Wednesday 4 March 2015

Chalk And Cheese

This isn't the post I intended to write tonight. I set off early this morning intent on doing a tour of the West of the region taking in the new Bus Station at Thetford. I did - and trust me the new bus station doesn't warrant a full post on its own - but today was rather typified by the fact I realised too late yet again that I had forgotten my camera so no pics. The ones I took on my phone are not fit for publication so I'm calling today a dry run and I'll do it again next week. I did discover two things though - firstly you can do Bungay - Diss - Bury St Edmunds - Thetford - Watton - Norwich in just under 5 hours if you literally jump from bus to bus! Secondly just when I thought it would be mpossible for them to get any worse I suffered an E200 so awful if my name was either Alexander or Dennis I would be changing it by deed poll tonight as I would not want my name associated with something that bad.

So instead, following on from last week's post that caused all the hoohah where I was suggesting that bus companies might take a leaf out of the railway's book when reporting problems, here are two examples from today. The first is from Abelio Greater Anglia which was on their website this morning.

Alterations to services between Ipswich and Lowestoft via Saxmundham

Due to a train fault


Train services between Ipswich and Lowestoft via Saxmundham and Beccles maybe delayed by up to 30 mins or terminated at and started back from Beccles. Disruption is expected until 1030.

Customer Advice

The 0744 Saxmundham to Lowestoft has developed an electrical fault, causing the train to run at a reduced speed and is expected to arrive at Lowestoft about 40 - 45 mins late. This will cause a delay in the 0907 Lowestoft - Ipswich service. The 0735 Ipswich to Lowestoft is also being delayed, as it is following the late running train from Saxmundham. This service will terminate at Beccles and the 1007 Lowestoft - Ipswich will start at Beccles. We are sorry if your travel plans are affected by this problem.

It then went on to direct customers to the delay/repay scheme which compensates for severe delays.

Now I think that is quite brilliant. I have criticised GA before over their announcements - particularly the awful one "thanking customers for their patience while waiting for the ......". That has been removed and the subsequent one is a vast improvement. I have also criticsed the new colour scheme in the refurbished MarkIII coaches, but credit where credit is due - that information was spot on, gave good clear reasons why the delays and alterations had happened and I don't think could have been bettered. I also don't think Porterbrook will be threatening GA with legal action for giving out that information, and the Rail Regulator is big on customer information so he won't be worried either.

Compare that with this tweet from First Norwich this morning. I would like you to imagine you are a foreign student.

One of our 37 buses is unable to serve. This is the 0810 from Anglia Square heading to Mulbarton Roundabout for 0842

I beg your pardon? Which one of your 37 buses - I thought Norwich had more than that! And what is it unable to serve? Breakfast? A tennis ball? The Country? Is Mulbarton Roundabout a terminus? Never seen that on a destination screen. (it might be for all I know as I don't know the route - pretty sure it doesn't start at Anglia Square though). Who in the name of all that's Holy thought the public would be able to understand that? As a few people pointed out last week the general public don't want to know exact details but even I'm confused by that language, so Lord knows what a foreign student would make of it, for example. I did ask First to confrim it meant that a bus had been cancelled but didn't get a reply. Would it have been so difficult to say "We're sorry but the 0810 service 37 from the City to Mulbarton has been cancelled due to staffing problems/vehicle fault/traffic hold ups/Lady Godiva riding down St Stephen's St. Clear, concise, and understandable to anyone.

Anyway sorry about the lack of the intended post and any pics tonight. I will have my camera strap sewn to my arm and will repeat today's jaunt next week. Tomorrow the Outer Hebrides!


  1. As usual First Essex beat both of them with their "if you can't confuse them, say nothing at all". We've had a planned local road closure throughout this week (fortunately evenings only). As for the buses on that route, no-one knows. Well, at least not First Essex (the operator) or the County's public transport unit, though there is a hint highways might know something different (but they're not telling, it seems). Great game, great game, as Brucie would say.

    I think it's harder for buses, especially on higher frequency routes. My family live in Herts and I like the approaches of Uno (who run the higher frequency services) and who seem to manage to give prompt details on specific bus cancellations and major delays on their twitter feed (even though they sometimes look numerous); and Centrebus (mainly rural routes) who seem to manage a running Twitter commentary from the depot when the engineers get despatched. Both seem to have an idea what they are trying to achieve, with some success. Hardly surprising. If you look clueless, you probably are.

  2. You obviously have no idea just how many tweets a day AGA put out Smurf! It runs into hundreds and they have some pretty high frequency routes too! It wasn't so much that as the wording that left me reaching for the laptop. Unable to serve indeed! Norfolk Green joined in the act using that phrase this morning but quickly tweeted another tweet for the return journey saying "unable to run". If something has had to be cancelled then say it has had to be cancelled - don't wrap it up in fancy language - the public are not idiots. Well not all of them anyway!!

    You might also remember that the First Essex feed comes from Norwich, and I'm not sure how good the line is from Essex Higways Department to Norfolk!