'Bus Bandits' to be banned from Birmingham City Centre

Discussion in 'Other Public Transport' started by Mojo, 5 Nov 2011.

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  1. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    It seems that Centro and Birmingham City are looking to set up a Statutory Quality Partnership in Birmingham City Centre to ban the 'Bus Bandits.'

    http://www.connectedcity.org.uk/projects/birmingham_statutory_quality_partnership_agreement

    The full consultation document (on the left hand menu) has the details, but in summary, if this were to go ahead, services that have to comply would have to do the following:
    • Participate in local multimodal ticketing and Plusbus and have signs displaying this
    • Be fitted with transponders compatible with the local Real Time Information system
    • Services must operate with low-floor or otherwise accessible buses
    • Meet minimum Euro standards as specified
    • Display the route number and destination on the front
    • Clean buses inside and outside with no bad smells
    • An ''appropriate'' livery to identify either the route or bus company
    • Vehicles must not be in the livery of an alternative operator, or display their branding anywhere
    • Contact details for the bus operator internally on the vehicle
    • No vehicles left without a driver inside the zone
    • Engines to be switched off after 2 Mins of remaining stationary (except where technical requirements prevent this)
    • Provide Centro with their fleet lists every quarter
    • High standards of drivers
    • Drivers must wear a uniform
    • Drivers must have training on ticketing and the requirements of the scheme
    There are a few more but I feel I have highlighted the most important ones here.
     
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  3. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    Is this the first step towards a London style arrangement in the Birmingham PTE area?

    Either way this is a very interesting development
     
  4. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    Cardiff and the valleys certainly require something like this especially with a certain operator.

    Then again something like this in Bristol would be good as well
     
  5. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I am not aware of any 'Bus Bandits' operating in Bristol. First, Wessex Connect and Wessex Connect services all seem to be of a reasonable quality.

    Which companies were you referring to?
     
  6. rail-britain

    rail-britain Established Member

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    That is a step backwards and more towards regulation
    A private company (bus operator) should be free to setup a commercial service if they see fit
    The Transport commissioner then permits them to do so

    However, quite different if the PTE provides finance and support
    Their argument is proabably that they pay for the infrastructure so only their approved operators should operate along these routes

    Fitting transponders and other equipment is acceptable for an established operator, but not necessary for a small local operator
    As for clean buses with no smells, that is impossible!
     
  7. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    However the law now allows local authorities to set up statutory quality contracts which effectively suspend competition.

    Why not? Do people who have the misfortune to be on the route of a small operator not deserve to know when their bus comes along?
    Many operators seem to manage particularly well in this regard.
     
  8. markydh

    markydh Member

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    And is exactly why it should be applauded :D
     
  9. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    Yes I know there is not really much of a need in Bristol although both First and Wessex connect can be bad at times not as bad as other area's though
     
  10. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    I've never used their services so can't comment on reliability, but Wessex Connect have some very tatty looking motors in their fleet. First attract frequent bad press in Bristol, as they have a habit of doing in many places.

    I'm pretty confident this is a good thing, and indeed I would venture that it is an inevitable development and one which will spread far wider over time. It is far better to have a network regulated and specified by the authorities than it is to have every Tom, Dick & Harold running their own services of varying levels of quality, using vehicles of varying degrees of roadworthyness. A single network, if set up properly, provides clarity and quality, two of the main aspects which are so often lacking in Britain's local bus service provision.

    Competition is not the gift that so many like to think it is. 'Keeping fares down' actually means putting financial pressure on operators to do everything at the bare possible minimum of cost, which often leads to poor quality vehicles driven by low-paid drivers who don't care a great deal about their jobs or their passengers. It means pathetic 'bus wars' breaking out, whereby services are registered and run for absolutely no reason other than to tread on each other's toes, and then quickly withdrawn again when they have served their dubious purpose. The supposedly reputable 'big boys' of the industry are the worst for this. And it means operators having free reign to run as good or bad a service as they wish, often with little to encourage them to do any better. The Traffic Commissioner doesn't carry the weight you might think they do with many firms.

    If it's done well, this should be a very positive thing for Brum's bus users. Let's hope it is!
     
  11. Schnellzug

    Schnellzug Established Member

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    wessex Connect seem to have some pretty modern equipment, they run the UWE service with brand new Scania dd's.
    I know it's the custom for everyone to criticise WorstGroup at every opportunity, but I really think that Bristol (and S&A) has one of the more modern fleets, and the older ones do seem to be in fairly reasonble nick, even the N reg step entrance Darts seem reasonanbly presentable.
     
  12. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    I'm not really in a position to complain about WC in Bristol because their services seem adequate but here they do (or at least did) fill the position of "Bandit" in my opinion. They came to Bath only 2½ years ago and immediately copied First's existing 18 service, with only two slight differences (one of which has since been eradicated!), using the highly original number of U18. Later they went further and did the same with services 5 and 10, only extending to Grand Parade (in my opinion to avoid bus station charges), this time complete with identical number! On the other hand, they took on the contract for the circular 20A/C and immediately the service fell through the floor, with incredibly uncomfortable buses, reckless driving, no appreciation of the timetable, and the dreaded non-stopping without a valid reason. All of these routes, and the remaining route (U10), all show that they are not interested in serving the city except in existing ways that they can exploit and then try to bully First (what?!) into conceding, and in particular, the other University [i.e. not mine].

