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35 Minute Frequency

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by Llandudno, 5 Jan 2019.

  1. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    Being somewhat fossilised, I well remember the canteen at Well Hall Station in Eltham, S.E. London, provided by London Transport for the benefit of crews on bus services that terminated there. I think crews on the old 132 circular route run by Sidcup Garage also took meal reliefs there, as their buses ran nowhere near the garage. I know I was only a kid, but I do remember wondering why some buses seemed to spend an inordinate time seemingly abandoned, particularly at offpeak times. The 21A to Swanley and Farningham, in theory probably the most infrequent route to use the bus station, always seemed to be present, for instance.
     
  2. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    Regular users learn the timetable regardless of the frequency. It's the less frequent users who get put off by random timings, as it makes it more likely to just miss a bus. A 35 minute headway is just bizarre.
     
  3. Bwsbro

    Bwsbro Member

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    The 13 was already confusing to passengers on a 40 minute frequency, moving to every 35 is even more strange. Once again Arriva are introducing more lettered services with evening journeys via Llysfaen operating as 13L

    Regarding the X5.

    From the 27th of Jan, the X5 will no longer server Dwygyfylchgi & Abergwyngregyn. But will operate through to West Shore in Llandudno as partial replacement for the 12 which stopped serving West Shore last year.

    The first 5 X5 Services from Bangor & first two from Llandudno & all Sunday X5 will now operate as Service 5D operating to the X5 route via Deganwy. These journeys will operate via Dwygyfylchgi & Abergwyngregyn
     
  4. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    The X58 mentioned before runs every 70 minutes. It shares a large part of its route with the hourly First-run 560.
    This means that at certain times of the day the routes are close to opposite sides of the clockface. Whenever I'm going for one they seem to be within 10 mins of one another with an hour gap each side.

    I'm sure this most contribute to putting people off buses even more than contacting subsidised services out to different operators did (when Yorkshire Tiger won assorted local contracts they registered the 528 (now X58) commercially and First deregistered theirs. However First continued to run the other main road service Ripponden to Halifax.

    It went from an unchanged hourly timetable for 15 years to changes at least 3 times a year.
     
    Last edited: 9 Jan 2019
  5. Statto

    Statto Established Member

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    The 5, X5 could really do with deckers, these can often be standing room only especially in summer, but main problem with that though are the low height castle walls in Conway.
     
  6. nickw1

    nickw1 Member

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    And that is the problem of the current philosophy of how to run peak bus services.

    I accept congestion will more or less enforce a deviation away from the normal 'off peak' clockface pattern, as it will take longer to travel the route, but due to the dictat that you should not deploy additional vehicles for peak use only, it means that the frequency during the peaks actually _reduces_; the complete opposite of what should happen in a demand-driven service. For example, Bluestar 1 Winchester to Southampton, every 15 mins off peak, 20 to 25 minute gaps at the height of the morning peak (and those buses are unreliable having travelled all the way from Winchester... we really need some additional short journeys covering the Southampton end of the route only during the peak!) Then as soon as the morning peak is over, there are two buses within 10 mins of each other as reducing congestion causes journeys to catch up with each other!

    It is a shame that we do not have a government that believes in public transport and can subsidise bus companies to buy additional vehicles to at least allow the off peak frequency to be maintained during the peaks on these kinds of busy commuter routes.
     
    Last edited: 9 Jan 2019
  7. nickw1

    nickw1 Member

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    .. although presumably with more imaginative diagramming and sharing vehicles between routes, they could probably still achieve clockface with a relatively minimal number of vehicles. Part of the problem seems to be down to the insistence of keeping one vehicle on one route these days; something less rigorously adhered to in the 80s and 90s. I remember living on an Alder Valley route (end-to-end about 1h30, I think; hourly clockface most of the day) in the 80s and most hourly journeys were run with a completely different vehicle, with only a small number instances where the same vehicle would do two journeys on that route during the course of the day. The timing on that route meant that three buses was a non starter but four would involve long layovers, so cleverer diagramming was used. The interworking of that route with other routes was such that those buses that did return would do so 6 hours later and in even hours only, but due to school variations, the need for busy journeys to be double-deck when most were single-deck, etc, that only happened about twice a day.
     
