And waited. And waited. And waited some more. Luckily there was a lady with a baby also waiting for that bus on a morning that seemed more like March than July, who I was able to talk to. So when the bus was 25 mins late I tweeted First Ipswich, who 10 mins later informed me that according to the depot everything was out and there were no probs. I replied that it was now 33 mins late to which I was offered the contact email to register a complaint and a repeat that the depot knew nothing. So obviously the bus was lost missing in action. The 1127 was 3 mins late, and the driver told us immediately he had passed the 1027 at Leiston where it had broken down with air problems. So effectively that was 80 mins after it had broken down and First Ipswich didn't know about it, at least that is what we were led to believe. I decided against going to Ipswich after all and caught the 196 shoebox home.
That is the second time in 3 weeks that bus has failed to turn up on a route that is an hourly service. It is twice in three weeks I have known what has happened to the bus before First Ipswich have allegedly known. No tweet ever went out about that cancelled service. As customer service goes it is nonexistent. Is it any wonder their reputation is so low it would win the World Limbo Dancing Championships?
So in the absence of 69008 here is a picture that rather summed it all up
when i used to commute btw ips and sax, if there was a break down, we had to wait an hr for the next one.broke down in kesgrave one wet sat nite heading north ( actually wiper fell off) and had to wait for the next one. no spare was sent. bit pointless having a twitter feed if they dnt know anything. luckily dnt have first where i am, we have galloway who have had their problems but hopefully the new(er) vehicles will improve reliability.ReplyDelete
I think it'll be interesting to see what's the result of the recent First Essex disciplinary hearing. Apparently out of 350+ stops monitored by the Traffic Commissioners over a two month period around 25% of journeys were excessively late or early or failed to turn up at all, First Essex claimed their reliability of 86%, whatever that means. The Traffic Commissioner has gone off to try and sort out what's going on from the stats. Good luck to her. I always remember the quote from a local user group when they were reasonably challenged about why the longest routes from the depot didn't get the most reliable buses: there was a reason why routes had certain buses "but no-one could remember what it was"! I think their main concern is to publish timetables which try to ensure the competition stays away, actually running the published buses comes a poor third after trying to shut up the customers. "Here's our complaint form" is NOT customer service.ReplyDelete
It is well known that the first refurbished vehicles will be used on the Town routes in Ipswich, with the older ones getting pushed out into the country. Less really does mean more - especially when it is fares paid - less fare means more quality.ReplyDelete
Steve you know for well that the entire fleet is to be done and no doubt you on country routes will see those just like anywhere else,that's fact,if the whole fleet is done,it has to happen doesn't it.Delete
You have good people in place with First now,and they are turning things around,like a big ship,it needs time,it was quoted from you by the end of summer,so you must have got that from someone Steve.
Indeed, Jim, and I have commented on the difference Chris Speed has made, and the excellence of Barry Spurling's team at ipswich. It was Chris himself who said on this blog that "every Ipswich bus would be leather seated by the end of September" I truly look forward to proclaiming that completed on time. What worries me in the meantime is the new refurbished ones will go on the town routes - they have so far - and the soon to go ones pushed out on the country routes. I know it's not for long but that doesn't help you when you're stuck out in the sticks in the cold for a couple of hours!Delete
never been any different.63 + 64 duties were covered by the ANG volvo pointers along with the F plate and G plate olympians. oldest buses on longest routes so breakdowns are inevitable. complaints just met with contempt. and empty apologises.ReplyDelete
Well... If only there was an Ipswich version of my @NorwichBuses account ;)ReplyDelete
We're relied on by 1,200+ people (Including First) for updates, late runnings, reduced capacities, those annoying "Stick a green bus on a yellow line and confuse everybody" moments and diversions! It would be nice to do an Ipswich one... if anybody is interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sadly Kieran you need the info in the first place to inform people. Ipswich buses do a pretty good job but First are frankly hopeless. If they don't give out or even know the information themselves then I don't know how an Ipswich version of NBU would source the info.ReplyDelete
Incidentally am I the only one who wonders why people get confused if the wrong colour branded bus is used occasionally? Isn't that what destination screens are for, or are people just too lazy to read them these days?
