Saturday 10th September 2022
Another pot pourri of observational miscellany from recent travels.
Firstly a shout out to Brian Jackson for his well earned retirement as proprietor of Morris Models, the fabulous model shop he’s run in Lancing, West Sussex since taking over the business in 2004. Brian has decided it’s time to retire and sadly hasn’t been able to find a buyer for the business so another much valued independently owned model shop has closed its doors for the last time. However it was a fabulous last day at the end of last month and a great privilege to attend a little farewell ceremony and wish Brian well in his retirement.
Over in Petersfield station I was impressed to see the station’s former ‘parcels office’ has been repurposed as a ‘Hub’ for community use as well as a Tourism Information Centre in the summer. This is an excellent and valued resource for the local community being also used for distributing food, groceries and toiletries (obtained from supermarkets, farms and community gardens) on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays as well as school uniform on a recent Thursday. Also, “knowledgeable and helpful volunteers staff the Hub every Thursday to Sunday between 1000 and 1200 with information available on train and bus services, local walks, cycle rides and attractions so that once visitors arrive in Petersfield, they will have many diverse opportunities to explore the area”. Fantastic. Sadly it was closed on the recent public holiday so I was unable to see inside.
It was good to see a prominent real time sign showing bus departures immediately outside Winchester railway station on my recent visit, including displaying the South Downs Ramblerbus – with the code SDR instead of a route number. Often you can find special routes like this one are left off such displays.
I’d heard about the amazing flooring First Potteries installed earlier this year on a refurbished fleet of 25 Streetlite buses for routes 3/4 in Stoke.
The design (inevitably another Best Impressions masterpiece) is based on Minton tiles which were very much associated with the Potteries area.
The buses are now branded ‘Mainline’ for these busy routes which link Crewe and Wereton with Stoke and absolutely splendid they look too – even more so in real life than can be conveyed in photographs.
People in the bus world have associated the word Rosso with buses in Rossendale for some years now so I did a double take when passing through Potters Bar recently finding a company using that name is the franchisee for providing refreshments at the Great Northern run station both in the ticket office and up on the London bound platform. Even the logo looked vaguely similar.
It’s good to see Mike Harris continues to update his repertoire of old London Transport bus maps. The two latest ones to hit the map shelf are now in their second editions for 1940 and 1964. They incorporate new information that has come to light since publication of the first editions nearly 20 years ago. I’m particularly intrigued by the 1964 map as it brings back many childhood memories of how buses used to be in the capital – so much simpler to understand, but on the other hand reminding me of vast areas of London were unserved by buses resulting in long walks to the nearest bus stop.
The maps are now available (£4 each – or £2 for a digital version) from Mike’s online shop as is a complete set of all ten historical maps he’s produced (1934-1976) for a special price of £35 (normally £41). These latest maps can also be purchased from the London Transport Museum.
My local station is Hassocks which has a fabulous team of staff who are always so friendly and helpful not least Craig and Codrina in the ticket office. But sometimes they have a well deserved day off and bosses are unable to cover their shift so the shutter remains down.
When this occurs you get a taste of what will happen if the threat to close ticket offices is pursued. Extreme passenger frustration as those not familiar with the complexities of Ticket Vending Machines (TVM) get stressed out trying to buy a ticket as they feel the pressure from anxious people in the queue behind them, worried they’ll miss their train.
The last time this happened the staff member on the gateline kindly repositioned himself to help those who were floundering not having been trained in the science of ticket buying and not in receipt of their TVM competency certificate.
We only have one serviceable TVM at Hassocks – there is another one by the southbound platform but someone thought it a good idea to position it facing due east so the morning sun renders the screen unreadable.
Let’s hope the new Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan bins the Shapps plan for closing ticket offices, but I’m not hopeful.
Bus stop panels
I often chastise TfL for not marketing their bus services preferring instead to keep the extent of its network a complete secret.
Following my recent feature of a promotional poster for route 17 in a case on the back of a shelter at London Bridge bus station….
… noting its positioning meant it couldn’t be read without the risk of being mown down by a bus on route 521, although at least an electric bus …..
…. comes news from a recent visit to Waltham Cross…
…. of finding a similar mini poster in a timetable case on the bus stop for bus routes heading down the A10 promoting the tourist delights of “Classic London” available from a ride on route 139 between Waterloo and Abbey Road 15 miles away.
Meanwhile down in Cornwall two very out of date timetables have been left in a case attached to the main bus stop in the centre of Bodmin….
…. while the timetable and fares expert Barry Doe told me he’d spotted this 11 year old timetable showing well out of date National Express express coach departures in Parkstone.
Up in Runcorn I found this confusing departure display can be found in timetable cases…..
It demonstrates the problems of displaying information churned out by a computer progamme without any sensible review of what it’s actually showing. Route 62 is operated by Warrington’s Own Buses on Mondays to Fridays and Arriva on Saturdays. The former states there’s “No Saturday, Sunday or Public Holiday Service” whereas the latter displayed above it contradicts this by displaying hourly Saturday derpartures.
Meanwhile route 62A has two departures at 07:45 – one on schooldays and one on school holidays, the only difference being the former terminates at Murdishaw Centre. Why doesn’t it just state that in a simple statement? Because the software doesn’t allow such niceties, of course.
D&G Bus run some very colourful branded bus routes in the Potteries including “Yellow 9”…
…. which includes a high profile vinyl over one of the rear windows….
…. but at least you can see through, I suppose…..
….. which is more than you can do on Stagecoach’s buses using Cheshire East and Chester Council’s specified livery for that city’s Park & Ride bus route.
The city has some wonderful architecture to admire as you travel in, if you can see it.
While in Chester I took a ride on Aintree’s shuttle bus between the railway station, bus station and city centre which must be the biggest ticket anomaly in the country in that PlusBus isn’t valid on it. Crazy.
I’m noticing notices all over the place – stations, bus stations, buses and trains – still showing contradictory and out of date notices regarding Covid, particularly regarding face coverings. These out of date messages undermine any other notices displayed and just add to the ‘visual noise’ that’s blasted at passengers.
Seat back trays
Following an outcry from passengers when Thameslink’s Class 700 trains were first introduced in 2015, the DfT approved the retro-fitting of seat back trays – a process which began in 2016. Six years later you’d think the programme could have been completed.
But it isn’t.
Oyster readers still missing
Also still waiting is the need for Oyster readers to be fitted as passengers transfer between Thameslink and the Elizabeth Line at Farringdon. The need was overlooked during the construction of Crossrail including the four year delay to its opening and requires passengers needing to touch in or out having to exit the station and re-enter through the gateline again. Over three months after its opening the situation continues.
More “Seen Around” in a few weeks.
Please note it’s not just Avanti and TransPennine Express introducing revised timetables. A revised blogging timetable applies from this weekend with the Sunday service withdrawn for the winter season. New timetable: 06:00 TThS