Monday, 30 December 2013

Fiasco on the Fylde / Arriva ersetzt / Island investment

The saga of Classic Bus North West continues, reports the Lancashire Evening Post. Meanwhile, those who relied on route 80 still have no public transport provision. One wonders whether Cumfybus, who operated the route under contract to Lancashire County Council before CBNW took it on a commercial basis, will be invited back and be entitled to any compensation. Will this lead to any kind of due diligence needing to be carried out before bus companies are allowed to displace reputable operators?

Arriva is no more in West Wales. The Carmarthen Journal reports how the replacement contracts have now come into effect, leaving most of the German government's former routes still covered.

Investment has been announced this week by both Transport Scotland and Go Ahead's Southern Vectis. The Isle of Wight County Press regurgitates a press release to say that ten brand new buses will be unveiled on the island this Friday. BBC Scotland gives a run through of the schemes that will be funded by Transport Scotland's latest round of grants.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Council check: Bath & North East Somerset

Welcome to a new series of posts which will look at how good our local councils are at imparting information about buses on their patch.

We start with BANES, or Bath and North East Somerset.

Where do the buses go?

There's a map of bus stops in Bath City Centre, but not a wider map of the wider borough showing where the routes run. BANES is covered by TravelWest, which acts like half a northern-style PTE covering the former county of Avon. Maybe they can help:

But alas, this page on TravelWest just takes you back to BANES council:

...with no borough-wide bus map.

This leaves you with having to use First's maps, which don't feature the other operators. The council doesn't seem to want you to know about the other operator's services, even where they subsidise them.

You can get a full list of bus services in any part of BANES only from Traveline South West, but this is hardly clear from the council's website.

In this category, BANES is awarded 1 point out of 5.


These are only provided by BANES for the routes that they directly subsidise, which by definition leaves out the routes that most passengers need to use. They have a list of timetable changes, but for the timetables themselves, you have to go to the operator's website (assuming you know who operates the route you need to use) or Traveline South West, which will save many a council in this survey from a zero rating. TravelWest doesn't do timetables either.

BANES scores 2 out of 5 for timetables, because they are available at Traveline and they do link there.

How much does a journey cost?

Information like this is basic and should be in the public domain. But bus companies and councils don't seem to want you to know in advance how much a single journey will cost.

The bus operators' own sites will give you prices for their own tickets that are valid for a day or longer. If you need to use several operators in one day, they BANES offers you the BathRider ticket. They also mention the Freedom Travelpass, which is valid over a wider area and also on trains. They also mention Plusbus.

AvonRider is valid on all operators throughout what was Avon, but BANES don't tell you about it. TravelWest do, but the page is rather hidden away - you won't find it under 'Fares'.

For fares information, BANES scores 2 out of 5.


So, no timetables but they can be found on Traveline. No all-operator map at all. There is a range of multi-operator tickets, but BANES ignores one of the three types available. The presence of TravelWest promises more help than it delivers.

BANES scores a total of 5 out of 15.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Dundee dispute / Liverpool losses / Newport new dawn / Dean deal

Passengers were left behind again today in Dundee, reports the Evening Telegraph, as many drivers at understaffed National Express Dundee declined to do overtime. The union claims the company is about ten drivers short and has been relying on overtime to make up the capacity. Even managing director Phil Smith was planning to spend this afternoon driving a bus around the city.

Liverpool City Council's axing of every bus lane in the city has claimed its first victim: Ace Travel route 11, reports the Liverpool Echo. The bus company says that its buses on that route have been caught up in traffic jams caused by the decision to allow all traffic to use bus lanes. So much so that the route has been pushed from profit to loss and is being cut.

Newport's (the South Wales one) new bus station will open to the public this Saturday, reports the South Wales Argus. It replaces the old bus station, which was proud of being bigger than Swansea's and therefore claimed the crown of second biggest bus station in Wales!

Stagecoach passengers in the Forest of Dean can take advantage of a BOGOF offer on Forest Dayrider tickets throughout January. Stagecoach also have a half price offer in Manchester: a 4 week Megarider for £23 if you buy it online before the weekend.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Donations / Name stays / Lancs in the lurch / First sees red

Many of North Yorkshire's pensioners are prepared to contribute, reports the York Press. They want to help save bus routes that are threatened by the budget cuts at North Yorkshire County Council by voluntarily paying fares. While it may make a difference, the council has reminded them that any payment by a pass holder is a voluntary donation and does not constitute the fare, which legally cannot be levied for pass holders.

