Thursday 25 April 2019

Ticket machines - going, going, gone...

It's ony a few days since Andrew's post drawing attention, amongst other things, to the fact that the Busway ticket machines have been out of order for some time - and that there was no sign of them being fixed any time soon.

Well, now we know why! According to a CambridgeshireLive report, published earlier today, the County Council is planning to withdraw ticket machines from all Busway and Park & Ride sites at the end of this month - no, make that the end of this week!

I am lost for words. Let's leave it there...

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Bank Holiday services return to southern Busway

Yes, I know that Good Friday and Easter Monday have been and gone, so apologies in advance for this retrospective posting.

One (less-than-desirable?) feature of Sundays and Bank Holidays is that there are no services on the southern portion of the Busway, between Cambridge Railway Station and the Biomedical Campus. As I've commented elsewhere, it seems that operators (and one particularly large operator locally) are keen to lock as many buses as possible away in their depots. Bank Holidays are supposed to be like Sundays (tell that to the 30-35 passengers on a "U" service at 1925 on Good Friday evening)!

Well, Whippet broke with that shabby "tradition" this Easter, and ran a full "P" service on both Friday and Monday. Which means that there were Bank Holiday services on that southern stretch for the first time since... well, I think it's the first time ever, but stand open to correction from someone with a better memory than mine.

Unfortunately - and didn't you know there was going to be a "but" to this good news - it helps if people know those services are running. According to Traveline there were no services on this route on either day. The Whippet website, and the print "P" timetable (plus its online equivalent) made no mention of Bank Holiday services. All I could eventually track down was a single tweet from Whippet HQ informing its followers what was happening over the holiday weekend. It's possible they also showed up in apps offering real-time operating data (e.g. the UK Bus Checker, or Traveline's own).

So 10/10 for daring to offer the service. But a rather lower score for making sure people know that the buses are out on the road, waiting to be used.

Sunday 21 April 2019

Tickets and Timetables

These photos show two examples of how the guided busway is being neglected.

The ticket machines have been out of action now for several weeks, with no sign of them being repaired. These machines were intended to speed up passenger loading by ensuring the people had tickets before boarding, though they never installed ticket machines at some of the busiest stops such as Drummer Street and St Ives Station Road. Then the machines ceased to accept coins. And now they have conked out completely

The second photo shows an information sheet which out of date, still on display at St Ives Park & Ride. It looks as if the organisation responsible (Cambridgeshire County Council?) has taken its eye off the ball, and maybe the Council is too strapped for cash.
So much for this supposedly 21st century transport system!

Another of my gripes is about the poor bus service to Cambridge North Station. The information displayed at bus stops doesn’t tell you which buses go to Cambridge North. So if you aren’t very clued up about the bus timetable, how are you supposed to know. I think Stagecoach should divert the A service via Cam North. That way St Ives would have a 15 minute interval link to the Station for most of the day.

Fares are too high. Yesterday with sone family members I travelled from the new bus stop at Houghton back to St Ives. The young adults in the party had to pay £4 for a single ticket - that’s for a journey of less than 3 miles. It compares ver unfavourably with Lothian Buses, which operates in and around Edinburgh. £4 will buy you a day ticket which covers the whole of the city, plus Midlothian and parts of East Lothian. But then Lothian Buses is owned by the 4 local authorities who run it as an ‘arms length’ venture. Despite, or perhaps because of the value for money fare structure, it returns a modest profit, not to shareholders, but to the public as represented by the local councils of Edinburgh,  East, West and Mid Lothian.

Saturday 13 April 2019

Another diversion (possibly) - be prepared!

It's sometimes hard to know whether it's better to wait for "official" information (that may never be provided) or to put up something that may turn out to be wrong. This post is in the latter category - so be warned! On the other hand, if what I'm posting here is correct then it's the only place right now that you will have been able to read it...

There's another significant diversion, this time affecting the Stagecoach B and the Swavesey version of Whippet's relatively new P service.

Castle Street in Cambridge is due to be closed to all traffic shortly. Exactly when, and whether it's in closed in both directions is, to put it mildly, unclear.

The announcement on the Stagecoach website implies a complete closure in both directions. But that announcement covers only the Citi 5 and 6. There's nothing about the B (which uses the same route between All Saints Church in Jesus Lane and the junction at the top of Castle Street. It's hard to see how this closure could not affect the Busway service.

The diversion (as least for the 5 and 6) is via Chesterton Lane and Victoria Road. Whether any alternative to the Shire Hall stop will be served remains to be seen.

Then there's the question of just when the closure is taking place. Stagecoach say 15-29 April - i.e., as soon as Monday! The County Council website, on the other hand, suggests the permit has been issued only for 20-28 April. Who do you believe. Whenever it happens, both sites imply that this is a 24-hour closure. I would expect major delays on Victoria Road heading out of the city at certain times of day.

Finally, one might expect the County Council's dedicated Busway site to provide definitive answers. In your dreams! No mention at all.

All, some or none of the above may be accurate. But at least you're forewarned of possible problems ahead.

Diversion - Cambridge Parkside

I'm late passing this one on!

Since earlier this week Busway services have been unable to serve Cambridge Parkside - this is served only by route A & D buses heading to Cambridge North and the St Ives area. This is due to roadworks (which have been reported in the local press - and personally by my wife! - as causing significant disruption.

Services are stopping at the Regent Street stop instead, before resuming the usual route at Parker Street.

Stagecoach report that the diversion is expected to operate from 10 April for *approximately 10 days". It's worth noting, however, that the permit authorising these works on the carriageway is valid until 22 April (to allow them to overrun, perhaps?).