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1  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - 2019 to 2045 / Re: Looking forward - another year, and not just operations but a wider picture on: Yesterday at 08:32:27 am
Yes, it is an important player but you are far far too modest about your own part in getting the whole set up started and on the road. The residents of Melksham and the readers of this forum owe you a enormous debt of gratitude. Us dear readers, would never even have heard of Melksham without you !
Melksham has almost achieved a "Taunton" status in picture quizzes!  Cheesy Wink
2  Journey by Journey / Bristol Commuters / Re: MetroBus on: October 25, 2018, 02:30:55 pm
It seems to me that the causes of late running are largely predictable. For example: Students have turned up in September in previous years; the roadworks near Temple Meads were know about long in advance; general congestion due to volume of traffic happens each day. I can't believe that this was a surprise to the manager who went out to drive the bus. These factors all need to be taken into consideration when designing the timetable. The result would be longer (potentially much longer), more realistic journey times in the timetable, especially at peak times. The problem for the operator is that to maintain service frequency with longer journey times requires more vehicles in traffic. Sadly it appears that First are struggling to provide enough vehicles/drivers even for the current timetable.
Won't happen (well, sorry, unlikely to happen).
First are a business and highly unlikely to lay on additional vehicles - they would require drivers, fuel, cleaners, engineers, tax, etc. Greater costs.
First are desperately cutting vehicles from the roster to reduce costs.  Meaning vehicles are more intensively utilised, so late in, even later out. The cycle will continue throughout the day.
It would be a brave manager to lay on additional vehicles and crew in the face of targeted reductions.
3  Journey by Journey / Bristol Commuters / Re: MetroBus on: October 25, 2018, 09:03:31 am

The managing director of the company running almost all Bristol's buses has got behind the wheel of one of his buses himself - to see exactly why his company has come in for fierce criticism in recent weeks.

With complaints about cancelled, late or overcrowded buses continuing, and even a protest against the level of service on Bristol's buses planned, James Freeman has written to the people of Bristol to express his concern, and to relate how he spent his Saturday.

Mr Freeman has previously explained that the nightmare being experienced by thousands on the buses around Bristol since September has been due to a number of factors.

These include an increase in traffic when the school run re-started in September, an influx of tens of thousands of students filling up buses in mid-September, starting a number of new routes, particularly around Thornbury and Yate and the Metrobus in south Bristol, roadworks and a bus driver shortage which has left them a reporter 150 drivers short across the region, and having to bring in drivers from as far afield as Cornwall to drive buses in Bristol.

But on Saturday, Mr Freeman decided to see what the problems on the roads were for himself. He still has a bus drivers' licence, so took to the wheel.

Full statement from First Bus boss after weeks of poor service for Bristol
In an open letter to the people of Bristol, he said he was 'very concerned' about the levels of service from First bus recently.

And he said his experience driving a bus - the 349 between Bristol and Keynsham - for a day, opened his eyes to just how challenging it is keeping a bus on time in the face of roadworks, crashes and the huge levels of traffic.

"I am very concerned, like you, the people who use our services every day, along with my fellow team-members from First West of England, about the reliability of our buses at the moment and the effect that this is having on us all," he said.

James Freeman, MD at First Bus in Bristol

"As some people may know I hold a full PCV licence, so I availed myself of the opportunity to do a day’s bus driving on Saturday. It was very instructive and supported what so many members of our driving team at First West of England have been saying to me recently.

"Much has been made recently of our current driver shortage, but I am really worried that this is obstructing our collective appreciation that the real problem is congestion.

'Why I'm organising a mass rally in protest at Bristol's bus service'
"That is not to down play the driver shortage problem, which is clearly our immediate problem, but it is essentially a short-term issue and we are already making great strides to deal with it.

"But what I experienced as a bus driver on Saturday worried me a lot so I wanted to share this with the wider public…

"I did three round trips on the 349 service from Bristol Bus Station to Keynsham starting at 11am, and following a break I did two more trips on the same route, finishing at 8pm.

