Tuesday 10th January 2023
For the purposes of this blog please imagine you’ve woken up and it’s July 1960. You’re just catching a train on the Hertford North line from Grange Park station and in the booking office propped up against the ticket office window are a pile of little orange books.
You know immediately what they are; published twice or three times a year with a different coloured cover for each edition to denote a new publication, they’re a familiar sight, so you hand over a shilling (about £2 in today’s money) for your up to date copy.
As a north London based bus and train user it’s a ‘must buy’ publication as far as you’re concerned. It covers an area from Hertford and Ware south to Enfield and Cheshunt and the surrounding district and as its title implies contains timetables for all bus and rail services operating in the area no matter what the operator.
This edition, for example, has timetables for London Transport, United Counties, Smiths (Buntingford) Ltd, Premier Travel, Eastern Counties, Eastern National and many more as well as the Piccadilly Line and British Railways.
It has an index of routes, an index of places served, details of parcel agents and rates for carrying parcels by bus, early closing and market days for towns within the area covered as well as an overall map showing the scope of the timetables covered and street maps showing bus routes in all the major towns.
Being 1960 timetables are shown in am and pm times with the latter having the hours in bold type.
Full timetables are given for most routes including London Transport routes with only a few timetables showing just frequencies during the main part of the day with full times before and after.
The more frequent trolleybus routes have first and last buses shown rather than complete timetables …
…. and the same for the Piccadilly Line with first and last trains and a frequency guide.
British Rail trains are shown across six tables for the lines from Kings Cross, Moorgate and Broad Street to Hertford North, and Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, Hertford East or Cambridge, as well as the now closed lines between Buntingford, St Margarets, Hatfield, Luton and Dunstable, and also trains between Hatfield and Cambridge or Peterborough via Hitchin.
All this was packed into a 160 page booklet measuring 14cm by 9cm and just 0.75cm thick making it easy to carry in a jacket pocket or a handbag.
Obviously in a pre-Internet age such a publication was essential, but why (oh why) can’t we have such a useful booklet back now, despite the Internet? I’d happily pay for one at much less than the cost of a cappuccino and you never know it might even encourage more people to travel by bus and train.
The series of 20 Complete Local Road & Rail Timetables covered the entire ring around outer London where Central buses met Country Buses and provincial operators and independents could also be found as well as the outer reaches of the Underground. At one time I had a vast collection of such timetables but sold them all on except for a prized few about a decade ago.
Aside from the continuing debate about the need for printed bus timetables in contemporary times, my nostalgic interest in these wonderful booklets has been rekindled by buying the illustrated copy in this blog at last summer’s 1938 Stock running weekend at Amersham where the Friends of London Transport Museum tempted me with their stall of memorabilia for sale but also by a document my friend Peter recently kindly sent me which is a “Report of Working Party on Bus Information” at the London Transport Executive in August 1973.
Here’s an extract from the Working Party’s report about Local Road & Rail Timetables which by then had ceased publication, and although written almost fifty years ago, the sentiments are no less relevant today.
“TIMETABLES AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC; Current Situation
“There is at present no public source of timetable information on London Transport bus services apart from the panel timetables posted at bus stops; although the public are able to obtain copies (where issued) free on request from the Public Relations Office this facility is not advertised or well known.
“Twenty local road and rail timetables were published by London Transport until 1970 and then until early 1972 by London Country Bus Services Ltd. These timetables covered the whole of the area now served by London Country, London Transport bus and Underground, British Rail, and all other bus and coach operators’ services were included in these timetables where appropriate. The extent of coverage of London Transport Central buses was comprehensive in the outer parts of London and detailed local town maps were included. Sales of these guides in the areas covered by London Transport buses were almost 100,000 copies in 1970. London Country discontinued production of these timetables because of their new annual loss (in spite of contributions by B.R. and L.T. based on the proportion of information in the books relating to their services) and because the five area booklets produced by London Country, primarily for their staff, contained full details of all their services. The final selling price of the local timetables was 7.5p per booklet.
