Tuesday, 9 February 2016

When Will They Ever Learn? [2]

Breaking News : Broken Business
News broke yesterday afternoon that Tates Travel of Barnsley, operators of about 50 buses worth of routes in West and South Yorkshire, would cease trading after the end of service yesterday evening 8th February.
A more detailed report will follow on tomorrow's blog.
It's Sir Brian, the Bearded Bus Baron of Perth!
It is none other than the Stagecoach White Knight who has agreed to take over route 17 in Guildford. Although most would consider Guildford to be Arriva-land, Stagecoach run numerous inter urban services off to points west plus four Park and Ride services ...
... usually in a dedicated (and nearly anonmymous) livery.

So they have some sort of "base".

One thing that the Souter-folk have done is to change the timetable and route. Arriva ran out and back with a Monday to Saturday round trip of 62 minutes.
Note, in passing, that the 0705 from Wood Street Green terminates at Guildford Friary Bus Station whereas the 0758 ditto runs to Guildford Friary Bus Station. Thanks, Arriva, for making that clear.

When will they ever learn?

Stagecoach will run alternate ways round the lollipop ...
... with an off-peak round trip time of 54 minutes. That means the service can run on "one bus in steam" wthout the complication of interworking with other routes or sitting around in Guildford for 58 minutes.

Good News all round, then? Erm, not quite!

As part of their withdrawal from the 17, Arriva announced that very wiggly route 28 (Guildford to Woking) ...
... would gain an extra wiggle and serve the Fairlands Estate.

fbb attempted to prise a route 28 PDF timetable and route map out of Arriva's web site. Here is the map ...
... but it's a bit foggy at Guildford! And here is the PDF timetable extract:-
It must be very confusing having TWO bus stations called "Friary".

The County Council has said that the 28 change is now unnecessary with the revised 17, but Arriva says they will continue with this amendment.

Good news for Fairlands Estate; two buses every hour rather than one.

Bad news for Stagecoach in their attempts to make their version of route 17 viable. The 28's arrival on Fairlands Estate may well split the bus business in half, thus making both the new 17/17A and the revised 28 both unviable.

What will Stagecoach do? Give up on the 17/17A.

What will Arriva do? Put the 28 back where it was?

What will residents of Fairlands, Wood Street Village and Frog Grove Lane do? Scream with insane laughter or weep copiously.

And thus continueth the delights of a privatised deregulated Public Transport system.

When will they ever learn?

Correspondent Ian (who set fbb off on this particular trail of investigateion; thanks) asks a question in his email.
And the answer, Ian is no they don't. The traffic commissioners have no powers whatsoever to intervene in any commercial bus registrations. In this area they are just a filing cabinet. They do get involved (but all too rarely) if an operator fails to run his registered service; but otherwise there is nothing they or the local authority can do.
Cllr Fiona White reminds residents that Stagecoach is introducing this service on an experimental basis in good faith, and it will be monitored during the spring and summer to establish whether revenue income reaches their expectations within the business case, before deciding what form their service should take in the longer term from September 2016 onwards.

She added: “It is important that residents use the service and it really is a case of ‘use it or lose it’. I would appreciate everyone who reads this doing all they can to publicise the new service.”

And, of course, diverting the 28 creates another problem according to one agitator.

They have left the main A322 through Stoughton without buses that serve many elderly people, to divert the bus instead to Fairlands, that will not be wanted now. Please leave route 28 as it is through Stoughton, and serve the community that needs buses.

Tosh. Mos of Stoughton has a bus every 15 minutes on service 27/28.
The road will lose its wiggly link to Woking, however.

When will they ever learn?
Meanwhile, Back in Stagecoach South West ...

We sadly announce the news that Mike Bishop has decided to retire from his position of Engineering Director for Stagecoach South West. Mike joined us here in Exeter in 2009, from his previous position at Stagecoach in Warwickshire where Mike had been the Engineering Director since 2004.

Mike has a long-standing career in the transport industry, specifically in engineering. During the 12 years Mike has been with Stagecoach he has contributed greatly to the growth and expansion of the business. Managing fleets of several hundred buses both here in the South West and during his time in Rugby. Mike has played an integral role in the day to day running of our business both in the high standard of maintenance of our vehicles and in managing the teams of people who make this possible. During his time as director here in the South West we have seen him excel on projects such as the launch of three Gold services ...
... two new Park and Ride fleets in Exeter ...
... and the launch of our new intercity coach service to Bristol.

Mike's last day working at Stagecoach will be the 3rd May 2016, please join us at Stagecoach in wishing Mike all the best for his retirement, and thanking him for all of his hard work.
Sadly the cake was not for Mike, it was for yet another launch, namely new buses on an Exeter City service. Maybe they'll bake him one when he goes in May?

And in case you wondered, Stagecoach's splendid Mike Bishop is definitely not the same one ...
... a made a bit of a picklle of trying to run western greyhound!

 Next Tates bus blog : Wednesday 10th February 


  1. Tates! Are you so surprised?

  2. From comments below article Tates were also caught up in the Bahamas King Long shenanigans. Has there been any good fall-out from that?!

    1. It's way OT but read that another dupe of King Long episode, Brijan Tours, has finally been placed in to Compulsory Liquidation

  3. Stagecoach opened a new depot in Guildford last summer, with the usual fanfare http://www.route-one.net/industry/new-guildford-base-for-stagecoach/.
    The VOSA website shows it as authorised for 40 vehicles, although the current allocation is around 30 buses.

