Sunday 3 August 2014

Weekly News Round Up 3/8/14

Another week has past and so it is time for a round up of the news from around the region this week.


Pride of place this week has to be the return of 32479 Volvo B7tl ALX400 AU53 HJV to Ipswich sporting the Eastern Counties Post Office Red livery. Unfortunately I was in Ipswich 24 hours early and so no pic on this blog yet but I can assure by the end of the week I will have photographed AND ridden her so you will get a truly all round review. After all there is more to a book than its cover.

With the exception of sister B7tl 32490 if my calculations are correct there are no Ipswich vehicles actually undergoing refurbishment. Ex Norwich B7rles 69011, and I believe 66959 are up in Rotherham, along with ex Clacton E200s 44517/8. The other arrival this week was E200 44519, which entered service on Thursday. The last of the quartet, 44516 was expected to arrive at Ipswich this weekend.

E200 44519 on driver change on its first day out in its new colours, on the 53's opposite OCM in Ipswich
Moving North and the main focus this week was the split of the X1. Initially it was thought it would be splitting into 2 parts meeting at Norwich. However it transpired that due to the Eastern section no longer being tacho operated the distance between Lowestoft - Norwich is too great to be displayed as such, so both timetables en route and destinations show the route terminating at Great Yarmouth. Totally confusing, totally unnecessary and totally shambolic. As it happens the majority of the delays this week have been on the Western part of the route.

How do I get to Kings Lynn anyone? 33824 shows very confusing information on a very dark Lowestoft morning


Something that has largely slipped under the radar is the acquisition of 10 Scania bendibuses by Beestons of Hadliegh. Formerly operated at Heathrow Airport by the distribution company Menzies it is currently unknown why they have been bought or what they are going to be used on. I have written to Beestons hoping for information and will pass on anything I hear. Could be bendibuses in Ipswich after all.

Scania bendibus YT10 OBG now with Beestons. Pic by Solenteer reproduced on CCL.


A few timetable adjustments have been announced, as is always the case this time of year with the new School Year approaching. Most notably First Lowestoft have closed some gaps in the timetables affecting the X2 and 99. The afternoon X2 from Norwich that currently terminates at Worlingham will now continue to Lowestoft, and one of the afternoon 99's that currently doesn't return to Lowestoft from Kessingland now will.

Most annoying from my point of view, though is that Anglian have withdrawn the 1555 relief service 88 from Norwich to Bungay. This service ran together with the 1600 to Halesworth and took a large proprotion of the school passengers, and ensured the 1600 operated along the fast route to Halesworth. Now not only will the 1600 be full to overloading but it now goes everywhere, arriving in Halesworth over 10 mins later. Cheers guys. No fast Halesworth services between the 1530 and 1700? Don't your Halesworth passengers matter?

And Finally

I hope most of you will have read my rather scathing post regarding Victoria Coach Station. Well I can happily reveal I have been contacted by the General Manager of Victoria Coach Station, who has kindly invited me down for a meeting and tour of the Coach Station, so I can be informed of the plans for future development and improvement. Now THAT is the way to respond to criticism, and a few local managers could take note of that, rather than shutting up shop and refusing to communicate. I am really looking forward to my meeting and hope to publish a much more optimistic post about the future of VCS after my meeting in a few weeks time.


  1. Good news. I think London is lucky to have tfl. They are starting to get the message that passengers matter. I'm no-where near as optimistic about the local bus management though. With a few notable exceptions (and my heart goes out to them in the climate they must find themselves in) - let me be blunt about this - they haven't got a clue. Trying to get the message through - whether from the passengers, the regulators, or even I suspect the national management, is like banging your head against a brick wall. New MDs sink in the mire too. This "we don't care, like it or lump it" is deliberate. Sweep the lot of them out. There we are, now they can put their heads even further in the sand. The deeper the better, perhaps.

  2. Unfortunately, Smurf, until the Councils realise that buses are an essential part of the services they provide, and start providing a decent rural bus service again SEVEN days a week then who can blame the companies for thinking that if the Council can't be bothered why should we. But it must be said that East Anglia is a total backwater when it comes to public transport, as I have discovered from travelling to other parts of the country this year.

