Can you take bikes on replacement buses?

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al78

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Maybe bikes should be charged for in order to cover the cost of providing for them when RRB's are operating, to expect provision to be taken out of fares is unreasonable to non cyclists.

Is carrying a bike a right or a privilege.
Speaking for myself I wouldn't object to paying a few quid to guarentee being able to bring a conventional bicycle on the train with me. I vaguely remember once I had to use a RRB but I was ok because I had my folder which was allowed to be taken on the bus. I almost never take my non-folding bike on the train so this situation is never going to happen to me, although I sympathise for those caught out by it if they weren't aware in advance. It is always a good idea to check a planned journey soon before travel to get advance warning of niggles like this.

All these people referring to problems with bikes seem to be referring to out-and-back day trips. What happens when they are taking their bikes as part of a 4-5 day break and one part is substituted by buses, or they are out and back but in, say, a week's time?. Surely, anything can happen with the various train services over a period of time and I'm struggling to see why the rail company can be expected to do anything about an item that is, presumably, travelling for free.
Isn't engineering work scheduled well in advance, so someone taking a trip for a week will be able to look on National Rail Enquiries to see if they are likely to have to use a RRB?

The scenario I can think of where it is bad luck is if there is major disruption such as a death on the line or major fault that closes a major section of line. Once when I was heading to Manchester I was on the train at Euston miunutes before departure when it was announced the train would be delayed leaving because of an incident on the line, which was later upgraded to a casualty and the train likely wouldn't be going anywhere, so go to Kings Cross and take a train to Leeds. I didn't have a full size bike then but it would have been impossible to make the trip if I had, since the trains from KC were rammed full with the now closed WCML passengers trying to go north, I only barely got on with the folder.
 
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peteb

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When you say that you've seen bikes loaded on buses dozens of times, I assume you really mean rail replacement coaches with luggage facilites, rather than ordinary service buses?
You are correct, the vehicles had luggage lockers under the passenger saloon. We rarely see what you might term a conventional bus running a rail replacement service. And I can't imagine where a bike would go on a single or double decker bus!
 

Robertj21a

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You are correct, the vehicles had luggage lockers under the passenger saloon. We rarely see what you might term a conventional bus running a rail replacement service. And I can't imagine where a bike would go on a single or double decker bus!
That's precisely what should be happening. The law now requires fully accessible vehicles to be used and at present these will generally be 2nd hand (usually ex-National Express/Megabus) coaches that have luggage compartments underneath. We just need many more of them!
 

richw

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Correct, accessible vehicle (one that meets the PSVAR conditions). I emphasised coaches as they will usually have the luggage compartments underneath whereas buses (double deck or single deck) would not normally be equipped to carry bikes or carry lots of luggage.
For another discussion I imagine, but the downfall of psvar is unsuitable vehicles appearing in long distance rail replacement. I was on rail replacement last weekend, running in a pair with a stagecoach enviro 200. I had a psvar plaxton profile coach with full wheelchair lift. The stagecoach bus couldn’t cope with the quantity of suitcases or keep to timetable. It would have been far more suitable and comfortable for the passengers to have had a non psvar coach in a pair with my psvar coach.
saying that, my lift requires a wide pavement on level ground. It’s useless as psvar on a slope or narrow pavement
 

Robertj21a

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For another discussion I imagine, but the downfall of psvar is unsuitable vehicles appearing in long distance rail replacement. I was on rail replacement last weekend, running in a pair with a stagecoach enviro 200. I had a psvar plaxton profile coach with full wheelchair lift. The stagecoach bus couldn’t cope with the quantity of suitcases or keep to timetable. It would have been far more suitable and comfortable for the passengers to have had a non psvar coach in a pair with my psvar coach.
saying that, my lift requires a wide pavement on level ground. It’s useless as psvar on a slope or narrow pavement
Yes, similar comments have been made before. None of it is really ideal - but it's certainly better for the disabled than what existed previously.
 

Wolfie

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Who said anything about the top? US/Canadian bike racks are fitted to the front... [Edit: in fairness, Cycling UK do say that as a result of differing legislation, some fittings acceptable in the US would be illegal in the UK.]


Nothing else is going to work, or we don't want to make anything else work? There are numerous possibilities raised on this thread that could work in the right circumstances.

