Bus Company Responsibility ?

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Train2Win

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Do bus companies have the same responsibility as a TOC to make sure you get safely home to your destination late at night for example to provide another bus or pay for taxis ?.

A TOC kindly paid for a shared taxi a few years back when our service was cancelled .
 
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howittpie

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I have seen Nottingham City Transport facebook in the past when an evening 47a has been cancelled that passengers should get a taxi and keep the receipt and they will refunding this service only runs every 90 minutes in the evening.
 

Bletchleyite

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A TOC kindly paid for a shared taxi a few years back when our service was cancelled .

Not just kindly, if it was the last service of the day they were required to do so.

This indeed isn't true of buses - and bus companies don't have the same commitment as train companies to ensuring the last service does run and doesn't rag round as fast as possible leaving key stops early, either, as control have gone home by then.

Yes, from bitter experience, reported many times and nothing ever done about it.
 

Busaholic

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Not just kindly, if it was the last service of the day they were required to do so.

This indeed isn't true of buses - and bus companies don't have the same commitment as train companies to ensuring the last service does run and doesn't rag round as fast as possible leaving key stops early, either, as control have gone home by then.

Yes, from bitter experience, reported many times and nothing ever done about it.

If that service was being paid for by a LA, then it would be worth taking it up with them, though not for reimbursement, admittedly.
 

me123

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Do bus companies have the same responsibility as a TOC to make sure you get safely home to your destination late at night for example to provide another bus or pay for taxis ?.

:lol: Good one.

In my experience, some bus companies can barely function as public transport at the best of times. I tried to use a bus a few months ago, the buses had got stuck in a snowdrift on a back road and I was waiting for two and a half hours(!) for one (needless to say, never again). I contacted the company, and at least one person was at the office, but had absolutely no idea what was happening. As far as they were aware, everything was fine. And I have to say they didn't particularly care either - I was told the buses were "probably" on their way. (The only reason I knew what happened was when the driver finally arrived 150 minutes late).

Do you honestly expect that they'd have done anything to help me? They didn't even know that one of their routes had ground to a halt. They didn't know that two of their buses were stuck in the middle of nowhere. If they had a more coherent operation, they would have been able to inform passengers who were waiting of the delay, divert buses away from the impassable road, help the drivers who were stuck, and maybe even mobilise another bus to recover the timetable?

There's little to no regulation for bus companies. Bus passengers are generally an uncomplaining bunch, not least because the majority of them aren't paying for it. The companies themselves don't really even pretend to care whenever you do complain. So the thought that they'd arrange a taxi for you is laughable.

If TOCs behaved like your average bus operator, there'd be a national outcry.
 

Baxenden Bank

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If you hold a day return ticket, then that would constitute a contract. By not providing their advertised service, said contract has been broken.

Whether that is actionable in court, or worth the cost or effort is another matter.

If you hold some other form of pass / travelcard / ENCTS, does the same manner of contract exist?

If you are paying cash, no contract exists until you have boarded and paid.

Getting hold of anyone at the bus company to authorise a taxi, or a replacement bus, would be impossible across most of the country, outside major cities.

Failure to operate the advertised service is clearly a breach of bus licencing regulations, but don't expect to get anywhere with the Office of the Traffic Commissioner, unless the cancellations are very large in number and over a long period.

In essence, that is one of the reasons why rail is seen as a much more civilised means of travel and why people across the spectrum are prepared to travel by train but often shun the bus!
 

aformeruser

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If you hold a day return ticket, then that would constitute a contract. By not providing their advertised service, said contract has been broken.

Whether that is actionable in court, or worth the cost or effort is another matter.

If you hold some other form of pass / travelcard / ENCTS, does the same manner of contract exist?

I agree with that thinking. However, many operators don't do return tickets and for shorter journeys 2 x singles is the cheapest option and for longer journeys a day ticket is cheaper than 2 x singles, so would a day ticket be treated by a court the same way as a return?

Even if it's not actionable in court then surely the operator should be required to refund the unused part of your ticket.
 

Baxenden Bank

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I agree with that thinking. However, many operators don't do return tickets and for shorter journeys 2 x singles is the cheapest option and for longer journeys a day ticket is cheaper than 2 x singles, so would a day ticket be treated by a court the same way as a return?

Even if it's not actionable in court then surely the operator should be required to refund the unused part of your ticket.

I think a refund of the unused part of a day return ticket would be the minimum one could expect. That would be much less than the cost of a taxi though, so the passenger loses out as a result of an operators failure (although it may be reasons out of their control, as per rail industry rules).

