Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Fond Memories Of The Moor

Sheffield Moor was, many moons ago, a chunk of moorland south of the city.
In the mid eighteenth century Sheffield ended at what is now Barkers Pool and Pinstone Street.
"The Moor" developed as a major shopping centre with the Crimea Monument as a focus.
Our "story" today focuses on a favourite toy store ...
... beloved by the children of more well-blessed Sheffield folk.
1857 - E Redgate is opened by Edwin Redgate in Fargate. It sells sewing machines and furs.
1890 - Cheap fur which won’t sell is used to make pram covers. Prams are sold for the first time to go with the covers. Wheeled toys are also brought in.
1895 - William S Nunn marries Edwin’s daughter, Annie Gertrude, and later becomes a partner in the business.
1918 - George Nunn, son of William and Annie Gertrude brings more toys to the business after visiting Manchester Toy Fair.
1925 - The store moves to Moorhead for the first of two stays there.
1940 - The store is badly damaged during the Sheffield Blitz and relocates to Ecclesall Road.
1948 - Michael Nunn, the last member of the Redgate family to run the business, joins at just 20 years of age.
1954 - Moves back to Moorhead
1962 - Moves to Furnival Gate.
1967 - fbb teaches English to Anthony Redgate Nunn (aged 13) at Birkdale Prep School
1974 - Mrs fbb's mother buys pram for fbb's No1 son from Redgates for £54 (navy blue Silver Cross)
1986 - After 129 years as a family concern the store is sold to UK chain Zodiac Toys.
1988 - Zodiac shuts the store.
2018 - Store is demolished

Of course the whole area was devastated by a certain Mr Hitler; bad for the shops but good for the steelworks. Aiming for the works, the bombers slightly lost their way and destroyed much of the city centre.
So the Moor was rebuilt some of it as late as the mid 1960s.
Furnival Gate replaced the traditional Moorhead layout and there (above) in the gap went Redgates shop.

Later The Moor was closed to all traffic and over the years more and more restrictions have been added to the "by-pass" roads.

Approach from the city centre and you now have to turn left ...
... go past the old Redgates ...
... U-turn at the roundabout ...
... and back past the old Redgates to get to the busy bus stops round the back of The Moor.
So where is this all leading?

On Sunday Morning, Roy, our Sheffield correspondent, was waiting at the bottom of the Moor for a bus out of town.
And came there none.

Clever Roy was able to access the Travel South Yorkshire web site and found this ...
... posted at 1146.

Roy, justifiably annoyed, rang the PTE enquiry number and asked why nothing was posted at bus stops.

"We were only told this morning." came the reply, "the road past Redgates is closed because of the demolition." (see above).

Only told this morning? VERY unlikely.

Roy then asked why there were no notices at the stops.

"Nobody has access to a printer on a Sunday."

Has nobody heard of sheets of paper and a thick felt tip pen?

Without any notice most passengers were completely befuddled. In fact, buses ran via Eyre Street ...
... as per the PTE's on-line notice.
But how many would have bothered to look, even if they had access to a smartphone? And if they looked, would they have found it. "Disruptions" notices are well hidden.

Back in the day a nice Sheffield Transport Inspector would be dispatched to each of the unserved stops to direct people to the diverted buses. Why could staff not be found to do the same last Sunday?

Instead a huge number of people were frustrated, inconvenienced and almost certainly missed their bus. The chaos applied right until the end of service on Sunday.

But it was all on line!!!

Yet again, companies wonder why passengers are abandoning the buses.

And Four Come Along At Once (2) is postponed due to "technical difficulties"

 Next Demand Responsive blog : Wednesday 23rd May 

Monday, 21 May 2018

And Four Come Along At Once (1)

Is Demand Responsive Responsive?
The phrase usually refers to something between a taxi and a bus, serving rural areas with some form of advance booking. Demand responsive in urban areas has surfaces on several occasions. When fbb was wooing Mrs fbb-to be, he took her on the Hampstead Garden Suburb service from Golders Green station.
Booking was by phone. Of similar vintage was the Woughton (pronounced Wuff-ton) Dial-a-Bus ...
... serving embryo districts of Milton Keynes. fbb remembers the occasion. He, plus Northampton correspondent Alan, alighted from a real bus in one of the many blasted heaths that would become the new city. First find a phone box, then attempt to describe the pick-up point. Both these algorithms were fraught.

Eventually a bus came a delivered the gruesome twosome to Bletchley.

Stagecoach had a go with their Taxibus in Petersfield ...
... but it was short-lived.

Using old technology ...
... was slow and expensive. Along come smartphone Apps linked to clever "ride sharing" software and it all gets much more feasible.