Stagecoach have pledged to keep the Norfolk Green name after buying the company, reports Lynn News. Andrew Dyer, the new boss, said "this is now Norfolk Green with nationwide back-up, not Norfolk Green disappearing and a new firm coming in". They are also promising to maintain the Coasthopper service, which runs from Kings Lynn to Cromer.

BlogPreston are reporting that Classic Bus North West have withdrawn a route between Preston and Blackpool without giving the required 56 days notice to authorities. Lancashire County Council are considering their options in filling the gap.

First have brought back another heritage livery, this time in Southampton. Route 3 has been rebranded as "the three" and will utilise refurbished buses painted in red, the old colour of Citybus, which First bought in 1997. See pictures over at Public Transport Experience. Don't forget you can find comprehensive news of all changes to Southampton's bus service on our sister blog, Southampton Bus Update.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

E Sussex cuts / Crawley ticket office / Blackburn strike

East Sussex County Council's cabinet has voted for cuts to bus services across the county, reports Sussex Express. Exact details are yet to be revealed.

Crawley is benefiting from investment by Go Ahead's Metrobus in a new ticket office next to the bus station. Full details in the Crawley News.

Bus strikes could be on the way in Blackburn. Transdev drivers voted for strikes to take place in the new year in a dispute over working hours, reports the Lancashire Telegraph.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Stagecoach swallows Norfolk Green / Round up

Stagecoach are buying Norfolk Green, it was announced today. For the full story, see Focus Transport and the Eastern Daily Press.

Stagecoach's nearest operations are in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire. Norfolk Green's current network of routes centres on Kings Lynn and extends to Cromer, March, Spalding and Norwich.

Talking of Norwich, the local Evening News reports of a change in operations at the city's bus station. The travel desk is currently run by Norfolk County Council but from 27th December, Go Ahead's Konectbus will take over.

From that date, First tickets will no longer be available from the travel desk. Passengers will still be able to buy tickets for Konectbus, Anglian Bus and Park & Ride services, but only if paying by card. Cash will not be accepted.

There are cuts on the way in Lancashire, with the County Council apparently about to cut funding for all evening and Sunday supported services. See the Lancaster Guardian for more details.

The York Press reports that some bus cuts announced by North Yorkshire County Council may be saved after all. North Yorkshire is one of the very worst counties in the country for public transport provision and information.

Cardiff Bus have launched mobile ticketing, allowing people with iPhone and Android devices, but not Windows phones, to purchase and store tickets on their mobile. Arriva and Go Ahead have already been offering mobile ticketing for quite some time.

Buses have been disrupted at National Express Dundee, report the Courier and the Evening Telegraph. It's not a strike, but a work-to-rule with some drivers declining to do overtime. The union says it is in protest at a prolonged period of understaffing at the company.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Cornish bus cost kerfuffle

First are completely changing their fares structure in Cornwall. Full details from First here.

The local media have made the most of the opportunity to run a negative story about buses. This is from This Is The Westcountry:

Amongst the changes are a price rise of the adult FirstDay Cornwall from £7.20 to £10.00. That makes it the same price as Ride Cornwall, which also allows you to travel on Western Greyhound and the trains, although not before 9am on weekdays.

But there's no mention in First's press release about the FirstDay SouthWest, which is currently £7.60. Or is that £7.30? Or £8.00?

FirstDay SouthWest on First Devon & Cornwall's website. Yellow highlights are mine.

Either way, if still on offer from 5th January, it will be cheaper than a FirstDay Cornwall, making that ticket pointless.

Good for tourists will be new 2 and 3 day First Cornwall tickets, priced at £15 and £20 respectively.

Regular passengers will end up paying a lot more in return for their loyalty with the withdrawal of the current 6-month and annual Devon & Cornwall tickets. Those using the 6-month ticket at £440 will now have to buy 6 separate FirstMonth Cornwall tickets totalling £600, an increase of 36%. Those using the current annual ticket at £810 will have to buy 12 separate FirstMonth tickets totalling £1200, that's an increase of 48%. While usage of those tickets may be fairly low, for those who do rely on the bus all year round in Cornwall, that is some increase indeed.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Park & Ride pensioners: Turning off the tap

In our previous post, this blog called for reform of the current pensioners' free bus pass scheme. At the moment all local bus services in the country accept these passes, but that could change. Cambridge News reports that such passes will no longer be valid for use on the Cambridge Park & Ride buses from 2015 and local groups are kicking up a fuss.

