Tuesday 7 June 2016

A Steam Bus? Oh Yes It Is & Ipswich P&R Update

There are some things you just don't expect - Leicester City winning the Premiership, a train running on time, Anglian to expand services, you know the sort of thing. When I left home today I didn't expect to see a steam bus, but that is precisely what I saw in Wickham Market.

Allow me to introduce you to the Stanley Model 812 Mountain Wagon "King of the Mountains", designed to take visitors the 34 miles uphill from the railway station in Loveland, Colorado, into Estes Park, in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, where the Stanley hotel remains to this day.

This particular vehicle was built in 1914, would have cost around £300 new, and has amazing pulling power, far more than any internal combustion engined car of the time. It will do 60mph, and pulling away sounds identical to a steam train. There are 8 seats including the driver, although 3 children could easily fit in a row.

The Stanley Steam Wagon pulls away
It's amazing to think that old girl, or boy if it's a King, is over 100 years old, produces little harmful emissions (gets through 90 gallons of water every 50 miles though) and yet it is still a struggle to build engines with low emissions - isn't it VW!

I got my information on the Steam Wagon, which is on a tour of East Anglia, from a very informative article at I urge you to read the full article, which you can by clicking here.

Still thinks it's in US driving on the right!
Moving on if you cast your minds to February I exclusively broke the news that Ipswich Park & Ride was set to close.This led to panic by the council who denied it.  I also suggested, together with regular commentator Smurf, that the car parks would be kept open but service buses would take over from the dedicated service. It'll never happen a lot of people said. Well according to the Ipswich Star last night it most definitely IS happening, with Copdock P&R being absorbed into Ipswich Buses' 13, and Martlesham into First Ipswich's 66. It is suggested the 13 will be increased from 5 buses an hour to 9. The details for the 66 are yet to be finalised..

Now guys listen to me - there is an obvious solution to this which will benefit everyone, and I'm talking mainly to Ipswich Buses here as First know my ideas on this. Run the 13 as a circular service so after Chantry and Tesco it runs direct back to the town via the current P&R route, thus maintaining the direct link. Passengers from Tesco will like this too. The 13A can run the opposite way round to bring people back from town then it can return back via Chantry. That way you will also avoid having P&R loads and Chantry loads on the same bus. 5 buses an hour now often bunch - what will 9 do? Common sense.

The same can be applied to the 66, although I think the Martlesham terminus may well see more than the 66 in there - we will see on that one. My thanks to Brain and Andrew for alerting me to the Ipswich Star article, which you can read in full here. Rather good to be right over three months in advance!


  1. What IBC and SCC know about transport,you could put on a fleas behind. They tell people what they SHOULD have rather than what people NEED. Absolutely clueless...

  2. That's what I call a "real" old bus!

    Heck, I was half-joking! But I agree with you, a loop service with a fast option is ESSENTIAL. Otherwise it isn't park AND ride, where the convenience IS the point of it.

    But it highlights what is the key issue, everywhere. Park and Rides are struggling, more or less. Even Cambridge, the original local example, is in a mess, despite making buses a key part of its "strategy for growth". (The opposite of Ipswich, then). Making the best use of resources, or bang for bucks. The days of "good ideas", and "throw as much money at it as it takes" are over (if they ever arrived). The trouble is it takes a lot of effort and real imagination to make this money saving work. And I'm not sure they're up to it. As it was done in the first place to jump on the latest bandwagon, so now they jump on the latest bandwagon of "make it pay". The trouble is, things don't just happen as you want because you want them to.

    Thanks for the ment by the way. I know everytime I visit this site I expect to find I've been thrown off for being a b''''* nuisance! But still it's one of the best (and most entertaining) news sources around! Dunno how you do it, but just keep at it!

    1. It makes sense at least in he case of Ipswich to open the service up as a general bus service but why not make it limited stop. It may even reduce the costs further. They could keep he 13 and have an X13 limited stop service. If they went for a circular service that could do the same

      This will as it is currently proposed have a significant impact on Ipswich bus which are struggling financially as it is. It is not clear how much financial risk will be pit on the operators but clearly Ipswich bus loose a lot of PVR

    2. Numpties the lot of you - go out and get a life

    3. I'd love to as the one I've got sucks big time right now, but can't due to continued public transport cuts. Thanks for taking an interest and the invitation though!

  3. Steve, apparently Hedingham are closing Tollesbury depot next month, and cancelling the 91/92/95, so that spells the end for their Olympians and early Tridents. It's gonna leave Tollesbury completely cut off.

    1. Another opportunity for Stephensons, methinks, so perhaps not the end, well, not yet. But the three depots in close proximity at Hedingham (the place), Tollesbury and Clacton made little sense with resurgent First (on the town and interurbans) and Stephensons taking over in the smaller towns and almost everywhere else. Shows too that recent tender wins aren't everything. Consolidation is a smart move for both operators and passengers, provided it's done properly (always the hard bit). Sadly (and boringly) I think romanticism is part of the problem, rather than the solution.

    2. It would make sense for Go ahead to take Stephensons over they would be quite a good fit. In Clacton between Stephensons & Hedingham they have quite a lot of routes

    3. No! Keep Go-Ahead well away from Stephensons! Look at the ruinous mess they've made of Anglian Bus.

    4. I think Stephensons are doing quite nicely, and agree they don't need any help from Go-Ahead. Timely, since I think all the big boys are suffering having over-reached themselves; First were first, but everyone else seems to be following them into the pit. If the Mets do re-regulate and follow London on downward returns (and how else are they going to improve services) then it gets really interesting!