And you wonder why first dont tell you anything!!ReplyDelete
You slag them off every single day, and then get annoyed when Clive gets something out before you. This is why :LDelete
Actually no I don't. I go out of my way to praise them when I can. It's just they keep giving me reasons to criticise. I have also made it clear that I am no longer in the news gathering melee and Clive can do what he likes. Perhaps you could do me the courtesy of contacting me directly to discuss this, or even remove your cloak of anonimity so we can all see who you are. I've actually praised First Group today - will you recognise that - I doubt it!!!Delete
how have you praised them?Delete
Read my praise of First Scotrail in Scottish Trip Part 3Delete
Ok then, but I'm talking about the local business down here that you actually use... praising FirstScotrail isn't gonna impress Eastern Counties is itDelete
I'm not out to impress Eastern Counties. If I buy clothes that turn out to not fit me I take them back. If my phone providor doesn't give me a decent deal I'll complain and look elsewhere. If I'm at a restaurant and I don't get what I ordered I'll send it back. I had a bad service yesterday and complained about it. That is my right as a consumer. Unfortuately there are no bus wars on the 64 so no alternatives. Read my policy statement and you willl see I'm sticking to it.Delete
I am a passenger first and enthusiast second. I will always praise good service, a shame you haven;t noticed when I have, but I brown nose no one, be it Eastern Counties, Tesco, Anglian Water or Burger King. If someone is charging money for a service and then fails to provide it up to standard then we,as consumers, have a right to say something about it. The fact I have an interest in buses and transport is neither here nor there. If more people actually stood up and said something then we might see some changes for the better.
yes, you may take clothes back if they won't fit or complain about your phone providor. The difference is you don't publically write about it on a well-read blog!!!Delete
If I owned a blog on Matalan or O2 I would. I happen to own this blog, and as such that gives me the right to say what I think. You are welcome to start your own in opposition to me and say what you think. At the moment we stilll have freedom of speech in this country, which gives me the right to say things and you the right to comment - even under the cloak of anonimity. Andy Coulson might have done his best to damage that, but it still it exists. I believe in that freedom, which is why I haven't deleted your comments, even though you disagree with me. Most other blogs wouldn't do that - a couple don't even allow comments. But we live in a free world where everyone is free to praise and criticise as they see fit.Delete
I have never lied, or made anything up about Eastern Counties or any other company. I don't need to. As I have said before if I never had to make a critical comment about Eastern Counties again I'd be the happiest man alive as it would mean they were doing a perfect job and supplying an unbeatable service. I, like the lady and baby who waited with me outside Tesco in Saxmundham for nearly 90 mins yesterday with no information look forward immensely to that day.
Well, can't honestly say I'm surprised by this post. For starters, as I understand it, the First twitters for our patch (at least!) are based in Norwich - yet, the First Norwich twitter continues to have 'issues' in 'discovering and communicating' problems in, err, Norwich, so it's no shock the out of area twitters have 'issues' too.ReplyDelete
Don't get me wrong, the people behind the First twitter seem alright, and as a result I follow them and get their tweets by text too, but... well... how can I put this nicely... um... OK; I don't want to cast aspersions here, but I would put money on the depot having told porkies to the Norwich twitter at least twice - and that's what I know of. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I misunderstood the intention of the messages at the time, I don't know. My main point here being, why bother having it if it's not going to be able to be relied upon? Why bother having Twitter to pass on information if the Twitter isn't actually going to be terribly reliable at providing said information? I mean, Anglian's twitter is very dry (and seems to post, albeit infrequently, at all hours) but seems more authoritative - and informative. When Market Gates was closed the other day, Anglian tweeted about it first - nothing from First until an hour or so later even though they - the depot, the Twitter, or both - clearly knew at the time, they just didn't pass the information on in a timely manner for whatever reason, which seems to be their main problem here.
Problem is, with First twitters they are all run from Norwich Lansdowne Road. Whoever runs it (understandably) hasn't got a lot of knowledge of routes across Ipswich and YarLow so goes off rough location.ReplyDelete
In response to your comments about wrongly branded buses Steve, a lot of people get confused - don't ask me how! Somehow, they see a Pink Line bus and get on. The route branding was launched to simplify and identify buses easier, but when it goes wrong people have become some reliant that they just get on and end up in the wrong place. This is why we Tweet if a bus is on the wrong colour line etc, with an encouragement to get people to read the destination display!
