Sunday, 30 March 2014

Council check: Buckinghamshire County Council

Let's take a look at how Buckinghamshire County Council promotes the bus services on its patch.

Where do the buses go?

A full county map is provided in three parts along with enlarged town maps, showing the routes of all bus operators. 5 out of 5.


Timetables for all bus routes in the county can be found here. It doesn't get any clearer or easier than this. 5 out of 5.


Oh dear. Nothing at all. We have links to the operators, most of whom won't tell you about single fares. There is no ticket that covers all bus operators. Plusbus covers Aylesbury and High Wycombe, but isn't mentioned by the council. This is the weak link. 0 out of 5.


Good comprehensive maps and easy-to-find timetables. Let down by a total lack of fares and ticketing information. Buckinghamshire County Council scores a total of 10 out of 15.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Moaning Mancs / Bank cards outside London

Transport for Greater Manchester have released some interesting statistics on complaints against bus operators in the county. According to the Manchester Evening News, for the second half of 2013, twice as many people complained about First compared to Stagecoach.

But the bigger shock is when you look at how many complaints were made against each company in proportion to how many journeys they deliver. Per 100,000 passengers, First attracted 10.9 complaints, with Stagecoach on a more impressive 4.2. But journey for journey, more people complained about Arriva (16.3 per 100,000 passengers) than any other Greater Mancunian bus operator.

Bank cards can currently only be used to pay for bus travel on TfL's red buses in Greater London. But Get Reading reports how that's about to change as Reading Buses introduce the technology to their Greenwave route.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Council check: Bristol City Council

Each Sunday we review how one of our local councils provides information on public transport. Today it's the turn of Bristol City Council.

Where do the buses go?

Bristol is part of the area covered by TravelWest and it is there that they send you for bus info. There you'll find a section with bus maps, including this one for the city of Bristol and a city centre enlargement showing all routes by all operators. 5 out of 5.


TravelWest doesn't include much in the way of timetables, but there are links to all of the operators' sites. Thanks to the map mentioned above, novices can easily find out who runs the route they need to use. Bristol's own site includes direct links to the timetable pages of the two biggest operators in the city, First and Wessex Connect. As if that wasn't enough, TravelWest also mentions Traveline South West, on which you can see a list of all buses serving Bristol with route maps and timetables. 4 out of 5.


There's a link from Bristol Council to First's page about their revamped fares in the city, although that of course doesn't cover other operators. TravelWest has info on the BristolRider and AvonRider multi-operator tickets, but it's not in the Bus section of the website. There's also a multi-modal ticket, the Freedom Travelpass, available for bus and train, but neither the council nor TravelWest tell you about it. The best place to find out about that ticket is on First's website. The council and TravelWest have also forgotten to mention the Bristol Plusbus ticket. 2 out of 5.


So we have a decent map that's easy to use. Timetables aren't too difficult to find, but ticket information is patchy and incomplete unless you know which operator's site to refer to. Bristol City Council scores a total of 11 out of 15.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Reregulation / Long distance diversions

A reminder in the Sunderland Echo that the argument over how bus services should be run is still raging in Tyne & Wear. Nexus, the regional transport authority wants to have the same power over bus services as Transport for London. Bus companies are campaigning against the move as they stand to lose income if they can't pick and choose when to run the buses. One wonders when they will be consistent and launch a high profile campaign for the free market to be let loose on Greater London.

Wales's long distance bus network, TrawsCymru could be wasting time by having buses divert needlessly off main roads to serve estates and villages where nobody uses the service, says a report that has been carried out for the Welsh government. Wales Online reports how the government, which subsidises the routes, is considering changing the way the services are run in order to speed up journeys. The problem is, villages that are cut out could be left stranded, but then again a long distance journey is long enough without seemingly needless diversions on the off-chance that someone wants to use the service.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Council check: Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

How good is public transport information being provided by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council?

Where do the buses go?

If you can find the BwD Connect part of the council's website, then you can see this map of all bus services in the borough.

The only improvement that could be made is for a plan of the town centres to be added. There is one for the bus station in Blackburn, but not the whole town centre. 4 out of 5 for BwD.


