Q is for Queensferry

Saturday 3rd September 2022

I know; it’s not a mid size town in its own right; not even a small size town come to that. More just a crossroads in Flintshire’s sprawling Deeside conurbation but ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ when it comes to awkward letters in my fortnightly A-to-Z visiting odyssey.

The town gained its Queensferry name on Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1837 having previously been called Kingsferry. Unsurprisingly its origins come from the ferries that at one time crossed the River Dee at this point.

Queensferry in its own right has a population of just 2,000 people but nearby Shotton to its west and the large residential area of Connah’s Quay makes for a much more populous area.

The town lies six miles west of Chester, six miles east of Flint and six miles north east of Mold.

Queensferry hasn’t got a rail station but nearby Shotton, a short distance along the B5129 High Street, is one of the few towns to enjoy a split level station with two different rail lines crossing at right angles with two platforms on each.

The east west line links Chester with towns along the north Wales coast and Holyhead while the north south line crossing over the former links Wrexham with Bidston for connections to Merseyside. All stopping trains are run by Transport for Wales with Avanti West Coast currently running a restricted service between Crewe and Holyhead as part of its reduced timetable.

There’s currently an hourly service on both lines with destinations on the North Wales coast line including Manchester Airport, Birmingham International and Llandudno.

There are aspirations to increase the frequency of the Bidston to Wrexham line to half hourly, but there’s also been aspirations to run Class 230 former London Underground D stock trains too, but these have still not entered service. Now it seems plans have changed and the plan is for a mixed fleet of Class 230 and Class 197 trains. In the meantime Class 150 trains keep on performing.

It’s about a 15 minute walk from what might be regarded as the ‘town centre’ of Queensferry to Shotton station which is quite handy but passengers just nipping over the border to Chester …

…. can get there quicker by using Arriva routes 10/10A which run every 15 minutes between Flint/Connah’s Quay (each half hourly) and Chester with a journey time from Queensferry of 17 minutes.

As you can see routes 10/10A are operated by Sapphire branded buses – the ones with very comfortable seats.

Although some are showing their age.

It’s a strange route to allocate such luxuriously appointed buses with an end to end running time of around 45 minutes, whereas route 11 which also runs between Chester and Flint before continuing to Holywell uses standard double deckers but has a longer 75 minute journey time as it takes a more circuitous route between Chester and Queensferry (via Broughton) taking 40 minutes instead of the aforementioned 17.

The third and final Arriva operated bus route serving Queensferry is hourly route 5 which sees single deck buses running between Ellesmere Port and Mold.

P&O Lloyd operate a few local routes which pass through Queensferry including three shuttle type routes numbered D1, D2 and D3 which link the local area to the extensive Deeside Industrial Park located north of Queensferry. These routes run to an odd timetable with long gaps in the morning and afternoon, presumably fitting in with employees travel needs. They primarily link the large Connah’s Quay residential area and just happen to pass through Queensferry.

P&O Lloyd also operate the three journeys a day route 8 which provides a link to Mold, and five journeys a day route 9 which links Broughton with Queensferry and parts of the area not served by Arriva’s routes.

Numbers travelling on all these routes were depressingly low. I made a couple of journeys on route 10/10A and observed other journeys for a couple of hours and didn’t see any bus with more than half a dozen on board.

Even more depressing is the state of Queensferry’s retail and hospitality offering.

Even the careers office looks as though it’s closed down.

And this is before the recession hits.

The lead shop on the retail parade seemed to be Get Cash Quick.

Worse still was seeing Flintshire Council’s complete abrogation of any responsibility for bus shelter presentation and the provision of bus information.

It really is truly awful.

As I walked from an area called Garden City (it isn’t) lying to the north of Queensferry along the main road – now downgraded to a B road (B5441) and called Welsh Road – I passed shelters in a deplorable state.

No timetable cases were displaying any information.

If I hadn’t seen buses pass by I’d have thought bus travel had long ago packed up in this area.

When I reached Queensferry’s main bus stops in its ‘town centre’ (ie by the crossroads) I found a fairly decent departure listing displayed on one side of the road ….

…. except it was dated 2017 and looked well out of date to me.

…. while on the other side of the road you could take your pick of which of three out of date versions you creaked your head to look at.

I spotted some passengers consulting this display which would have totally misled them.

Further on by Shotton rail station I found an explanation for the absence of timetable information – blame it on Covid.

I wonder how long that excuse will continue.

Another thing I noticed was the blatant disregard for yellow lines and clearway markings at bus stops by motorists popping into the betting shop or the Authentic Turkish Barber. Perhaps they also thought public transport had been abandoned.

It turns out Q has not been the brightest letter in the alphabet.

Roger French

Previous AtoZ blogs: Andover; Bracknell; Carlisle; Durham, Evesham, Folkestone, Grantham, Harrogate, Inverness, Jarrow, King’s Lynn, Leamington Spa, Maidenhead, Neath, Oswestry, Potters Bar.