"On each trip I was careful to leave 'on the button' and get away absolutely on time, but each time my progress was hampered by events that we couldn’t have foreseen or by the road system itself. This meant that for almost all the people waiting for the bus, it was late!

(Image: BristolLive)

"To give you all a flavour, during the day several things happened:

"Firstly, I was stopped entering Rupert Street by a minor road traffic collision which was cleared away quite quickly but delayed me by several valuable minutes.

"Negotiating the traffic system at Temple Meads, where the road system is being radically changed in a series of stages that is lasting two years, added an unscheduled seven minutes to the journey as we crawled through the sets of repeated traffic lights more slowly than you could have walked it.

First bus boss admits it will be 'few weeks' before Bristol bus nightmare is sorted
"In Keynsham, I was confronted with a set of pop-up traffic lights, courtesy of Wessex Water who were presumably doing some essential maintenance, which held me up towards evening for several minutes but had disappeared by the time of my next trip!

"The inbound section of the A4 in Brislington was terrible on every trip except the last one, adding five to seven minutes to the journey each time. And everywhere there was congestion and slow-moving traffic couple with long delays at traffic lights for no very apparent reason. Despite this, I did manage to accomplish all five trips because the route has seventeen minutes’ relief time to catch up after each round trip.

"I talked to the other drivers in the canteen. All around me there were similar stories of delay and indeed frustration at not being able to meet the needs of our customers. And this was on a relatively quiet sunny Saturday.

"We all know it’s worse in the week.

"For the buses to succeed we need more priority than so far has been provided – above all, the priority needs to be joined-up. Bus lanes are only part of the answer: In increasingly congested cities, all-too-often they just take us from one delay to the next!

Passengers lament 'terrible' FirstBus service following 'two weeks' of disruption
"As a bus operator we have apologised and take full responsibility for those issues that are within our control that have contributed to the reliability issues of late, and we are working hard to resolve those.

"But traffic congestion is the single biggest obstacle to running a reliable bus service. The causes of traffic congestion in our region are complex and manifold, and they need both a constructive mindset and joined-up action from all parties involved.

"Bristol deserves a better bus service, and I fully intend to deliver it – but we at First West of England cannot do this on our own," he added.

((If only managers in other areas would follow this example))
4  Journey by Journey / Plymouth and Cornwall / Sleeper problems on: October 25, 2018, 08:37:28 am
Not quite a problem with the sleeper but the infrastructure.
From journeycheck

23:45 London Paddington to Penzance due 07:55
23:45 London Paddington to Penzance due 07:55 will no longer call at Redruth, Camborne, Hayle and St Erth.
It will be delayed at St Austell and is expected to be 70 minutes late.
This is due to slippery rails.
Last Updated:25/10/2018 08:19
Due   Station   Status
23:45   London Paddington   23:45
00:51   Reading   00:51
03:07   Taunton   03:07
04:11   Exeter St Davids   04:11
04:32   Newton Abbot   04:32
05:49   Plymouth   05:49
06:15   Liskeard   06:15
06:29   Bodmin Parkway   06:29
06:35   Lostwithiel   06:35
06:43   Par   06:43
06:52   St Austell   08:02
07:10   Truro   08:20
07:23   Redruth   Not Stopping
07:31   Camborne   Not Stopping
07:40   Hayle   Not Stopping
07:45   St Erth   Not Stopping
07:55   Penzance   09:05

Severe slipping between Par and St Austell it seems.
5  Journey by Journey / Bristol Commuters / Re: MetroBus on: October 25, 2018, 08:25:34 am
Back in my youth I well remember the jolly clatter of those very trees as I passed that spot on the No.3 bus heading for skool. Muller Road's KSW's almost all had thoroughly dented panels at the front of their top decks; all done without the benefit of bus lanes too.
{Way off topic alarm} As do most of First Kernow busses, especially those around the Landsend area with very indented roof-lines.
6  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: Missing - a strategy for buses? on: October 16, 2018, 07:05:41 am
Now here's an idea  (pictures didn't copy over)

'I leave the car at home': how free buses are revolutionising one French city
Dunkirk is a month into a project that makes it the biggest European city to offer entirely free public transport to residents and visitors alike. So what do people think?