    They are better now, but still far from perfect, although I do like their new 61-reg Solos! :p

    With regards to Birmingham, I can only hope that Central Connect are similar to WC in Bristol and not WC in Bath. It does seem like a move towards London operation though.

    As for First S&A, you do know that we have lost five of our 12 bendies to the likes of Luton Airport Parkway and the Eden Project...?
     
  13. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    Yes the bendys that went to Luton were to allow the FTR's to come down to Swansea to woirk the delayed swansea metro service which was over 12 months late.

    There has been bad press about first in Cardiff. I suppose it could be said of a lot of bus firms, Cardiff bus recently got into trouble for what they did when 2travel tried competing directly against them in Cardiff back in 2003/2004 before the collapsed

    However if anyone is a member of the welsh bus new group on yahoo there has been a lot of bad press about a few other firms with 1 standing out the most, anyone who has been in teh pontypridd and cardiff area in teh last 12-18 months will know what operator i am on about as their buses do stand out.
     
  14. Schnellzug

    Schnellzug Established Member

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    Were they ever really needed on the 'big (or was it 'bright') orange'? or was it more for PR effect? They did rather have the same effect that they did in other places, of taking up rather an inordinate amount of room. Was there that much traffic to require that much capacity?

    N.B. I'm not saying that First are above reproof, the Dorset part of Hampshire & Dorset is pretty scruffy except, of course, for the Award Winning Jurassic Coast Service (which I suppose will be getting new buses, once again, ready for the Olympics :roll: ), but relatively speaking, I think S&A and Bristol seem reasonable.
     
  15. ivanhoe

    ivanhoe Member

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    I do hope it takes off. I note that Liverpool have gone down a Quality Partnership by route. I note that 82 ( a route I grew up on) is every 6 minutes between Garston and Liverpool with both Stagecoach and Arriva tickets being interchangeable.

    My only concern is that the Tories are against Quality Partnerships and I hope the Liberals stop them from interfering. Bus enthusiast and more importantly passengers will be looking at Brum and hoping for a successful partnership.
     
  16. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    To be perfectly honest, yes; even when running in pairs it isn't unknown for them to leave people behind in spite of a net capacity of almost 300. But as is true [well, so Boris says :lol:] in London they are not ideal for the routes, especially in Oldfield Park and coming up here, due to their size.

    (It's "Bright" Orange, but that has been effectively dropped.)

    The problem with First is that are far-too-large proportion of their routes seem to be either too kind with capacity or not kind enough. One of the few I think they get right is our X39, but even then I'm not sure about the evening provision of only one an hour.
     
  17. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    Most of WC's branded fleets seem fairly straight, but I was thinking of their white & blue 'house colours' fleet of Darts and what mostly seem to be ex-London deckers, they mostly are very scruffy indeed. First are known for having fleets at different ends of the scale depending on what the local authority has compelled or encouraged them to do; the Bristol fleet has a high proportion of recent high quality vehicles which I understand is due to this, though there seems still to be a level of general dissatisfaction amongst many users. Other parts of the pink empire are not blessed with fleets anywhere near as modern as Bristol.
     
  18. Seacook

    Seacook Member

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    Introducing QP by route makes a good deal more sense to me than the Birmingham proposals where the area affected is just the city centre (inside the Queensway ring road). So a route like the 75 from Wednesbury via West Bromwich which takes an hour to reach its terminus in Birmingham will fall under the QP regulations for the last two stops. If NatEx wanted to save themselves some money they would probably turn around a couple of hundred yards earlier at St Chad's Circus and miss out the city centre.

    Birmingham Snow Hill is (just) inside the zone, so if the city council go ahead with this why don't they include the Metro as well? And the trains?

    Improving public transport is laudable, but I can't really see this initiative achieving very much.
     
  19. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    What do you mean? This is a bus statutory quality partnership. The law only allows for buses to be included, as there is no purpose of including other modes of transport. Trains are already regulated through the DfT and local arrangements. The Metro is regulated by Centro themselves.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    National Express at present stand to gain the most from this, as largely speaking they comply with the overwhelming majority of the arrangements. Those losing out will include the 'Bus Bandits' like Sunny Travel. Given most people want to go into the City, I doubt operators will be curtailing services at the edge of the area; these smaller operators already carry fresh air around for much of the day (aside from the more established companies like Claribels, but they are still empty compared to Nx).

    http://www.buspartnership.com/index.php?fuseaction=statutory.main is a list of all current/proposed agreements. Route 18 in L'pool is not included, so I suspect that this is just a voluntary quality agreement like the 'Showcase' bus routes in other places, and not a statutory one.
     