I agree there is no good reason for "ordinary" bus companies to modify vehicles "just in case". But where companies work extensively, week in, week out on rail replacement, it may be worth investigating making provision on a couple of vehicles in the fleet that could then be used on specified, labelled workings, only for holders of bicycles holding a reservation (for example). If such a thing exists, make it removable, or removable in conjunction with the sort of removable seating that we now see on coaches to make space for wheelchair users in an otherwise fully-seated vehicle.

As I said... reasonable adjustment is all that would be necessary. Reasonable on the part of the rail companies to consider provision in some way rather than just folding arms and saying no, reasonable on the part of the cyclist to be prepared to make changes or wait for a suitable vehicle rather than remonstrating with staff, reasonable on the part of the RRB driver to assist both parties in making that happen.
I'm assuming that US style bike racks on buses are banned in the UK for the same reason that most car bonnet mounted items were banned, namely the potential damage to pedestrians in the event of a collision.
 

philthetube

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I used to drive rrb services with coaches and I would never accept a bike for three reasons.

1) My employer told me not to.
2) have you tried lifting a bike and loading it horizontally under a coach, really not easy to do in a way which is not risky for your back, I was once at Hitchin doing east coast replacements and a young lady had a go at a driver because he agreed to carry her bike only if she loaded it.
3)there is a risk of damage to the bike if other luggage is also in the hold, and iven if no luggage there is nothing to prevent the bike from sliding round in the boot.

Coaches are not designed for bikes, nor are transits unless kit out for it, and so they should never be carried.

There is an argument for them where the RRB service is an emergency one, but even then practicality is relevant.
 

richw

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have you tried lifting a bike and loading it horizontally under a coach, really not easy to do in a way which is not risky for your back, I was once at Hitchin doing east coast replacements and a young lady had a go at a driver because he agreed to carry her bike only if she loaded it.
Current ruling on rail replacement is drivers are not allowed to touch any luggage. All luggage needs to be loaded by the passenger themselves
 

duncombec

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[...] And I can't imagine where a bike would go on a single or double decker bus!
See Go North East: in the/an offside tip-up areas, with a small rack for 2?) bikes, not that unlike the train. Certainly this is what I was thinking of with my version above.
[...] It would have been far more suitable and comfortable for the passengers to have had a non psvar coach in a pair with my psvar coach.
Hard to disagree with you there! Again, this is similar to what I was suggesting above - in the same way that it would be theoretically possible for the RRB timetable to be marked which coaches were PSVAR and which weren't (in similar fashion to what was done for regular service runs for years), you could easily mark out which vehicles could or could not accept "other items".
I used to drive rrb services with coaches and I would never accept a bike for three reasons.

1) My employer told me not to.
2) have you tried lifting a bike and loading it horizontally under a coach, really not easy to do in a way which is not risky for your back, I was once at Hitchin doing east coast replacements and a young lady had a go at a driver because he agreed to carry her bike only if she loaded it.
3)there is a risk of damage to the bike if other luggage is also in the hold, and iven if no luggage there is nothing to prevent the bike from sliding round in the boot.

Coaches are not designed for bikes, nor are transits unless kit out for it, and so they should never be carried.

There is an argument for them where the RRB service is an emergency one, but even then practicality is relevant.
Obviously cannot dispute your experiences as a driver, nor would I try to. Of course, if your employer told you not to (presumably under direction from the rail company as contractor), then you shouldn't.

However, I used to travel into London by commuter coach, and we had regular cycle commuters who would load non-folding bikes onto the coach. They had to do it themselves (and many preferred it, so they could manhandle their bike as they saw fit), but had to be supervised, primarily so they didn't hit their heads on the way back out. It's awkward at first, but once you get used to it, no real difference to anything else. Certainly more stable than loading it onto those double-deck cycle racks with pull-out bars, from what I've seen!

Although we carried almost no other luggage, which is a fair consideration, we found bikes moved around less than you'd think - certainly less than a lone suitcase or two. Perhaps the rubber of strapping on the handlebars seems to help?
Current ruling on rail replacement is drivers are not allowed to touch any luggage. All luggage needs to be loaded by the passenger themselves
Which makes sense, both for the driver's benefit and to avoid claims of "it went missing, it got broken, etc., especially where Rail Replacement is not a usual part of work. I would expect it to be quite different if a tour driver.

