Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Bus Stop Shop Window (2)

Displaying Old And Unobtainable Products
fbb was staying at the Leicester Central (which isn't central) Premier Inn for his recent Grand Tour and make much use of Arriva's bus services that stopped outside the gate (well, nearly).

It is encouraging to see a nice blue panel showing Arriva's four services which fbb reckons an Arriva man-with-van stuck up there after months (years?) of out-of-date information. It happened, according to local correspondent David, some time after Arriva withdrew service 28 to the hinterland of Groby.
Is it too picky to suggest that the buses showing  29X  should be on the panel? These journeys run at  early and late shift times for Amazon warehouse near Bardon ...
... missing out all the villages and whizzing straight along the former A50. BUT, according to Traveline (above) they serve all stops en route including LOROS (Loros?)  but giving it a different name, i.e. Leicester Frith, adj Heathley Park Drive.

Heathley Park Drive is the road giving access to the housing developments which replaced Groby Road Isolation Hospital.
Why not rename the stop "Heathley Park"?

Loros (or ...) is unknown to Traveline ...
... but Heathley Park pops up happily.
Likewise on Arriva's JP - but what and where is Leicester Frith?
LEICESTER-FRITH, or SHERMANS-GROUNDS, an extra-parochial tract in Barrow-upon-Soar district, Leicestershire; 2 miles NNW of Leicester. Acres, 240. Real property, £529. Pop., 24. Houses, 4. Frith House here is the seat of Miss Mackie.

How many Leicester folk know that? More to the point, is it in any way helpful to bus passengers? It's memory is not pleasant as the mansion referred to above ...
... became a mental hospital.

The property was taken over during the First World War as a home for patients suffering from "heurasthenia", what might now be referred to as "nervous exhaustion". In 1920 Leicester Borough Council purchased the property from the Ministry of Pensions for use as a home for the "mentally defective". The Leicester Frith institution opened on 30 August 1923 initially accommodating 30 boys. 30 girls and 60 women.

Thankfully we are a bit better at dealing with mental illness these days!

But we digress. Back to that "flag"
Services 50, 54, 121 and 123 no longer operate and haven't done so for some considerable time! Well done to all concerned for helping the bus passenger by explaining things so clearly!

But inside the shelter is one of those very very long Leicester lists showing every departure in time order.
As everything except UHL runs to St Margarets bus station, surely it would be more helpful to the intending passenger to list the UHL in a separate table.

The super-simplicity of timetables from  good-old Northampton Corporation would be ideal for this site ...
... but the folks who drive the confuser systems seem obsessed with the idea that "if the computer produces it, it must be best" combined with the myth that every stop MUST be provided with the same looking stuff. 

fbb arrived at the stop in time to see the 0932 service 27 toddle pass (no passengers boarding or alightimg) ...
... but the UHL did not appear on time, despite assurances from Deep Throat.
fbb's 29 arrived, loaded and departed at 0938 with the screen (as above but a couple of mins later) still broadcasting that it was due in two minutes.

So much for accurate electronics!

Readers may have noticed the label on the flag for "Leicester Hospital Hopper".
This links the three Leicester hospitals with the station and two out-of-town shopping centres. It is aimed at hospital staff but available for all. Oddly it appears on departure lists and "nearly real time" screens as "UHL" rather than "LHH".

Indeed the publicity leaflet declares optimistically ...
... but incorrectly for Loros!

fbb thinks, in a previous life, branded buses were used with the Hospital Hopper name prominent on the vehicles. Or not? Maybe an aberrant memory? Today's buses show UHL as a route "number" on the blind ...
... so "UHL" on the stop might be better and consistent with other services. That's what it says on the other side of the road.

No doubt some of fbb's critics will accuse him of making petty complaints; BUT ...

Most of what is wrong at this "Shop Window" costs hardly anything to put right; it needs a bit of thought and a few moments to peel off unwanted numbers. It could even be a "community project" and cost even less.

