

Buses and stop signs will be marked with these easy-to-identify colours, while key destinations and interchanges on bus routes will be listed on the side of the buses so that passengers can tell “at a glance” where they are travelling.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says: “By bringing these new distinctive route colours to areas of the network, we’re making it as easy to navigate areas of London by bus as it is by Tube. It’s another key part in our efforts to encourage Londoners to take to the bus and help us tackle congestion, air pollution and make our city better for everyone.”

Hmmm?

How about producing a timetable and a route map for the customer to carry with them. No need to prod a mobile phone or peer at a departure list. Just look it up on a ....

... TIMETABLE!

It is a pity that the colours (247 YELLOW) ...
... don't always match he spider maps (247 GREEN)
But the 150 is BLUE on both and the 128 is PURPLE on both.
Sadly, the 275 cannot be red, can it; as the bus is red. MAGENTA does not match the Barkingside map.

Of course it is nowhere near as simple as it seems because colours might be right at Barkingside, but, for example, conflict when the route reaches Romford.

Hmm again? A good idea, but impracticable for the whole network?

Tomorrow : A flash and a spark and it all changes!
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Personal Note

fbb is in Sheffield today, having left Axminster at 1606 yesterday. The meeting which he is attending may result, amongst other things, in a small but significant breakthrough for GoTimetable Sheffield. If negotiations progress according to plan, the old man will have a frantic few weeks of on-line work in preparation for a big timetable change at the start of September.
Please excuse any blog inadequacies over the next few weeks.

Blogs may need to be shorter or (like trains into Waterloo) be cancelled entirely!
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 Next branded bus blog : Saturday 29th July 

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Branded Buses; Bland Buses; Well Planned ... (1)

Because You're Worth It?
fbb has before mused over the branding craze which, from time to time, afflicts the bus industry. Remember that certain routes in Sheffield, mainly the frequent ones affected by post-deregulation competitive silliness, were branded "Mainline".
When South Yorkshire(s) Transport was sold to its employees, the new company and ALL its routes was named "Mainline!. Thus,effectively, the supposed benefits of the route brands were lost.

Likewise GoAhead promoted key services in Poole as "more".
Next the "brand" was deleted from the Canford Heath group of services ...
... leaving the M1 and M2 to Bournemouth as less of more. But then, the whole operation based on Poole was branded "more". 

Likewise, what began as a brand for Salisbury City services ...
... then became the company "name" for everything, even the prestigious long distance "X" routes.
Elsewhere, bus watchers have been slightly mystified by Arriva with, firstly, its "Sapphire" brand ...
... which, in certain parts of the country is the "Max" brand.
Then, of course, there are buses with lime green fronts ...
... presumably to emphasise the vehicles' environmental benefits. Yet again, some Sapphires have changed to something different ...
... as seen in the relaunch, re-rebrand of service 1 at Wrexham.
And we must not forget the revised colour blue and the proposed and utterly daft new logo. Arriva Danemark had severe warnings about altering the original logo:-
So there!

But while we are wondering about all this, it is worth remembering that we, the passengers, are paying the bill for design teams, repainting and, of course, corporate identity manuals. 

Question. Could and big bus company explain how many additional passengers have been travelling on heir routes as a result of a new paint scheme or revised logo?

Even more challenging is to ask how many extra passengers travel once the bus carries a brand which is route specific.
There is good evidence that an increased frequency brings extra passengers but no always enough to justify the extra buses and staff needed. But does paint really make a difference.

Tomorrow, we will look at London's latest "experiment" in route branding and one company that it re-branding a key service after a relatively short lifespan from its predecessor brand.

Meanwhile, up North ...
... more paint, more consultants, more logos and more cost to the passengers. This was just over a year ago.  Searching the web site, it is quite hard to find mention of  ... sh ... you know who.
ha, there it is, right at the bottom of the list.
Re-branding, is it really worth it?

 Next brand or bland blog : Friday 28th July 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Overcoming The Work Of The Dark Lord

fbb, in a desperate attempt to escape from Poldark, repaired upstairs on Sunday evening to watch the film "Barry Putty and the Teacup of Special Effects." This is the third Barry Putty film that fbb has attempted to watch and the previous two resulted in the early application of the off button.

This time fbb did, at least, last until the end; but there were a few occasions when sleep overcame your old codger, so his interpretation of the plot may be sadly lacking. Perhaps it was all a dream?

