Wednesday, 31 May 2017

What's These Buses Called "A", Eh? (2)

Seasonal Bravery?
The northern coast of the far west of Cornwall is sparsely populated and sparsely served by bus from Penzance (click on the map to enlarge).
First service 17 runs via St Just and eastwards to Pendeen whilst service 16A goes to St Ives via the Gurnards Head Hotel, a tidy step from the actual "Head" as quoted in the timetable!
Often overlooked is the service 7 offered by the West Penwith Community Bus ...
... which links Lands End with Zennor via St Just.
In recent years, First has offered a service 300 with variable number of round trips. Two years ago, when fbb was in Penzance, this route was not frequent ...
... being three trips a day, usually on a vintage Bristol FLF.
The trips that fbb observed were poorly loaded.

So the 2017 timetable comes as some surprise. Service 300 becomes A3 and runs hourly ...
... "connecting" (i.e. through buses) with the A2 at Lands End. Open top buses are due to be provided.

Scenery pictures never do justice to the live view, especially from a breezy top deck. But here are some samples.

Sennen Cove


Gurnards Head Hotel


There are sea views almost all the way and the double route trip terminates at the cliff top bus station in St Ives.

But the circular bus fun is not yet over. At St Ives the hardy open top explorer can change buses (yes, really change this time!) to the A2, formerly the summer only 17B ...
... for more views, including the mysterious and glorious St Michaels Mount.
First Bus kindly provide those who wish to do the full round trip with a combined summary timetable.
Which leaves us with the question, "why A?"

The answer sort of began with a service from Newquay rebranded last year.
Service 56 bears the name "the Atlantic coaster" ...
... and becomes the hourly A5 for 2017, but is not open top.

Some journeys on the A4 (formerly 57) will be devoid of top.

To complete the set of As, the long-standing service 17 between Pendeen, Penzance and St Ives joins the Atlantic Coasters club with the unadventurous name of A17.
So from one bus route from Newquay last year as a single Atlantic Coaster we have a plethora of routes with the pluralise Atlantic CoasterS label.

It is not clear how many vehicles will be carrying the new livery. As we saw recently in Weston Super Mare, routes have been publicised at Excel but with little evidence on the road; according to local bus watchers.

The First Kernow Facebook page has pictures of two. One an open top double deck ...
... which presumably cannot be used on service because you have to climb a step!

The single deck is equally intriguing because it appears o have a map witb only the A5/56 from Newquay and the A3/300 from st Ives.
A work in progress,

Picky thought; have the stops been re-branded or do they still show 300?

fbb would like to publish pictures of Atlantic Coasters happily coasting plus any other local publicity.

Please send to:-

This batch of newly-promoted Open Top and associated services represents a significant act commercial bravery, most notably with the dramatic expansion of the 300/A3. It deserves to do well.

 Next Nottingham blog : Thursday 1st June 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

What's These Buses Called "A", Eh? (1)

Kittrinyow Kernewek
Two years ago, fbb was exploring and offering some guarded opinions (?) on Cornwall's bus services operated by First Kernow. One particular concern was the complexity of services between Penzance and Lands End (click on map below to enlarge).
One worry, from a visitor's point of view, was the complexity of routes and route numbers between Penzance and Newlyn ...
... especially when school journeys are included. 
The grey dotted lines are the roads used when serving the schools.

One bugbear were the services to and via Paul. These were a combination of terminating journeys which performed a simple loop ...
... but buses continuing to Lamorna and, occasionally, to Lands End travelled in both directions via Paul.
So if Paul wanted to travel to or from Paul he could, potentially, be looking for a service 1, 1A, 1B or 1C.

Previous changes (last year?) have improved the situation by numbering the journeys via Paul as 5 ...
... and withdrawing all buses from the narrow lane to Lamorna, although buses never made it to the beach but turned at The Wink.
Yes, it is a very ancient pub about halfway down the lane.
The 1C variant still runs, but numbered unapologetically a suffix-less 5. 1 and 1A buses still ran via Paul in both directions at certain times. But one of the set of route numbers has gone.

This bank holiday weekend came the next change. Here is the map of the former 1 and 1A between Penzance, Lands End and Sennen Cove.
And here is the revised version that has just started for First Kernow's summer season.
Journeys that continued northwards from St Buryan to join the A30 ...
... and serve Crows-an-Wra have disappeared.
This community is hardly large but will be unserved under the new scheme.