“No comparable publication to these local road and rail timetables has been available covering the remainder of London Transport bus routes since the sale of the Central Bus Timetable to the public was discontinued in 1967. The Central Bus Timetable contained details of first and last buses and service frequencies of all routes and more detailed timetables of certain infrequent services. It was discontinued partly because of its high price (5/- per copy in 1967 which discouraged sales) , and because the Reshaping Programme led to frequent service changes which quickly outdated the publication, and it was difficult to issue supplements to the public (they were issued to the staff) and completely new editions were infrequent.
“Discussions and proposals relating to timetables
“The decision by London Country to abandon the local road/rail timetable booklets has been widely regretted for these timetables contained information covering all public transport available in the areas concerned, and indeed, the series was considered to be the best example of co-ordination between road and rail; the booklets were of great use for reference both at home and whilst travelling. It was recognised by London Transport that the demise of these books left a gap in Red Bus information in handy reference form for those outlying areas where buses are comparatively infrequent and consequently timetable information is of particular importance. There has, not surprisingly, been considerable pressure on London Transport from the L.T.P.C., G.L.C. and other bodies to reintroduce these timetables. There has also been pressure from the T.U.C.C. for London on L.C.B.S. for their reintroduction; the local authorities’ associations have supported the T.U.C.C. efforts to secure their reintroduction in principle, but considered that the cost should be met by the operators. The Department of the Environment has suggested that under Section 203 of the 1972 Local Government Act, County Councils should consider the subsidisation of comprehensive travel timetables. Bucks, Herts and Kent County Councils have consequently informed the T.U.C.C. that they are examining their participation in publishing new local road/rail timetables on a County basis, but it was unlikely that any firm undertaking would be given until the new County Councils took office in April 1974. In addition, Surrey and Berks are also considering the compilation and sale of County timetables. However, the publication of a series of such ‘County’ timetables would merely be of marginal benefit to London Transport since our service at best cover only the fringes of the counties concerned. Nor is it considered appropriate to reinstate the previous twenty booklets covering the same areas as the previous series since many would not contain London Transport services and most of the others would cover only the fringe of the outer suburbs of London.
The Working Party agreed there was a “pressing need for local timetable books to be reintroduced” and they recommended changing the areas covered so they were brought closer into central London but “there would be no local timetable for the very centre of London” but instead a “Central Area Information Map with a list of routes and frequencies”. A selling price of 10p was proposed with “free copies possibly given to purchasers of Red Bus Monthly Passes or prepaid tickets”. The Working Party noted the “L.T.P.C. considered the introduction of local timetables is of the highest priority, and suggested that the G.L.C. should be responsible for co-ordinating the financing of these timetables.”
Meanwhile over the border in neighbouring counties both Hertfordshire and Surrey have consistently produced helpful extensive information both online and in hard copy format about public transport networks with both producing area bus timetable books and a good selection of maps. Essex, Kent and West Sussex county councils as well as Buckinghamshire, Slough and Maidenhead and Windsor unitary councils have not been so forthcoming leaving a dearth of information in these cross border areas.
Residents of outer London Boroughs are also short changed. They may enjoy cheaper fares but they don’t get served well with information. I wonder if TfL, the London Assembly and London Travelwatch still think there’s a “pressing need for local timetable books” around the fringes of London as their forbears did 50 years ago in 1973?
Time for another Working Party?
Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThS
I think you are looking at this the wrong way around.
If the service isn’t very appealing, then a printed timetable won’t help.
Why are Coastliner withdrawing the Whitby section? Because the timetable is useless for adhoc journeys. It’s a Cinderella service.
Why are Go North East losing money? Because of multiple botches by the previous regime over a number of years.
You couldn’t accuse either of them of not publicising services. But it does naff all if the service offering isn’t right.
If only some would see that!
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It is a great shame about the Coastliner service to Whitby, which I have used and enjoyed several times (on a journey all the way by public transport to Whitby for a holiday!). But if the implication is that we should have a 20 minute frequency bus service running across largely empty moorland, then who will / should pay for it? Sadly loads and loads of people wax lyrical about the need for good public transport, but most of them don’t use it much, because unless in very congested areas, a car will always be quicker and more convenient, most especially in very rural areas.
The battle of Coastliner has not yet been lost. Alex Hornby seems to be trying to get the new North Yorkshire unitary council into paying more for it. Doubt he’d want to lose the advertising value if the prettiest bus route that easily. People are working on politicians at all levels, it’s been on the telly and now seems to be a big game of chicken. Hope it is resolved, as wear I live, the only other route is 2 hourly to Scarborough, which has its uses, but we need to get to Malton and York.
