Friday, 31 January 2014

January Changes in Sheffield [P.S.] and Other Bits

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency - NOT!

Those of us who have continued to use buses to travel in the UK will be well aware that the average passenger does NOT use Traveline, does NOT "go on-line" and, generally, doesn't use timetables (cannot use timetables?). Two approaches are the norm. [A] Ask someone else; passenger, passing man with dog, neighbour, postman (?) [B] Turn up at the stop and hope.
fbb remembers, way back in the swinging sixties (although fbb never swung!), he was approaching a bus stop at Neepsend, Sheffield; this very stop actually ...
... although it looked a lot different then! A Sheffield "mester" was waiting. "Ah shouldn't bother pal. Ah've bin wetting 15 minnits. Couldn't run a ------ in't Sto-uns." (Stones brewery stood nearby!) fbb, clutching his Sheffield Transport Department timetable book, proffered the fact that buses were running every 20 minutes, it being tea-time on Sunday; so a bus was due.

"Way, arm goin o-um," concluded himself and disappeared round the corner. The bus immediately arrived on time and conveyed fbb back to the city centre.

fbb reckons a similar scene could be replayed in many locations today; despite the internet, tablets, wi-fi, i-pads, p-pods, Traveline and electronic (un)real time displays.

First bus has explained the major Sheffield changes to buses between Hillsborough, City and Ecclesall Road with a simple and easily understood diagram. fbb has added the previous route numbers as a link with recent blogs. It is not absolutely necessary to read all of them to follow this blog!

See "January Changes in Sheffield [1]" (read again)
See "January Changes in Sheffield [2]" (read again)
See "January Changes in Sheffield [3]" (read again)
See "January Changes in Sheffield [4]" (read again)
See "January Changes in Sheffield [5]" (read again

Hillsborough route numbers - all change

Ecclesall Road - one confusing change (service 81)

 The diagram (above) appeared after fbb created something similar; ...
... Great minds think alike!

Although First really ought to know that the 85 does NOT run to Millhouses and never has done! Your cynical blogger does wonder why First had to commission a major cartographic supplier ...
... to produce something that the average 7 year old could do with one hand tied behind the back.

Likewise First really ought to have a play with their web site now and again.
Only they aren't!
Somebody different (or a piece of the confuser program, more likely) has changed the link because the changes are no longer "forthcoming".

But this is how Travel South Yorkshire explained the reorganisation:-
Note the following ...

11 ans 12 will be withdrawn and replaced

13 and 13A will be renumbered 

14 will be replaced

... all of which refer to the Hillsborough "end" of operations, and all of which "explain" the same "happenings". Meanwhile headings for the Ecclesall Road services say nothing about number changes at all.
And fbb doesn't recommend using the 85 to get to Bents Green; unless you are a pupil at High Storrs School and it's a schoolday. Except for a single journey for those specialist clients, the 85 goes nowhere near Bents Green!
Whilst in moaning minnie mood, there was another big change in Sheffield last weekend. The massively long route 17, a cobbling together of various bits and pieces ...
... has been uncobbled, torn limb from limb, replaced, re-routed and renumbered 19, 35, 36, 37 and 38! And your chubby blogger jesteth not. A former user of  the lengthy and circuitous 17 could be faced with a selection of FIVE  (yes, that is  FIVE ) replacement route numbers. In this case, First Bus have a lot to answer for, but compounded by Sh, You Know Who.

The mangling of the 17 was clearly highlighted in Travel South Yorkshire list of forthcoming changes ...
... wasn't it? The "26" should be "36" of course.

Not a word about the 17, vanished without trace!
Even looking under "timetables" the information was totally inadequate, omitting any mention of 35 to 38! Now, approximately one week after the change, you have to guess.

Consistency of information is noticeable by its absence, leaving the passenger bewildered. Hey ho - go the the bus stop and wait!

Or ask someone else; passenger, passing man with dog, neighbour, postman (?) 
Alternatively, back in Bradford, fbb mentioned the two stations in the City. Exchange exchanged its name to interchange to advertise the fact that you could easily exchange a bus journey for a train journey.
Meanwhile Forster Square has retained its geographically correct appellation ...
... unchanged for countless generations!
Until now, that is. The WYMetro bus route map is the first to record the renaming ...
... to Foster Square. R is for Removed!

Whence the doctor left for his suicidal puddle encounter in Glorster, mayhap!

Soon to come, Firzinghall, Sipley, Saltire and Dingley.
First Manchester Ltd is pleased to announce that it has been given Office of Fair Trading (OFT) approval to acquire the Manchester bus business of Finglands Coachways Limited. First will takeover Finglands existing bus services from Sunday 9 February. The acquisition includes the lease of the existing depot in Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, existing service registrations and the transfer of approximately 100 staff. The fleet of 41 vehicles is excluded from the sale although they will be used in the short-term to meet current service commitments. Further details regarding additional fleet investment will be made shortly.

