Wednesday 15th September 2021
Transport for Wales have only gone and done it again. They’ve further expanded the TrawsCymru network of bus routes with a brand new route – the T10 – running through the Snowdonia National Park linking Wrexham via a connection in Corwen with Betws-y-Coed and Bangor.
The T10 timetable provides a two-hourly service operated with one Optare Tempo each by Llew Jones Coaches and K&P Coaches both displaying the refreshed TrawsCymru livery.
On Sundays the service is a three journey-a-day four-hourly service although another three journeys between Bangor and Betws -y-Coed provide a two-hourly timetable on that section during the summer.
This latest TrawsCymru route began on 31st July with a week’s free fares promotion. Sadly I couldn’t give it a try during that period, but took a couple of rides on Monday and Tuesday this week using the amazing value new ‘1bws ticket’ introduced this summer giving unlimited travel for a day on all bus routes across north Wales and Anglesey for just £5.70, reduced to £3.70 for holders of an English or Scottish concessionary pass.
I caught the 13:15 departure from Wrexham on route T3 on Monday due into Corwen at 14:10 providing a five minute connection with the T10 that leaves at 14:15.
Connection times between the T3 and T10 in Corwen vary between 5, 10 and 20 minutes in the westbound direction but in the eastbound direction two of the daytime connections are somewhat extended at 30 and 35 minutes, making for a much longer journey time.
We left Wrexham with seven on board, picking one more up in Ruabon and losing four but gaining six in Llangollen, three of whom only travelled as far as the nearby Chain Bridge. Four of us got off in Corwen with only me transferring to the T10.
We ‘d arrived spot on time at 14:10 and I was relieved to see the K&P Coaches operated 14:15 departure parked up in the corner of the car park by the adjacent Llangollen Railway Corwen station, having arrived from Bangor at 14:00.
The driver pulled round to the main bus stop for all departures in both directions at 14:15 snd we headed off with just myself on board.
I did wonder if the driver had seen the T3 come and go from where he was parked up and whether he would have waited had the T3 been late.
It’s a lovely ride across to Betws-y-Coed along the A5 – a journey I did in the opposite direction using the Fflecsi DRT service a few weeks ago.
Following the introduction of the new T10, I’m told plans are in hand to reduce the area covered by Fflecsi from Corwen westwards to Cerrigydrudion on the three days when Fflecsi comes this way.
I gave the Fflecsi app a try while on the T10 and it offered me a ride on Tuesday afternoon pretty much at the same time as the T10 would have been available so it obviously makes sense to remove this wasteful duplication as soon as possible.
I’d have had a choice between an empty Fflecsi minibus or an empty TrawsCymru bus for my journey if I’d come yesterday (Tuesday) instead of Monday.
I understand the two buses being used on the T10 were previously with New Adventure Travel (for the T9) and First Cymru (I assume for the T1) so they’re not new buses, but internally they’re smartly trimmed with very comfortable seats.
My only gripes are the layout to the rear of the bus which I mentioned when writing about my journey on the T19 which uses the same buses.
There’s a partition either side in front of two rear facing and two forward facing seats around a table on both sides of the bus in what would normally be the best forward facing seats for a view of the road ahead.
But now there’s no forward view available.
Not only that but there’s a partition to the rear of the front nearside luggage rack so the lower level forward facing seats don’t get much of a forward view either.
At least there are timetable leaflets available.
And what a superb promotional brochure it is too, with details of the route, a timetable, prices and attractions along the way as well as a timetable for Snowdon Sherpa route S2.
There’s also a display monitor but along with the destination, date and time it was only showing an advert for McKenna Brothers but I doubt sales of destination blinds will boom as a result.
I broke my journey in Bewts-y-Coed when we arrived at 14:58 to take a circular tour around the Snowdonia National Park via Llanberis, Bangor and Caernarfon for the rest of Monday and I’ll tell you more about that in the next post.