However, if it was a period return (some local operators and Transdev Lancashire do them) there would be no contracted requirement to deliver the return portion on that day - so long as they provide at least one return bus within the month have they met their part of the contract? - even if it is not remotely at the time / on the day that you wished to travel!

If you held a multi-journey ticket, who is to know how many trips you have taken, and what is your ultimate destination as part of the contract for that purchase?

At that point you are into 'Traffic Commissioner action' rather than 'court' action.

Of course, a professional operator, interested in the long term survival (and organic growth) of their business through high levels of customer satisfaction, would always ensure that the last bus ran, even if it meant cancelling the penultimate bus to provide cover.

This type of situation concerns me when you get bad weather. At some point during the day, it starts to snow heavily. Reasonably sensible decisions are made to take all the buses off the road. Should they then be put back on the road in the evening (after peak traffic has quietened down) to mop up any stranded passengers? Or would an operator assume passengers have made alternative arrangements in the meantime and it is safe to put all the buses to bed in the garage. In these days of (anti)social media how should operators inform passengers of their actions, given that not everyone has a smart phone. As an example, the Hanley to Buxton route (X15) has a specific note on the timetable saying that the service will be curtailed Hanley to Leek in the event of bad weather. That's fine if it is in the morning but what if you travelled out to Buxton in fine weather and then the remainder of the days service is cancelled? PMT had a drivers instruction to 'escape' from Sheffield via the M1 and A50 in the event of a bus being trapped on the wrong side of the Peak District hills. Fine if you were at Sheffield Interchange, not much use for intervening points!
 
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aformeruser

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As an example, the Hanley to Buxton route (X15) has a specific note on the timetable saying that the service will be curtailed Hanley to Leek in the event of bad weather. That's fine if it is in the morning but what if you travelled out to Buxton in fine weather and then the remainder of the days service is cancelled? PMT had a drivers instruction to 'escape' from Sheffield via the M1 and A50 in the event of a bus being trapped on the wrong side of the Peak District hills. Fine if you were at Sheffield Interchange, not much use for intervening points!

I recall one day GHA Coaches told all their drivers to start to return to the depot no later than 17:30 due to snow. That applied to the 88 Knutsford to Wilmslow to Altrincham route where there was no snow en route so anyone hoping to use that service to get home from work couldn't despite the lack of snow in the local area.
 

Baxenden Bank

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I recall one day GHA Coaches told all their drivers to start to return to the depot no later than 17:30 due to snow. That applied to the 88 Knutsford to Wilmslow to Altrincham route where there was no snow en route so anyone hoping to use that service to get home from work couldn't despite the lack of snow in the local area.

And if I was a regular on that service, I would have been mightily unimpressed. Especially if there was no widespread communication of the fact and I stood waiting for hours for a bus that had no chance of turning up.

If it happened often enough I would seek an alternative to using the bus (walk, cycle, buy car, car-share, taxi, move house, change jobs - the alternatives are numerous). Over time, enough people do just that and the service ceases to be commercially viable (or the subsidy is seen as too high for the number of passengers actually using a service). Once I have made those alternative arrangements, the chances of attracting me back to the service are minimal, regardless of what treats are offered (enhanced frequency, leather seats, Wi-Fi and dancing girls).

If only bus company management understood that simple commercial reality instead of treating their customers as a captive market!

Too many operators simply run the bus, look at the numbers occasionally, then decide to keep running or cancel it. The old 'management of decline' mindset. The railway had that mindset but look how it has been turned round.
 
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pompeyfan

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It's odd, slate a TOC and the railway family lynch you (which is fair enough), moan about buses and not a whisper.

The company I work for will reimburse taxi fares if a reciept is obtained, as well as a free day ticket as part of an apology.

In regards to the issues people face, I understand the frustration, but not many of the solutions are workable. The lack of the ability to communicate between driver and depot, the slow uptake of accurate tracking and the inability to relay messages onto the passengers.

Say you're at bus stop at 9pm and it's a bit of a rough area, any PIS is likely to be vandalised heavily. A lot of the real time systems are difficult to manipulate as well because they're not that advanced, there is no way of sending information that a particular journey is cancelled.
If every single bus stop had a real time system the cost would be crazy and unworkable. This is why communicating with passengers at remote stops without smart phones and social media is difficult.
 

GrimsbyPacer

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When the Humber Flyer bus could no longer run to Hull, the bus company made arrangments for a long diversion on another service to get everyone home.
Sometimes the bus company is better than the train at getting people home.
For example, if I was at Brigg and the last service was cancelled, would they divert another? Would they check if someone's on the platform? Or would I have to wait a week??
 