Cities is supported by
Rockefeller FoundationAbout this content
Kim Willsher in Dunkirk

Mon 15 Oct 2018 07.30 BST Last modified on Mon 15 Oct 2018 18.49 BST
 A poster advertising free bus services
 The free bus service in Dunkirk was initially offered on weekends and national holidays but was extended a month ago to operate every day. Photograph: Francois Lo Presti/AFP/Getty Images
One month after the French channel port of Dunkirk introduced free public transport for all, a small revolution is taking place.

Two women, perfect strangers until now, are chatting across the aisle about nothing in particular. One admits she sometimes takes the bus “just for the fun of it”. A young man wearing headphones is charging his mobile in a socket just above the “request stop” button.

On another bus, Claude Pointart, 65, who is retired, says free buses mean her pension goes further. “I’m saving money and they come every 10 minutes so I don’t have to wait long. But there’s a lot more people taking the bus so you have to avoid the rush hour if you want to sit. Still, I think it’s a good thing.”

 Claude Pointart, a passenger on a Dunkirk bus
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 Claude Pointart, a passenger on a Dunkirk bus. Photograph: Emmanuelle Depecker
On a city bus making its way around the historic port city, passengers smile at the driver and say “Bonjour” as they board. Some of the city’s fleet of new buses, painted in dazzling colours – pink, orange, green, yellow and blue, with upholstery to match – have wifi. The urban authorities have plans for debates, music and possibly the occasional celebrity on board. A “Sport-Bus” with an interactive game, quiz screen and a selfie camera is already in operation.

Georges Contamin, 51, says he has reconsidered how he travels about the city since the buses became fare-free. “Before, I almost never took the bus, but the fact they are now free as well as the increase in the cost of car fuel has made me reflect on how I get about,” Contamin says.

 I never used the bus before. It was too much bother getting tickets or a pass
Marie, passenger
At the bus stop opposite the port, even the persistent drizzle and howling wind rocking the boats cannot dampen Marie’s enthusiasm. “I never used the bus before,” she says. “It was too much bother getting tickets or a pass. Now I leave the car at home and take the bus to and from work. It’s so easy.”


One month ago, Dunkirk – with a metropolitan population of 200,000 – became the largest city in Europe to offer free public transport. There are no trams, trolleybuses or local commuter trains, but the hop-on-hop-off buses are accessible and free – requiring no tickets, passes or cards – for all passengers, even visitors .

The scheme took its inspiration from Tallinn in Estonia, which in 2013 became the first European capital to offer a fare-free service on buses, trams and trolleybuses, but only to residents who are registered with the municipality. They pay €2 for a “green card”, after which all journeys are free. The city has reported an increase of 25,000 in the number of registered residents – the number previously stood at 416,000 – for which the local authorities receives €1,000 of each resident’s income tax every year.

 A resident of Tallin in Estonia taps his green card to use public transport
Facebook Twitter Pinterest  Residents of Tallin in Estonia pay €2 for a green card which gives them free access to buses, trams and trolleybuses. Photograph: STRINGER/EPA
Free urban transport is spreading. In his research Wojciech Keblowski, an expert on urban research at Brussels Free University, says that in 2017 there were 99 fare-free public transport networks around the world: 57 in Europe, 27 in North America, 11 in South America, 3 in China and one in Australia. Many are smaller than Dunkirk and offer free transit limited to certain times, routes and people.

In February this year, Germany announced it was planning to trial free public transport in five cities – including the former capital Bonn and industrial cities Essen and Mannheim. In June this was downgraded to a slashing of public transport fares to persuade people to ditch cars.

The largest in the world is in Changning , in China’s Hunan province, where free transit has been in operation since 2008. Passenger numbers reportedly jumped by 60% on the day it was introduced.

A study into free public transport by online journal Metropolitics found an increase in mobility among older and younger people, and an increased sense of freedom.