I suppose a news site could work with info from passengers, but it's a big ask unless you've got a large social media base like students. I don't think First withhold information, they're not petty. Just a bit slow and bureaucratic. Other companies have informative tweets from the depots. But First management are a bit under the cosh, from HQ who want only "good news". Just look at their annual meetings, the next is next week and will come up on their website, eventually. So I suspect the staff are on the horns of a dilemma: they want to be helpful, but not too much. It's the big national bosses who have got to learn: honesty is the best policy. Passengers aren't fools. Neither, for that matter, are the investors.ReplyDelete
cont/for example First Essex do tweet from depots. But the info is often "route xx was disrupted [this morning/afternoon] due to [staff sickness][bus problem]. Sorry". Actually, we're not interested in the why or the apology, we'd like to know which bus(es) aren't running. But I suspect if you listed them, say on a frequent service, it'd look bad, so they don't. And of course a "cancelled" bus might be got running, through repair or substitution, but info can be updated if you have a mind to. Meanwhile we don't know if it's one bus or several; and if, as often, a single route has two or more variations, catching the bus becomes like a lottery. People can't be bothered, and take the car instead.ReplyDelete
"Problem is, with First twitters they are all run from Norwich Lansdowne Road. Whoever runs it (understandably) hasn't got a lot of knowledge of routes across Ipswich and YarLow so goes off rough location." I agree, and will give the First Twitters a bit of leeway because of that. Although, why they're still struggling a bit with Norwich, even though they're actually there, is beyond me. That said, Anglian don't seem to be having the same issues despite their Twitter being in Beccles (or Dereham?), but maybe I'm just being picky.ReplyDelete
"I don't think First withhold information, they're not petty. Just a bit slow and bureaucratic." I agree, I don't think they're withholding information on purpose, as that would be petty, it's just there's clearly a breakdown in communication somewhere down the line, which more often than not ends up with information not being passed on.
The sad thing about this is, they CAN do it quickly. I had cause to ring First customer service a while back, to check on something that had been posted on Twitter. Turned out the tweet was wrong, they knew it was wrong, and they actually posted an update about it while I was on the phone to them. Now I wouldn't expect service like that all the while as it'd be unrealistic to keep that pace up constantly, but it does show that when they have a mind to they can do it really well. It's just, as things stand, that's simply not happening.
The rail network manage to keep us updated, and this week Greater Anglia have had a hellava lot to report. So why can't a relatively small depot like Ipswich get news out. Oh yes buses don't have radios. aren't tracked and frankly, my dear.......ReplyDelete
Quite incorrect about country routes getting all the bad buses in the main the fleet is pretty good now the other day it was mostly B7rle's on 64s once SCC finally get their act together all routes will be tracked let's hope it works.ReplyDelete
I have said on numerous occasions that compared to other depots the Ipswich fleet is pretty good.however they do have some unreliable vehicles which are going soon and in the last week I have had 65673/5 and two of the Yorkshire Renowns on their longest route - the 64/65 lolipop. I don't know what failed yesterday - might have been a P&R B7 for all I know, but the next one was a Yorkshire Renown and 65630 passed going the other way. Only say what I see,Delete
I thought the tracking equipment in the buses had to be paid for by the operators? Essex CC has had a tracking system for a year now, but try and access the information as a member of the public and you can't. It shows up intermittently on a few destination boards in some urban areas, but more often not. Herts have a comprehensive system with info on the web if you are good at guesswork to find the right stop, but it only covers some bits of the county and routes. Can you easily access the Norwich EC tracking data? As usual, technology is not a panacea. Especially not when every area does its own thing in its own unique way, and piecemeal. It works best, as everything, in London and some Met areas, where regulation is strongest. But satellites go out of range too as anyone who has used sat navs knows, and ETAs are notoriously unreliable unless speeds are consistent or predictable. Then timetables tend to work, too.ReplyDelete