I have to keep coming back to the point I have made throughout: It isn't possible in all circumstances and indeed wouldn't be in future. There have to be different considerations for scheduled versus emergency work, and indeed depending on location and viability of provision. However, I fear we are too into blanket "can't" (won't?) rather than considering what might be reasonably possible if we thought about it. As suggested above (Bletchleyite?), it need not even be a particular vehicle - it could be a van (or car, post-covid?) with a bike rack fitted placed on standby at (a) convenient location(s).
After all, before PSVAR came into being (not into force), many Rail Replacement vehicles were inaccessible for many categories of mobility impaired, and anyone suggesting universal availability of suitably adapted vehicles would have been similarly brushed off, despite that fact there is nothing "voluntary" about mobility impairment as there is with a bicycle or pram.
 

richw

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Is this a covid rule or a general one?
Not sure. Received the instruction from several different controllers on each rail I’ve done recently. I’d never done rail pre-covid to make comparison only moved to coaching side of company in summer 2020
 

unlevel42

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Please do not bring Disability in to support the view that bikes should be catered for on replacement transport.

There are already plans in place that enable people with disability to access rail travel which includes Rail Replacement travel by appropriate means.
 

Robertj21a

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See Go North East: in the/an offside tip-up areas, with a small rack for 2?) bikes, not that unlike the train. Certainly this is what I was thinking of with my version above.

Hard to disagree with you there! Again, this is similar to what I was suggesting above - in the same way that it would be theoretically possible for the RRB timetable to be marked which coaches were PSVAR and which weren't (in similar fashion to what was done for regular service runs for years), you could easily mark out which vehicles could or could not accept "other items".

Obviously cannot dispute your experiences as a driver, nor would I try to. Of course, if your employer told you not to (presumably under direction from the rail company as contractor), then you shouldn't.

However, I used to travel into London by commuter coach, and we had regular cycle commuters who would load non-folding bikes onto the coach. They had to do it themselves (and many preferred it, so they could manhandle their bike as they saw fit), but had to be supervised, primarily so they didn't hit their heads on the way back out. It's awkward at first, but once you get used to it, no real difference to anything else. Certainly more stable than loading it onto those double-deck cycle racks with pull-out bars, from what I've seen!

Although we carried almost no other luggage, which is a fair consideration, we found bikes moved around less than you'd think - certainly less than a lone suitcase or two. Perhaps the rubber of strapping on the handlebars seems to help?

Which makes sense, both for the driver's benefit and to avoid claims of "it went missing, it got broken, etc., especially where Rail Replacement is not a usual part of work. I would expect it to be quite different if a tour driver.

I have to keep coming back to the point I have made throughout: It isn't possible in all circumstances and indeed wouldn't be in future. There have to be different considerations for scheduled versus emergency work, and indeed depending on location and viability of provision. However, I fear we are too into blanket "can't" (won't?) rather than considering what might be reasonably possible if we thought about it. As suggested above (Bletchleyite?), it need not even be a particular vehicle - it could be a van (or car, post-covid?) with a bike rack fitted placed on standby at (a) convenient location(s).
After all, before PSVAR came into being (not into force), many Rail Replacement vehicles were inaccessible for many categories of mobility impaired, and anyone suggesting universal availability of suitably adapted vehicles would have been similarly brushed off, despite that fact there is nothing "voluntary" about mobility impairment as there is with a bicycle or pram.
It needs to be said that this is really an issue for the Rail authorities to sort out. Most bus/coach operators aren't going to be too bothered about doing rail replacement work and may be fairly ambivalent about the whole issue. They're unlikely to see much benefit in modifying buses or coaches for just the occasional bike and, in any event, accessible coaches should now be used on much of the pre-planned rail replacement work.
The rail replacement organisers need to pay more attention to the vehicles they're hiring, check what facilities are included - and pay higher rates to improve the spec if necessary.
 

221129

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Given that it is still often hard enough as it is to get PSVAR spec vehicles for emergency or big RR jobs I doubt anyone is really going to fork out the cash for bikes that they don't even have to accept as it is. Much easier (even though it would be a PR disaster) to ban bikes completely.
 