 [Fare-free transport is often] associated in France with a lack of value and, by extension, a lack of respect
French transport union
Niort in west France introduced free buses for its 125,000 residents a year ago. Like Dunkirk, its income from fares was around 10%. The city authorities say passenger numbers have been boosted by 130% on some routes.

One month on, the Dunkirk mayor, Patrice Vergriete, who promised free public transport in his 2014 election campaign, says the project has been an overwhelming success, with a 50% increase in passenger numbers on some routes, and up to 85% on others.


Sitting in his large office under a poster of Nelson Mandela, Vergriete claims it is a win-win measure for his home city, where previously 65% of trips were made by car, 5% by bus and 1% by bicycle. The other 29% walked.

“The subject of free public transport is full of dogma and prejudice and not much research. This dogma suggests that if something is free it has no value. We hear this all the time in France,” he says.

 Free public transport for Dunkirk was a key promise of Patrice Vergriete’s 2014 electoral campaign.
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 Free public transport for Dunkirk was a key promise of Patrice Vergriete’s 2014 electoral campaign. Photograph: youaintseenme/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Money, he says, is the obvious inconvenience. Before the buses were free, fares raised around 10% of the network’s €47m (£41.6m) annual running costs. A further 60% was funded by the versement transport, a French public transport levy on companies and public bodies with more than 11 employees, and 30% came from the local authority. Vergriete says a rise in the company transport tax has made up the fare shortfall – meaning no rise in taxes for local households.

Bus routes have been extended, with special lanes and city centre priority introduced. The fleet has been expanded from 100 to 140 buses, including new greener vehicles which run on natural gas.

“The increase in passengers since it went free has surprised us; now we have to keep them. We’re trying to make people look at buses differently. We have put the bus back into people’s head as a means of transport, and it has changed attitudes.

 It may be that the financial cost is too great, but don’t underestimate the social advantages. You can’t put a price on mobility and social justice.
Patrice Vergriete
“Before, when they paid, it was a service and they were customers. They may have been only contributing 10% of the cost of running the service but they thought it was theirs. Now it’s a public service they look at it differently. They say ‘bonjour’ to the driver, they talk to each other. We are changing perceptions and transforming the city with more vivre ensemble. We are reinventing the public space.


“Before the bus was for those who had no choice: the young, the old, the poor who don’t have cars. Now it’s for everyone.”

Free public transport, however, also has its critics. The French transport union UTP believes fare-free transport is often “associated in France with a lack of value and, by extension, a lack of respect”.

Claude Faucher of the UTP said: “That it should be free for those passengers with financial difficulties … could be perhaps justified. However, completely fare-free for all users would, we believe, deprive [public] transport of resources that are useful and necessary for development.”

In Paris the income from tickets on public transport is reported to make up half the running costs. When mayor Anne Hidalgo suggested she would look at scrapping fares, Frédéric Héran, a transport economist, said the measure “made no sense”.

 Passengers wait on a Paris metro platform
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 Passengers wait on a Paris metro platform. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
“Who will the new public transport users be?” he asked. “All studies have shown they will be cyclists, then pedestrians and very few motorists. This clearly shows it’s an anti-cycling, anti-pedestrian measure and not very discouraging to cars.”

Vergriete believes this is all part of an erroneous received dogma. He admits free public transport may not work everywhere, but says that, as well as being good for the environment, it is a social measure, a gesture of “solidarity” and promotes a more egalitarian redistribution of wealth than tax cuts.

Get smart! How a 90s bus pass trial transformed London travel
 Read more
“We have been pragmatic: we looked at the advantages of free transport and weighed them against the disadvantages and decided €7m is not a lot to pay for all the benefits. If I can pass one message to other mayors it’s to fight the dogma. Put the advantages and disadvantages on the table and consider it realistically. It may be that the financial cost is too great, but don’t underestimate the social advantages. You can’t put a price on mobility and social justice.”