    5. The other option is Go ahead sell Heddingham & Chambers to Stephenson. That gives a decent amount of work in Clacton buying our Regals Braintree work would be a nice fit as well as would Regals routes 11, 12 & 13, No sure where they operate from

    6. Yep, but you have to have something worth buying and what do H&C bring to the party?

      Regal are an interesting prospect. Their base, I think, is south-east of Chelmsford, though their work is spread out over the county, much of it tendered. I think they originally came in from the south coast to take up tendered work when First were poor and expensive in the early 2000s. They've more recently seem to have had a few problems but now may be in recovery.

      Most of Regal's ECC tendered work seems to expire next April. Though this year they've taken most of Chelmsford-Southend, via the villages, commercial. May be even to keep it from rapacious First. A lot of it is evening and weekend work (e.g on First commercial routes) which was the sort of work First grabbed back in the last tender round. And some around Harlow, which has been very competitive, especially if Olympian reinvent themselves as it looks like, for the upteenth time, having it seems found yet another Transport Manager for a change, at least for the moment, after the latest multiple banning!

      But I gather most of the new First tendered work is on a sort of quasi-commercial basis, which makes life interesting if it doesn't work out, as I suspect Essex expect to withdraw from much subsidy in the longer term. I suspect (or trust, perhaps naively) First have a plan though.

    7. I forgot. Regal too were the selected operator for the high-quality Essex Pullman services sponsored (and I think paid for) by ECC. Whatever happened to those? Another good idea. Again I'm not sure it ever worked. To be fair, living on one of the routes I still see one of the buses (now starting to show their age) from time to time.

    8. Just a Tollesbury thought. The peak sponsored 50 still runs, with its new "improved half runs", also run by H&D. So, next, the barely viable commercial 92 gets withdrawn. Hardly suprising is it, as it now has to compete with the sponsored 50 the nearer its gets to Colchester (where most of the customers are)? What's next: the off-peak 50 gets extended to Tollebury, with ECC support? Even run by H&D, perhaps. Hey presto, we're back where we started. Well not quite. Next they re-number the 50 to the 92!

      We've been here before (remember the 47 and the 73). Oh my, doesn't this industry like shooting itself in the foot, and when they get off the limp, they end up back where they started. Jus like the rest of the country, perhaps.

  4. The problem with Regal is their work is scattered all over Essex and a lot of it is bits and pieces of contract work. Heddingham had the same problem

    What is really needed is for the services to be operated on a similar basis to in London. Having lots of small operators all doing their own thing and the constant changes and service cuts does nothing to encourage the uses of public transport

    I don't see things changing. What you get is the constant nibbling away of services which are already little more than a skeleton service

    The last people as well to ever be consulted are those that actually use the services

    1. Agree a lot of the independents have scattered work across Essex. But I've often wondered if that's partially the result (intended or not) of a sensible commercial strategy by First (and Arriva) the two big operators? Couldn't blame them, and it's in the passenger interest too, as you point out. You don't survive unless you play a hard game, in any walk of life. That's life. And always has been.

      I actually think Essex CC are good on consultation. Look at the (prolonged) work put in throughout the Bus Review (over two years and at least 2 rounds of consultations), and now the on-going fares review, 37, formerly 73 (Brentwood) and DRT consultation, even just for Maldon area. We might not like the results, but there is consultation. Compare that with, apparently, Suffolk's review of their DRT services. Where was the consultation and the report and responses on the result, or back to the subject of the thread on the Ipswich Park and Ride? Compare that with the stuff even publicly available for the Essex Bus Review, where the comments and responses was reported. Some of thie stuff is archived and available here: - /scotbus/large_files/essexbusreview2016/. And that actualy have a strategy that addresses what they are seeking to achieve in terms of mobility, whether we agree with it or not. So if we are so inclined it can be worked through. Though, as far as I can see, hardly any of us take an interest, which perhaps speaks volumes. As whether many people made the best use of the consultations is another matter, but that's not the Council's fault if we simply don't make (intelligent) use of the opportunity. And there is evidence that locally both Arriva and First do modify timetables in response to complaints and suggestions, both for commercial and supported services. Of course more can be done, can't it always but a decision has to be made sooner or later; but these are steps in the right direction and in my view ought to be recognised, and commended. Or we'd all end up like Suffolk!!!

  5. Further Essex Bus Cuts

    95 Tollesbury - Maldon Hedingham -ECC are not proposing a replacement service

    302 Bishops Stortford - Saffron Walden Panther. ECC are not proposing a replacement service

    333 Great Yeldham - Sudbury De-Vere Travel ECC are not proposing a replacement service

    346 Leaden Roding School - Great Dunmow Panther. ECC are not proposing a replacement service

    446 Panther Manuden - Saffron Walden County High School ECC are not propiing a replacement service

    446B Clavering - Newport, Joyce Frankland Academy Panther ECC not proposing a replacement service

    1. Hmm, three a re-organisation of school transport (always done around the long summer holiday), one replaced by DRT,and another served by DRT and a separate retained hourly sponsored service. And according to N&P 95A is changed. So possible loss of (partial: Tollesbury - Gt. Totham) one rural route, which may be replaced by DRT (under review).

      Actually there are bigger problems with changes elsewhere in Essex. The 47 and (new) 94 (and other town routes in Colchester, Chelmsford and South Essex) are examples if anyone wants to know. But it seems those problems are actually being addressed. We have to wait and see. No bus operator can just rest on their laurels. And more importantly, they don't.

      I don't think anyone else on here has ever suggested that all bus services, wherever and whatever, should be preserved in aspec like museum pieces. It's how the changes are made, and the rationale; not no changes, whatsoever.