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu

33 thoughts on “Q is for Queensferry

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  1. Another fascinating ‘warts and all’ post, Roger!

    Clearly Flintshire are not up to the job of providing correct roadside information but more depressing to me is why a private sector company like Arriva is willing to put up with the current situation. Do they not realise that potential customers making decisions based on out-of-date information can only negatively impact their bottom line?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No one want to take responsibility for bus stops, shelters and roadside information so most are pretty much abandoned and neglected

      It can get even worse with bus stops and shelters and even timetable left on roads no longer served by buses

      They could at least cover up the bus stop and say not in use

      Like

  2. What a depressing situation. Money is being thrown at Traws Cambria routes while those not chosen are left to wither. I support the railway lines mean that local buses are not strategic, but what do those shelters suggest about an area.
    When places like this are not producing passengers it is a bad sign. Arriva look to be average here ( which makes it one of their better operations) with good kit but poor attention to detail.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not “Traws Cambria” but “Traws Cymru”.

    Here in Cardiff we’ve had the opposite issue with timetables. Cardiff Bus reduced their service over the summer holidays but are increasing them from tomorrow. That’s fine, but some timetable cases have been showing the new times for well over a week. I doubt if many people notice the “From 4th September” annotation.

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  4. There is a general pattern with most of these visits. A general air of neglect, poorly maintained bus stops and shelters. In fact in many cases any attempt to maintain them seems to have been abandoned
    Timetables if any at all are out of date, Seats at bus stops that seem to have been designed to make them almost unusable

    Could not the local councils use the street cleaners to report issues with bus stops and shelters. It can get worse in some rural area with the bus companies councils deciding not to bother with bus stops so you have to guess where the bus will stop

    Web Sites are another issue with far to many over complex and difficult to navigate or even find basic information

    Most people want three basic bits of information

    a) Timetable
    b) When will the bus arrive
    c) When will the bus get to the destination

    To often information on late running or cancelled bus is inconsistent. It varies depending on where you look

    To often as well Web sites and Facebook and Twitter are cluttered with out of date information. PR and advertising making it very hard to find the real information you need

    Lack of Real Time information is another issue. Frequently bus stop real time where it exists is broken or is not actually showing real time

    Trying to get Real Time on a Mobil phone is even more of a challenge
    with a confusing and complex mess of apps many of which are unreliable and again many do not actually give real time

    Stagecoach appear to have updated their app and they now claim it clearly differentiates between Real Time and Scheduled time and actually maintain Real Time Displays, Far to many are broken and not working and rarely get repaired

    Why so many bus route do not have Real Time is another issue

    To gain new passengers buses need the following

    a) Frequent reliable services that are not cancelled or constantly running late

    b) Simple to use and navigate Web Sites

    c) Simple universal app and consistent and reliable Real Time Information

    d) Remove out of date info from Web Sites , Twitter and Facebook
    Do not clutter Twitters and face book with PR data and advertising . If you want to find if a bus is cancelled or late you do not want to wade through a mass of irrelevant information to try to find it

    The focus should be on the app rather than Real Time Information at Bus stops. The reason for that is putting Real time at bus stops is expensive and vandalism will be an issue and most people have a mobile phone

    Like

    1. You’ll struggle to find a street cleaner in most parts of the country, and even if you do they’re employed by a contractor such as Biffa rather than directly by the local council so (as usual) it’s not as simple as saying “Fred, let us know if any of the bus shelters need work, will you?”

      Like

    2. If I was running a bus company social media platform one of the first things I would do would be to identify all the community group Facebook pages, and post regular bus promotional messages with links back to the company FB and website.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As suspected several years ago when allegations were being made, Queensferry and many places not too dissimilar, are living proof that those pulling the strings in the Welsh government have favoured areas, or should we say constituencies, where the cash is splashed. But I have to totally agree with comments about Arriva, as their 10 and definitely the 11 are trunk inter-urban services and deserve a lot better if to remain so. I could not see Go-Ahead particularly or Stagecoach perhaps allowing their buses to operate in this appalling environment with next to useless information. And Flintshire Council……oh dear, oh dear!

    Like

    1. @Terence Uden

      Regrettably neither Go Ahead nor Stagecoach are much better.
      Stagecoach East Midlands, amongst others, provide almost no printed publicity any more, and are quite happy to serve bus stops with out of date timetable information or the usual Covid-excuse posters.

      As for Go Ahead, whilst they are generally good at providing printed timetables, there are inconsistencies: the next stop announcements often have stop names which are different to those shown on the timetables which in turn are different to those shown on the stop plates. In Northumbria, for example, the local authority provide no information at all at stops, but GA make no effort to provide any; heck, in the area around Hexham many stops are still marked Arriva over a *decade* after GA took over!

