My BusAndTrainUser Christmas list

Saturday 24th December 2022

Dear Santa

I know it’s your busiest day and night of the year, but please can you deliver something from my list (I’ve not been naughty this year) ….

A network bus map produced by TfL to the style adopted up until 2016 for buses in London in both online and printed formats.

The unreadable printed “Underground map” be replaced by the display and extensive distribution of the comprehensive map showing all London’s rail lines (including the Underground) instead.

An online network bus map for Britain covering every county from Cornwall to Caithness which local authorities use to make printed copies available for their area.

Bus companies locating staff locally who can answer enquiries and deal with passenger feedback by phone, email and social media.

Traveline to abandon its premium rate phone number and offer 0345 local call rates.

A campaign using side and rear advert panels on every bus to promote bus use and its benefits with no third party commercial advertising detracting from that messaging.

All new buses fitted with audio visual next stop displays.

Bus operators in each local authority area restricted to making changes to timetables to three agreed dates each calendar year.

Fuel duty increased to the level it would have been had it not been frozen 12 years ago with buses and coaches fully exempt to bring them into line with airlines, the railway and farmers.

Income tax relief for passengers purchasing season type tickets or long duration caps and Corporation Tax relief for businesses funding bus services for staff.

An annual Congestion Reduction Plan from every local authority showing how targets for increasing the modal shift in favour of bus and rail use will be achieved.

Highway authorities overseeing roadworks consulting with bus companies a minimum six weeks in advance and where resulting congestion impacts on bus journey times a compensatory payment made to bus companies where additional resources have to be expended to maintain service reliability.

A complete transformation of ticketing on the railway with single leg pricing and no peak/off peak restrictions.

Station ticket offices to remain open and become community hubs for the provision of a whole host of local information and services, not least bus timetables, tickets and maps.

Train Operating Companies to promote a helpline telephone number and email address for enquiries and feedback which have sufficient staff to deal with incoming contacts so there’s no “we’re experiencing high call volumes at the present time” messages.

Uncomfortable ‘ironing board’ seats in trains to be replaced with comfortable non ‘ironing board’ seats.

The “see it; say it; sorted” campaign to end along with a bonfire of other generic announcements on board trains and station platforms.

Thanks Santa. Have a lovely Christmas.

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThS

39 thoughts on “My BusAndTrainUser Christmas list

Add yours

  1. Lastly Santa, please make RF Transport Minister with a sufficient budget to implement all of these essential measures! This is the best blog post I’ve read all year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A list few could disagree with, other than to add that local authorities should also be promoting coach services in their patch, which have become the unsung heroes and saved the day for many in the current rail disputes.

    Oh! And reinstate the M4 bus lane which has needlessly delayed thousands of coach passengers, yet benefited Motorists by a mere nanosecond. Transport Minister Hammond at the time of abolition clearly not realising three lanes into two at the flyover still causes congestion.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your first item can be achieved simply by TfL commissioning Mike Harris to produce the maps.

    Another one (maybe controversial) for your list: removal of cycle lanes on roads where their introduction has increased congestion, including holding up buses, and removing those which are underused.

    I’m sure if you cross your fingers and squeeze your eyes tightly shut, all of your wishes will come true!

    Thanks for an entertaining year, and have a Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quite controversial indeed, as I disagree with your suggestion. Motorists could use the cycle lane argument in a similar manner to suggest that bus lanes cause congestion. In reality, both cycle lanes shouldn’t really be vilified as it creates a modal shift away from the car, not the buses, much like bus lanes create that modal shift. Hey, even the bus lane can accommodate cyclists!

      And the “underused” argument? Puh-lease.

      Like

  4. May I add to your list the discontinuance of the £1 online booking levied by National Express and others? They should give £1 discount to those customers who do their work for them.
    Seasons greetings to all.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So in order for us to do the work necessary to introduce a bus lane we have to pay you?
    So in order for us to repair that bridge so that it can continue to carry buses we have to pay you? Not sure you’ve thought that one through.
    Seasons greetings – look forward to another year of your wanderings.

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  6. Yes (to all of those). Especially re the roadworks – I do not understand why the collective bus industry has not been making more of a fuss about this serious problem. Aside from the current driver shortage, roadworks must now be the prime cause of delays to buses, and has been for years. This means a loss of revenue to the companies, and also of their reputation for reliability. It also drives passengers from public transport to cars.

    My suggestion: a substantial fee should be charged to any organisation causing road delays; the money raised should be used for (a) as you suggest, extra buses to give passengers a ‘normal’ service; (b) large signs and other publicity, at the time of the delays and, say, two weeks in advance, showing car drivers how to avoid the roadworks – buses have to stick to their route, and should be given priority to whatever road is left; and (c) – ideally – real-time next-bus passenger information at all stops at and subsequent to the road-works, in each direction.