Bletchleyite

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Sometimes the bus company is better than the train at getting people home.
For example, if I was at Brigg and the last service was cancelled, would they divert another? Would they check if someone's on the platform? Or would I have to wait a week??

You'd have to contact them, and they'd send you a taxi. If you'd already paid. If not, it's quite likely they would indeed abandon you.
 

Bungle965

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When the Humber Flyer bus could no longer run to Hull, the bus company made arrangments for a long diversion on another service to get everyone home.
Sometimes the bus company is better than the train at getting people home.
For example, if I was at Brigg and the last service was cancelled, would they divert another? Would they check if someone's on the platform? Or would I have to wait a week??

Well you would find the help point if there was one contact them through that, or if you had a phone you could tweet them, the railway would not leave you abandoned at a station.
Sam
 

Baxenden Bank

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It's odd, slate a TOC and the railway family lynch you (which is fair enough), moan about buses and not a whisper.

The company I work for will reimburse taxi fares if a reciept is obtained, as well as a free day ticket as part of an apology.

In regards to the issues people face, I understand the frustration, but not many of the solutions are workable. The lack of the ability to communicate between driver and depot, the slow uptake of accurate tracking and the inability to relay messages onto the passengers.

Say you're at bus stop at 9pm and it's a bit of a rough area, any PIS is likely to be vandalised heavily. A lot of the real time systems are difficult to manipulate as well because they're not that advanced, there is no way of sending information that a particular journey is cancelled.
If every single bus stop had a real time system the cost would be crazy and unworkable. This is why communicating with passengers at remote stops without smart phones and social media is difficult.

How about having an office, with a phone line with the number widely publicised, staffed until the last bus has run? I guess virtually all operators have some means of contact available to a driver / the emergency services if they have need i.e. a breakdown, an assault, an RTA. The problem is an unwillingness to deal with the public and resolve their issues - sometimes trivial admittedly.

Part of the problem is the move from locally based operator enquiry lines (which obviously had connection to the operational side of things) to the regional Traveline. Living in Stoke, I guess most staff at WM Traveline don't know where Stoke is, and like so many other customer service roles, simply rely on computer software rather than any kind of local knowledge.

It need not be remote to be a problem. The city centre bus station in Hanley (Stoke-on-Trent) has an enquiry office which closes at 1700. After that the passenger is on their own. No means of determining running information even during the evening peak - except by pestering a driver to go behind several secure doors to ask the still on duty control. There is security on the bus station but they know nothing about buses.
 
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pompeyfan

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How about having an office, with a phone line with the number widely publicised, staffed until the last bus has run? I guess virtually all operators have some means of contact available to a driver / the emergency services if they have need i.e. a breakdown, an assault, an RTA. The problem is an unwillingness to deal with the public and resolve their issues - sometimes trivial admittedly.

If you ran a business, would you pay for someone to sit near a telephone from 4am to 1 am 7 days a week (in some cases 24 hours a day), would you pay for 2 people to do that across 2 depots and so on. And it's not as if you can incorporate that into anyone else's job, because if everything is running well then there's unlikely to be issues, but if the brown stuff hits the spinny thing then the controllers are going to be busy adjusting drivers, moving breaks, buses, pulling rabbits out of hats etc.

Thankfully at my employer we have cab radios which in the main are okay, and mobile phone network is really good across most, but not all of the routes we operate. So if we have issues we can contact base, we also have Greenroad tracking as well as a system called novus tracking. However at one of our competitors on a long country route a driver broke down in the middle of nowhere, they don't have cab radios. His phone was dead. He knocked on a residents house to use their landline, he couldn't pull the number off his phone and so they had to google on the residents computer what the depot number was.

Finally, in response to your last point. Could you imagine if each operator did invest in a local phone operator to find out what issues there are. There'd be a relentless stream during the day of 'the 11:03 bus (which is every 7 minutes) hasn't turned up and it's 11:05, you're company is ****' - that's what regional customer services are for, they can also hook into this tracking technology, but crucially they can't say why there's an issue.
 

aformeruser

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An awful lot of businesses do do exactly that. I believe it is referred to as "customer service".

Some businesses appear to do that but don't. There are infact some people in a large call centre handling calls from multiple companies who recognise which number has been dialled and then answer the phone as that company.

One Wrexham based that handles calls for other companies allows their employees to spend a few months working in an office in New Zealand. Why? They are then able to provide British people to answer the phones at what would be unsociable hours to work in the UK.
 