One of the first improvements from 9 February will be the extension of the First Day and Week ticket area to include the Finglands network in South Manchester. All existing Finglands tickets will still be available and details of other new developments will be provided in future announcements.

It seems like centuries since First announced heir "intention" to buy Finglands; in fact the announcement was made on 1st August 2013. Some would question why, in a "deregulated" "free market", the mysterious men in grey suits have the ability to interfere with a deal which takes First deep into Stagecoach territory; a deal agreed by everyone. Furthermore if this bit of regulated deregulation is necessary, why does it take so long?

Or does it simply take so long (like buying a house?) in order to maintain the mystique of the mendacious mandarins, often acting to foster an open market by closing it?

Uncle Peter Shipp, opera lover and part-time bus vaulter ...
... will be taking his buses back to Kingston to play with them there.
Or will they still be "for Sale"? [see destination blind above]


 Next bus blog : Saturday 1st February 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Buzzing off to Bradford [6]

Funereal Time : Real Time : Unreal Time

But first, a look round the bus station bit of Bradford Interchange. Lift, escalator or stairs transport us to the concourse. We then arrive in a vast, bright, clean cathedral of omnibological opulence.
Assuming you know which bus you want, the big departure screens will guide you to your chosen stand. If not, it's a bit more tricky as explained in yesterday's blog. On the left is a line of stands with simple pull-ins; on the right, chevron bays.
Access to the buses is only provided when some mysterious magic contrivance opens the stand door; it is triggered when a bus parks, or when a man in high-vis jacket walks past outside. This means that there is nowhere external which could be accessed by fbb without triggering the arrival of a WYMetro SWAT team intent on confiscating fbb's accoutrements. Not nice!

Once upon a time a bus enthusiast was free to wander at will, gazed upon only with pity by inspectors who were happy to assume that sad old men with cameras had a modicum of common sense.
Buses? What buses?

fbb can't remember many bloodied bus nuts!
A quiet corner at the top of the escalator afforded a clear view of arrivals and departures. Mostly we are viewing standard First Bus rolling stock ...
... with limited intrusion from Transdev Keighley and District.
Arriva arrives from Huddersfield ...
... including a rather half-hearted attempt at route branding.
Brand X - sorry, Stand X is for the Hyperlink 72 which appeared very busy.
One possible explanation might have been three departures on the "up to every 7 minutes" frequency within 5 minutes! Duplicates? Nope; a touch of late running! Somehow, trendy bendy buses still look odd and decidedly un-British. They didn't work at all on York 4; they didn't work very well on Leeds 4 and they hang on on Swansea's 4 (daytime only!).

Here is a back end (the bit with the engine in) propelling its front end out into Bridge Street and back to Leeds.
Despite a supposed 7 minute frequency there are rumblings of discontent on the 72.
The service may be frequent but there are less seats than in the "good old" pre-hyper days.
Never mind, eh?

The fbbs are moving to Stand Y to catch their 662 "shuttle" to Nab Wood Crematorium. The stand offers paltry information. Not a dicky bird about the route; not a chipolata sausage of a timetable and an impressive zilch about fares.
All the Sunday journeys are coded "A" which tells us that they also run on Bank Holiday Mondays. Why not just print "Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays" and "Monday to Friday EXCEPT Bank Holidays" in the heading? Sorry, the expensive confuser system can't manage that. One daren't ask about Good Friday!

But there was a real time electronic departure screen.
Or was it?

fbb watched for a while and the 8/18/38 min signs changed almost together to 17/27/37; either this wasn't real time or the service was running so perfectly as to be unbelievable. Maybe Transdev are better at running buses than First?

The pointlessness of these screens was ably demonstrated to the fbb's later. They arrived from the bowels of Bradford Interchange for the 1300 departure, having lingered too long on their sarnies and tea to catch the 1250.

At 1300, no bus arrived despite it being there on the screen. At 1303 a bus did arrive, by which time the 1300 had vanished from the screen. The fbb's boarded, confidently expecting to depart straight away. Alas no. They left ptomptly at 1310 on the 1310 departure. The 1300 was invisible; a ghost bus, transparent to all concerned.
As the Python team might have said,

"This 1300 is no more! It has ceased to be! It has expired and gone to meet its recovery truck! The 1300 is bereft of life, it rests in peace! Its timetabled processes are now history! It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off its scheduled route, run down the curtain and joined the great bus depot in the sky! It is a dead bus."

Real  time? No way!

The driver of the 1310 was extremely helpful. Although fbb had downloaded a piccy of the bus stop at Nab Wood, the man at the front kindly called out the stop and all was well. Ironically the fbb's (public transport) were the first of the wider family to arrive whilst hearse, the limo and the rest of the "close" mourners cut it very fine indeed; road works in Shipley and traffic cloggage in and around the Chapel impeded even their sedate progress. 