  4. Stagecoach started running the 65 partly out of Guildford too. The reaction of Arriva Surrey is typical as they are happy to run services into the ground but when they cut services and others try they all of a sudden start them back up again or divert others suddenly claiming the demand is back...just ask the residents of Cranleigh. I really wish Metrobus had bought them out along with Horsham as they are so poor with constant late running, rude drivrers and buses that are not in the best state of repair (despite interior refurbs recently). They seem to think that painting the outside new Arriva colours will make a falling apart bus work again without giving it any maintenance....kind of like First used to and the new fake leather seats inside are far inferior to the seats they replaced. As for the 28, it runs around empty most of the time, except when it picks up through Stoughton! There is also a short bit of road that will lose it's bus service and the diversion via Fairlands will likely make the 28 even longer! any time things change in Woking the 28 seems to be diverted to cover it!

    1. Shock horror Cranleigh buses change again with the 63X all but withdrawn

    2. To be fair - they have tried improving the Cranleigh - Horsham service. Evidently, it's not worked out, so it's returning to what it was before, but you can't knock them for trying.

    3. Re Anon 1101. Stagecoach run all of the 65 from Guildford depot. It was reallocated from Winchester with the Autumn 2015 changes when they broke the through link to/from Winchester. In fact, Stagecoach were planning to axe completely the 65 between Farnham and Alton - but bowed into the pressure at the last minute to keep that bit going until September 2016.

      I agree Arriva Surrey is poor.

      I completely disagree with your assertion that "the reaction of Arriva is typical as they are happy to run services into the ground but when they cut services and others try they all of a sudden start them back or divert the claiming the demand is back". Please can you provide an example of this happening? They may be many things, but I do not believe that Arriva Surrey have done that.
      Besides, in this case (the 17), that's not the scenario anyway - the 17 withdrawal and 28 change were planned prior to any knowledge of Stagecoach taking on the 17, and indeed, Arriva are sticking to their guns with their original plan.

      The 28 at the Woking end is Surrey CC tendered, so the changes there are more to do with SCC than Arriva.

  5. Three bus stops on the Worplesdon Road lose their bus service completely, including one that serves a large care home. Passengers between Guildford and Brookwood/Pirbright/Worplesdon have their journey time increased by fifteen minutes.
    Only FBB appears to support the Arriva change to service 28.

  6. Do I, Anon at 1119? It's news to me. I was aiming to imply that the whole thing is potty. What I did object to was a resident who wrote that Stoughton was left busless.

  7. The resident is right! Three bus stops in Stoughton,including the busy Royal Hotel stop, on Worplesdon Road between the Aldershot Road and Byrefield Road junctions are only served by Arriva 28. Look more closely at your Guildford bus map!

    1. It wouldnt surprise me if those 3 stops now not served are some of the busiest on the route..not that Arriva cares or ever did. the 28 gets changed so much to fit around every other route that knowing the timetable is alomst impossible. Is the 91 diverted that way on sunday too?
      Also I notice that the railair 701 is further cut back during the day the roughly hourly throughout and the pointless 702 is gone BUT finally the 701 starts at 0300 to catch early flights.

  8. Before you attempt to start sounding off against all and sundry tomorrow on your Tates blog tomorrow ask yourself "do I know enough about this to pass comment?"

  9. A few random thoughts...
    I wouldn't rate Arriva Southern Counties as a particularly good operator.

    However, it is clear they had an issue with the 17. It's not just "the profit margin does not reach the heights of that required by Arriva's business model" - it was loosing £35,000 per annum.
    People (particularly on the local social media pages - perhaps unsurprisingly) appear to have misunderstood the reason for the 28 being diverted, having now taken the view that 'because Stagecoach are taking over the 17, the 28 no longer needs diverting'.
    Obviously, Arriva aren't just diverting the 28 for the hell of it - there must be a reason.

    I don't know for sure, but - the 28 is commercial between Guildford and Knaphill, and apart from the peaks, it doesn't seem particularly busy. I therefore think it's safe to suggest that it doesn't do very well, and that the combined planned changes to the 17 and 28 were designed to maintain service and links to as many areas as was possible, with reduced resource, to avoid loosing money. Clearly, they're going to stick to this despite Stagecoach's takeover.

    I note Stagecoach have timed their 17 to run just in front of the 28, to pinch all the passengers, so although there's now two buses an hour from Fairlands Estate to Guildford, any benefit of that is fairly negligible.

    I'm sure Stagecoach have motives other than taking on a loss-making route just to be nice. Surely, getting a feel for the town - uni - hospital section won't do them any harm...

    Clearly, if it really is a lost cause, they will give it up - as they are with the 94 Camberley - Bracknell after only a few months of operation.

    Safeguard have also dropped services that weren't making enough margin for what they wanted. It's perhaps telling that they, as the respected, local operator - have not stepped in to touch the 17!

    Interesting Gold P&R photo. Shame it's my photo, stolen.

    fbb is right that not all of Stoughton is left busless, although to be fair, the OP did specifically refer to the main A322 road. As others have mentioned, various stops are left unserved. For some stops, this will have no impact at all, as they're never used. Some, more frequent alternatives are within walking distance (though further than the average car driver would be prepared to walk). But some aren't - and of course there's the elderly who won't be able to walk.

    All in all, it's not at all ideal, but, the 17 was loosing money, and Arriva seem to have attempted to come up with a compromise solution with as few places left busless as possible. At the end of the day, with no money to subisdise a decent service on these types of routes (the vast majority of Guildford buses are commercially run), it's not a huge surprise.