Bletchleyite

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For another discussion I imagine, but the downfall of psvar is unsuitable vehicles appearing in long distance rail replacement. I was on rail replacement last weekend, running in a pair with a stagecoach enviro 200. I had a psvar plaxton profile coach with full wheelchair lift. The stagecoach bus couldn’t cope with the quantity of suitcases or keep to timetable. It would have been far more suitable and comfortable for the passengers to have had a non psvar coach in a pair with my psvar coach.
saying that, my lift requires a wide pavement on level ground. It’s useless as psvar on a slope or narrow pavement

Given that RRBs usually involve a small fleet of buses, and given that trains typically only have one or two wheelchair spaces, I think the law is deficient on this one and should simply require at least one vehicle scheduled on each departure time to be accessible, not all of them. Then you could use a low floor bus plus two coaches, say, which would offer both accessibility, comfort and toilet facilities.

My view is the same for scheduled coach services. As long as the main "service car" is accessible, duplicates should be able to be inaccessible. Because really, having 3 buses operate a scheduled service is no different from having those 3 vehicles joined together (as a train), and if it's a train you only require wheelchair spaces in one vehicle.
 

Robertj21a

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Given that it is still often hard enough as it is to get PSVAR spec vehicles for emergency or big RR jobs I doubt anyone is really going to fork out the cash for bikes that they don't even have to accept as it is. Much easier (even though it would be a PR disaster) to ban bikes completely.
Very true. I've suggested before that only bikes that can be folded down should be accepted on any rail replacement vehicle.
 

Dr_Paul

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The South-Western Railway website lead page on engineering work states clearly: 'Unfortunately there’s no room on replacement buses or taxis to carry prams and pushchairs that do not fold, cycles, animals (with the exception of assistance dogs) or bulky luggage. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.' I've also seen this warning on billboards at stations. It appears that those foldaway mini-bikes are not covered by these criteria, although I suspect that in practice it's possible that they'd be permitted at the driver's discretion. As for full-size bikes, it would be quite a job to get one on to a bus in the first place, and would be pretty inconvenient for other passengers should one actually be got on board.
 

jon0844

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Sort of on topic: during the pandemic some TOCs lifted restrictions on non folding bikes for regular train services - and bike usage has exploded (no doubt by people wanting to avoid buses, tubes etc in London) and I believe the restrictions are now back in place.

I wonder how people who have got used to taking their full size bike on a train in the peaks (wherever restrictions previously applied) will react to that.

A folder is definitely a worthy investment for commuters, so none of these restrictions will apply.
 

Bletchleyite

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The usual trick for those not fancying a Brompton (personally I'm rather too big for one even with the extending seatpost, which also makes it not fold as small) is to keep a cheapish second bike at the station in London. There are racks and racks of them at Marylebone, for example.
 

F262YTJ

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Back at the beginning of 2017 when the Birkenhead North/Central to Liverpool bit of the Merseyrail Wirral line was closed and a large fleet of new double deckers was provided by Arriva to replace the trains, an old Volvo B10B single decker was specially converted as a bike bus, ran on an hourly frequency from memory.....
I drove that several times doing reliefs and covering days off. Slabtrack was a brilliant project.

The bus was a Wright Endurance bodied Volvo B10B which in its service days was 6514. It was transferred to the driving school in 2010 and renumbered 8214.
Merseyrail and Network Rail requested a facility from Arriva to carry bikes under the Mersey and the solution was to convert this bus. If my memory serves me right it could carry up to 8 bikes and seat their riders at the rear of the bus.

When it wasn't available a Vauxhall Vivaro 6 seat minibus was used with a specially made Ivor Williams trailer hooked up behind.

Later a Plaxton President DAF DB250 was used with padding and anchor points fired but retaining all of its seats.
 

Bletchleyite

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I drove that several times doing reliefs and covering days off. Slabtrack was a brilliant project.

The bus was a Wright Endurance bodied Volvo B10B which in its service days was 6514. It was transferred to the driving school in 2010 and renumbered 8214.
Merseyrail and Network Rail requested a facility from Arriva to carry bikes under the Mersey and the solution was to convert this bus. If my memory serves me right it could carry up to 8 bikes and seat their riders at the rear of the bus.

When it wasn't available a Vauxhall Vivaro 6 seat minibus was used with a made Ivor Williams trailer hooked up behind.

Later a Plaxton President DAF DB250 was used with padding and anchor points fired but retaining all of its seats.