      Like

  6. “The focus should be on the app rather than Real Time Information at Bus stops. The reason for that is putting Real time at bus stops is expensive and vandalism will be an issue and most people have a mobile phone”. Hmm … surely bus passengers include a disprortionate amount of older people who may not possess, or who may struggle to use, a smartphone.

    Like

    1. I was in North Wales recently and the bus stop had a note in the timetable case advising me to use the website for information. There was no signal at the Traws (Cymru!) stop and once the timetable time has passed, no knowledge of whether the bus was running and whether the timetable I had downloaded recently was correct.

      Another time a friend, old enough to know better, had used his data allowance, so no chance to check online.

      Real time has its place. Most cars have SatNav but local authorities are not suggesting removing road direction signs

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Local authorities may not be suggesting removing road direction signs but they are certainly not maintaining them very well and just letting them become obscured by rampant foliage.

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    2. Agreed Most passengers just want timetable information where they catch the bus ie bus stations and stops. Why this obsession with apps and tech I know not –just simple information like what Durham CC provides where I live is what is needed. When Arriva took one bus out of service 49a last week All our timetable cases were updated on the previous weekend. It can be done

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  7. Hasn’t it always been the same?

    There are those that consider buses a social service provided for those in need, at public expense. The sad result is that they too have to take their share of the cuts along with everyone else. No one is volunteering to pay extra taxes to fund the gap.
    And those who consider they are a commercial service that needs to attract paying passengers to earn its keep.

    N’er the twain shall meet.

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  8. Atrocious bus stops! It need not be like this. My local independent Faresaver has replaced the shabby First bus stop flags with smart new ones in the company’s purple livery. They also have up to date timetable displays which also list adult and child fares to key destinations. These contrast with the neglected bus shelters which after I complained to my Chippenham Town Councillor (Green) I discovered that ownership and repairs fall to Wiltshire Ciuncil, but cleaning falls to the town council who only do it twice a year, which explains the moss!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Queensferry, Shotton and Connahs Quay always looked down at heel when I used to pass through on the Cymru Coastliner L1 over 40 years ago. It therefore saddens me to see that the area has not improved. Sadly, many places in north east Wales look unloved and uncared for. On my last visit 10 years or so ago, Mold looked relatively prosperous but Flint and Holywell looked as though they could do with a bit of a spruce up and some tlc.

    Like

    1. Indeed. I get the impression that the whole area is seen as “Merseyside across the border” and therefore ignored by the Welsh government as “not proper Wales” while suffering from the same economic malaise over the decades as Merseyside has done.

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  10. I’d say this is a fairly typical picture of bus infrastructure in Wales where most unitary authorities have a laissez faire approach to public transport. If the government begin to franchise though will any of these issues be addressed?

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  11. My local authority have generally always been good at repairing broken windows in bus shelters but not so good at cleaning them.

    Having said that, this weekI saw a man in an anonymous white van draw up at one of my local town centre stops and meticulously clean the electronic display screen.

    To A Nony Mouse, perhaps it depends where you are in Northumberland. Many of the bus stops along the coast do display printed timetable information. Whether it is accurate is of course another matter.

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  12. As far as I know Shotton is the only high/low level station in Wales?Heath is technically two separate stations;Heath High and Low.

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    1. Heath High Level and Low Level are two separate stations on different lines; High on the Rhymney Valley line and Low on the Coryton branch.

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  13. The two Heath stations aren’t connected AFAIK, nor do the lines cross each other. Builth Road pre-Beeching was a proper two-level station. We might wish to debate the former Crumlin and Quakers’ Yard stations (among others I daresay).

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  14. Flintshire recently had Welsh Government money to introduce a ‘Fflecsi’ DRT service. Much more exciting than repairing bus shelters and updating roadside publicity and timetables.

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    1. The set up a whole raft of them in Newport’s only to scrap them within a few months. How much money was wasted on that?

      DRT has a very high failure rat of over 70%. If you were to think of where DRT might have a slight chance of sucess you would not think of Newport

      Like

  15. The traffic Commissioners have a poor track record

    It would make more sense for the LTA’s to be responsible but with a set of standard laid down as in many areas bus stops and shelters have all but been abandoned and no one maintains them

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  16. While agreeing that not everybody has a mobile phone, surely a QR code to the appropriate real time info on bus times (or even just a suggestion to go to bustimes.org on a bus stop flag) would help out a proportion of passengers and be better than those blank cases. Unlike the old paper timetables you’d at least get proper information if you got there. Its a bit like rail companies saying go to nationalrail.co.uk, feels a bit of an abdication of responsibility but the tutting passenger at least knows where to start as they try to find the information that hasn’t otherwise been provided

    Like

  17. You should see the state of the 2 main bus shelters in Flint, they are just as bad. It seems FCC have given up maintaining anything outside of Mold bus station, and crossing their fingers that the Welsh Government hand them some cash to improve things like this. Perhaps, when and if Transport For Wales get hold of the buses, things may change?

    Like

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