It would have been inappropriate for fbb to gloat.

P.S. With reference to some of yesterday's comments. Nab Wood Cemetery does appear on the route diagram on Transdev's Shuttle 662 leaflet.
Next to fbb's fbt (fat big thumb!). But the rudimentary route diagram, a poor substitute for a proper map, does not appear on-line. The on-line version is one of these ...
... complete with a pointless animated bus that runs along the route. Amusing? fbb is perhaps too old to enjoy the thrill of seeing a little bus logo chuntering across his confuser screen; give the old man a proper map any time.
Why outsourcing maps is not always a good idea. This from the brand new "Buses of Somerset" web site.
It's MillwEy Rise and TytheRleigh. Clearly Roy Stenning was having an off day. We all have those; but did someone at First "Buses of Somerset" and/or "Taunton" check it? And has the person who did (or didn't) ever travelled on the service 30 to Axminster?
 Next bus blog : Friday 31st January 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Buzzing off to Bradford [5]

See also "Buzzing off to Bradford [4]" (read again)

It was No Fuss by Bus (almost!)

The fbbs were the only funeral guests to have arrived by public transport. Their plan to return by public transport was  partially thwarted (in a nice way) by their long-time Sheffield friends who invited them to stay at their home for Monday night. Other family guests had driven (day return) from Welwyn Garden City, Luton, Reading and Preston. One cousin even drove from Plymouth but stayed overnight on the Sunday; leaving the "baked meats" early to drive all the way back on Monday evening. Quelle horreur!

fbb had calculated that a 1250 or 1300 departure (from Bradford Interchange) on Transdev Keighley & District's Shuttle 662 would allow plenty of time to totter down the driveway to the Crematorium. This was all confirmed with reference to an on-line version of the leaflet ...
... and a check with West Yorkshire Metro's route map. Google Streetview even provided a picture of stop and approaching bus!
The car on the left is just coming out of the drive to the chapel.

So first, a spot of lunch. At the foot of the steps from the station barriers (unmanned and open, of course) was ...
... and ideal refreshment facility with a tempting advert:-
What could be better; bacon roll and mug of tea for a modest £2. Except you couldn't have it! You could have had it up to 11am but not thereafter as clearly explained on the poster, NOT! All was (not very) clarified by a much smaller poster for "our breakfast menu" with a minuscule note saying "until 11am." Poor; and especially so as Mrs fbb had to go back and rejoin the queue to obtain the chicken sarnies.

Disappointing but delicious.

On this bottom and cavernous level were free toilets (Sheffield; a bladder straining 20p!) ...
... an excellent enquiry office ...
...and a small but beautifully formed WHSmith.
There was also a departure screen, a duplicate of the one in the bus station up above.
Now here's a theoretical question. Assuming that the enquiry office was closed ...
... how would fbb find out which bus to catch to get him to Nab Wood Crematorium? There was no large scale version of the W Y Metro map displayed (at least fbb couldn't find one) nor were there any timetables or route descriptions at stands or in a central display. Not everyone can cope with on-line public transport enquiries and many will object to paying significant sums of money to call Traveline.

Fortunately he knew that the 662 passed by and there, on the departure screen was a 662 leaving from stand Y.

If the potential traveller had done his (extensive) homework; i.e. he knew what to look for, then getting from Axminster to Nab Wood Crematorium was reasonably achievable; but for a non-expert, not so cosy. There were good reasons for some of the family to come by car but fbb would bet his pension that not one of them even considered catching a train.

Public transport simply ain't easy. Infomation simply ain't good enough.

IF an unwary potential passenger had asked on-line Traveline this is the first answer on the list for a journey from Sheffield to Nab Wood arriving by 1330; fbb's requirement.
How would an average passenger respond to this advice? Of course it's loony; of course it's useless; of course ...

... it's Traveline.

So the fbb's are in the right place and ready for the right bus but there is still time to take escalator, stairs or lift up to the the bus departure area and have a look round.
And before commentators rush to advise, fbb is well aware that there is a 760 bus every 30 minutes from Leeds to Nab Wood; BUT Leodensian interchange (or should that be Loiner Interchange?) is more difficult and a half hour frequency is less forgiving if anything goes wrong.

One final question:-
Alternative to what? Or, even worse, how do you become an alternative male? Please send answers (with a fiver) to the usual address.
so now we know! ...
 ... what those green First Bus buses are. There was a non-launch on Monday.
Well, the web site happened and it looks very "GoAhead", but with apples.
Your intrepid blogger understands that there will be an "official" launch when enough of the fleet is re-liveried. The web site is (here).

It wouldn't have been designed by "Best Impressions" by any chance? It is ever so very difficult to tell!

Hang on. Is it "Buses of Somerset" or "Taunton" ...
... also with apples?
Nice paint job, isn't it?
 Next bus blog : Thursday 30th January