If "we" (corporately) wish to encourage bus travel and make it easy for passengers to understand, then sorting out the supposed trivialities will help enormously.

And a final concern at the Loros (or LOROS or Heathley Park) to City stop.
See how easy it would be for a passenger in the shelter to step out into the path of a speedy cyclist and be knocked down OR, even worse, force the cyclist to swerve into the road in front of something large and fast moving. There is no "cycle track" on the other side of the road ...
... so we must assume that the two-wheeled danger can approach from both directions.

Nasty!

Tomorrow we (unlike cycles!) cross the road and "enjoy" the outbound stop.

 Next "shop window" blog : Thursday 26th April 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Bus Stop Shop Window (1)

It Is NOT All On-Line!
When we read press reports of prestigious bus and coach exhibitions in the UK and internationally, the text often refers to "the industry's shop window". Whilst that may be true for company owners, managers and (more importantly, we are told!) their accountants, it is not true of the General Public. For most bus users, the "shop window" is the humble and often hardly noticed bus stop.
The display that guides the user to the company's "products" varies enormously throughout the world; the above, for example is (maybe was?) in a huge City in America.

Contrast this with Paris, where signs in the centre are well equipped, clear and tidy.
What is also superior and sensible is that the route numbers are big enough to be seen from pavement level. But, even better, they are internally illuminated.
The colours match the route maps and any branding on vehicles or timetables. Of course, the Paris authorities see bus, tram, metro and train as the answer to the city's congestion and pollution problems and are thus prepared to tax and spend to achieve this.

In the UK, the authorities see bus, tam, metro and train as the answer to the city's congestion and pollution problems but are NOT prepared to tax and spend to achieve this.

Things have moved on a bit from the rural bus stop that fbb was used to in his youth ...
... where we now have variants on a standard sign ...
... but not all is well with the industry's shop window.

Which takes us to Leicester, where fbb spent two comfortable nights in the Leicester Central Premier Inn.
Of course, as you may gather from its name, it is NOT in the centre of Leicester but a mile or so along the Groby Road. Obviously, the area used to be "out in the country" along the former A50.
fbb arrived by bus from St Margarets bus station and was told by his chum, David, to get off at a stop called Loros.

Loros?

The loros (Greek: λῶρος lōros) was a long, narrow and embroidered scarf, which was wrapped around the torso and dropped over the left hand. It was one of the most important and distinctive parts of the most formal and ceremonial type of imperial Byzantine costume, worn only by the Imperial family and a few of the most senior officials.

Unlikely!

Loros (or is it L O R O S) is a magnificent Hospice built partly on the site of the former Groby Road Hospital.
Initially an "Isolation Hospital", the original grew and became more "general" ...
... but was ultimately demolished as departments moved about half a mile further out of the city to the Glenfield Hospital site.
The original building remains, as does the gatekeeper's lodge ...
... now part of the "Eating Inn" restaurant as used by your gourmet-loving author. Full cooked breakfast was an essential feature of the recent "Grand Tour".
The main part of the former Hospital site is now a Housing Estate called Heathley Park ...
... with the Hospice shown top left.
At the bottom of the aerial view we see the Premier Inn (left) ...
... next to the original Groby Road Hospital building.

L O R O S (Loros) is the name on the stop for city-bound journeys ...
... but fbb's advised LOROS/Loros alighting stop ...
... isn't! Fortunately the road sign came well in advance of the junction ...
... and meant that visibility and nomenclature inconsistencies did not impede the fat bloke's successful egress from one of Arriva's finest (?).
Google Streetview was in a hurry, so overtook the van on the lorry leaving fbb's chosen stop hidden. It was OK from the bus, provided that you spotted the advance warning!

So how well do the L O R O S (or Loros or Groby Road!) stops succeed as the "shop window" for buses from the Premier Inn into and out of the City.

We will look in more detail tomorrow - and, as you might have guessed, it is not a pretty sight!

