Sunday, 25 March 2018

A Short Wait At Cartgate (B) - PLUS

Buy It From The Driver
Poor old fbb; he got it in he neck well and truly yesterday for daring to criticise a Stagecoach advert for their "rover" tickets. Apparently any old fool knows you get them from the driver.
fbb advises quite a number of "old fools" on the benefits of bus and rail tickets, attempting to dispel fear and misunderstandings. Folk who do not regularly travel by public transport are put off by the abounding complexity and lack of information - SO THEY DON'T TRAVEL!

The panel at the bottom of the Torbay version of the ad (which fbb was so unkind to yesterday) reads thus:-
The implication, if not the intention, is that you can only pay by using your phone. And to do that you have to download an App.

Here is part of the "Tickets" information from the Southern Vectis web site.

Rover tickets

Available for unlimited travel across our network for either 24 or 48 hours, ideal if you are out and about for a day or weekend!

multi-day ticket bundles

If you only travel now and again, multi-day tickets offer our cheapest fare. They are available exclusively on the key. Please note that multi-day bundle tickets are special offer tickets and may be withdrawn from sale without notice.

These are available in 5, 15 and 30 day bundles giving unlimited travel across our network including open-top and seasonal routes. Days do not have to be used consecutively and are valid for two years from purchase.


If you're going out in the evening you can get unlimited travel from 7pm - 7am the following morning. With a nightrider ticket, taking the bus means no parking worries and no need to worry about who's driving!. Available every night, just buy from the driver. There are no concessions on nightrider tickets

nightrider   £6

buy from the driver 

So there it is in black and white; the ONLY ticket you can buy from the driver is the Nightrider. How else would a very occasional bus use interpret this page of information?

So blinkered are the management to the benefits to the company of Smart Cards, "Season" Tickets, Wave and Pay etc. that they have forgotten that a huge percentage of their potential customers will want to pay using money (illustrated here for the benefit of those who have forgotten what it is.)

Let's Be Positive!
If you are travelling to or from Bristol Airport, you may spot a very large billboard as you approach the terminal in your car.
Inside he terminal the advert is repeated, but smaller, for those wandering around waiting to be herded onto their plane.
This time the web site does tell you that you can buy fares from the driver ...
... but the list does not mention the Airport as such! Is that useful nugget on display at the Airport.

Back to Cartgate
One booklet caught fbb's beady eye, that for "South Devon" ...
... particularly three words printed along the top.
"Bus trips" sounded interesting. Obviously the Torquay area will have far more visitors than Yeovil and Totnes as reviewed yesterday, so it came as no surprise to find loads of information about the steam railway ...
The boats between Dartmouth and Totnes have to take note of the tidal bits of the river Dart at the Totnes end, so times vary throughout the season - but fear not, intrepid sailors all, the booklet contains FULL TIMETABLES month by month right through until October 2018.
None of this information appears in the Totnes book, not even in summary form.

Other ferry services are covered ...
... as is the bus that links Paignton and Totnes Steamer Quay allowing a whole range of "Round Robin" bus plus train plus boat.
Many of these were enjoyed by the fbbs three years ago as a gift from friends to mark their joint 70th Birthdays. Joyous in the extreme!

But "Bus Trips"? Was there more than the service 100 and the Stagecoach "Rover" ticket Ad?

Indeed. Two bus timetables are printed in full. There is the Hop12 between Torquay and Brixham ...
... and, oddly, service Gold between Torquay and Plymouth.
It is not at all clear why these two routes are the only ones quoted in full.

fbb is surprised that the Golden Hop 122 ...
... with distinctive open top buses does not feature.
And you might even meet Gary the Rabbit.
Is that Sir Brian in disguise?

But maybe Stagecoach had to pay for the pages and chose the most likely services to bring extra business.

The South Devon book also includes train times. Sadly these are unedited pages from FGW timetable leaflets.

It is good to have train times available, but (here goes with another negative) it is just too complicated for a casual user.

Perhaps a selection of simplified "extract" tables might encourage extra business. And what about the Devon Day Ranger ticket? This offers excellent value for a day's ferroequinological pootling.

Despite some misgivings, this booklet was the most public transport orientated guide book on display. It does seem a pity that bus companies seem unwilling to advertise the opportunity for "going on a nice bus trip". There are plenty of we aged crocks who enjoy riding around!

Tomorrow we move from Cartgate in Somerset to elsewhere in Somerset for a sorry bus tale.

 Next Porlock blog : Monday 26th March 
The story is still reasonably familiar, even in these sadly secular days. About a week before he was crucified, Jesus rode into Jerusalem accompanied by joyous followers. It all looked great.