The current arrangements for pensioners on Cambridge's Park & Ride buses.

But a quick look around the country reveals that OAP passes are already not accepted on the Park & Ride scheme in Chester. York and Scarborough make a charge but give a discount to passholders.

Park & Ride buses in Oxford, Cheltenham/Gloucester, Bath, Durham and Worcester do accept the concessionary passes.

Back to Cambridge, a look at the local bus map shows plenty of local routes passing each of the 5 Park & Ride sites, so no elderly motorists are going to be left at the car park.

So, what should the status of Park & Ride buses be? Part of or separate from the surrounding bus network? And should pensioners who can afford to drive be entitled to a free bus ride when everyone else has to pay? Leave a comment and let us know.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Pensioners' passes: Palaver!

Britain's pensioners are currently on to a very good deal. They get completely free off-peak bus travel in their particular country of the UK, supposedly paid for by the government.

Except it doesn't work like that. As budgets are slashed, so are the amounts that councils have to pay their share to the pensioners' pass scheme, meaning bus companies are simply not being reimbursed for the true cost of transporting OAPs.

The shortfall is being added to the fares that working age passengers have to pay. Fares that have already been rising far higher than the cost of inflation or the cost of motoring. So much so, that high fares are now putting many people who have a choice off using public transport, making it more likely that routes will be cut.

Something needs to change.

Many pensioners rightly argue that they've worked hard all their life so now feel entitled to make the most of their passes. While right in principle, they forget that the taxes they've paid all their life aren't just lying around in tenner-filled rooms in Whitehall. The country is in debt. The taxes they paid when working were spent on stopping the banks from going under. The government's contribution to the cost of their passes now comes partly from the taxes paid by people working today (the very people being priced off some routes by high fares) and partly from borrowing on the markets, for future generations to actually pay off.

Many young people can't afford to run a car and are struggling to find work. They will struggle all the more with fewer bus services and high fares on those routes that remain.

There are no easy solutions, but the situation of fare payers being priced out has to end. Buses full of pensioners and only pensioners are not economical. Buses should be for everyone and everyone should contribute.

For the health of bus networks and the general good of local economies everywhere, this blog calls for pensioners' passes in their current form to be scrapped.

At the very least there should be an annual contribution to be paid before such passes are issued. This could be combined with a token fare of say 30p to be paid per journey. Pensioners would still be paying far less for their travel than fare payers, but more routes would be safeguarded and farepayers would be under less pressure to pay to cover the cost of pensioners' travel.

The disabled should still be entitled to free travel, but this could be restricted to the county of residence and maybe one or two neighbouring ones, rather than the entire country.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Council cuts hurt, says CBT

The Campaign for Better Transport has been in the news today after publishing a report (read it here) on the effect of cuts in council budgets for supporting bus services. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, the general gist of it is that cuts to buses harm local economies as people are prevented from travelling between certain places to shop, work or play.

Will councils listen though? And even if they do, can they find the budgets to support vital links?

In some cases where routes are withdrawn, operators might decide to try running commercially in order to save some of the links, but this is not going to be viable everywhere. Having said that, fewer people, especially younger people, are learning to drive, so the long term trend is for there to be more potential bus passengers, providing they can be persuaded to try the bus out. This should translate into more commercial bus routes, at least where operators are doing their jobs properly and spotting and exploiting those opportunities.

One such opportunity is Stagecoach Manchester's current half-price weekly Megarider sale. It's clever because you only get the discount if you buy online and have the ticket delivered to you in the form of a Stagecoach Smart card. Once the discounted ticket has expired, you'd throw away a paper ticket, but the smartcard will remain in many people's wallets acting as an ad for Stagecoach and bus travel in general, just waiting to be topped up again online should the user choose to use the bus again.

So it's not all bad news. Nevertheless, the CBT report says that entire local bus networks are under threat. Which raises the question: What should be done for communities that are cut off from public transport? Should there be some kind of nationwide minimum-provision and how could it work?


Welcome to a new blog, inspired by Omnibuses, which appears to have stopped. We aim to provide news and features on and from the UK's bus industry. Contributed articles are welcome, including from those who want to remain anonymous. Please send all contributions to

As this blog is starting as a refugee camp for those who miss Omnibuses, we will of course be happy to make a big song and dance if (hopefully when!) that page gets going again.

Feel free to leave a comment and let us know what bus topics you want to see covered on here.