It seems to be assumed that everybody is on line, and that the printed word is no longer wanted. Here in Cornwall, stations no longer provide local timetables that you used to find in racks to be picked up. But credit to the bus companies who are working together to provide all bus information in a single booklet, called ‘Bus Times’, with decent route maps and even a school calendar as many services change according to school terms. It is free, and presumably funded by the council as part of Transport for Cornwall. It sits on my bookshelf and is constantly in use.
If the railways could put their timetables into this booklet and make it public transport information rather than only buses, it would be even more useful. Perhaps the reluctance of the railways to do this is a hang-over from Covid, when their times were constantly changing.
Hertfordshire (Intalink) stopped producing timetable books around 10 years ago …. however timetables and town maps are online and a printed map reappeared in 2022 after a Covid hiatus.
Printed timetables are an easy lose for operators and councils who need to save money …. and I suspect that the skills needed to compile them have now been lost.
Barry Doe opined many years ago that it was better to pay for 99 bus contracts and a timetable book than to pay for 100 bus contracts.
Printing and compiling 8000 copies of a 32 page book costs about £400 or so, including a couple of maps. Nothing fancy, just information.
Is it really so hard?? I’m afraid it is ….
Oops …. the curse of the missing zero!! It should, of course, be £4000 for a print run of 8000 books …. a unit price of 50p.
Unfortunately the people who rely on the 1 bus contract you don’t pay for will kick up a massive stink and vow not to vote for you next time.
Very many thanks for this; I remember, growing up in Sevenoaks in the 1950s and 60s, the equivalent booklet – which we used constantly. I regret now not keeping any of the old ones – they were thrown away unceremoniously when each new edition appeared.
They were great, as you say – convenient for carrying, ; very comprehensive; obviously well researched (I never heard any complaints of inaccuracy); and very easily obtainable. Everyone at that time seemed to be able to read the standard timetable layout, though I can remember a period when I was being helped to understand how it worked. In fact they must have been a useful introduction to many children as to setting out information in tabular form, and how to read a map.
The maps, I remember, did have standard code letters/shapes to indicate routes which were occasional – e.g. school services. I think Phil Stockley (in Buses magazine) has called for some agreement for standard practices like this; after the ‘flowering’ of new ideas in the privatisation era, perhaps it would now be appropriate for a grown-up bus industry to standardise the best ones. Common symbols and design practices would make it so much easier for people travelling out of their familiar area.
Your commentary made me think a bit about the issues re internet vs. printed vs. both: actually none of the information is any use unless it is (a) updated whenever changes occur, and (b) accurate. This requires it to be done by people who really do know what they are doing (there comes to mind, from Robert M Pirsig’s ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance’, his line that ‘the person who gets to write the manual is the person who can best be spared from doing something useful’ – i.e. the resident factory idiot). The preparation and maintenance of timetable/route-mapping data needs to be given a serious level of importance, and will cost money and management time: it should! – this is the shop window, after all. When you have invested all that money and time getting the data right, and setting up processes for checking and updating, the extra cost of print over and above internet is surely relatively minimal!
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Indeed extremely useful publications which I bought at the time and I have many issues for different areas in my collection.
Aside from anything else, I’m gobsmacked by the early morning peak frequency of the 310/310A – every 5-10 mins! Amazing!
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Bill: the only 5 minute frequency I can see on the 310/A is the Monday to Friday evening peak from Enfield! As Roger points out, the bold typeface hours are pm.
Some typos did creep in to these otherwise excellent booklets – eg the Saturday am from Enfield between the 6.42 and the 7.22.
The booklets preceded the incorporation of Enfield into London and I never saw them in 1972 when I lived in Ware (under the title panel on the town map!) – by that time there was a town service (384?) which suffered dreadfully from the now familiar problem of staff shortage.
I well recall discovering the local Road Rail guides when I entered a shop in Berkhamsted to buy an ice cream and found a pile of green covered books dated 14 April 1958. I spent my money on one of these instead and I still have it. Has anyone else had an “ice cream” for this long?
