Sunday, 27 April 2014

Council check: Cheshire West and Chester Council

Last week we looked at East Cheshire. This week, it's the other half's turn. Here's how Cheshire West and Chester Council perform in their promotion of local bus services.



Where do the buses go?

Maps are provided covering the whole borough as well as separate maps showing the detailed routes in Chester and the towns. In Cheshire at least, if you want a bus map, you have to go west. 5 out of 5.

Timetables

Timetables for all bus routes in the borough are listed here. No scrambling around on umpteen different operators' sites. 5 out of 5.

Fares

This page contains links to the bus operators' sites detailing which tickets valid for a day or longer are available. Plusbus also gets a mention. There is however no one ticket that is valid on all operators in the area, so if you need to use two bus companies, you will pay over the odds. There is also no information given on single fares, either by the council nor the bus operators. 2 out of 5.

Summary

Good, comprehensive maps and timetables are provided, let down by the lack of an all-operator ticket or any information on the price of single fares. Not a bad effort though: Cheshire West and Chester scores a total of 12 out of 15.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Council check: Cheshire East Council

Each Sunday, we rate a local council's provision of public transport information. This week, it's the turn of Cheshire East Council.



Where do the buses go?

There's no route map, which makes it difficult for those unfamiliar with the local area, but there is a list of all bus routes in the borough. 2 ouf of 5.

Timetables

These are provided in both HTML and PDF format for all bus routes in the borough. 5 out of 5.

Fares

Nothing about single fares. Each route has a page on which some details of that route's operator's own day and weekly tickets is given. The pages for some routes also include information on the TfGM Wayfarer, which acts as a multi-modal and multi-operator ticket for much of East Cheshire and beyond, but this does not appear on the pages of all routes on which it is valid. Plusbus is mentioned on a separate page regarding local rail travel. All in all, the info is rather patchy: 2 out of 5.

Summary

So we have a list of routes, but no map. Timetables are very easy to find. Fares less so, with much of the information missing or not on the page on which one would expect to find it. Cheshire East scores a total of 9 out of 15.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Journalist demonstrates lack of understanding of buses

Stagecoach have revealed which services they are cutting in South Wales as a result of the closure of the Brynmawr depot. BBC News covers the cuts, but with a bizarre headline that demonstrates their journalists' lack of understanding of how bus services work:


The headline makes it look like only 14 physical buses are going, but the sub-heading, that 14 bus routes are being axed, is correct. The headline writer lazily assumes that one bus route equals just one physical bus: Not true.

A better understanding is shown by the South Wales Argus. Local councils are now looking into what replacements can be provided.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

JPT Bus Company bows out


One of Greater Manchester's largest remaining independent bus companies has announced that it will close by the end of this week. The North West Bus Blog reports that Middleton-based JPT, in business since 1974, is calling it a day. East of the M60 has a list of the routes affected and says that First will pick up JPT's TfGM contracts on an emergency basis.

Most of JPT's routes are in and around Middleton. That corridor out of Manchester has always had competition from First but has more recently seen Stagecoach enter the market after its acquisition of fellow Middleton operator Bluebird.

UPDATE 20th April:

JPT haven't closed and both the North West Bus Blog and East of the M60 have retracted their original articles. So the company lives to see another week, but for how long?

UPDATE 26th April:

Stagecoach have announced that they are taking over JPT's routes as of today.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

End of the Pier Buses


Pier Buses of Clevedon in North Somerset have closed down. The Bristol Post reports that the company alleges that First have deliberately been running their X6 service late in order to pick up passengers who would otherwise have caught Pier's X7 service between Clevedon and Bristol. First deny the claims.


The closure gives First a monopoly on bus travel between Bristol and Clevedon on route X6. Pier have said they intend to take the matter to the Traffic Commissioner and the Office of Fair Trading.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Council check: Central Bedfordshire Council

I wonder how well Central Bedfordshire Council are promoting the bus services on their patch?



Where do the buses go?

There's a county map plus maps of the major towns showing all routes, although the Dunstable map is rather out of date as it shows the busway to Luton as still under construction. Potentially misleading. In the timetables section, you can however see a list of all routes in each part of the borough/county. Traveline will also provide you with a list of all routes serving each area. 3 out of 5.

Timetables

Six timetables booklets can be downloaded as PDFs, which between them provide timetables for all routes in the borough/county/whatever-Central-Beds-is-these-days. 5 out of 5.

Fares

A comprehensive fares guide is provided, which details most of the tickets available, including many sample single fares. Plusbus is mentioned, as is HipHop, the multi-operator ticket for Dunstable and Luton, although you have to rummage about on Arriva's site to see a map of where it is valid. 4 out of 5.

Summary

So the maps are comprehensive, but not necessarily up to date, the timetables are complete and the fares information is more comprehensive than what most councils provide. Central Bedfordshire Council scores a total of 12 out of 15.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Stagecoach cuts Welsh depot / Obviously superfluous agreement


Stagecoach are pulling out of one of their Welsh depots, blaming funding cuts by the Welsh Assembly Government. The South Wales Argus reports that the Brynmawr depot will close in July and that service cuts will hit Stagecoach's network across South Wales. Communities across the region are holding their breath to see whether they are going to be cut off.


A puzzling story in the Bolton News tells how Transport for Greater Manchester and First have reached an agreement whereby First will provide "high standards in customer service and high quality vehicles" and that in return, TfGM and its constituent councils on the route in question will strive to make sure passengers have "quality bus service information, the highway, bus stops and shelters are maintained and traffic management is improved". Er, should those parties not be doing all of those things across all routes anyway? Publicising such a basic agreement in relation so just one service gives the hopefully false impression that standards are lower away from the 582 route.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Council check: Cambridgeshire County Council

Today we take a look at how Cambridgeshire County Council informs the public about the bus services operating within its boundaries.



Where do the buses go?

A series of maps are provided, covering the whole county with enlarged versions for the major towns. All that is missing is town centre enlargements showing the major stops. The link labelled as such for Cambridge actually takes you to the city-wide map. A good effort though: 4 out of 5.

Timetables

All bus routes in the county are listed by route number and by location. The links then take you through to the relevant timetables on Traveline East Anglia's site. Simple, quick and easy: 5 out of 5.

Fares

As is customary, there is no information on single tickets, but Cambridgeshire does have a series of pages explaining what day tickets are available. There is an all-operator ticket available and well publicised, but Plusbus tickets which are available in Cambridge, St Neots, Ely and Huntingdon are ignored. 3 out of 5.

Summary

Good, comprehensive maps and easy to find timetables, again fully comprehensive. Day tickets are well described, but let down by the omission of Plusbus and no indication of even how to find out the price of a single journey. Cambridgeshire County Council scores a total of 12 out of 15.