Arriva Click began in a small way offering pre-booked services between The Kent Science Park ...
... and Sittingbourne Station. The service has since expanded to cover a much wider area.
The system is straightforward. Book your journey using the App, pay using the App and your minibus comes for you at a time which arrives via a txt on you phone.
£7.50 - OUCH! (fbb thinks the fares structure has changed since that price was quoted)

Cunningly, fares vary according to distance and are reduced for more than one person making the same journey. Generally prices are cheaper than a taxi, but a lot more expensive than a conventional bus.

Ford have started their "Chariot" service of "vans" (their description of a minibus, not fbb's).
Four services are running in London. But unlike the Sittingbourne service which runs all day Monday to Saturday, the Chariots only operate at peak times and with "peak flow" i.e. to get you to and from work via a suitable station.

fbb took a look at the Nuxley Navigator (joyous crazy names!) which links parts of Erith with Abbey Wood station, ready no doubt for the Elizabeth Line (a k a Crossrail) service.
It illustrates how Ford's Chariot service works.

Firstly, it uses a fixed route; but as all journeys have to be pre-booked, it will, presumably, miss out bits where there are no customers.
Abbey Wood station is just off the map, upper  left. It passes through places which are unfamiliar to fbb; West Heath, Bedonwell and Lessness with stops marked by the little blobs. There are no stop poles or flags, everything is delivered via the App with each stop given a detailed name..

The route ends on Charlton Road, Erith ...
... outside No 8B (centre property above).
It must be a great thrill for the owners of 8B to have a bus terminus outside their driveway!

fbb was able to "sample" possible journeys without downloading the App and inadvertently spending money on journeys he would never use. Oddly, a trip from Kempton Road to Abbey Wood ...
... was possible BUT from Erith and District Hospital, not much further away ...
... Chariot would no carry me.
fbb is renowned for a stubby-fingered approach to so-called smartphones so might have done something wrong or just plain silly; but the results for Cartlon Road seemed illogical.

And for those with better knowledge of Red Bus routes than fbb, this Cartlon Road is served by London Buses B12 ...
... which runs from Erith to Joydens Wood.
One of the dubious delights of this London Buses service is that it trundles round the Joydens Wood loop in the opposite direction after about 12 noon.
Carlton Road and Erith General Hospital are on there somewhere, up at the top, near Erith.

So Ford's Chariots do impinge on "normal" bus services, but whether they actually extract any significant revenue therefrom is, currently a matter for speculation.

Without the App, fbb could not find any prices, but, again, they are claimed to be cheaper than a taxi but, obviously, more expensive that a "proper" bus.

Ford's operation is present in a number of USA cities and, presumably, the aim is to make a profit.

Tomorrow we move to another experimental demand responsive service which started last week in Bristol, and it involved the normally risk-averse First Bus.
Hat Eating Delayed
On Saturday last, fbb reported on another piece of publicity nonsense from Travel South Yorkshire. The on-line non-leaflet for joint services 7 and 8/8A showed a reduction in frequency Monday to Friday to half hourly for the 7 "for the summer period" (period assumed but not stated) but with the 8/8A being left at every 20.
This showed the ludicrously daft situation of two buses running over most pf the route at exactly the same times viz. 1232 from Manor Top to Ecclesfield, a joy repeated every hour.

Of course it was a nonsense and fbb's hat (he never wears one, so the offer was meaningless) will not be consumed.

First Bus have published their 8/8A timetable (without adding in their partner's route 7) ...
... and it, too, is reduced to every 30 minutes.

fbb does wonder when the TSY gnomes will find out and, more importantly, when they will think about telling the good folk of Sheffield. Remember that nobody will be providing any printed timetables for this THREE MONTH service cut.

Beyond belief YET AGAIN.

Now what have you been saying, folks, about a steady decline in passenger numbers?

Not to be outdone by PTE incompetence, First Bus is still ostensibly running a different service on some selected days of the week. Last time it was Friday that had a special timetable exactly the same as the normal one; for the 8/8a it is now Monday.
Maybe there is a prize for spotting the difference between the Monday timetable and the Tuesday to Friday version.

Several services (notably in Doncaster) do not run on Mondays at all.
 My First Mile blog : Tuesday 22nd May 

Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Trouble With Tram Tracks ...

... Is That They Wear Out!
Sheffield Supertram is going through a seemingly unending programme of track renewal. It is reasonably easy for buses to cope with road renewal, but trams are not a very useful mode of transport without track to run along!

Phase 1 of this year's extensive programme starts this coming weekend. The lines will be closed from Hillsborough Corner ...
... straight ahead to the terminus at Middlewood.
The trams on the yellow route (Meadowhall, City, Middlwood) will all turn left at Hillsborough and terminate at Malin Bridge with no change to the timetable. A replacement bus service (Y1) will run from Hillsborough Interchange to Middlewood.

It is only a short nip from the tram stop outside Costa Lot to the bus stops.
Simple, eh?

But it isn't!