    London has always had a first class public transport system, but like everything in life, if it is on your doorstep you tend to take it for granted. I had to laugh this morning when a friend of mine in a certain Scottish Capital City complained she had 7 mins to wait for the next bus. I told her I had 96 mins till mine and if I missed it I would have another 1440 mins before the one after that turned up. But here it's not just the service but the cost too. Let me give you another example. In Tyne and Wear there is a day ticket that gives you unlimited travel on the huge majority of buses, bearing in mind that Arriva, Stagecoach and First all run services up there plus some independents. You also get unlimited travel on the Metro, which covers a wide area, AND Northern Rail services between Sunderland and Newcastle. Services start at around 5am and finish at gone midnight. The cost of this ticket? £6.80 - less than a day ticket on Anglian Bus. I repeat my plea for an integrated ticket that covers all companies and services.

    So I agree with you, we don't just need a broom to sweep out ther old guard and bring in more passenger focused managers, but we need the local authorities to start making public transport a priority again, but I fear all the time Councillors get petrol expenses and don't have to use public transport themselves that day is a long way off.

  3. Sorry Steve I'm not with you on this one. No excuses; whilst they can't run their commercial services regularly and don't see the need to let the passengers know what's going on, why should Councils bung them yet more money for nothing? They'd love it. Expect it too. You must make their day with that one. And no, a joint ticketing arrangement doesn't need a Council. It's about time they got out of their pram, and stopped expecting to be spoon fed. They can do it, but not in East Anglia and Essex. We've the wrong 'uns in charge. Time for change. Not excuses. Their time has run out.

  4. Fair enough buddy, but the phrase contempt breeds contempt springs to mind. It doesn't really matter where it stems from it's the passenger that suffers in the end.

  5. Hmm... OK, a few points:

    While I probably wouldn't have put it quite as forcefully, I have to say I agree with young smurf here. I'd quote the particular bits, but there's more there that I agree with than what I don't so I'll save everyone's eyes and not do that today.

    My main problem with the local public transport scene is this; there's an ingrained attitude of "oh, that'll do" that's wider than any of us would like. As I've said before, and will no doubt say again, there's a lack of pride in the operation - and to be fair it's not just the usual suspect this time round. As you say Steve, "the phrase contempt breeds contempt springs to mind" is quite true, but that can - and does - swing both ways. Just for example; my dad (a planning-to-be-former car driver) has a bus pass, yet refuses to use First because (and I quote) 'they don't care about their service so why should I?'. He will happily use Anglian though, despite First running outside his house (you can see the bus stop from his front room) and Anglian's nearest stop being 2-3 minutes away, so make of that what you will. Can't say I blame him to be honest, as Anglian's vehicles are usually better presented, but maybe that's just me.

    Councils getting more involved - I don't know. Tyne and Wear is a bit of a rogue example to be fair, as it has a PTE (called Nexus), while we here in the wilds of East Anglia do not, but the overall point is quite fair. Whether councils getting more involved is the way forward though - I really don't know. Suffolk do a fairly good job providing bus information with suffolkonboard, Norfolk though... well... you've mentioned (once or twice :D) about an integrated ticket. Well, there is one on our patch already - in Norwich (apparently the rest of Norfolk can go whistle). It's called the Fusion ticket. You may not have heard of it to be fair, seeing as the NCC site has full information on it, of the seven operators who accept it there are varying degrees of mention about it on the sites of Anglian, Konect, Norfolk Green and Sanders - and nothing about it on the Norse, Simonds or First sites. With that in mind...

    Granted this is all really cynical of me, and saying it out loud is probably asking for trouble seeing as I'm a passenger, but it needs saying - and I am trying to be objective, whether I'm succeeding in that is another matter.

    On a more positive note - great going with VCS. I've not been there for far too long, so I await your hopefully more optimistic post about it with interest.

  6. On the contrary, Tinker I WANT passengers views on here, and in the end I want more passngers than enthusiasts reading it as I'm a passenger first and foremost myself. I HAVE to use the bus, not having a car, and so that is why a lot of my posts upset a lot of other enthusiasts as their hobby begins by starting the car up and they have not an inkling of what passengers endure. That is precisely why I give reviews of ride quality, and campaign for new and better routes, not just customer sponging by duplicating routes.