    Last edited: 9 Jan 2019
  8. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Established Member

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    Back in the day, the 5 was operated by deckers (remember being on VRs and doing it) - has the route changed to preclude deckers now?

    There's the instance of two Somerset services that were both hourly until 2018 running Taunton - Somerton - Yeovil and Wells - Somerton - Yeovil, combining to provide a half hourly frequency from Somerton to Yeovil. Both are now every 90 mins so it's sort of every 45 mins... Looking at it now, the next ones are 1448, 1532, 1618, 1702
     
  9. krus_aragon

    krus_aragon Established Member

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    In the case of the number 13 service in Llandudno, on the existing 40-minute interval the bus arriving at Llandudno would work the next service back again. From a glance at the new 35-minute timetable, this appears to no longer be the case. Are they interworking with other services at Llandudno? (Not that anything else in the area operates at a 35-minute interval...)
     
  10. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    I agree that it's not great for passengers wanting a simple timetable, but what are the realistic options?

    Employ a driver for an hour or two a day (and keep one extra bus in your fleet to allow that additional service to run)?

    Bus companies struggle to find drivers to work full time, so asking one to commit to earn just an hour or two's wages a day is going to be a huge struggle.

    In the low floor world we are now in, we don't have huge stocks of ancient buses sat around that can be pressed into serve for the sake of such marginal use - fleets are tightly managed - so any additional resource means finding monies to cover an asset still worth tens of thousands of pounds for the sake of an additional journey (or two).

    I accept that there's a problem (with reduced frequency at the busiest time of day) but not convinced that there's any simple problem. Of all the Government spending priorities, buses are quite low down the list... and even if the Government had a pot of money to throw at the subsidising the bus industry, I'm not sure that this would be a great use of it (when you consider that villages are losing their entire services etc, as economics bite).
     
  11. nickw1

    nickw1 Member

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    I appreciate it costs money but as a first-world country it's surely something we can afford; I think it's simply a case that in the UK (and maybe increasingly in other countries too) we don't see PT as the priority it ought to be these days. I agree that preserving rural services should be given particular priority but the real question is: if we could afford to run a non cut-down peak service _and_ run those rural services in say 1995, why can't we now? I also remember through visits to the USA (not exactly the most PT-enthusiastic country) in 2002-2011, those areas I visited (metro Denver and LA) which had decent PT did see an increase in bus frequency in the peak. Admittedly these were public sector services, but I'm not suggesting the bus companies to fork out more of their profits, just for government to provide more subsidy.

    Regarding the driver and bus usage, it would help a great deal (and help overall reliability too) if both vehicles and drivers had a slacker schedule (as was certainly the case with vehicles in the 'old days', not so sure about drivers), which could then be tightened up in the peaks (only) minimising the requirement for peak extras.

    I appreciate this is never going to happen unless we see a radical change in political priorities, but it would be nice...
     
    Last edited: 9 Jan 2019
  12. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    Split-shift working isn't ideal, but the major bus companies all make plenty of money from schools traffic. Which is perhaps the problem: the buses that would be used in the morning peak for commuters are actually ferrying children about.

    That said, clever timetabling can work. Stagecoach used to maintain peak headways at the same PVR by increasing running time during the peaks, with the shoulder peak frequency dropping to allow everything to catch up. They originally did it very bluntly by dropping some runs but now they just gently increase the headway by a couple of minutes for a short period. It's similar to why Go's 4 service has an 11-minute off peak headway.
     
  13. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    In a sensible world those extra vehicles and drivers would be used to maintain peak frequency then put on off-peak "shopper" type services around estates and villages not justifying a full service.
     