He rode on a humble animal ...
... illustrating a victorious king coming to his conquered city, but in peace.

There were palm leaves (obviously) ...
... indicating a humble worship of that king -  accompanied by ... 
... a deep seated desire to be a real follower. The crowd cried out ...
... praise God.

When the authorities told Jesus to order his followers to be quiet, the Master replied "even these stones would shout out" ...
... because something big was going to happen.

But it wasn't big in the way the palm-wavers expected.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

A Short Wait at Cartgate (A)

The fbb's route between Seaton and Wantage (home of No 1 son and family) is via the A303 and A34. At the junction of the A3088 to Yeovil is Cartgate picnic area.
It is a useful PNB stop and comes with the advantage of an excellent caff, open seven days a week from 0600 to 2200 but closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
But, on their return on Thursday last, the fbbs had enjoyed a superb breakfast at The Bear in Wantage, so a coffee and a shared Kit-Kat was adequate. One other service available at Cartgate is a Tourist Information Office.
A few years ago (10+??) the OAPs were motoring in a westerly direction for a holiday in Sidmouth and called in for usual! There in the TiC was a collection of Somerset County's bus timetable books, which fbb gathered up like a little child with free rein in a sweetshop. Cartgate is not served by any bus, so the booklets were there to attract motorists to the delights of the County's public transport.

But all this has gone.

A quick glance showed fbb that there was no bus or train information on display. He looked in vain for Buses of Somerset, South Western Railway and Great Western Railway leaflets but there was nothing.
There were plenty of guide books to towns in the area and further away, so your information-hungry author decided to sample a few to see if any of them would offer help with anything other than the all-conquering motor car.

First Yeovil itself, literally just down the A3088.
The book was dated 2016-2017 and offered not a jot about public transport. The bus station is marked on the map, as is Junction Station and Pen Mill, both served with trains hauled by American wood-burning steam engines, hardly a good advert for modern train travel.
But no mention of how to get from one to any other. Buses does not even feature in the index of "local information".
It runs from Banks to Chamber of Commerce.

Next a peruse of the booklet for Totnes ...
... with an advert for the Steam Railway at Totnes Riverside; but no timetable and no mention on the town map of where the station might be.
Stagecoach also has an advert for its Explorer ticket, but, again, no guidance as to from where they might be obtained.
For a non-bus user these basics are important and need more than just an advert to encourage them to "have a go".

Frankly, there is not a lot of bus in Totnes to explore with, but there are, as advertised, opportunities nearby. 

The problem, of course, is that these booklets are financed by advertising. Often "the deal" is that you get editorial material only if you are paying for an advert, so "general" information can be very minimalist in content.
Would the publishers be so keen to advertise National Express from Totnes if they knew that the coach departs at 2250 and arrives in Victoria at 0630? The service 404 coach eaves Penzance at 2005. Returning to Totnes from Victoria is also an overnighter, depart Victoria 2300, arrive Totnes 0515.

But, as they say, it is all on line, so that's OK!

Tomorrow we will explore booklets for Poole and South Devon. In the meantime ...

A Sevenoaks Correction
Thanks to a correspondent who pointed out that fbb was quoting an out-of-date Go-Coach timetable for the 452 to Kemsing. Buses now run at 15 and 45 minutes past each hour Mondays to Fridays.
At least it does for a further two weeks before the service demise.

Arriva's sillibuses are at 05 and 35 ...
... so a bit better tan the two buses every half hour as criticised by your author in the original blog.

Another Bus Cafe
The bus will be stationed near Cleethorpes Boating Lake ...
... and the Grimsby Telegraph shows mum and daughter posing in front of the former First Bus double decker.
The bus began its life in London ...
... then emigrated to Glasgow, losing its centre door.
Then it moved back south again to Bristol ...
... and was last seen in a yard at Swavesey, Cambridgeshire..
Roy (from Sheffield), who supplied the story, is planning a visit to sample the fare on offer.

The "girls" are doing all the fitting out themselves, so well done indeed ladies!

They Do It So Much Better In Switzerland?
Oh yes, really?

A few weekend back, No 3 son was out and about on the trams in Basel (Switzerland). He was travelling on Tram Route 8.
But the tram was diverted to avoid some protest march activity in part of the city centre. There was, said the lad, no information about this, no announcement on the tram and no notice at the stops.

The on-board screens remained resolutely bank throughout the route!
The other (Swiss) passengers were completely unfazed by the diversion, accepting it, and the lack of information, as quite normal.

fbb was thinking that a tram diversion on all but one of the UK systems would be impossible - the exception being Manchester with alternative routes through the city centre.
Are there any others?

 Next Cartgate plus blog : Sunday 25th March