Some timetables appear in pdf form on the right hand side of this page, but they are incomplete. No explanation is given, but it looks like these are for the subsidised routes only. Most of the commercial routes can only be found on Transdev's website under the Spot On, Lancashire United and The Lancashire Way brands. Nothing on BwD Connect. There is a link to Traveline North West, but it is very clunky and difficult to use compared to its southern versions. If you want to use a commercial service that isn't run by Transdev and you don't know who runs it, you have no way of finding the timetable.

BwD could definitely do better here. The uselessness of Traveline North West pushes their mark down to 1 out of 5.


BwD provides no information on fares at all. Not even the Blackburn Plusbus ticket gets a mention. Transdev, Rosso and Stagecoach provide info on tickets that are valid on their own buses only.

A very poor show: 0 out of 5.


Excellent map, patchy timetables and no information on fares & tickets. Blackburn with Darwen scores a grand total of 5 out of 15.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Council check: Brighton & Hove City Council

Here's a look at the bus information available from Brighton & Hove City Council.

Where do the buses go?

No map from the council. There is a link to Go Ahead's Brighton & Hove site, which has a map of all bus services in the city, even those of other operators. Great job by them, but the council lets themselves down by not telling you where you can find the all-operator map.

Traveline provides a list of all bus routes in the city and they are linked to by the council, giving then 1 out of 5.


No timetables are to be found on the council's website. They do link to Brighton & Hove's site, where timetables for their services can be found. But they don't operate every bus in the city. To see timetables for them, you need to follow the provided links to the other operators or to Traveline. Keep digging and you'll find them.

In this category, B&H Council scores 2 out of 5.


The flat single fare for Brighton & Hove's buses is mentioned, but this of course doesn't apply to buses of other operators and that is not made clear on the council's website. There is no all-operator ticket and Plusbus is not mentioned. B&H have an Explorer ticket that is valid on some, but not all, other operators, but the council doesn't mention this.

The council tell you about B&H's main single fare and day ticket, but doesn't give an overview of the full ticket range. This lack of comprehensive information drags them down to 1 out of 5.


Brighton & Hove City Council are widely regarded as one of the most pro-public transport councils in the country, but the information they provide has quite a few gaps. No maps and no clear links to where you can find one, no route list or direct timetable links and potentially misleading fares information. B&H City Council score a total of 4 out of 15.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Dorset strikes over / Devon cuts pass validity

The series of strikes that have affected First in Dorset are over. The company and union have reached a compromise, reports BBC News.

The validity of pensioners' free passes is to be cut back on some routes in Devon. The Express & Echo reports that the county council has decided to stop accepting the passes for travel on certain routes that it supports. One of the routes this affects is the PR3 Exeter Park & Ride service, which doubles up as one of the main ways of accessing the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. Pensioners are still insulated from the real cost of their travel however as on that route at least, they will be entitled to a special return fare of just £1.20 - at the taxpayers' and full-farepayers' expense of course. This could be just the start: if national government won't reform how the unaffordable passes are funded, councils and bus operators will have no option but to gradually reduce their validity in order to make ends meet.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Northampton's new bus station causes gridlock / Record order for Stagecoach

It's been bedlam on the first day of Northampton's new bus station. BBC News reports that the city centre has been more or less gridlocked all day because of the new traffic flows in and out of the gleaming terminus.

Stagecoach has placed its biggest ever order for new buses and coaches, reports Herald Scotland. Let's hope not too many of them will end up in Northampton's traffic jams.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Council check: Bracknell Forest Council

Today, we take a look at Bracknell Forest Council's provision of information on the buses that run in their area.

Where do the buses go?

A map of all bus routes in the borough is provided. There is also a link to Traveline, which provides a comprehensive list.

The map even features an enlargement of Bracknell Town Centre. 5 out of 5.


There are direct links to the timetables for each route from this page. The timetables themselves are on the operators' websites, but the council's page saves you having to trawl through each of them in turn. All timetables can also be easily found on Traveline.

Full marks again: 5 out of 5.


Here's Bracknell's stumbling block. No information on single fares. The council's only advice on fares is to check with the relevant operator. There is no all-operator ticket. There is a Plusbus scheme, but the council's own leaflet is out of date, giving a lower price than the one that currently applies.

Could do much better: 1 out of 5.


A map and timetables for all local bus services are easy to find. The only problem is finding out how much you'll have to pay to use the buses. Out-of-date Plusbus information is inexcusable. Nevertheless, one of the best scores so far: 11 out of 15.