Friday, 18 August 2017

Clean Green Elecricity

Electric Taxi, Sir?
Old news - here are electric cabs waiting for their clients in new York in the 1890s!
Battery powered cars - ideal for the ladies!
And so easy to drive!
And so cheap to buy?
Battery assisted trains?
Here's an Indian loco hauling a battery pack allowing it to be used on unelectrified tracks.
Experiments with accumulator railcars, as they were originally called, were conducted from around 1890 in Belgium, France, Germany and Italy. In the USA, railcars of the Edison-Beach type, with nickel-iron batteries were used from 1911. In New Zealand, a battery-electric Edison railcar operated from 1926 to 1934. The Drumm nickel-zinc battery was used on four 2-car sets between 1932 and 1946 on the Harcourt Street Line in Ireland ...
... and British Railways used lead-acid batteries in a railcar in 1958. Between 1955 and 1995 DB railways successfully operated 232 DB Class ETA 150 railcars utilising lead-acid batteries.
And, as previously reported by fbb, battery powered trams were used in Paris in the early 1900s. Here is one at its end-of-route charging post.

Even battery powered locomotives, admittedly only used for shunting jobs.
It was still in operation in 1963!

Battery Trams?
Seen here being charged up at the terminus of the route in Paris - early 1900s. Just plug in/.
And West Midlands PTE and Birmingham City Council is fitting all its trams with batteries so that unsightly overhead wires should not spoilt the posher bits of the Brummy City Centre.
The first battery-operated trams in the UK will be introduced in Birmingham to remove the need for overhead power lines.

The West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (WMITA) has approved plans by transport delivery body Centro to retro-fit its fleet of 21 Midland Metro Urbos 3 trams.
The battery-powered tram system, known as catenary-free running, will be used in architecturally sensitive areas, meaning the Metro line from New Street station to Centenary Square, which is due to be opened in 2019, can run through Victoria Square without having to attach overhead cables to the 182-year-old Town Hall.

So is this week's news from York really ground breaking?

More tomorrow.

A snippet:-

Health and Safety - Phooey
A housing estate is being built almost in the fbb's back yard. The site was the historic (?) Warners holiday camp, opened in 1937.
The house on the far right is, literally, next door to fbb mansions. 

fbb was therefore shocked to the core to watch a bob the builder crawling all over the ridge tiles with no safety equipment; he just walked up the slop and started doing his stuff - just like in the good old days.
The plot of land bordering on Harbour Road is rapidly gaining a Premier Inn Hotel. The picture below was taken from roughly the same point as the Warners building above.
Basically, the hotel comes as a kit of parts like a Bayko toy.
the principle is the same!

 Next electric blog : Saturday 19th August 

Thursday, 17 August 2017

What Are PTE's For?

Certainly In Sheffield NOT For Publicity
When PTEs arrived on the public Transport Scene in the 1970a hey ere hailed as the best think since sliced bread for the bus (and later rail) passengers. buses were painted in an unusual but distinctive livery of brown and cream with a variety of experimental "SY" logos. The final choice remained around for a white ...
... but inevitable was updates and "improved".
We tend to forget that the PTEs also ran local trains in their area, usually with the logo added to a version of British Rail's livery; but in some cases with a full repaint.

there was even a DMU in the brown and cream style and it looked quite smart.
All this came to an end with privatisation, deregulation and restructuring. Wikipedia tells us what STPTE does now.

SYPTE is responsible for all the bus stops, shelters and bus interchanges in the county, along with park & ride sites. It provides comprehensive public transport information at stops, in the form of timetable leaflets, information on the web and a telephone enquiry service called Traveline. SYPTE has a network of Information Centres providing information and ticketing. SYPTE administers the concessionary travel schemes for children and students, senior citizens and the mobility impaired and the countywide multi-modal ticket Travelmaster.

Well, it used to do these things.

But most of the practically useful bits of its duties have been steadily withdrawn, as we all know. Not only is there now no printed information at all but the quality of what is available on line declines all the time.

There are significant changes to many, many bus services from 3rd September. Slowly the non-leaflets are appearing; after a sudden burst last week, the rest are dribbling through. The latest arrival is the services to Chesterfield ...
... which have been available on the excellent Derbyshire timetable site for some time.
But what can be very useful, when services change their routes, is a good map.

PTE maps have never been good, but at least there is one with every non-leaflet.

Or there was.

