Friday, 13 October 2017
Brackley's Baffling Bus Business (prologue)
But We Start At Syston!
News from a Leicestershire Correspondent of a kerfuffle involving Arriva and the "village" (suburb) of Syston.
There has been a settlement on the site for over 1,000 years, the earliest records being in the Domesday Book as Sitestone. The Roman road known as the Fosse Way passes through Syston, which is now largely a commuter town for the city of Leicester. Only the village of Thurmaston to the south separates it from Leicester.
The 'Syston white plum' is well known in the Syston locality and has been grown there for well over 100 years. It is yellow, oval in shape, thin skinned and a good sized dessert plum. It normally crops in September and is emblazoned on the Syston Town welcoming signs.
In the past, buses to Syston were in the total control of long-standing huge company, Midland Red, seen below at the old St Margarets bus station.
Midland Red begat Arriva ...
... although a service to Thrussington (on the back road to Melton Mowbray) is now run by Centrebus.
The main road route through Syston is the 5 to Queniborough at East Goscote (every 20 minutes) and the 5A to Melton Mowbray (also every 20 minutes.
Syston, therefore has a "main road" bus every ten minutes to and from Leicester, which is not to be sneezed at.
The town was even visited by an Arriva star employee to promote improvements in the 5/5A.
The other service is route 6.
This runs every ten minutes to Thurmaston ASDA (although, at certain times, buses run to an alternate destination at Thurmaston ASDA???) with two journeys an hour extended to Syston where buses do a run round various estates off the main drag.
For Systonians this is obviously a secondary service, but for those who actually live on the estates it is of utmost importance.
Which is why Arriva is withdrawing the buses, leaving just the ten minute service to Thurmaston.
IF (and it really is "if"!) Arriva's finances are so dire that saving one bus between Thurmaston and Syston will radically improve the company's performance, should not the bosses consider other options. How about running the 6 every 15 minutes to Thurmaston and retaining the extension to Syston?
Trimming bits off the end of a route is always a risky business. It is what fbb calls the curse of the frayed end.
Chop of the extremity, lose those passengers who might no longer be travelling to and from Leicester. Now the loadings to Thurmaston are reduced. Next, divert some more 5/5A journeys via ASDA ...
... and you can reduce the 6 to every 20 minutes. But look, say Arriva's bean counters, we could send the 5 or 5A via the estate at Thurmaston rather than down the main road and do away with the 6 altogether.
Many a bus route has been ruined for ever as a result of the curse of the frayed end.
The people of Syston are, understandably, not pleased and the people at Arriva are getting yet another chunk of bad PR.
Has Arriva really gained a long term financial benefit?
Over the last few years there has been similar snipping off the ends at Brackley, usually documented in this blog. But things are about the change.
Tune in on Monday, same time, same spot on the dial, for the latest developments.
But will it be too late?
Perhaps the bus industry needs some kind of long-term philosophical or economic shampoo to deal with its
frayed split ends?
Next Weekend Mixture blog : Saturday 14th October