 Next "Shop Window" blog : Wednsday 25th April 

Monday, 23 April 2018

Sunday Snippets (2) On Monday

Baffled in Basel - Again!
A recent arrival over the ether from No 3 Son was this puzzle picture.
"Where is the stop?" he asks. Well, it's a tram, photographed from a rattan chair ...
... which suggests cafe or bar. The stop information is a bit fuzzy when enlarged ...
... but the stop name is short. Experience suggested that the two yellow bars on the "flag" might refer to buses but the electronic screens are illegible. One other clue, however, is the hills in the background. This suggests that we are near the edge of the city, possibly at a terminus.

Where next?

At this stage fbb had a serendipitous breakthrough. He typed "Valiant tram basel" into a certain search engine and up came pictures of a similar, maybe the same, bit of rolling stock ...
... and it is running on Line 11 of the BLT network. No 3 son probably thought the colours would confuse his old man - but they did exactly the opposite. It is unusual for Basel trams to stray from their "home line" so the picture is at a short-named terminus on Line 11 - seemples. It has to be ...
... Aesch Dorf and it does have two bus routes as well, 68 and 65.
Google Streetview clinches it! There is the stop plus all the other paraphernalia of a Basel terminal loop.
A red and yellow BLT tram is at the alighting stop ...
... and the identical hills are there, in the distance.

Opposite is a cafe or bar with ....
... brown rattan chairs.

Cracked it, kiddo. Try again soon. And he did - with something near impossible. But that is for later IF fbb can identify it.

Discover "Discover" Developments?
It used to be that Stagecoach had the lead in marketing, branding and route developments; with First excelling itself ...
... in a few areas but mainly promoting post-Barbie uniformity; perhaps with the occasional non-sticky sticky label ...
... or cheaply adapted cast-offs from other parts of the First empire!
But, in some areas, good things are happening. Three inter-urban routes from Bath are being relaunched with a brand new brand ...
.... and, presumably, trendy un-First-like new or refurbished buses.
One of them has already been paraded in the City.
fbb will examine the changes in detail in due course; but it all looks jolly good.

Leeds Leads in Lovely Liveries
Another dramatic livery change has been announced by First for its operations in Leeds.
Gone for good is Barbie mark 2 (Good!) and also banished, hopefully for ever, is First's unattractive blocky font ...
... and did anyone ever realise that the darker slodges on the letters were silhouettes of memorable buildings (?) from the Leeds skyline.

34 new ultra-low emission “Euro VI” vehicles can be seen along Headingley bus routes (1 and 6 services).
All new vehicles incorporate enhanced passenger facilities including next stop audio announcements, USB charging points and free Wi-Fi – as well as a new “LeedsCity” external branding.

The colours have just a hint of the final livery from Municipal days but the red ...
... picks up the pre-First "privatised" Yorkshire Rider logo.

Spookily From Seaview
But there is a connection with fbb's former home in Seaview Isle of Wight. The colours (but not their application) are almost identical with those that adorn Seaview Services coach and bus fleet.
fbb well remembers travelling, as a spotty teenger, on the decker and the VAL from Ryde to Westbrook, a youth holiday centre that your blogger eventually managed for nearly a decade.
Today's coaches have a more swirly style as per the current fashion ...
... but the three colours remain endearingly and enduringly consistent.

But this year (2018) the company is celebrating 100 years of business. A new book explains its origins.

To mark the occasion of 100 years, a book has been written on Seaview Services by Terry Jones. Terry, who bus and coach enthusiasts may know from his previous works on Claverham Garage, Shotters and Moss Motor Tours, was on hand to present a signed copy of the publication.

The book covers the full history of the operation, which was started in 1922 by Richard Newell, who commenced a bus service on the island.
1922? 2018? It appears that although the first BUS hit the roads in 1922, the company that became Seaview Services was running taxis (probably) from 1918.

Congratulations!

Tomorrow we examine one bus stop in Leicester.

 Next strange stop blog : Tuesday 24th April