Here is the map for the revised network of service between Sheffield, Swallownest and points east.

Most non-leaflets, however, don't even bother with a blank space. Complicated changes are unsupported cartographically, just when a visual guide is needed

What is more galling is that some of the information is misleading.

Here is what the PTE told parish councils in the greater Rotherham area as part of their advance warning for the September changes. It concerns route 74.
The "ending" 74 and the "revised" 74 have just two communities in common, namely Catcliffe and Treeton. Everything else is different; which does make you wonder why the same route number was used.

The PTE offer a similar wording on their service changes web site.

Sheffield - Attercliffe - Tinsley Park - Catcliffe - Treeton -
Swallownest - Aston - Todwick - Harthill

Service 74 - Changes will be made to the route and timetable. The service will be revised to run from Sheffield to Rotherham via Granville Road, Manor Top, Richmond, Handsworth, Waverley, Catcliffe, Treeton, Brinsworth and Canklow. This service will no longer serve Attercliffe. The Treeton to Harthill section will be replaced by service X54. Service 74a - New service partly replacing service 40.

Note the lack of similarity.

But tun to the PTE's non leaflet and what do you find. In the rubric on the from a similar tale is told.

Service 74 - Changes will be made to the route and timetable. The service will be revised to run from Sheffield to Rotherham via Granville Road, Manor Top, Richmond, Handsworth, Waverley, Catcliffe, Treeton, Brinsworth and Canklow. This service will no longer serve Attercliffe. The Treeton to Harthill section will be replaced by service X54.

Despite being told that the "old" 74 will vanish in a puff of exhaust smoke, there on last page of the new 74 leaflet ...
... is an hourly service following exactly the "expunged" route and, of course, it is numbered 74!

Really, really silly. Or is it a mistake? Who knows?

Now try this one.

Here is part of the new service 36 timetable courtesy of the PTE.
It is show as a "circular" but it isn't. It does have a lollipop loop at the Kimberworth Park end, which bus timetable masterminds might have a guess at. Buses take five minutes to get from Bents Road to Roughwood Road and eight minutes in the opposite direction.

In fact (using an old PTE map for predecessor route 43) the loop is a little on the large side.
Indeed, it is quite hard to work out why the bus takes five minutes to get from Bents Road to Roughwood Road (four stops) and eight minutes to complete the loop (seventeen stops).

Something is not right there.

Despite this inadequacy, a well known and successful Sheffield App (no bias here, of course) does attempt to show the extent of the loop.
GoTimetable maps will appear later today or Friday. 

www.gotimetable.com

And finally, a tactful reminder.

fbb's ability to blog is constrained by real "work", first for First and then (unpaid!) for GoTimetable. To add to the pressure fbb plus Mrs plus No 3 son are off for a holiday in Largs (Scotland).on Saturday.
Deficiencies and diminished quality are a likely consequence.

Which is why the bits about electric did not appear today!

 Next bits & bobs blog : Friday 18th August - possibly 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Plot Thickens ...

... And a Map Is Mega-Mysterious
Regular readers will know that fbb  is not enamoured of South Yorkshire PTE's (Travel South Yorkshire's) maps. The full colour fold-out versions are generally very good indeed, but those that accompany non-printed timetables are, on a good day, useless.

We have been attempting to work out where the buses go and where they stop in the village of Barnby Dun, north east of Doncaster.
But there is an even bigger problem. 

Here is Hatfield Lane Barnby Dun with a from-Doncaster bus stop on the right ...
... but covered by a PTE cloaking device to bamboozle passengers. It is there on Google's map ...
... as is one just round the corner in Pine Hall Road.
And to complete the picture, here is an enlargement of the relevant (the irrelevant?) bit of the TSY map.
Hatfield Lane runs left to right, Pine Hall Road top to bottom. Presumably TSY thinks the buses divert via people's back gardens, even their living rooms! No, that's unfair. The loop off Hatfield Lane is Parkhill Road and the loops off Pine Hall Road are Meadow Field Road and Pinefield Avenue, none of which have buses along them.