Bletchleyite

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Which is provided from 7am - 7pm 7 days a week.

Which isn't really good enough if you're standing waiting for the last bus and want to know if you should give up and take a taxi, is it?

RTPI is a good thing, but the bus industry *really* has a long way to go on information provision.
 

aformeruser

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Which isn't really good enough if you're standing waiting for the last bus and want to know if you should give up and take a taxi, is it?

Even worse if it's a small operator who only run the evening services, it means you can't contact them on the phone for most of the time they are running the service.
 

Tetchytyke

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An awful lot of businesses do do exactly that. I believe it is referred to as "customer service".

And bus companies do that when there's an incentive. Arriva Durham County provided Durham University with a number for their control, including an out-of-hours mobile, which is available on the university's website, for this very reason.
 

pompeyfan

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Which isn't really good enough if you're standing waiting for the last bus and want to know if you should give up and take a taxi, is it?

RTPI is a good thing, but the bus industry *really* has a long way to go on information provision.


Agreed it's not ideal, but how do you implement it so that customer services get the bulk of enquires, but in emergency situations only someone like yourself is able to contact the depot. Presumably you have a mobile phone if you intend to ring the depot, how about googling the depot number? Either that or use directory enquiries, that said its not ideal as you'd need to know who operates the service from which depot etc.

Agreed that RTPI is steadily advancing but is nowhere near where it needs to be. That would be down solely due to money.
 
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Bletchleyite

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Agreed it's not ideal, but how do you implement it so that customer services get the bulk of enquires, but in emergency situations only someone like yourself is able to contact the depot.

One way is to have it so that customer services can, and are willing to, contact the depot when needed. Presently it is unusual for them to be able to do this, and the answers they give, even in areas where buses are known to be GPS tracked, tend to be along the lines of "well, he went out this morning and he hasn't come back".

Agreed that RTPI is steadily advancing but is nowhere near where it needs to be. That would be down solely due to money.

Indeed so, though I think it is money well spent. And it'll get cheaper over time, because the need for stop based equipment will reduce as smartphones get even more widely accepted.

It will get to the point where rather than fit RTPI to all stops, it's cheaper to give handheld mobile phone based devices (that aren't mobile phones, but use that technology[1]) to elderly/disabled people for free, and those devices simply display bus information for the nearest stop by GPS with no need to do anything other than plug it in once in a while for a charge.

[1] A "call 999" button could be a useful addition.
 

Deerfold

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Some bus companies do.

Buses outside my house had been diverted due to flooding in December. I thought I heard a bus go past my house and rang them at 8pm to ask if they were running again. I spoke to the controller at the bus station who will answer then phone until the last service has departed at after 11pm. As there's only one person there you may have to try more than once if they've left the office, but it's not bad.
 

charley_17/7

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No wonder bus usage outside London is in decline!

I remember, back in the early 90s, before internet, GPS tracking, mobile phones, etc., GM Buses had radios installed on every vehicle, with a controller at each depot, with a 24-hour staffed public enquiry line answered by Central control at Hyde Road.

Any operating incident could be managed, and often you would hear of an incident on the radio while on the bus, so knew if there was a problem 'up ahead'.

Yet nowadays, my route has GPS tracking, on-board Wi-Fi, (only recently) installed radios, etc., yet Arriva 'Customer Services' can't tell me (because they are closed!), why I've waited 50 minutes in the freezing cold for a 'up to every 15 minutes' service, with their bus tracker not showing anything other than a load of buses parked up at Old Wolverton depot!! But they've got time to put up daft pictures of seagulls and their pets on Facebook!
 
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Baxenden Bank

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If you ran a business, would you pay for someone to sit near a telephone from 4am to 1 am 7 days a week (in some cases 24 hours a day), would you pay for 2 people to do that across 2 depots and so on.

Yes, I want to keep my customers happy and still be in business in a few years time. For a small rural operator with half a dozen buses, clearly it's not realistic. But First in the Potteries operates 120 plus buses from a single depot. Tell me there is no-one at the depot or Hanley bus station control room every minute the buses are on the road.

And it's not as if you can incorporate that into anyone else's job, because if everything is running well then there's unlikely to be issues, but if the brown stuff hits the spinny thing then the controllers are going to be busy adjusting drivers, moving breaks, buses, pulling rabbits out of hats etc.

Why not? For a large operator, incidents will be happening all the time - bus, driver, passenger and traffic related. Informing customers of problems with their service is very basic customers service skills stuff.