Additional reporting by Emmanuelle Depecker

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Perhaps I can already hear a distant cry of "oooos goona pay for it"    Wink
7  Journey by Journey / London to the West / Re: Person hit by a train 30/9 on: September 30, 2018, 11:53:17 am
The 08:05 Penzance to London Paddington reporting hitting a person on the line at Laira Junction. 
1A80 now showing returning to Plymouth, shortly to arrive at platform 5.  Guess a relief driver has been found from somewhere on a Sunday.
Passengers transferring to 1A81? somewhat late in departing for Paddington.
8  Journey by Journey / London to the West / Re: Person hit by a train 30/9 on: September 30, 2018, 10:58:23 am

08:05 Penzance to London Paddington due 14:06 was terminated at Plymouth.
It will no longer call at Totnes, Newton Abbot, Exeter St Davids, Tiverton Parkway, Taunton, Castle Cary, Westbury, Pewsey, Newbury, Reading and London Paddington.
This is due to a person being hit by a train.

Odd, as OTT showing it still static between Laira and Tavvy junctions, showing as passed Lipson Jn 10h12, 1 min early. 
Wonder if this is the one involved.
Thoughts to all involved of course.
9  Journey by Journey / London to the West / Re: Person hit by a train 30/9 on: September 30, 2018, 10:50:08 am
1A80 0805 Penzance - London Paddington. Seems to have been static between Laira Junction and Tavistock Junction.
1C20 0844 Bristol Temple Meads - Totnes (XC) has now been cancelled at Totnes.
(Courtesy OTT)
2C45 0828 Bristol Temple Meads - Newton Abbot (GW) terminated at Newton Abbot
10  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: BBC Music Day 2018 on: September 28, 2018, 02:56:12 pm
Kylie is making recorded announcements at NR major stations.

Reading and Paddington so local radio saying
11  Journey by Journey / Thames Valley Branches / Re: Irritating signalling decision on: September 26, 2018, 06:52:43 am

12  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Consultation - Somerset Passenger Transport Strategy 2018-2026 on: September 24, 2018, 01:51:51 pm
The P&R services were originally supported so as not to extract revenue from parallel commercial services. Limited stops along parallel routes.

I suspect that TDBC and First will be looking at combining the P&R routes with town services. And also looking at reduced frequencies and consequently a lower PVR. The service currently runs on a 12 minute frequency during the peaks and 15 minutes off peak. I'd expect to see a reduction to 15min peak and 20min off peak.
Suspect that will happen to the Truro P&R operation
13  Sideshoots - associated subjects / News, Help and Assistance / Re: The Coffee Shop - planning ahead on: September 10, 2018, 09:59:11 am
Week commencing February 17th is Cornwall education half term so we could book a lodge (or similar) for a few days away. Hopefully might persuade Mrs GBM (who works in education in aforementioned County) to come away.  If not, would schedule a day off and drive.
Rarely travel by train but follow the forum avidly.
14  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Shortage of train crews on Great Western Railway since September 2017 - ongoing discussion on: September 10, 2018, 08:55:09 am
Looks like the majority could be Paddington drivers.  I wonder if the proposed new driver depot at Swindon might be seen by GWR management as a solution to staffing Paddington on Sunday’s??
Proposed? Surely it will take a few years to build a depot, then staff it.
A long way off for now.
Maybe the next franchisee would benefit more from this.
15  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Discrimination against night shift workers on: July 27, 2018, 08:32:57 am

Working out whether the ticket time is more or less than 24 hrs? Surely it's not that difficult, even for the Cornish? 😉

Quite used to such insinuations!  Passengers purchase tickets at totally different minute intervals throughout the day, so every ticket will have a different issue time.
The date and time the ticket was issued is not a bold clear highlight time, so a driver would need to visually look at every ticket presented at boarding and manually work out the time difference.  A late running bus (as most are); perhaps 20 passengers queuing (many more at some stops) would delay the bus to unmanageable levels.  Passenger ticket tampering could easily occur as well.  A ticket inspector would spot that and of course, the driver would get reported for not spotting that.
It would need to be done electronically so the return section could be auto scanned.
Hence, if the Ticketer was programmed for that, then yes, it could be done.
Last winter, return tickets were valid up to 5 days, but no longer.
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