  14. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    I grew up with London buses, on which that sort of arrangement was a complete non-starter (A) because the TGWU would never allow such a thing and (B) because, even if they did a complete volte-face, management would have regarded it as unsatisfactory in many aspects. I do, however, recollect my first encounter with the nationalised Western National in Minehead when working there during the summers of 1966/7 and the arrangements for their two 'trunk' services, the 215 to Bridgwater and the 218 to Taunton. Minehead depot was then still open and provided two of the three buses used on these jointly-compiled services, each running every two hours during the day, with a clockface hourly service from Minehead to the point where the routes split (forgive me, I can't remember exactly where after fifty years!) This splitting point was very significant, because buses from Taunton were timed to connect into buses to Bridgwater, and vice versa, and IIRC you sometimes had to physically change bus too if you were coming from Minehead in order to get to the destination on your original bus. Thus I believe only the two Minehead allocated buses ever worked into Minehead Bus Station/Depot during this period, one being a short Lodekka (LS) and the other a long Lodekka, with front entrance, a FLF. British Railways still maintained a Taunton to Minehead branch service then, which was used by the sensible plus myself! Anyway, it was an ingenious (I thought) way to avoid using an extra bus and you could never tell whether you were going to get the FS or Flf, both VERY foreign buses to a Londoner!
     
  15. nickw1

    nickw1 Member

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    The 'school journeys' thing is an interesting one. School journeys are very necessary of course but the timing of the school day (8.45 - 3.30pm or 4pm, at least it was in my day, I presume it's similar now) means that you could actually provide _evening_ peak extras using buses used for school traffic, but not morning peak.

    A school bus finishing its school journey at say 4.30pm could then work empty to the local bus station to produce an additional peak working between 5 and 6pm, and if all the school buses did this, you could have quite a few evening peak extras!

    In the morning such an arrangement is of course impossible because work and school begin at around the same time of day. Perhaps morning peak extras could be produced by operating a very minimal contra-peak flow service and running the morning peak extras empty to the 'country' end of the route once they reach the major town, so they can get back in time for a regular off-peak service?
     
  16. nickw1

    nickw1 Member

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    This certainly happened a lot in the past. I remember superficially-bizarre but really quite sensible anomalies like double-deckers being used for certain journeys on the old 502 Haslemere town service (late 80s); most were run with minibuses but some of the estates had some additional morning and afternoon shopper services. These double deckers (Hindhead depot based) were used for Alton College journeys in the peak.

    Perhaps a variation on the theme, to avoid school double-deckers plying country lanes, would be to use the school double-deckers on _busy_ routes when not required for school traffic, and divert single deckers (perhaps more suited to country routes) from the busy route onto these country services.

    At this time (this was actually post-privatisation, just) the diagramming of Hindhead depot seemed to be cleverly designed to ensure double-deckers (the depot had about 20 Nationals and 10 VRs) were on all the busy school and college journeys, which often meant vehicles had to be swapped; at some points in the day you had one bus come into Haslemere and terminate, go back up to Hindhead empty, and its return journey arrive from Hindhead empty and work on.
     
  17. nickw1

    nickw1 Member

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    I remember even in the 90s some journeys on the old Wilts and Dorset 5 (Salisbury to Swindon) were marked with a 'Please change vehicles at Pewsey' note; presumably something to do with ensuring drivers didn't have an excessively long shift.
     
  18. carlberry

    carlberry Established Member

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    This would be because of the need to return each bus to it's home depot. The operational need overriding the needs of the passengers that were turfed out of the bus. Even more of an issue if the 'other' bus is significantly late or dosent operate
     
  19. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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  20. Cesarcollie

    Cesarcollie Member

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    ‘The major bus companies all make plenty of money from schools traffic’? Sadly not true in most cases nowadays. The requirement for extra and/or bigger buses for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, 39 weeks a year, and extra drivers too for extra buses, with no profitable opportunity for their use during the day, means such traffic is often actually a cost not a profit. This is made worse by the tradition/expectation that schoolchildren should pay a half, or reduced, fare. To take a random example - a child return fare of £3 per day x 50 students = £150. That will most certainly not cover the cost of a bus and driver!
     
  21. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    Around here it can't be too bad, Go run some schools services commercially and Stagecoach are back running Nexus-supported schools services as far out as North Shields. Must be some benefit
     
  22. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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  23. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    I can see that an hourly frequency is preferable to a 52 minute one, say, but I really wouldn't complain if an hourly one became every 35 minutes, rather than half hourly. I would, however, feel peeved if a 35 minute one became hourly! A lot longer to wait if you just missed one.
     

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