A few weeks ago I stood in the control room at Konect's depot at Dereham and saw the screen with every single bus out in service identified and located. Anglian have the same system. 15 years ago I was in the supervisor's office at Ramsgate seeing where my delayed train that I was taking over was. 35 years ago all buses out of Luton depot in Chatham had radios that had a range of 30 odd miles. None of this is new yet some are still behind the times and that means customers suffer. Some here don't like me criticising companies. I don't give a stuff about the companies to be honest, the managers in their warm offices or driving around the country in company cars admiring paint jobs. What I do care about is passengers - and babies yesterday - having to stand/sit in adverse weather for 90 mins with naff all information in what is supposed to be the 21st century. Hurrumph!Delete
Yeah I agree with what you have to say here Steve. I don't even know why people bother complaining on First's twitter account or via phone/email, as nothing is ever done. I don't know if they used to be better or worse than what they are as a company now. But in my opinion they are pretty bad.ReplyDelete
Cheers, buddy. It does seem the majority are in agreement here.Delete
First, I think, through history and poor (mainly but not just) past business decisions, have, I think the most difficult network to make work. Both Stagecoach and Go-Ahead have more business logic in their networks, and are choosers, not beggars. Local examples are with the Norwich Network and their Essex Network. Geography, and weak local authority traffic management among others. So you'd think they'd want to make friends, not enemies. But do they know how? Heck they even seem to treat their own internal "departments" (what a horrible concept) as aliens! And the passengers seem to be beings that come from another planet. "Here is a message for the earthlings, greetings from Planet Zog . . . we give you a frog as a symbol of eternal friendship". Hop off.Delete
Absolutely. As I said above though, when they have a mind to do something though, they can do it rather well, which makes it all a bit... hmm... that that tends not to happen. Such a shame, as when I visit friends in Peterborough/Cambridge, it's like night and day the difference between the whole experience of using First and using Stagecoach.Delete
@smurfuk - I agree with the spirit of your post. However, there are exceptions; Devon for one. First - effectively retrenching to Plymouth and it's surrounds. Stagecoach - fleet investment and increasing timetables, with a fair bit of this happening on ex-First routes.
Yep, tinker. As you say you don't have to go to Devon. Cambridge (the biggest traffic nightmare in the country) and Norwich - both former Eastern Counties, and now worlds apart. First poured their (borrowed) money into the everlasting drain that is their American operations. Will that American hedge fund manager knock some sense into them? Don't bet on it. You can't get life out of a dodo, in business no more than in the real world. And who else would want ToT?ReplyDelete
The way this discussion has taken off it was almost worth waiting 90 mins in the cold! Thank you to EVERYONE who has taken the trouble to get involved, whether you agree with me or not. This is what blogging is all about :)ReplyDelete
Its shown tht despite all their recent fleet improvements, customer service and information has got to be their nxt objective.you cnt leave people wondering if or when a bus is coming. The technology is out there.ReplyDelete
Up North, First banned a blogger from using their buses because he was constantly slagging them off. Do you not think that the same could happen here? :LReplyDelete
It is probably unenforceable in court, and they would have to prove what I was saying was either false or libellous. I maintain that nothing I have said about First is false and therefore cannot be seen to be libellous. I have also given First every opportunity to respond to what I say but they have chosen not to. If I did not offer the right to reply they might have a case. I stand by every word I have said on this blog, and at least I am prepared to put my name to my views. I have tolerated your posts and comments so far but I think the time has come for you either to reveal your identity or shut up.ReplyDelete
The final word? I do feel sorry for First's local management. Not just in our area. For the whole of First UK Bus. If there is rot, it's in the head. First PLC have lost their way. American school buses - a money spinner? I'm not sure. Greyhound US too - Americans like their planes when they can afford them, and it's not a little country like good ole UK. Even UK Rail is in the capricious hands of the Department of Transport. UK Bus is in the one area where their fate is in their own hands. Unfortunately, it seems. They left London (had to?) because, they said, the deregulated market offered "better prospects". Well? They've got a new chairman. Is he going to make a difference? Their own investors are saying harder things than anything said on here. And will they sue them too? Where's their money going to come from then?ReplyDelete