The only area covered in this way now is Surrey which still produces area timetable books with town plans bur no area maps.
For those interested in these timetables, an excellent reference publication is “London Bus & Underground Timetables” (LBUT) published by the Omnibus Society, London Historical Research Group. This lists all known timetable books for both UndergrounD & its predecessors and buses covering the London and surrounding areas.
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Rick makes the pertinent point that timetables must be up to date. The privatised Devon General company produced timetable leaflets and updated lists of current issues which could be kept in a loose leaf binder. Some other operators also produced ‘drilled’ copies of their timetables but I have never seen a check list from any other operator.
It seems to be short-sighted not to produce these booklets. With the now availability of computers the costs of producing them has fallen dramatically.
Many of the LTA’s are now requiring the bus companies to only change timetables quarterly although so far it does not seem to be being enforced
The frequent changing of timetables and the axing of routes with almost zero notices does nothing to encourage the use of buses
So far the Enhanced partnerships have delivered nothing. The slow decline of bus services continues coupled with high levels of last minute cancellations and poor timekeeping. The future of bus services is not looking good
They are not even retain existing passengers let alone gaining new passengers
Most of the EPs haven’t been established yet and hence a lot of the BSIP funds have not even reached the councils. You seem to have very unrealistic expectations about how quickly these things can be done.
Thank you for your long and interesting article. It simply endorses my view that most public transport operators are fairly indifferent to their customers. It is not unusual, for example, for bus stops to have little or no information about bus routes and times and hub train stations to provide little information on all routes from their particular point. So it it not surprising that usage is falling in many areas and bus and train services are being reduced or withdrawn.
Interestingly, Arriva in Darlington produced a leaflet for last buses for Christmas Eve & NYE, as well as stating service levels over the Christmas period. I and a couple of others picked them up on the buses well before Christmas. However, by New Year’s Eve, there were loads still on buses, was it over supply or are passengers not interested?
Also I run a business which requires to buy paper & cardboard products. Since the War in Ukraine, the price has rose well above inflation (Over 50%) for paper due to a fall in supply as previously a significant amount of paper was coming from mills in Russia. These cost increase do make business think about reducing paper usage considerably.
Correction, yes evening peak from Enfield. Too used to 24 hr clock! But every 7-8 mins (with a few 3 minute gaps!) is remarkable.
In addition there would have been the half hourly Greenline service. One an hour Hertford to Oxford Street and one an hour Hertford to Guilford
First bus left Hertford about 5:30am and last bus arrived back at about 1:30am
Great to see my current home town visually represented in a RF blog, even if it is from 1960!
A point few commentators have made is that the operational environment in 1960 is so, so different to the current day. Oh, to be able to only print timetables three times a year and for them to remain accurate! The experience in Herts was that timetable booklets were withdrawn because they soon went out of date, not necessarily because of the cost. This was not due to the network substantially changing but because of much tinkering with journey times on individual routes- the ‘08.20 on service x to run 10 minutes earlier due to traffic congestion’ type of thing.
It is often said that by the supporters of deregulation, that operators are more flexible and responsive to changing circumstances. This is the antithesis of providing printed timetable information with reasonable longevity. Maybe there’s something in this franchising lark after all!
As an “Old Fart”, with only a mobile, but not “Smart”, ‘phone, I valued the provision of such printed materials, but it seems that I will now be forced into buying a smart ‘phone if I want to know when the next bus / train will be (timetables being absent from many country bus-stops). Covid, of course, was another reason / excuse for not reintroducing printed timetables…
I was growing up in Herts at the time, in a family without a car. What do I remember about it?
Like today, an acute shortage of bus drivers; which seemed to mean that more buses didn’t run than did. So what use was the timetable book? Largely irrelevant.
Lovely for armchair enthusiasts; as I’ve learned since.
As for me at the time, I took up what we now call active travel. And when I was old enough, and earned enough, bought a car. Both enabled me to get where I wanted, when I wanted; not where and when someone else thought I ought to.
It’s like supermarket counter service. We all love it, but none of us use it. It’s called progress. Get used to it.
Absolutely, now I’m old I’m a nutter too. But I have to work at it, and don’t expect other people to pay for my craziness.