Thankfully at my employer we have cab radios which in the main are okay, and mobile phone network is really good across most, but not all of the routes we operate. So if we have issues we can contact base, we also have Greenroad tracking as well as a system called novus tracking. However at one of our competitors on a long country route a driver broke down in the middle of nowhere, they don't have cab radios. His phone was dead. He knocked on a residents house to use their landline, he couldn't pull the number off his phone and so they had to google on the residents computer what the depot number was.

Bus tracking ought to be a basic requirement in this day and age. Making that data available to passengers is clearly a good thing. Some operators do it so it is technically feasible, just a lack of willingness from parts of an industry stuck in a customer service backwater. Drivers without their own mobile phone must be few and far between nowadays. A call to the depot (under proper non-driving conditions of course) is easy enough. Dissemination of that information through a web-site / social media is not exactly time consuming.

Finally, in response to your last point. Could you imagine if each operator did invest in a local phone operator to find out what issues there are. There'd be a relentless stream during the day of 'the 11:03 bus (which is every 7 minutes) hasn't turned up and it's 11:05, you're company is ****' - that's what regional customer services are for, they can also hook into this tracking technology, but crucially they can't say why there's an issue.

Railways seem to cope with this problem. They have staff on the ground and at most stations, they have PIS at most stations, they have their own and NR enquiry lines. You can even get data on the go through third-party suppliers (Real Time Trains etc). People only phone to complain that the bus is late if they have no information on where the bus is and know full well that it often never bothers to turn up. Deliver a reliable service, with back up delay information, and those calls would simply not occur.

If the bus runs every 7 minutes, there is no real excuse for complaining. But what if your bus runs less frequently, say every hour - what would be a reasonable time to wait before calling the bus company?

I have done the sums on cost.

First Potteries carries 12m passengers per year. 24/7/365 cover, at £10 per hour with 100% on costs = £175,200 per year. Providing a dedicated (never mind shared or existing daytime provision) would come in at 1.46p per passenger journey. Yes please, I'll pay it, from tomorrow, just don't try sidelining the money.
 
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Robertj21a

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Yes, I want to keep my customers happy and still be in business in a few years time. For a small rural operator with half a dozen buses, clearly it's not realistic. But First in the Potteries operates 120 plus buses from a single depot. Tell me there is no-one at the depot or Hanley bus station control room every minute the buses are on the road.



Why not? For a large operator, incidents will be happening all the time - bus, driver, passenger and traffic related. Informing customers of problems with their service is very basic customers service skills stuff.



Bus tracking ought to be a basic requirement in this day and age. Making that data available to passengers is clearly a good thing. Some operators do it so it is technically feasible, just a lack of willingness from parts of an industry stuck in a customer service backwater. Drivers without their own mobile phone must be few and far between nowadays. A call to the depot (under proper non-driving conditions of course) is easy enough. Dissemination of that information through a web-site / social media is not exactly time consuming.



Railways seem to cope with this problem. They have staff on the ground and at most stations, they have PIS at most stations, they have their own and NR enquiry lines. You can even get data on the go through third-party suppliers (Real Time Trains etc). People only phone to complain that the bus is late if they have no information on where the bus is and know full well that it often never bothers to turn up. Deliver a reliable service, with back up delay information, and those calls would simply not occur.

If the bus runs every 7 minutes, there is no real excuse for complaining. But what if your bus runs less frequently, say every hour - what would be a reasonable time to wait before calling the bus company?

I have done the sums on cost.

First Potteries carries 12m passengers per year. 24/7/365 cover, at £10 per hour with 100% on costs = £175,200 per year. Providing a dedicated (never mind shared or existing daytime provision) would come in at 1.46p per passenger journey. Yes please, I'll pay it, from tomorrow, just don't try sidelining the money.

Unfortunately, your example is First Potteries which is already operating at a significant loss. I doubt they will see enough benefits from your proposal. You may need to wait for another operator to take over !
 

lyndhurst25

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Just had this happen to me. I waited for 30+ minutes for the 18:10 number 500 bus from Hebden Bridge to Keighley, the last bus of the day, before ringing the WY Metro helpline. They told me that it had been cancelled but did not elaborate why. Other waiting passengers got lifts or went off in a taxi, but I took the train to Bradford, legged it from Interchange to Forster Square to make the connection, and got another train to Shipley, then yet another to Steeton. I got to my destination 90 minutes late and a bit miffed off. I've just emailed Keighley & District Buses to see what their side of the story is.
 
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