    So you give your views as a passenger as they are seriously welcome here.

  7. Yeah, must have been in a bad mood yesterday! Two things vex me: fine frequent town timetables, then cancelled buses because they don't have the resources - and always when people are trying to get to work in the morning. What use is a 15/20/30 minute frequency with a 40 minute or hour wait? Do they realise how it saps confidence, not just of the users affected but everyone else who reads the bad publicity, or hears from their neighbours? Occasionally it will happen with the best will in the world, but several times and on several routes at once every week? As they say once is an accident, much more and it's a habit. And whereas everyone else can do it, they can't give out information at the time. Are they really trying to add insult to injury?

    The other thing is magically how complaints (especially when politicians get involved) are met with more frequent timetables, but the same problems. It looks like a sop. And if it looks like a dog, it often is. The buses don't seem any busier, so the cynic in me wonders if the rural areas are paying the price for the urban games, if not challenging the incumbent then trying to keep the competition out. I'd prefer to keep the computer games, as much fun as they are, behind the screen; and use the buses to serve as many passengers as possible. May be the 3/4/5/6 buses per hour makes a difference, but it doesn't equate to reliability and if it does is perhaps a very inefficient way of achieving it, if you don't have the resources, the demand and the income to match. Looking for more public funding for rural services is fine, but let's face it, just how many abused children or elderly frail people going without their carer is your bus journey worth? Or get rid of the libraries and swimming pools perhaps? I actually think it's ridiculous that Council tax increases are forcibly held to zero, whilst inflation affects everything else. Is Sky more worthwhile than public services? But that's the way of the world and the politicians think there's votes in it (and who am I to disagree), but I don't see why the bus companies can't at least try to help themselves and the passengers too. And even perhaps get a few brownie points with the politicians. (I seem to recall it was always easier to get more pocket money if your parents thought you had earned it). But I'm ranting again!!

  8. Just one more question: we know our roads have horrendous traffic, but when they get blocked why do bus companies always and inevitably divert end to end so they keep up the planned mileage, and forget about the people in between? Do the majority of passengers always do end to end journeys? Even, is that where they make most money?

  9. It's the same on the Railway, mate. If a train is running late it will miss intermediate stops out.Totally unfair but it does stop bunching which is one of the most unpopular sights ever. Quite often when I was driving I was sent to a halfway point to resume my route, but I do take your point.

  10. Fair point, but I wasn't thinking of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway! And, at least here (with Essex Police's habits - rather like those of First for customer service) road closures after accidents can easily last half a day or longer!

  11. At the same time buses are buses not Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and can't fly over obstructions. So if a road is closed resulting in diversions it's hardly the operating companies' fault. Diversions have to be approved by the Council and Police and can't just go down anywhere to get close to bus stops. What can be improved, however, is information given out by the companies AND Council about the diversions. Not everyone is on Twitter so radio and heaven forbid real time info at bus stops should be used too

  12. Steve, you misunderstand me buddy. I know YOU want passenger views, which is why I comment on here as I do (and often at some length!).

    It's just... ugh, this will probably sound really dramatic but I might just as well get it out; I'm fearful of an operator (or what have you) reading this and thinking "if that's what you think then why should we bother" or words to that effect. Considering though that, StreetLites aside, First have no intention of doing anything in my patch until 2016 at best (yuck, how depressing is that) I'm probably fretting unnecessarily, as nothing will happen regardless, but the thought is still there if you see what I mean.

    In the main though, we cynics have to stick together, so you're not getting rid of me quite yet :)

  13. Good. And don't worry about operating companies reading this - I hope they do. How else are they going to know how people feel unless people say it as they see it. We still, I believe, live in a democracy, well sometimes, and we still have limited freedom of speech - use it buddy, and tell 'em what you think!

  14. Oh, and I agree with your enthusiast point. I mean, just for example:

    An Olympian with mismatched seat covers; great for the enthusiast (oooh, an Olympian), for the passenger though......

  15. It is just good the Olympians are still out - they could have deckchairs for all I care! They DO still give a better ride than the vast majority of their more modern compatriates.