The former 1A becomes the A1 (neat reversal of characters?) and will operate every hour seven days a week.
The DARKER PINK dot is for a journey which runs direct via the A30 to St Buryan, a trip which has been in the timetable for some time. The last two journeys from Penzance still run via Paul.
The diversion at these times shown by the PALER PINK and PALE GREEN dots ...
... but, surely, one combined note would do. But pretty Paul is now down to just TWO route numbers.

For the record, A1s and 5s are still shown on a combined table, but it is much less confusing than it was in its previous manifestation.
In this case, the dots are the schoolday variants and the green box is their Saturday replacement.

Back in the day (about ten years ago) the service to Paul was numbered ...

What goes around, comes around.

In 2011 (the date on Google Streetview) the only number on the flag at Paul was 504 ...
... a competitive service operated by Western Greyhound. First's number was a state secret.

Tomorrow we shall see why the new service to Lands End is numbered A1 and we can also see what has happened to services beyond Lands End via Sennen shown as A3.

 Next A1 blog - Wednesday 31t May 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Bank Holiday Oddments

Lynton and Barnstaple - Early Days
fbb is grateful to his Northampton correspondent for these two pictures. Taken in 2007 (in the rain!) they show diesel hauled departures with borrowed coaches. The train is seen at Woody Bay ...
... and at the temporary terminus of Killington Lane, still temporary ten years later.
fbb has purchased the Middleton Press book on the line, now out of print.
He did not spend £65.72 (sensibly), his copy cost £8 plus postage. Published in 1992, the book arrived from a time when any re-opening was a wild dream. Referring to the signalbox at Barnstaple Town station ...
... the book actually says this:-
Rebuilding a whole railway takes a long, long time.

Bus For Sale
It's amazing what you can buy on EBay! Sheffield correspondent Roy sent this offer to fbb.
The vehicle's history is given by a Bristol enthusiasts' site as below.

1938 In service with North Western at Stockport
1939 Converted to B29R
1945 Converted to B31R
1950-51 Rebodied with Burlington B35R
1950-51 Fleet number changed to 372
1961 Out of service with North Western
        F Cowley, Salford (dealer)
Nov 64 In service with Flather, Ellesmore Port
Sep 70 Out of service with Flather, Ellesmore Port
Apr 71 A Kershaw, Northwick
  Unidentified owner
        In service with Quantock Motors, Taunton
Sep 14 Out of service with Quantock
Sep 14 In service with Quantock

The vehicle no longer appears on Quantock's site and the present owner is asking for £30,000. Sadly there is insufficient room in the fbbs' allocated parking space adjacent to their pad. The money might also pleasee a problem!

Here is a picture of the same bus operating with "Saddleworth Vintage Bus Tours", pictured to accompany a press article from July 2013.

No Comment?
Our hearts bleed with those who suffered bereavement and trauma as a result of the Manchester horrors and the brainwashed extremism hurts something rotten. Clearly this posted on a Stagecoach bus passing through Seaton a few days ago predated the Manchester attack.
Mixed feelings?

Floating, Failing and Floundering?
Our senior Isle of Wight correspondent has reported on the new Cowes to East Cowes Floating Bridge.
It's progress so far has been, to say the least, fraught. It broke down twice in the first week of operation leading to the farcical video on-line of passengers removing shoes and socks and paddling the few feet to dry ground.
Oh deary me ...
... deary, deary me!

The ferry is currently suspended.
Yesterday afternoon, fbb took a look at the vessel via a local web cam. At 1709 the empty boat left the West Cowes slipway ...
... and chugged off towards East Cowes.
But short of the opposite terminal it stopped (at 1717).
A little launch bumbled around the back end as if trying to see what was wrong. At 1900 ...
... it remained, parked and very dead, just short of the East Cowes ramp. Whether the driver and his fireman were still aboard, stranded for the night, it not known for certain. But they may have been picked up by the launch.

Maybe they had to wade back?

The project has cost Isle of Wight residents £4.6 million. Opinions on value for money were not printable! The old ferry was withdrawn in January last.
The B A Confuser Crisis ...
... seems to have spread to Seaton. The fbbs' laptop was behaving badly later on Saturday and all day on Sunday. The old man's email thingey has been declining to download pictures from the communications of our correspondents. The above blog took most of yesterday afternoon to create using lump hammer, pneumatic drill and a small tactical nuclear device.

Until the problem is resolved, blogs may be incomplete or fail to appear at all.
 Next rebranding blog : Tuesday 30th May