The ever helpful PTE (in the guise of Travel South Yorkshire - TSY) - added this note to its extensive list of Disruptions on 15th April. It is No 21 in an alphabetical list of 26 "disruptions". fbb has extracted the salient points.
The yellow route will run as normal between Meadowhall and Hillsborough before diverting to Malin Bridge to terminate.

Yep. Got that.

Middlewood Road will be closed to all traffic over the Bank Holiday weekend Saturday 26th-Monday 28th May. Traffic management will be in place.

Traffic management? How will that affect bus services along Middlewood Road?

Bus replacement services will be in operation from Tuesday 29th May to minimise the disruption to passengers travelling between Hillsborough and Middlewood. 

What about over the weekend?

Middlewood Park & Ride
As a result of the proximity of the rail replacement works to the Park & Ride entrance, along with the closure of Middlewood Road, Middlewood Park & Ride facility will be closed from 00:01 on Saturday 26 May until 05:00 on Friday 1 June. Alternative parking and tram services are available from Malin Bridge. 

Will there be room?

Shuttle bus service Y1 will operate between Hillsborough and Middlewood from Tuesday 29th May

Services SL1/SL1a will be extended and operate through to Hillsborough

And the timetables for Y1 and SL1/SL1a?

The end date for what will be a major disruption to public transport is well hidden within the text. But, to be fair to TSY (?) details of other bus services and how they might be affected are then listed in a long paragraph. It is not easy to understand and it certainly does not adequately explain the consequences of the total closure of all (or part?) of Middlewood Road over the bank holiday weekend.

Thankfully Supertram have produced a lovely leaflet, (Seems a good idea, perhaps TSY, Stagecoach Bus, First Bus et al might try it some time?!), although it would be better to have a more powerful link from the on-line "home" page.
Is a major disruption of equal value to "Finding out more ..." or "Working for us ..."?

But the leaflet exudes typical Supertram quality.
It has a summary of everything that is happening ...
... together with an ominous warning about the bank holiday weekend.
The tram route changes are shown diagrammatically ...
... with an adaptation of the "normal" tramway route diagram. So far so good. 

But then comes the difficult bit. There is a map showing how you get to the closed bit of route (also the closed bit of road!) over the weekend.
Answer; you can't! You have to walk from the SL1/SL1a service which is being extended through to Hillsborough throughput the disruption.

There may be some very good reason, but fbb cannot see it and it is not explained, why some sort of bus service couldn't run down Wadsley Lane (not named on the map above) and Langsett Avenue to help those with bags of goodies. They are both quite lengthy walks.

Too much trouble?

Once the weekend is over things do get better. The replacement bus is then in operation until the end of the work.
But the Y1 will be a one-way-round circular travelling non stop to Worrall ...
... then via Mowson Lane and the delightfully rural Stockarth Lane ...
... to rejoin the main road and turn back towards Sheffield.
As far as fbb is aware, this is the first time EVER that buses have used Mowson Lane and Stockarth Lane.

The leaflet includes a timetable for the Y1 ...
... but gives no details of the SL1 and SL1a.

But then a Supertam leaflet wouldn't, would it? SL1 and SL1a are run by those reprobate people at Stagecoach BUS, and we really don't want to get involved with them.

As this blog was being composed (1000 yesterday morning) with a week to go to the disruption, NOBODY had published a timetable for the substantially revised Supertram link service!

One other small point. The leaflet gives the dates of the two different sets of arrangements.
Very pretty; but, for example what happens on May 27th? "Between these dates inclusive" is needed, surely?
Lets us hope that the beleaguered folk of Hillsborough can work out what is happening to all the other bus services. It seems, with a week to go, that no-one is going to tell them.
 Today is Whit Sunday 
Since our Government divorces the Spring Bank Holiday from the Whitsun movable feast, its significance has faded from our corporate consciousness.

Whitsun probably takes its name from the tradition of putting on clean WHITe clothing to celebrate the day, but it might be better known as Pentecost, a Greek work describing the 50th day after Passover, our Easter.

When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
Our modern pseudo-secular society struggles with this description, but what seems to have happened is that some measure of divine power was delivered to the followers. Power of any sort (think lightning or a high voltage electrical discharge) ...
... can be created in a laboratory as a spectacular and noisy demonstration. (Don't try this at home!)

What is absolutely irrefutable is that the small band of Jesus' followers changed completely on that day. From being frightened men hiding in a room for fear of the authorities, they became bold in their preaching and thousands joined the gang.

Much of the charity work, health care and social care in this country began through the efforts of believers emboldened by the Power of God within them.

Pentecost made a difference then and it still does today!
Minibus Un-Revolution Part Two
Yesterday fbb was looking at the Stagecoach cutbacks in Ashford and thus the end of their dalliance with minibi.

A correspondent has contacted the chubby one to report that the Arriva sillibuses in Hemel Hempstead ...
... are to be withdrawn from 1st July.

No surprise there, then.
 Next Demand Resposive blog : Monday 21st May