The baddy, it appears, is the evil Lord Arrivamort ....
... played convincingly by Ralph Fiennes. Apart from an appallingly bad "nose job", the Dark Lord is intent on destroying anything and everything that involves the hero, Barry Putty. Any part of Muggle (= human) life must be destroyed to preserve the wizardly blood line.

The destructive work of "his baldness" is the only explanation, as fbb saw it, for the evil that has been at large in the Leicestershire Village of Groby.

 dateline 18th February 2017 
Buses via the village were reorganised and, positively, the correct route numbers were posted on the bus stop flags between Groby and Leicester. Previously they have been wrong for many, many years. David, our Leicester correspondent, reported thus:-
There were plenty of leaflets available in the village ...
... so everything in the Groby garden was lovely bus-wise.

But that was before the work of Lord Arrivamort began to hold sway. Notice the last sentence from David's txt, above, "I haven't checked whether the timetables at the stops have been updated. Will check tomorrow".

Tempting fate from the perpetrator of the dark arts of omnibology, surely?

And readers with good memories will remember what happened. The Sunday times posted at the stops were WRONG. In one direction buses actually (on the right) ran five minutes later than advertised ...
... so not  particular problem, But in the other direction the service ran ten minutes EARLIER than advertised ...
... so oh so very easy to arrive at the stop and miss the bus - and people did, until the word got round.

 weeks following 
Chum David reported the error to the Arriva enquiry office at St Margaret's bus station on several occasions. Nothing happened because, as we now know, the folk behind the counter were under the influence of the Dark Lord Arrivamort.

 dateline 1st May 2017 
Correspondence from Norman to Arriva
Norman is one of the splendid folk who create the on-line Groby magazine called Spotlight. Only three months has passed and nothing has happened - yet!

But a really quick reply from Arrivamort's lair.

 dateline 4th May 2017 
Thoughts:-

(a) Is it not potty that a business like Arriva should admit that it takes no responsibility for telling its customers what it sells.  Would the customer services people at Tesco suggest that prices on the shelves were the responsibility of a local authority?

(b) Still in the process of receiving print information. What? Since February 18th?

(c) We are supporting them with roadside updates. What? Since February 18th?

(d) Completed early next week - i.e. 11th May-ish.

(e) The use of, say a pen, to correct the mistake would be easy ...

(f)  ... but they resolved the problem by removing the whole time panel completely.

But the Dark Lord is still at work.

 dateline 21st July 2017 
Norman writes again.
To recap, it is now just over FIVE MONTHS since the mistake was pointed out to Arriva and still nothing has been done that is of any use to the passenger.

But, suddenly, and no doubt thanks to the brave wizardry of Barry Putty our hero (surely Norman in disguise?) ...

 dateline 23rd July 2017 
... correspondent David sends this brief report to fbb.
And, amidst rejoicing on the streets of Groby, dancing until the early hours ...
... and much feasting and imbibing, the new departure lists are now in the tired, vandalised and graffitied frames.
Note that buses to Leicester still run VIA St Margaret's Bus Station, to TO. But you cannot have everything. After five months of gross incompetence the Sunday times are correct - in both directions.
But please, please, Arriva and Leicestershire Council, don't rush.

Now everything is correct, it is likely Arriva will be about ready to change the timetables.

The Dark Arts are only resting before the next onslaught on the poor defenseless bus passenger.

SouthWest Trains : The Darkness Continues
Remember that timetables for the forthcoming Waterloo disruption have been on line (Monday to Friday services only) for some weeks ... EXCEPT fbb's local line.

A correspondent reported that timetables were available on another site, but fbb suspects said helpful chappie was referring to Journey Planning. Certainly fbb could find no sight nor sound of the timetable.

But the "were not telling you" on-line message has been changed.

Exeter, Bristol, Yeovil and Salisbury to London Waterloo : Table 20 - There have been late alterations to this timetable. Please check again if you obtained times before Tuesday 25 July.

There has been no timetable before Tuesday 25th July unless it slipped by without announcing itself. But now, at last there is an on-line version. But we are still not privileged to have any details for Saturday or Sunday travel.

"Pops" was at Axminster Station yesterday to collect a grandson who is staying for a few days.

And there is a poster ...
... and lots of similarly orange leaflets. these give general information but no printed timetables were on offer.

Just over a week to go ...

... an for how long has this work been in the planning stage?

It must be Arrivamort's  henchman, Lord Souter The Bearded.

 Next bus blog : Thursday 27th July