I suppose that would be all the more of an issue because the cycle route avoiding using Merseyrail involves a very long detour - they're not even allowed over Runcorn now, are they? (Might be wrong on that though.) Do the Mersey Ferries take bikes?
 

F262YTJ

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Yes, Bletchleyite. It took a route from Birkenhead Hamilton Square station to Moorfields station in Liverpool parking on Tithebarn St outside the former Liverpool Exchange station across the road. It was a direct route and were expected to ride to the bus themselves and were not permitted to use any other rail replacement buses.
 

RJ

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To get an answer to the original question, check what the TOC website says about bikes on rail replacement buses.

In and around London, normal service spec buses are used for rail replacement. As far as I know, all the TOCs around London officially advise that bikes are not permitted on rail replacement buses. That doesn't stop people turning up and expecting their bike to be carried.

If TOCs do want bikes carried and it's clear that sometimes some station staff and control room staff would like this to be case, that should be instructed to bus companies formally and an agreement made that allows for the safe and secure carriage of the bikes, so you don't have them rolling around and toppling over while the bus is moving and taking up space a wheelchair user may need. As a TOC employee I wouldn't approve of someone pressuring a bus driver to take on that risk, especially as it is publicised that bikes are prohibited.

As for PSVAR, it has glaring weaknesses. It has rendered a lot of wheelchair accessible buses unable to work on rail replacement. Many, many rail replacement buses have a PSVAR certificate, but are not PSVAR compliant when operating on rail replacement. It seems parts of the legislation are very much optional to adhere to.
 
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Robertj21a

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Can you clarify your comments about how a PSVAR compliant bus is not compliant when on rail replacements?. Something doesn't sound correct. Thanks.
 

lincolnshire

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In the "good old days" when travelling long distances with the bike (holiday/Uni) I used to dismantle the bike and wrap it up.
This would protect the bike and other train users and get the bike on the train even if there were bikes on already.
When the HST going south stopped at Chathill the three cyclists(reserved) were not allowed on because the luggage bit of the train was not at the platform and he was no longer allowed to pull the train forward. He let me on to the busy train. Presumably they cycled up to Berwick.

If taking the bike with you is essential because of a holiday/moving house, then think of the bike as luggage and plan ahead eg avoid when engineering work is common eg Sundays and Bank Holiday weekends.
If there is a crisis think yourself lucky- you won't have to walk.
Above all, don't rely on the goodwill of the railway to allow cycling to be part of your commute.

Taking your bike on the train is not "normal" in the UK and the carriage of which is covered by regulation.
Simply put, you may only take a bike on a train if you can satisfy certain conditions and subject to the decision of local staff/guard and facilities are available.
Clearly the Replacement transport does not have the ability to convey bicycles and very importantly staff and the other passengers and their possessions are not adequately protected and insured.

Luggage including suitcases have regulation on size number and weight which could result in them not being carried on Replacement transport.
Your train ticket covers you for a set amount of luggage that you can take with you just like on an airline after the set amount it becomes charge for as excess luggage. Its not enforced much these days going by the amount some passengers seem to have at times.

You are correct, the vehicles had luggage lockers under the passenger saloon. We rarely see what you might term a conventional bus running a rail replacement service. And I can't imagine where a bike would go on a single or double decker bus!
At this present time you will find that often there is more double decker service buses running on rail replacement on some routes so to be able to accommodate the amount of passengers to be socially distanced due to COVID 19.
 
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185

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Not always a blunt "No". Usually staff giving an answer like this fall into conflict with passengers.

Often, there are alternative routes available, with trains running. Having two wheels gives someone the opportunity to head for a different line where trains are running.

Also, as mentioned above, all depends on the type of vehicle used - certainly not on a stage carriage bus... but from a coach drivers perspective, they still don't have to carry it, however this often depends if people ask nicely / offer bribes.
 

Rail Blues

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Yes, of course it is so strange, I can't believe that most people would think otherwise. You're harking back to many decades ago if you want to have a luggage van area on each train. Most of us have moved on somewhat since those days.
You can find a rack on the front (or back) of some buses in the US, and at least NZ, but I've only seen them used for pushchairs/buggies. I guess they could take 1 bicycle - what do they do if two people are cycling together?
The buses I saw in Portland Oregon took about four or five bikes at the front of the bud, although I wouldn't fancy my chances of the bus ploughed into me as a pedestrian, the bike rack looked pretty sturdy.
 

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