Sorry, greenline and friends. I’d prefer the money being spent on actually running the buses rather than publicity, and perhaps money spent too on active travel rather than thrown into the bottomless pit of subsidy, if government has got the spare cash to burn. But the old story of jobs for the boys (mostly) I suppose.
As a very junior clerk at London Country, I remember having to send a standard letter to the numerous people complaining about the discontinuation of these books. As I recall there was very little work by LCBS in producing them – they were co-ordinated by Index Printers of Dunstable, who simply used the pages from the 5 area books also produced by LCBS which, as your review says, were largely produced for staff use. I am not sure how Index got the railway stuff, or data from the other bus operators.
What put paid to them was the increasing frequency of route/timetable changes – LCBS called them “programmes” – eg “the South area Winter Programme”, and the inability to co-ordinate these with changes on the railway, let alone changes by other surrounding NBC operators and the London Transport “Central Buses”. LCBS did carry on offering the area books, now aimed at the public, together with individual leaflets for Green Line routes, and a network-wide route map.
Those were the days!
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Thank you, Roger, for presenting a rather different view to demonstrate a very relevant point. Like others I have a number of these timetables which I collected when exploring with Green Rovers and Weekender tickets. Now I just collect editions of the one that covered Bromley, where I live, having amassed 46 different editions dating from 1938 to 1972.
Yesterday I was at Heathrow Terminal 5 to meet my wife back from Tokyo. There is a large inset area in the arrivals area with a sign for travel information. All there is inside are some screens with rolling displays of a tube map and Heathrow Express information. There was no indication as to whether the screens were interactive. On the sides of the area were two large sets of leaflet racks, all empty. There were no people that you could speak to, the whole area is just empty. The National Express area was similarly devoid of people or leaflets. Nearby were ticket machines, all self-service, again with nobody to answer questions as far as I could see. An airport is somewhere where there will be many people not familiar with the city they are in or have knowledge of the public transport system. Having something written down can provide reassurance to a traveller, particularly when they are not in their own country.
There was very much the feeling that we have just given up as far as public transport is concerned.
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But if you don’t tell prospective passengers about the bus (and train) services …. then they won’t travel. And so it goes on ….
In the early ’10s, I ran a small network of bus routes in Hertfordshire.
I had a website; timetable books every 6 months (because I was improving the offering every 6 months); advertising every month in a local free magazine; talks to the WI ….. anything I could to increase bums on seats.
And I did …. ridership increased every week!!!
That’s the way to do it!!!!
It’s like any small business, the personal relationship with customers makes the business. But I think of publicity as the icing on the cake; if we have the market and the service (think of it as the cake) then the icing can top it off nicely. But without the substance, all the customers will end up with is a bad taste in the mouth.
Locally, our most longstanding (and popular) service has virtually no publicity whatsoever. The quality of service is its own publicity.
Fair point …. publicity and reliability has to go hand in hand.
One without the other is a recipe for disaster ….. is this the right time for the £2 offer, for example? A cheap bus fare when the return bus doesn’t run won’t keep the new passenger travelling for long.
Just saying …..
Quite clearly what we have as bus service at present is failing, interestingly many people are quite happy for very large amounts to be spent on subsidizing rail service but do not want bus services that are used by far more people than rail and have much lower costs subsidized at all
Roger, An excellent article.
A few examples from mainland Europe.
In the Netherlands a few organisations came together to produce the annual rail timetable when the state rail company stopped. The 2023 Spoorboejke is available from The OV.nl website.
In Dresden the local public transport organisation produces an annual comprehensive bus and train timetable 1880 pages..
The NRW area of Germany around Cologne produces a very handy comprehensive local rail timetable with a series of excellent local maps.
The Hamburg area is going to send me a free copy of their comprehensive book.
There are fewer being produced with Munich not producing comprehensive paper books this year. However the Bavaria wide book is available as a download.
But there is a strong lobby in parts of Europe for paper timetables to remain
While there are no current First offerings locally, Konectbus the local Go Ahead owned company still produces paper local area booklets.
Happy to provide more info if you wish
Keep up the good work
And how invaluable too I found the Green Line Coach Guide, also one shilling, whose additional information included a list of country bus garages with telephone numbers, along with a comprehensive single fares table for each service.
