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Author Topic: The last bus from Melksham to Bath  (Read 452 times)
Mark A
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« on: August 18, 2022, 11:13:34 am »

Sorry for the threatening nature of the subject line: it masks a positive story. I used it visiting friends in Melksham just after the weather broke and both the outward and return trips were fine, even if the outward one had to plough its way through flood water on the A4 and on that length up the hill from Box. Finally, on the approach to Melksham it gave a glimpse of an illuminated, rain soaked and deserted Melksham station platform.

The return on the last bus which, impressively is after 10:30pm, was fine too. It did leave Melksham empty though... but picked up just a few passengers (and dropped them off) along the way, which is a bit alarming given that the service is council supported. But from Bath then returns to Melksham and Devizes, giving the towns an after 11pm bus back from Bath - and that might well be cheerfully full.

Mark
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2022, 12:52:21 pm »

Sorry for the threatening nature of the subject line: it masks a positive story. I used it visiting friends in Melksham just after the weather broke and both the outward and return trips were fine, even if the outward one had to plough its way through flood water on the A4 and on that length up the hill from Box. Finally, on the approach to Melksham it gave a glimpse of an illuminated, rain soaked and deserted Melksham station platform.

The return on the last bus which, impressively is after 10:30pm, was fine too. It did leave Melksham empty though... but picked up just a few passengers (and dropped them off) along the way, which is a bit alarming given that the service is council supported. But from Bath then returns to Melksham and Devizes, giving the towns an after 11pm bus back from Bath - and that might well be cheerfully full.

Mark

The last bus is a lifeline - and that 23:15 journey our from Bath can be as busy as the inward journey is quiet. It's a classic illustration of an unbalanced evening flow. 
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« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2022, 05:15:56 pm »

Let us hope that Faresaver can continue to provide this excellent late evening service in spite of all the current (financial) pressures.

Readers should note that the equivalent service Bath to Frome provided by First is now under threat. From October First have indicated they will remove the D2 Sunday and evening (except Saturday) services. Naturally there is a big outcry and petitions have been raised. It is likely to revolve around any continuing subsidy provided by BANES. Somerset have not provided subsidy in living memory.

We do have a surprisingly good evening train service in Frome as an alternative. However, this is of much less use to the outlying areas of Frome which lie on the bus route.
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2022, 07:15:12 am »

Let us hope that Faresaver can continue to provide this excellent late evening service in spite of all the current (financial) pressures.

[snip]

We do have a surprisingly good evening train service in Frome as an alternative. However, this is of much less use to the outlying areas of Frome which lie on the bus route.

Faresaver have come massively forward over the years and these days have gained a significant respect. At the same time, this service is supported by Wiltshire Council - the hidden buffer to the current pressures, and they are also (perhaps more) to be thanked for this service.  As an individual journey, I suspect that late bus takes more money that it costs to drive it; it needs support to ensure there's a vehicle and driver around that late in the evening as the extra cost of being there for this isolated bus services - witness the inbound service noted by Mark A

Evening train service to Melksham is not good - it's none-existant.  The last train, with a change at Chippenham, is the 20:19 from Bath Spa - that's three hours earlier that the last bus.   Give us a really late train and people would use it, relieving pressure on that bus that can be full and uncomfortably standing - bus still needed for Devizes passengers though.
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2022, 11:43:29 am »

Let us hope that Faresaver can continue to provide this excellent late evening service in spite of all the current (financial) pressures.

Readers should note that the equivalent service Bath to Frome provided by First is now under threat. From October First have indicated they will remove the D2 Sunday and evening (except Saturday) services. Naturally there is a big outcry and petitions have been raised. It is likely to revolve around any continuing subsidy provided by BANES. Somerset have not provided subsidy in living memory.

We do have a surprisingly good evening train service in Frome as an alternative. However, this is of much less use to the outlying areas of Frome which lie on the bus route.

We travel from Bath to Frome quite often in the evening to visit friends, and always use the last bus back, which leaves at about 10.20pm, as the last train back is nearly an hour earlier (and the bus is far more convenient to where we are going in Frome than the train).

From my experience, the last bus from Frome always has someone waiting to get on in Frome town centre, but most of these are people just going back home within Frome, so we are often the only people, or almost the only ones, left on the bus. It does, though, often pick up occasional passengers along the way, often from the most unlikely of places in the middle of nowhere, and memorably a few months ago, it picked up two large parties of pub goers from pubs in the intermediate villages, so that we unexpectedly found ourselves in a fairly full and quite noisy bus back.
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Mark A
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2022, 12:19:44 pm »

I enjoyed another pair and a half of out and back trips on the Melksham bus but through to Devizes, and the first involved the connection onto the Devizes-Swindon bus. All worked well, including that last bus back to Bath,  a very civilised departure from Devizes after 10pm, always good to emerge (from the Black Swan) and see the bus and driver waiting at the stop across the road.

The next morning, back on the 7:40 am from Bath, which was almost half full, various people doing Bath - Melksham and Melksham - Devizes with a few to pick up along the way too, a few regulars from the likes of Shaw pretty well being greeted by name by the driver. Faresaver drivers seem far less ground down by the work experience than do First and travelling with them is a more pleasant experience as a result.

Return was on the train after ten pm from Avoncliff, where the darkness of the towpath gives way to the arty beneath handrail led lighting to the steps down to the station which is an island of somewhat overlit brightness - though the lights are motion sensitive and gently dim somewhat when they do not sense something moving. Train was four minutes off the timetable but all good. Bus for the last mile in Bath was non-existent.

(An aside, lights that light on motion and extinguish completly 2 minutes after they think movement ceases don't make for a good waiting environment whether on stations or work environments. St Erth, I'm looking at you). Avoncliff's are lovely and even dim/raise slowly, which is a very important detail for security, though the minimum setting could probably be turned down about 5 notches.

Oh, and Bristol on Friday evening just after six pm and in a bit of a hurry. The busy centre had a lot of buses, but running empty. Also a number of hairy conflicting movements between people cycling / people on scooters / people on foot. And an amazing amount of vehicle traffic, including the chap who was reversing, gingerly, 150 metres out of a cycle path.

Heading for Temple Meads, not knowing Bristol's services, I completely failed to unravel the mass of buses, stops and diversions (the bascule bridge being shut had diverted several). Finally found a stop for the number 8,9 and a bus due in ten minutes on the display. The display counted down and at the due time, the service vanished from sight and the next, in 15 minutes, listed itself. Thought 'Sod that' and walked to Bristol Bridge and a stop just past there from which everything would run to the station - at which point I was two thirds there anyway but a bus *did* appear more or less immediately.

Then, Bristol Temple Meads. The haul up the ramp, and to the ticket office. Big left pointing arrows on the windows, saying 'Closed, temporary ticket office this way'... following the arrows led me to... precisely two ticket machines at the left hand end of the row of windows, both out of order.

Presenting myself at the barrier, dishevelled, dirty, tired, feeling like a complete idiot as I've used Bristol loads of times with a pitiful plea 'Please could you tell me where the ticket office is?' The chap there was as mystified as to what had happened to me as I was, and quickly let me through to buy a ticket from the excess ticket desk inside the barrier, where two GWR (Great Western Railway) people were deep in a sustained conversation. They came round quickly though and whisked up a ticket and instructions for the 7pm London train.

Back to Bath, and as usual, buses for the last mile now non-existent, and the need for speed still great, so, taxi, who let me off 20p of the fare which was above and beyond.

Apologies for the bus/rail essay, reading it is not compulsory of course.

Mark
« Last Edit: August 28, 2022, 01:10:37 pm by Mark A » Logged
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