Monday, 28 July 2014

Commons support for Tyne & Wear regulation / Reading legacy

The cross-party Commons Transport Committee has expressed support for the local councils of Tyne and Wear, in their bid to regulate their county's buses in the same way that London manages its routes. The Journal reminds us that the big bus groups in the region are against the idea. Towards the end of the article, Northumberland County Council says it wants more routes diverting from main roads to serve isolated villages. Their apparent desire for less direct, more convoluted and time-consuming routes might well turn more people off the idea.

Get Reading gives a good send off to James Freeman of Reading Buses, who departs for First Bristol in September. He's credited with turning the company around and introducing separate colours for each route with all buses running in the appropriate route colour. A taste of things to come in Bristol maybe?

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Council check: West Sussex County Council

Each Sunday, we take a look at how one of our local authorities is doing in its promotion of bus travel in its area. This week: West Sussex County Council.

Where do the buses go?

There's a county-wide map plus a series of more localised maps including town centre enlargements. 5 out of 5.


No timetables on the council's website, but there's a clear link to Traveline, on which you can search by route number and/or location. Links to the bus operators' websites are also provided. 2 out of 5.


The new Discovery multi-operator ticket is mentioned, as is Plusbus, which is available in Chichester, Horsham, Crawley, Haywards Heath, East Grinstead, Worthing and Bognor Regis. There is however no information on the cost of simple single or return journeys, nor for operators' own day and season tickets. 3 out of 5.


A great selection of maps. Timetables could be easier to find, but are there. Fares information is lacking, but the introduction of a multi-operator ticket valid throughout the county and beyond is a big plus. West Sussex County Council scores a total of 10 out of 15.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Council check: Staffordshire County Council

This week, we take a look at how Staffordshire County Council promotes the bus services on its patch.

Where do the buses go?

Maps are provided for each area of the county. There is no county-wide overview though, so anyone unfamiliar with the area might struggle to work out which local map they need. It does look like the whole county is covered though and town centre enlargements are included. Stoke-on-Trent is not covered because it is independent of the county and looks after its own transport affairs. We'll judge its council in a later post. Staffordshire however gets 5 out of 5.


You can search by route number or you can use the map index page to see a list of all routes for each local area, complete with timetables. 5 out of 5.


The only fares information is about Plusbus, which is available in Stafford, Cannock, Lichfield and Tamworth. There is no other fare information. Nothing about single or return fares. Nothing about day tickets. There is no multi-operator ticket. 1 out of 5.


We have good maps, although an index for those unfamiliar with the area would help. Timetables are similarly easy to find, but fares information is the big let down. Staffordshire County Council scores a total of 11 out of 15.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Breaking news: Velvet ceases trading

Velvet, who operate buses in and around Eastleigh and Southampton, have ceased trading today.

See details of their routes and a short history of this well respected local operator over on our sister blog, Southampton Bus Update.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Council check: Norfolk County Council

Each Sunday, we judge how well one of our local councils is promoting the bus services in its area. Today, we look at Norfolk County Council.

Where do the buses go?

There are no maps, just a message that: Interactive bus map coming soon. No indication of when it will arrive or how useful the map will be. There's also no list of bus routes, although there is a link to Traveline on which you can search by location to see a list of bus routes serving that area. 1 out of 5.


Not provided by the county council. Instead we have links to Traveline and the bus operators, where the timetables can be found. 2 out of 5.


Nothing about single and return tickets or operators' own day and season tickets. There is a multi-operator ticket in Norwich only, Fusion, but the rest of the county has no such ticket. Plusbus, available in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn, is mentioned. 2 out of 5.


There's an over-reliance on Traveline and the bus operators here. No maps and very little fares information. The multi-operator ticket only covers a small area of the county. Timetables can be found but no thanks to the county council. Compared to other areas of the country, Norfolk's effort is rather poor. Norfolk County Council scores a total of 5 out of 15.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Grime up North / Northampton route axed due to traffic / Wigan calls it a night

Lancashire's bus shelters are being cleaned less often than before, with some of them in a rather grotty state, according to the Lancashire Evening Post. The county council claims it cleans each stop at least once a year. Some may find even that hard to believe.