Before that I saw the T10 journey heading in the other direction to Corwen at 15:18, operated by Llew Jones Coaches, arrive and depart. It was doing a bit better than my journey with three passengers on board two of whom alighted but no-one boarded.
I returned to Betws-y-Coed yesterday morning (Tuesday) to catch the 11:01 departure on the T10 to complete the route on to Bangor.
This operates via Bethesda, staying on the A5 rather than one of the two southern roads through Snowdonia either via Llanberis or Beddgelert.
The same bus snd driver I’d travelled on Monday arrived on time at 10:58 (four hours earlier than my arrival on Monday) but rather disconcertingly was displaying ‘Not in Service’ on the blind.
One of the five passengers on board alighted but as the others stayed on the bus I asked the driver if he was the T10 which he confirmed and when I pointed out the blind display he fiddled with a few knobs explaining “it must be playing up again”.
Let’s hope that gets fixed soon. Four of us boarded making for eight in total heading for Bangor and we left just a couple of minutes after the schedule 11:01 departure time.
It’s a lovely scenic route along the A5 particularly through Snowdonia’s finest peaks with lakes and rivers adding to the delight.
Halfway along the journey a passenger boarded at Pont Pen-y-benglog who’d obviously been enjoying some walking in the area and before long we were descending into Bangor arriving at the bus station a minute early at 11:45..
… before continuing on to the train station…
…. where the bus lays over before returning to Corwen at 12:23.
Transport for Wales have said the funding for route T10 is for twelve months, but I reckon it might take a little longer for the route to really establish itself as a useful and viable facility along the A5 from Bangor through Snowdonia to Betws-y-Coed and on via the connection in Corwen to Llangollen and Wrexham especially as we’re now entering the winter season with fewer people travelling compared to the summer. However, it was pleasing to see eight on board my journey yesterday.
I hope the new route gets well promoted and I’m sure it will attract passengers in this ever popular part of the country. The Snowdonia scenery is truly spectacular.
The ‘1bws ticket’ certainly adds to the value for passengers but may make the viability of the service for TfW challenging.
Meanwhile the start date for the next new route to be added to the network – the T22 between Caernarfon, Porthmadog and Blaneau Ffestiniog – is eagerly awaited.
Pity about the lack of a forward view.
That first raised nearside seat towards the rear is my favourite too!
Promotion Promotion Promotion and the fact that English and Scottish Pass holders can travel at a reduced rate which will help those English and Scottish pass holders who are reluctant to travel in Wales because their passes are not valid there
Interestingly the T22 (and also the upcoming T19) will be served by electric buses.
Another bias review again. I thought the idea was to review things pragmatically. If only all parts of Wales were fortunate enough to have these vanity projects where money can be thrown at needless services to keep consultants employed.
Meanwhile real people are being deprived of bus services. Where were TfW when services were being cut because of Welsh Government reduced funding. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Surprise surprise it’s all wonderful because Best Impressions did the livery & leaflet. It’s riddled with errors but don’t let accuracy get in the way.
Some local authorities are crying out for help. But then that doesn’t get nice PR does it.
A somewhat harsh critique of Roger’s blog.
In relation to his appraisal of the Best Impressions designed publicity, it’s a bit difficult to know what you’re alluding to as I have found an online version. Suffice to say that it may be that Roger probably looked at this in a more general sense than combing it for errors, and that his knowledge may not be as good as yours.
Roger is also looking at this in a positive light, as he did with the Dee Valley piece a few weeks ago. I think he would readily agree that there are other pressing issues in Wales that need to be solved. Also, I suspect his closing comments about funding etc are particularly telling if you read between the lines. Especially in relation to the western end of the route being more popular; almost by default, it suggests that there will be little local traffic and even the fleshpots of Wrexham and Llangollen will provide relatively little trade for the Corwen end of the route. As RF mentions, he was the sole occupant heading to Betws y Coed from Corwen, and on the bus returning, 3 people arrived of which 2 alighted.