  20. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    This sounds similar to the Nottingham SQP where buses serving most of the city centre have to meet minimum standards.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    The Tories are in favour of 'partnerships' but not Quality Contracts (i.e. London-style franchising). Before the 2010 election, the Tories told PTEs to stop working on QCs as they would probably repeal the legislation if they won the election. However of course there is now a coalition government and the coalition agreement states "and will encourage joint working between bus operators and local authorities." I read that to mean that SQPs should be OK but there is uncertainty about QCs.

    Norman Baker is the Transport Secretary in charge of buses and he was strongly for QCs before the election which could mean that as long as he in that position QC legislation probably won't be repealed. However that doesn't mean that the proposed QC from West Yorkshire will get implemented without any problems. I will be surprised if they manage to start implementation before the next election. And arguably it will be pointless if it isn't properly funded, which is quite likely given the continued poor economic situation.
     
    Last edited: 5 Nov 2011
  21. Seacook

    Seacook Member

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    You are right, I have nowv read most of the proposal. However, the Metro will have some impact when the line is extended through the city centre. Since National Express operate the Metro this should not be a problem.

    There appear to be three extra benefits for passengers. One, greater safety and easier access to buses provided by more CCTV at stops, the introduction of more bus/coach/bike-only streets, and more diligent enforcement on parking restrictions. Two, improved punctuality for the latter two reasons. Three, real-time information displays at stops.

    The drawbacks are largely lack of competition (not that NX have much anyway); the opportunities for other operators to move in is restricted by the availability of departure slots. I suspect that the real-time information will prove illusory - the documents allows for either current information or scheduled timings to be displayed. Since the latter is easier and cheaper, but still meets the criteria, if any cost-cutting is necessary this will be a prime candidate. When similar systems have been tried on "showcase" routes it has proved to be worse than useless - displays will show a bus 4 minutes away, 3, 2, 1, then nothing (and no bus).
     
  22. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    We have these in South Yorkshire (Barnsley, North Sheffield etc).

    Really, they are only the kind of things that a decent operator should be doing anyway, apart from the low floor/ Euro requirements (since step-entrance buses are not all life expired yet). Fair enough to insist on this for a small area (like the A6135 routes in Sheffield), but harder in a city centre like BIrmingham (with dozens of services)
     
  23. Badger

    Badger Member

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    Well I don't think anyone in the West Midlands complies with this. Certainly not any of the buses that come my way, where services often wait longer than that with the engine running, even half an hour (not sure if that timetable's still in place).

    I'd say regulation is a step forwards. :)

    NX:WM drivers often leave their buses with the engines running and full of passengers to use the loos in the bookies in Wolverhampton on the cross city services.

    I mean if these problems are evident in the bus company with the monopoly in the area, what chance have they got?
     
  24. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    Nowhere near enough to a Pacer :(
    as both an enthusiast and a passenger, more over a passenger with a disabilitty I welcome this as the kind of behavure being stamped on is the sort of thing that makes an otherwise relatively simple method of travel challenging for people like me!

    Ironically brum is the only major city Iv tried to travel in where problems have been encountered meaning that for some time now trains and taxis have been used over busses.
     
  25. tbone

    tbone Member

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  26. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Same for Sunny Travel.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/eybusman/5742517492/

    All their buses seem to go to this strange place called Service. Yet to find it on a map.

    One of their vehicles broke down outside my flat the other week, and it was parked up causing traffic congestion right at the start of rush hour. About an hour and a half later some guy turned up in a Mercedes with a handheld petrol can and started to refuel the bus. It had ran out of diesel!
     
  27. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    I used to see my colleagues doing this when I was a driver on the south coast, it beggars belief TBH. I always found it mildly amusing to see them dutifully take their cash with them but think nothing of leaving the bus sitting there ticking over for anybody who might fancy taking it for a drive! :|

    I agree that regulation is a good thing.
     
  28. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    With a colour scheme like that you have to wonder where "Sunny Travel" comes from...

    :shock:
     
  29. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    That is precisely the sort of operator that regulation can be used to flush out. Tatty old motors, iffy or no destination displays, turn up when they like, drivers wearing jeans and t-shirts, etc etc. There are too many of them about and they do the industry absolutely no favours at all. Sure, there are some very good independants out there, and they will always be able to put in their bids, but the cowboys and fly-by-nights have nowhere to go if the network is tendered.
     
  30. SS4

    SS4 Established Member

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    I'm cautiously optimistic about this. NX have little competition and what usually happens is that Concessionary Pass holders make up a huge number on these other buses with the remainder being nbus/nnetwork tickets. Essentially NX will be answerable to someone.


    You can also add Joe's Travel to the list http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1179/5161150600_7009eecfaf.jpg
     
  31. Paul Sidorczuk

    Paul Sidorczuk Veteran Member

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    TfGM are very quiet when it comes to Statutory Quality Partnerships of any type. Why do you think that this may be so?
     
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