Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Service suspended

When I first started this blog, I had grand plans of what it could become. But I have to face the reality that for bus news, the internet is already pretty well served. Plus, to give this blog the depth of coverage that I would have liked would take up far more time than I have available.

So it is with regret, that I have decided to close the British Bus Bugle. It might well reopen again in future if circumstances change. I remain committed to and will continue to run my other blogs, Southampton Bus Update, Great British Bus Routes, Brentwood Bus Update and Portishead Bus Update.

I've moved the live links to other blogs up to the top of the panel on the right, so that you still have ready access to up-to-date bus news from around the country.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Electioneering on the buses

With an election on the way, Labour have been talking about how the nation's buses are run. Their plan is to allow councils to plan local routes and set timetables and fares, as well as to let community groups set up not-for-profit bus operators. The article linked to above says that the 'stranglehold' of the big bus operators will be broken, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. Those operators who provide a good standard of service and have a good relationship with local authorities could probably expect to win several contracts or maybe to even have certain local free markets retained.

I'm not even convinced that the position of the large operators is a bad thing. It very much depends however on which of the big boys controls bus services in an area. Compare how easy a Stagecoach city is to get around with somewhere like Bristol for example.

The free market has failed some places. If it worked everywhere, it would have been imposed on London after all. But it isn't failing everywhere.

What is needed is better provision for those places left cut off from the commercial network and better integration between operators and other transport modes, at least from the passenger's point of view. Whether that comes from a form of what we have now or bundling routes under council control, that are then franchised out as a network (probably to one of the existing big groups) is for others to decide. But if the network continues to fragment and be useful to fewer and fewer people, you will have more commercially viable routes becoming unviable until eventually there is no profit to be made from bus operation. The Conservative stance of ever deeper cuts would hasten that decline.

I write this as someone who has used buses all of my life but has bought a car after moving to North Somerset due to the absolutely shambolic service being provided by First Bristol. More on that in future posts.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Cheaper petrol, but bus fares go up!

Motorists have benefited from a recent cut in the price of petrol, now approaching £1 a litre, compared to around £1.30 a litre in August.

Many bus passengers are wondering when they will benefit. Stagecoach and First have told the Manchester Evening News that they can't cut fares because they buy their petrol in bulk in advance at set prices in order to avoid price fluctuations.

I'm sure that's true. But if the petrol being used by their buses now was bought a couple of years ago at a higher price, surely their buyers will be buying petrol at today's low prices for use on the buses in a couple of years time. If they aren't, they're not very business-minded. So lower fuel prices will trickle down to the bus companies sooner or later.

Any car owners comparing the cost of driving or taking the bus will have seen the petrol cost of a journey come down some 30% in the last few months, while bus fares have generally risen. The bus business needs to address this if it is serious about appealing to anyone who has a real choice.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer agrees and has been telling the Express and Star about it.

So, when can fare-payers expect to see some of the benefits of lower fuel prices? Bus companies, it's over to you.