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I agree with your sentiments, especially the initial one..
I welcome these reviews because they would encourage me to investigate how I can use the Traws Cymru routes to explore some of the more beautiful parts of Wales, bringing my tourist English pounds with me. There may be timetable problems (and I hope those that have identified them, notify the relevant agencies, I find they often respond favourably) but they can be ironed out. What I see is an easy way for me to travel to those parts of the principality that I have not yet been to without having to spend ages finding which of half a dozen operators I need to use. Before lockdown I spent hours planning a similar expedition in a remote part of England, I would probably probably have to spend a similar time checking this again. Meanwhile here is an initiative, maybe some parts will work, maybe some won’t (and maybe other parts of the network need attention) but there is at least some action, rather than just sloganising. Maybe an example of Bws Back Better.
Buses in the UK have always been a hobby. Nothing wrong with that, like stamp collecting (or trainspotting) used to be, it’s popular and fun.
Real people often don’t have the time, inclination or money to play with buses. They aren’t this blogs market. When Roger ventures into the real world (as in his Essex reports) , it’s a depressing read and frankly a waste of time for everybody. Nobody wants to read (or write) that stuff.
So nobody can be blamed for throwing money at vanity projects. We all do it, when we can afford it (or not). It’s the way of the world. It’s where the money is made, by attracting fares or subsidy, as long as it makes us feel good.
That’s a winter adventure formulating in my mind, thanks Roger.
Interesting that there is again a bus service between Bangor and Wrexham (albeit via a very different route and with a change of vehicle in Corwen). Some may recall that in the late 1980s Crosville Cymru extended the Coastliner at both ends (Caernarfon to Chester – L1 as was) that used Olympians with coach type seats and a higher top speed, to run as X1 from Porthmadog to Wrexham and X4 Holyhead to Wrexham, providing an hourly headway on the common Bangor to Wrexham corridor.
With the exception of a couple of journeys, the vehicles (and drivers) worked through. As a Holyhead based driver at the time, this certainly made a change from driving to Bangor and back, although it was a long shift. It was at a time when the A55 was still being upgraded and significant delays through Conwy were not unusual. The last trip of the day was scheduled as a “kiss and turn” at Rhyl where the Holyhead and Wrexham drivers supposedly swapped buses and headed back to their respective depots. However it was not unusual for the Wrexham based driver to give up waiting at Rhyl and return eastwards with the same bus, resulting in some unhappy passengers when the Holyhead bus actually reached Rhyl…
Well this bew route seems tobe getting reasobably passenger numbers it is after all a hew eoutes and it is at the end of the tourist season
Cutting out the Flecsi jouneys will prpby noos numbers slightly as well
at a guess it probabvly needs cach bus to tke about £40 an hour to break even. Whether Wales eill have a ruivalent of th Bius Back Better scvheme I dont know, If they do it may be able to get funding from that
I do find the Optare Tempo to be an attractive bus – it stands out from the crowd. I wonder if this will help increase patronage?
The wide range of connection times at Corwen are because the T3 has a weird timetable, with several frequency variations, probably to do with trying to fit journeys around the college at Dolgellau. With other services becoming “clockface”, even at 1/2 BPH, perhaps the timetable for the T3 needs looking at again.
Like Tony above . . . I feel an Autumn trip coming on . . . . !!
Many English language purists won’t be happy with the Welsh calling the rail station a train station although I’m indifferent to it myself as both are mutually intelligible.Of course if it’s a rail station should a bus station be a road station?The claim is is that train station comes from American English but I see little evidence for this as like here both seem to be used with equal enthusiasm in the USA.Obviously in the USA railroad is more common than railway but both would be shortened to rail .
Optare Tempos were never used on the T1. First Cymru was the original operator of the T9 (before New Adventure Travel) so both those Tempos are ex-T9 vehicles.