If digital-only has to be the way to go, I’m surprised no-one seems to have come up with an App (or maybe a website) with a virtual area timetable book that automatically updates when changes occur.
Surely it can be done – if only I had the know how!
The problem is not just the supply of information (which may well require legislation, so we can rule that out for a start), but is there the demand? I know there is from readers of this blog, but we are a very small minority.
I’m not in a tourist area, but almost all of my bus travel has been on rover-type tickets. I’ve yet to meet another user.
I suspect almost all non-tourist traffic is “there, and back”. Even the Government forgets the “and back”, though that’s less surprising.
Not either that I’m the only confused one. I’ve been told by drivers, that a multi-operator ticket is “the same” as the operator’s ticket I tried to explain I specifically didn’t want! That was before another operator’s driver told me the County transport authority “got everything wrong” and their entire transport website was a “pack of lies”. I was lucky, I later heard of another passenger who was accused of fare evasion when he tried to use the same valid multi-operator ticket, and thrown off the bus when he agreed to pay instead. Sometimes us passengers just can’t win.
Surely we don’t need timetables when we can all use DRT services which we can summon at any time. (Tongue firmly in check)
I visited every LCBS garage from Dagenham in the 1970s using the 4 (then 5) timetable books and the map. I have never travelled in these areas since de-regulation as there are no printed equivalents now. I can’t use travel apps ‘on the fly’ as my eyes can’t cope with the sceeen size.
What was your experience? I too used to visit my local LCBS garage regularly in the 1970s to buy a season ticket and, interesting as it was to wander around cluelessly, I never found out how I was supposed to do so.
There is something to be thankful to the Internet for.
The London collection of the Bus Archive has most of the Local Road and rail timetables produced by London Transport, some 14,000 I believe from 1936 when they were first introduced until they finished.
And these comprehensive timetables were not unique to London, all over the country local ABC guides were produced, often by the local paper, with timetables for all forms of transport included. Some even have air services and the remarkably comprehensive coastal shipping passenger services. These are available at theBus Archive in Walsall.
As to the merits of printed information we at Centrebus still believe that local timetable folders have a value and we produce these 2/3 times each year. As others say it is difficult/impossible to keep them up to date but I believe that they act as a shop window for the network which many passengers might not realise exists.
They cost about 15p each and we feel this is still good value for money.
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Our main local bus company Cardiff Bus has an excellent, clear, up-to-date and easy-to-use website. (Our other company Adventure Travel is more rudimentary). Cardiff Bus also produce printed timetables although they no longer have a service point at the Central Library, so I have no idea as to how one gets hold of them. Perhaps they will have an information point in the (ahem!) new Bus Station!
Anyway, it’s surprising how often people who are presumably computer-savvy ask questions about bus services on our local Facebook page – questions which I often answer. The information they require could very easily be Googled – so why don’t they do that? Admittedly folk ask other easy-to-find-out questions such as “What time does the supermarket close?” Does this mean that folk aren’t in fact as clued-up about searching for internet information as we might think? Or do they only think of finding answers on Social Media rather than ‘old-fashioned’ websites?
My local independent publishes up to date timetables and maps on its website. Timetable leaflets are available on the buses.
It also has an active social media presence providing actual service information, disruption details as it happens and news of impending service changes etc.
And just a reminder that Northaw DIDN’T get a 242 on a Sunday in 1960, but a regular service all week, yet DOES get a Sunday service in 2023, but a meaningless one all week!
What a strange world we now live in!
I suspect that’s far from unusual. In my experience it’s often buscos tinkering to improve reliability; their curse, then and now.
Locally, my (largish) village has no weekday afternoon service, the service taking the main road, but has an all day service on Sundays.
Never mind the (confused) passengers. Confusion v. reliability; it’s a hard choice.
Unfortunately, passenger numbers in Northaw total zero each week, and have done so for years.
The Sunday service is contracted, and effectively links up two contract routes …. there is no through passenger demand as such.
Should it still run? No comment …… !!
Yes it should. Whilst it’s true that residents of Northaw are unlikely to trouble the available vehicle capacity, it is not zero. Indeed, I am looking at the waybill for an afternoon journey on the 242 at the beginning of this month and 17 people were carried on this particular departure throughout the route.