The network map is simpler, thankfully.
But nowhere in any timetable or on any map does anyone tell the poor long-suffering travelling public which buses go that way.

fbb THINKS he has worked it out. If you click on a stop on Google maos, it shows which buses Mr Google thinks will stop there. If the map is right, service 84 and 84a are the ones you need. 
From this and an extensive perusal of every bit of bus information available, including the all-stops timetable on Traveline ...
... there is some evidence that 84a buses and some 84s go that way.
fbb's tentative conclusions therefore are thus:
The hourly "shorts" numbered 84 (RED) turn in a one way loop via the High Street to terminate at the Spar Shop  S  (YELLOW STOPS) before returning to Doncaster via Pine Hall Road. The 84a (BLUE) runs out and back via Pine Hall Road calling at Spar TO Doncaster and a Top Road (PINK STOPS) on journeys from Doncaster.

Although the Top Road stops are best defined as the "centre" of Barnby Dun, the timetable points are well away from the shops on the edge of the village, as we saw yesterday.

The 84b (GREEN) follows a different route in Barnby Dun via Station Road (there is no station) and Stainforth Road. Outward it shares the Top Road stop with the 84a, but inbound it stops opposite the Post Office  P  but, again, its time point is almost out in open country and remote from the shops.

So that's it - all sorted. Possibly?

Oh no it isn't!

In the evening and Sundays a quite different 84 runs through the village and off to points north-east. fbb has called it 84E (ORANGE) although it claims to be an ordinary 84. 
And there's more! there are a few 84a buses (BLUE, remember?) and a few short workings on the 84 (RED) which might well loop as they do at other times. Do they ALL go via Pine Hall Road and not as fbb has shown in orange?

Do any Sunday buses go via Pine Hall Road?

Does anybody know?

Does anybody care?

Is there perhaps a reason that buses in places like Barnby Dun are losing passengers?
An 84 leaflet is one of the items that fbb has been "helping" First Bus with. Sadly, time and space considerations meant that the best your intrepid bus researcher could do was to reproduce the TSY (and First's on-line offering) timetable layout. A better, clearer, leaflet is surely an important project for the future?

 Next electric blog (plus) : Thursday 17th August 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

But If You Don't Know The Answer ...

... It Is Hard To Find Out.
The only reliable way is to ask someone; but that can be both challenging and unreliable. We have already seen that the on-line map supplies by the Travel South Yorkshire (TSY) people has a maze of lines with labels here and there and a few route number boxes.
The white on black usually denotes a terminus, yet the 84 seems to go further. So which bus stops where? The timetable available on-line from TSY offers three time points for outward journeys.
As they are at consistent minutes past each hour, it is reasonable to assume that they are close together. might they be in the centre of Barnby Dun? Maybe?

Does Barnby Dun have a "centre". The Road named High Street offers little in the way of retail services, just a pub ...
... a printers, a defunct barbers and, always useful, and undertakers. Useful services maybe, but hardly a shopping centre. 

But if we move to the junction of Church Road ...
... Stainforth Road, Catling Lane and (unnamed on the map extract above) Top Road. There are bus stops outside Spar ...
... for buses TO Doncaster.

There is a stop on Top Road ...
... for journeys FROM Doncaster. On the opposite "corner" is the Post Office, a few yards along Hatfield Road.
And opposite the Post Office is yet another bus stop ...
... possibly also for journeys TO Doncaster.

How does this tie up with stop names in the PTE timetable?
Above is an extract from the FROM Doncaster schedules. We can identify the terminus of the 84 at Church Road Marlowe Road because that is the stop outside Spar. But it is for buses TO Doncaster, surely; and there is no pole or shelter opposite.

Might Stainforth Road Coleridge Road be the full name any stop opposite the Post Office?

Nope!

Coleridge Road is right on the edge of Barnby Dun, almost in open country and some distance from anything that might be called the centre".
Are any buses timed at Top Road?

No. The other outbound stop is way up Church Road, way past the shops and, again, on the way "out of town".

What about TO Doncaster stops and time points?
We have already met Church Road Marlowe Road as the terminus of the 84 and it is also served by the 84a which enters the village past the Spar shop.

Perhaps the 84b might be helpfully timed at the stop opposite the Post Office, not too far from Spar?Alas, no; that stop would be called Stainforth Road Talbot Avenue.
The inbound time point is also named Broseley Avenue, sort of oppsite Coleridge Road, but even more in open country.
Before fbb reveals what actually happens, we might look at First Bus' version of the 84 timetable.

FROM Doncaster?
TO Doncaster?
Same split of stops but different names - and no easier to understand.

We really don't make public transport very easy, do we?

 Barnby Dun revealed : Wednesday 15th August