Northampton is losing a bus route to the traffic jams that have been caused by the new bus station. The Northampton Chronicle reports how Meridian are withdrawing the 29 and redeploying resources to try and shore up their 31 route, which has also been badly affected by the traffic situation in the city.

Wigan is to lose all of its night buses due to funding cuts by Transport for Greater Manchester. Wigan Today claims that local businesses weren't consulted, but neglects to mention that if the routes were well used then someone would be willing to operate them without a subsidy.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Guide Dogs calls for 'next stop' announcements

The Guide Dogs charity has enlisted Macclesfield MP David Rutley in its campaign for all new buses to have audio and visual 'next stop' announcements. Cheshire Today explains how such a measure would help make bus travel easier for those with limited vision.

It would also make life easier for anyone using a bus route that is unfamiliar to them, removing a significant barrier to bus use for those who are currently put off.

Outside London, 'next stop' announcements are extremely rare, so this blog supports Guide Dogs' campaign wholeheartedly.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Council check: Nexus

This week we take a look at how the councils of Tyne and Wear promote their local bus services through Nexus.

Where do the buses go?

There are no maps to provide an overview of where the buses go. You can see a list of bus routes arranged by number, but that isn't much help if you're trying to find out which bus route you need in the first place. 0 out of 5.


Timetables are provided for all routes in the county, but it's difficult to find the right one if you don't already know the route number you need. The fact they can't be searched by location drags the score for this category down to 4 out of 5.


No info on single fares. This page does however provide links to the operators' sites for their own day tickets, as well as details of Tyne & Wear's multi-operator and multi-modal ticket. Explorer North East, valid beyond the county borders, also gets a mention. Plusbus isn't mentioned, even though tickets are available with rail travel to/from Newcastle and Sunderland. 3 out of 5.


The absence of any kind of overview map is unforgivable. Timetables are there but not easy to find the right one if the lack of maps means you don't know the route number you need. A good selection of multi-modal tickets but fares information is far from complete. Nexus scores a total of 7 out of 15.

Friday, 4 July 2014

London cashless & Avon cheaper from Sunday

We've heard for months about Transport for London's plans to stop accepting cash on its red bus network. this takes effect as of Sunday. From then, you'll need either an Oyster card or a contactless bank card in order to use any TfL bus. This also applies to those TfL bus routes that cross the border to serve places outside Greater London, such as the 498 to Brentwood.

Taking effect on the same date is a fare cut for most First bus passengers in the area formerly known as the county of Avon. Fares have already been reduced in the Bristol Inner zone following a passenger campaign and subsequent consultation. Now the same is happening in the Bristol Outer zone and the rest of the West of England region. Full details from First here. The main changes are as follows:

  • Single fares to be based on distance so that some areas (*cough* North Somerset *cough*) aren't paying more per mile than others. Most single fares should therefore be coming down.
  • Flat fares for single journeys within Bath and Weston-super-Mare.
  • A new ten trip ticket at £24 to be available for journeys within the Bristol Inner and Outer zones.
  • FirstDay South West becomes FirstDay West for the same price, but is no longer valid on the Buses of Somerset.
  • New ticket FirstDay West Plus for passengers who also need to use the Buses of Somerset.

From Sunday, you'll be able to find out the new fares in advance by looking up a journey on the timetable section of First's mobile website. Here for example is the current fare for a journey from Portishead to Bristol:

If the fare structure is as described, the same journey should cost £4.50 from Sunday. I'll check the website then to see whether that is the case.

You would never have had an initiative like this from First a few years ago. Passengers numbers in the Bristol Inner zone are up since fares were reduced there back in November, so this region-wide move should revitalise the bus service over a much wider area. I have recently moved to the region so am particularly pleased that fares are moving to a more realistic level.