(it averages out at around 150 passengers a day). Roger often reports fewer bums on seats per journey on his travels during the week!
150 passengers per day over 22 trips per day gives an average of 7 per trip, so 17 pax on one trip was very good indeed.
Each LTA will have their own criteria as to value-for-money, and will decide accordingly.
My points were: that the route between Potters Bar and Cuffley via Northaw is mainly through green fields; that Northaw itself generates no passengers; that through passengers between Potters Bar and Cuffley have declined over the years to an average of 1-2 per trip (apart from at school times).
The weekday 242 service is commercially operated (with some additional funding from Herts CC . . . without which the route would have been completely withdrawn in 2020 (prior to Covid)). Efforts had been made over the previous 8-10 years to encourage usage, but to no avail.
There is no point running empty buses just for the sake of a network link.
A more sensible Sunday route in my view would be to combine it with the 84 so Waltham Cross to St Albans
I see one big difference – the old timetable books were paid for and only available from a staffed counter with cash handling facilities. You had to choose to go and spend real money and so you were genuinely interested.
Modern books are free, because there are hardly any staffed counters with cash handling. Modern books left in a pile just disappear, because they might be useful – everyone going past picks one up. A few year ago the local TICs used to keep them behind the counter to reduce the disappearance rate, but be available to those that asked. The last Surrey and Hertfordshire books were always out of stock within a week or so of printing unless you knew obscure places to find them, like the members lounge in county hall! Out of area had more chance. Today I collect my Devon ones mostly from a museum cum TIC which has all 6, where as the bus station has only the far away ones most of the time.
I have some Epsom and Ewell versions of the London Transport books, but I have no idea where I got them from. I don’t recall our station having any or the library and there is no bus station. I know one or two came from Leatherhead Bus Garage Enquiry window, but that was only when dad drove past that way and I asked him to stop.
They are great, but possibly printed only via mail order and available on line. Devon’s books are in pdf format for downloading as are Bristol’s route leaflets.
Surely you *want* everyone going past to pick them up, to try and entice a small number of non-users? Hiding them is the poor answer, printing more the better one (along with better distribution of in/out of area books to minimise boxes sat unused in random locations)
greenline727 – figures reported were for the HCC contract Sunday/Public Holiday timetable only, which has 6 journeys in each direction. This follows on from the original comment about weekday versus Sunday operation.
National Express ti shake up the Day trip and short break coach holiday market
They are bringing together the coach tour companies and brands under a single new brand called Touromo
That’s an interesting ride that could put my hypothesis to the test, that “loyalty is local”!
National Express are really rebadging two companies they already own – https://www.touromo.com/about-us/ – which both have some brands.
I can’t help thinking that when we have an industry with such a low level of public confidence as public transport (understandably) it could only help if we could demonstrate we see passengers as people, with feelings, not just “bums on seats” as any half-decent retailer could tell us. I’m not saying statistics don’t have their place, just not in customer relations.
The 242 used to be very busy between Waltham Cross and Cuffly until the endless tinkering with the route and cuts to the frequency and poor reliability drove the passengers away
Bob, I believe the “endless tinkering” was a way to try to save the service from withdrawal. I always found it reliable and that the PB staff tried hard, although that was a good while back. I first used this route 40+ years ago and it wasn’t even busy then much after Cheshunt (having ridden from Chingford).
Latest Bus Cuts
242 being withdrawn
331 being withdrawn
401 Sunday Service being Withdrawn
“Area map and street plan”
When I was younger Eastbourne buses would have a travel office at the train station and one of the things you could buy. It was this road map of Eastbourne not a bus map but it was published by the Eastbourne busses company with their name and logo on the front.
Nothing to do with buses on it. I remember they put one up in the travel office and thay had drawn colours on it to indicate different routes.
They seem to be the leaders currently in electronic displays. They in conjunction have developed the Epaper displays. They are claimed to be low cost and have the big advantage they do not need a power supply. Running a mains supply to bus stop can cost several thousand pounds/. The displays can run on batterers with a claimed life of 3 years. They can also be used with a small solar panel where sunlight is available.
It does seem to be a low cost way of providing accurate and upto date information at bus stops
TfL appear to have installed a few