    January 2023 would be a excellent time to start negotiations with any political party likely to be in control after the next general election! – but Santa may still be able to help …

    Happy Christmas!

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  7. There is a reason for peak/off-peak ticketing on the railways.

    Much of the rail industry’s costs are fixed – rolling stock, track, stations, signalling, infrastructure. Demand is (or was) heavily peaked – not least commuting and business (although that may be less pronounced post-Covid and with the rise of home-working and video meetings). The size of the railway is determined by the peak, although peak capacity is also limited by the size of the railway.

    The marginal cost of running off-peak services, using rolling stock that would otherwise be sitting in sidings doing nothing during off-peak times, is low.

    Cheaper off-peak tickets get bums on seats on services which are less heavily used, taking pressure away from the peak services by encouraging passengers who can choose to travel off-peak to do so, while also encouraging discretionary trips which might otherwise not be made at all, or made by car. As well as covering the marginal cost of operating the train, that also provides some extra revenue to offset against the fixed costs of the railway system.

    Happy Christmas!

    Like

    1. Malc M – I think you and Roger are at two extremes of the post COVID world. It is widely agreed that peak travel has not recovered to the extent of off peak flattening out the peak…..at the moment. I think it is too early to make such drastic changes as Roger suggests to peak/off-peak ticketing for say local rail services; a year or two down the lineand there will be more robust data on post pandemic travel. Perhaps a start might be to say trimmining the peak hours on TfL?

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      1. The removal of peak/off peak ticketing would be beneficial for many who go nowhere near London. Am pleased to see that peak fares are being removed from Scotrail services in 2023. It will hopefully encourage more people to use the local railway as peak fares apply up to 0930 and again from 1630 on Mondays to Fridays which effectively means you cannot spend half a day to do anything meaningful in Edinburgh.

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  8. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    But to add my usual misery before I do, I think it all illustrates the old saying you can lead a horse to water but we can’t make it drink. GB public transport does a fantastic job with its resources. But it isn’t enough to be competitive with the car, it has to be better.

    At the moment more means less, to improve the reliability bugbear. In the realm of fantasy, I wonder if there is a way to compel utilities, contractors and blue light services to give buses priority, where it is practicable (guidance as so often may be needed to ensure consistency). Currently driving (of anything) on the GB road network is (usually) a nightmare.

    Like

  9. Bus routes change too frequently for a map all the way from the top of Scotland to Cornwall besides Scotland and Wales fund their own public transport so they’d have their own maps.

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    1. There’s no reason for bus services to change so often that mapping is impossible, though. All it needs is agreed change dates (which are already in use in some areas) to be standardised across the country, in the same way as is applied to the train operators. Agreed change dates are also better for the customers, although you could be forgiven for thinking the industry isn’t really bothered about them.

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  10. At present the Covid funding runs out im March meaning and changes will have to be notified to the traffic commisioners in January

    The £2 fare seems to be getting very confused with many companies not taking part and confusion over what services are included. Most seem to be excluding public bus services that are also school service

    The £2 does not apply to student fares, Ariva are excuding greenline services

    Like

    1. It doesn’t help that the official government list states that lots of services don’t have a £2 cap which actually do, because services which are covered by the mayoral caps (in PTE areas) are mostly shown as not taking part in the scheme – although some are, just to add to the confusion.
      It’s only at the very bottom of the list that there’s a caveat about conurbations having their own schemes.
      Then there’s the elements which are simply a mess, such as Select Bus in Staffordshire, who basically work those services that D&G’s Chaserider gave up on, showing the same service numbers as both being in and out of the scheme (I assume that it’s the school-only trips which are excluded, but it’s not made clear). Oh, and Stagecoach East Midlands don’t seem to understand the concept of numerical order!

      Looking at the list it’s certainly interesting to see how different operators have chosen to implement it, with (for example) First Essex including their Stansted Airport services X10/X30 – which are excluded from their normal ticketing – and First South West/Kernow including their “Adventure” services.

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  11. My Christmas wish is that the Coastliner 840 is still running in April.

    Interesting year Roger. Looking forward to finding out what is going to replace the A to Z trips

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that it’s just the Malton Whitby section that will be cut, assuming it is,in April?The Scarborough one will be ok and I think that Coastliner do a Bridlington one too.That Leeds Whitby one never ran in the 1980’s and United ran a service over the route but only as far as Malton (although the bus and rail stations are actually in Norton not Malton!). Coastliner are part of the old West Yorkshire company and I never saw them in Whitby back then.

