Sunday 6 July 2014

Please Discuss

I am reposting a comment left by smurfuk in the previous post about the change of focus of this blog. I think a decent debate is needed and a change of focus for the operating companies, in that there are a huge number of people with an inadequate public transport service in this area - I'm typing this as a usual prisoner in my village on a Sunday unless I want to pay a fortune for taxis both ways - a minimum of £30 to connect with the nearest bus. This is why I get so frustrated when I see companies duplicate existing routes trying to poach rival's passengers and not bering original and brave and offering those without a decent service a facility. Anyway here is smurfuk's comment, and let's have a good debate.

Let me try and start a debate. Everywhere in this country isn't the same. East Anglia needs local solutions that work for us, not to try and fit into a straightjacket designed for the conurbations. And that's a comment to the multitude of regulators as much as, perhaps even more than, the operators. We need commitment, not rules. The rule book is not a master. The passengers and the drivers (I don't forget the engineers, either) are the people who matter, everyone else in or around the industry is a servant not a master. There are far too many people sucking the lifeblood out of this industry. I'm fed up with lawyers (I was one of them once) and bureaucrats telling the public what they want, and feeding their egos. They don't know. And unless they get down to our level, they'll never know. A press release and well choreographed consultation is not the answer to anything. Nor is waving a big stick. This is a difficult area to make public transport work - we need the best brains and they need the support. The passengers are up for it, is anyone else? You can do better, and you need to. In actions we can see, not by soothing words like some mummy.


  1. Didn't see that one coming Steve. But getting on board, how about thinking of a Passenger Charter we think operators should sign up to? Without much thought a few starters, perhaps:
    1. To build their business around the needs of the passengers, rather than the needs of the companies. They need to understand and think like their passengers. (An example FE have trouble getting buses and drivers out in the early mornings: do they even get the concept that it ruins people's entire day, or week, and affects their livelihoods: their greatest concern?).
    2. To respect their drivers, who are the beating heart of the company. I have a feeling that respected drivers are better motivated and show similar respect to the passengers.
    3. Competition is about adding value, not copycatting.
    Sorry I'll shut up now, and over the everyone else.

  2. Steve, smurfuk, I have nothing much to add at the moment other than my agreement with you both - although something will probably pop up in due course (probably just after I click publish, it's usually the way).

    Reason for the off the cuff post now though (apologies in advance for the mini rant); "Competition is about adding value, not copycatting." here here. Certain corridors seem to be flavour of the month at the moment, or will be come the end of this month (Kessingland-Lowestoft, Lowestoft-Yarmouth, Yarmouth-Norwich) while others have increasing gaps or nothing at all. I mean, does Lowestoft-Yarmouth in particular really need 8 buses an hour, all taking circa 50 minutes end to end? Come the end of this month though that's exactly what there's going to be. That said, going by the new x1 timetable (the PDF version for each direction is available now on the FEC site) some knock on changes to the 1/1A are guaranteed, especially on Sundays, while I expect some knock on PVR reducing changes to local Gorleston services are on the way too.

    Veering back on to the general topic at hand, I'm on board with a Passenger Charter. There needs to be something that gets the authorities (NCC and SCC mostly in our case) and the operators working together, providing some accountability in the process. This would at the very least avoid the farcical situation of the Lowestoft lights happening yet again. This would also, I'd hope, give the operators some impetus to deal with regularly occurring problems e.g. FE having trouble getting buses and drivers out in the early mornings, FE buses in Norwich city centre being abandoned at Castle Meadow due to 'driver changeover issues' etc. I mean, the current set-up can't carry on - how many of us know people who drive purely so they don't have to use the bus? I for one know several.

    Anyway, I'm rambling so I'd best leave it there for now.

  3. Norfolk is the most sparsely populated county in England. It undoubtedly makes providing sustainable public transport difficult.
    Norfolk deserves much much better. I think any improvements need to incorporate, rail, bus and light rail.

  4. I agree with everything that has been suggested. I know a charter was signed in Suffolk earlier this year as the companies involved were waxing lyrical about it. I've noticed no difference and until all companies sign up it's not worth the paper it's printed on. The firsr thing we need is a ticket valid on ALL operators services like there is in Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. If they can do it there is no reason why it can't be done here. Oh sorry yes there is - GREED!

  5. I'd just add . . . communication. No, not talking down to us. This is a people business. Every time we ask "what the heck are they playing at . . .?" they've failed. Do they think "we've had problems . . . sorry" is like a magic mummy "kissing it better"? Why can't we be told on their twitter feed which bus, what time, and where . . . promptly, as soon as they know, and when they sort it. Other companies can do it. Or don't they know themselves, what is going on? It seems like it. I agree, everyone is in their bunker, but the First World War ended almost a hundred years ago, you know? If they want a local example, look at the Herts Interlink Partnership. It can (and should be) be improved upon, but it's a start. And you know what, everyone benefits.

  6. Sorry one other thing. I do realise the Traffic Commissioners are on the case. They've this standard that buses should be no more than 1 minute early nor 5 minutes late at a timing point. I can't achieve that in my car with the urban traffic here so the bus companies have no chance. I believe they "escape" this standard if there are more than six scheduled buses hourly along a route, which might explain a few things. And that's the trouble with bureaucracy - it never works as expected. And they also recommend local PTA/Operator charters, so Suffolk want a tick in the right box. Which is why I said a Passenger Charter i.e. one that deals with the local issues and delivers to passengers not bureaucrats; not any old thing that ticks the Traffic Commissioners box and keeps them off the operators' back. They don't convince me that they are more of a help than a hindrance. And that local public transport serves the need of the Traffic Commissioners INSTEAD OF the passengers. If you haven't got a bus service then you're a non-person as far as the Traffic Commissioners are concerned. The road to hell . . . as ever.