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      1. Svarborough is 843 (Bridlington was 845 but is no more). The 840 really is the Whitby / Thornton Le Dale to Malton section, beyond there to York can be lost as covered by 843 regularly.

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  12. Yeah, it is the Malton to Thornton-le-Dale section I’m talking about. All sorts of problems if people here can’t get to York by public transport. Plus the 840 from Leeds to Malton is just a short turning 843.

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    1. Yes if no bus ran direct from Whitby to York they’d have to go either via Scarborough or train to Middlesbrough and another one to York both of which will take longer.More exotic would be option 3 North Yorkshire Moors Railway to Pickering and then bus although ironically that’s probably the fastest!

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  13. Agreed. Telephone switchboards adequately staffed and generally less meanness in public services, such as toilet facilities in bus stations – in fact more proper bus stations. And an end to the incessant announcements on rail stations and trains that make conversations impossible.

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  14. “An annual Congestion Reduction Plan from every local authority showing how targets for increasing the modal shift in favour of bus and rail use will be achieved.”

    This is so glaringly an obvious mitigation for all those declarations of climate emergencies. I would add a requirement to link planning with public transport. All new housing, retail, employment, education, healthcare must be accessible by at least hourly public transport. If the development isn’t large enough to support that it must be located on an existing frequent route that serves somewhere rise that is ie Be On The Way (to somewhere else and not up a dead end).

    Merry Christmas

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  15. Dear Roger,

    After consulting with His Majesty’s Government, or at least the bunch of self-serving incompetents currently occupying that position, the answer is “No”. They actually said a lot more than that, wasting a lot of valuable delivery time, but that’s what they meant.

    Sorry.
    I do mean that most sincerely, unlike politicians when they apologise.

    Yours not-very-merrily,
    Father Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Be careful what you wish for with peak/off-peak fares. The Treasury would just love to get rid of cheap fares, and getting rid of peak/off-peak is an easy way to do that – if they had their way, every journey would be charged at the highest peak single fare thus making the railways even more expensive for the passengers!

    Like

  17. On the subject of roadworks just about every BSIP has a section on reducing delays from Roadworks, as bus operators are frustrated by the continual disruption to their services.

    In one area there has been extensive discussions between bus operators, and the county highways officers. The cause of the problems are two-fold, the guidance on roadworks issued by the Highways Agency and the virtual total ability of the privatised utilities to institute roadworks whenever and wherever they want, without. regard for anyone else.

    So as usual the root of the problem lies with the National Government, who have put frameworks in place that cause immense problems, and appear to have no interest in removing the flaws in these laws.

    Local Authorities can make some local improvements but they are, of course, understaffed. We all know the privatised utilities need a good sort out but even if that happens the roadworks issue will never be important, and as the Highways Agency is governed by the Dft the chances of any action there approximate to nil, even though the Dft has, in theory, read all of the BSIP’s and will be aware of the problems.

    Like

    1. It’s not just the utilities, bad as they are. With the standards of driving, accidents will happen, more than ever, and the police can cause chaos for everyone, necessary or not. We all simply don’t care for anyone else, outside our little box world. Everything else is a press release, on a repeat loop.

      Which is the trouble. Whilst the highways are our plaything. Whether neglect or attention is worse, is quite arguable.

      I live near a trunk road, which the bus has to go on and off throughout its route. It’s a lucky day if we don’t have at least one accident. Every year sees attempts at improvement, with the “big one” imminent, so the latest story goes. What hope for the bus? Whatever we do.

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      1. In fairness to the bus company, they spent the last decade giving us more buses, and the service just got worse, and used less and less.

        At last they’ve reversed that, and halved the buses on the network. Signs are that usage may have improved, slightly. So, not for the first time, bus cuts are apparently the answer, HMG will be pleased to note, presumably?

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  18. A big, big thank you for all your efforts in bringing to our attention the most beautiful routes this country has to offer, the shortest (4 minutes), the longest, the quirkiest and the down right waste of time routes.

    For the accompanying photographs in your blogs, bringing attention to aspects of buses beyond the vehicles, routeings, etc. let`s hope the bus companies, councils and other authorities pull their collective socks up and make bus travel, the way to travel in 2023 and beyond.

    For the annual quiz, the “events” of the year list, your Christmas/New Year “wants list”, yes we all want local bus maps wherever we travel.

    And finally, bringing salient points to the management of the bus companies
    which hopefully will bear fruit in 2023. They need to remember that the average passenger is not an enthusiast, and needs nurturing to become a regular bus user. it is these people that keep operators in business.

    Keep Bus-sing in 2023.
    with much appreciation.
    Brian Hawkins

    Liked by 1 person

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