First's 'ftr' Visits York

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yorkie

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From the Yorkshire Evening Press:-
The shape of bus travel to come
by Evening Press reporter

A space-age street car, which is to become the face of public transport in York, wowed future users when it went on show in the heart of the city.

As Royal Ascot punters, visitors and residents gathered in St Helen's Square, the "ftr" - a cross between a bus and a tram - was parked there for all to see.

Peter Edwards, commercial director of First York, said he hoped the innovative vehicle would catch the attention of the Duke of York as he left the Mansion House following the Community Pride Awards on Thursday.

"It is an opportunity to raise awareness of the fact we have the ftr for York," he said.

"We got the authority to go down Blake Street and up to St Helen's Square and we had already tried the route with one of our bendy buses.

"This is the very first in the world. This is the prototype, taking all that is good about public transport."

York is one of three cities in the country to be chosen to launch the ftr, which First says will boast real-time journey information for passengers, more space, a climate-controlled interior and more comfortable travel.

"We told His Royal Highness about the Streetcar and the innovation it represented. He seemed very interested in what we are trying to achieve," said Mr Edwards.

Eleven of the buses will arrive in January 2006, to operate Service 4 serving Dringhouses and Acomb.
What do you think?
 
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Lewisham2221

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Hmm, still a tad confused by this...

Is it simply a double ended, bendi-bus with a body that resembles a tram? If so, whats the big deal? Seems like a way for First to make a big fuss about nothing in the aim to look good.

Or am I missing something here?
 

yorkie

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http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/search/display.var.1037165.0.makeover_on_the_buses.php

All 12 of the city's fleet of purple bendy buses will be driven off to Leeds where engineers will put the finishing touches to the vehicles.

Most of the changes are technical, involving on-board electronics and pipe work, and are designed to make the buses more "robust in service".

First commercial director Peter Edwards, said: "These buses were a new development, and during the course of the buses' service the manufacturers have identified various jobs they want to do across the fleet.

"They got those jobs together into a list and set aside time to do a concerted campaign'.

"A lot of the changes will be invisible, under the hood - technical alterations to make the vehicles more robust in service. None are safety critical."

The buses will each spend a week in Leeds for the engineering work. They will go one after the other, and James Street-based First has drafted in an extra bus from Leeds to keep the York fleet at full strength.

The rolling programme of work started two weeks ago, and is set to take another two months.

Mr Edwards said: "There are 12 ftr buses in York, of which we require 11 on a daily basis, with one spare. We now have an extra bus from Leeds while the York buses go backwards and forwards for the next eight weeks."
The comments aren't too complimentary!

Personally, having travelled on one only twice, I find them more comfortable than a 'normal' bus, and quicker (the off-peak timetable is too slow; they wait around for ages due to being early!).

However I do have concerns about the safety of cyclists and even pedestrians on the pavement, as the drivers must have to be extremely careful with regard to the positioning of the rear of the vehicle.

The idea that they are nearly as good as a tram is certainly false.
 

Max

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EYMS have been investing heavily in buses from Wright Buses of late and I have to say I think they are very nicely built - well lit, comfy interiors and gadgets for the driver such as cameras throughout the bus (very useful for keeping an eye on rowdy kids upstairs etc as you can view from several different angles and distances). We have just got a new fleet of single decker Wright Buses for my local service 115 and they are so much nicer than the old ones!

However, those street car things, whilst looking very cool, look ridiculously big. I can see where you (Yorkie) and others are coming from with respect to pedestrian and cyclist safety, as it must be very difficult for the driver to judge corners and you must need a good spacial awareness when overtaking cyclists.

I don't understand the comments about the ticket machines. Surely they have ticket machines consistent to the rest of the First fleet in York? (It always makes me laugh that we have just got a load of brand spanking new buses for Stagecoach in Hull yet they are still fitted with ancient ticket machines :lol:)
 

Mojo

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I don't understand the comments about the ticket machines. Surely they have ticket machines consistent to the rest of the First fleet in York?

Nope, they have self-service touchscreen ticket machines rather than driver-operated ones - they have been notorious for freezing and being slow - they also don't take 1p,2p,5p coins - and don't give change (I dont think ANY bus should give change though - but that's my opinion).

The idea that they are nearly as good as a tram is certainly false.

Indeed, not everyone is stupid to realise that it's a tram. The day a bus service is consistently reliable with modern, comfortable and quiet vehicles and provides value for money (not something cheap) - the day more people might use 'em.
 

tramboy

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Good afternoon all, and a Happy Easter.

In one of my first posts on here for ages, I'd like, if I can, to take a quick survey of the ftr concept, and where people think it's going right/wrong, and what should be done about it! (nb opinions where it should be scrapped are a bit off...I doubt First will scrap several £315,000 vehicles!)

If you're unsure what ftr is... www.goftr.com should get you on the right track.

Personally, I think it's good, and has promise if used right, but would like a few opinions from others!

Cheers

Dave
 

Kris

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I think something like this could be used on old trackbeds (after they've been tarmaced of course). I know many like myself would prefer to see the tracks re-laid but it ain't gonna happen in this 4th World country.

A dedicated route could be used at high speed and feed into local stations. It could also be used by emergency services.

Mnay larger towns were cut off by Beeching and down here this could particularly join up Wimborne, Ringwood and Salisbury with Poole and Bournemouth.

For example - if I now want to go 27 miles to Salisbury by train - it takes approximately 2 hours if Frustrated Grunt Firstborn are on time via Southampton.

That's why everyone drives :roll:
 

Lewisham2221

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It's a bendi-bus.

Sheffield and Cannock had them in the 80's.
Manchester, Birmingham etc. have had them since the 90's.
London also has them.

Therefore it only has as much 'promise' as any other bendi-bus scheme IMO.
However, if all the stupid First Group marketing piffle gets people all excited about wanting to travel by bus, by all means let them get carried away.

For a bendi-bus scheme to have any sort of real advantage it really needs to have some form of cashless/self-service system in board, as indeed the ftr does, and London's bendies do. However, for that to be successfull in itself, it needs to be properly enforced with regular revenue protection patrols, something which all too often isn't done.
 

Andy

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They are rubbish!!! U don't have to live on the route they run on. They are loud and smell of gass. The screens are run using Windows XP and don't work.


They are the worst thing to come to York since GNER!
 

Mojo

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People aren't stupid. It's a bus with bits of plastic over the wheels and a curved front so it vaguely resembles a tram.

It should certaintly be welcomed on corridors that don't quite need a tram or similar, however, IMO it is no alternative for a proper rail system to move many people quickly and efficently.

Ftr boarding times are also rather problematic. On bus vending machines are very slow from what I've heard - and the choice to use barcodes seems strange, not only because they tend to be slower, but because on some other routes in York they've introduced Smartcards.
 

Andy

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I've heard that they are covered in gashes and dents from hitting buildings in the narrow streets. Is this true?


I can say that there are dents in the busses but i don't think that is is from buildings are the streets are not that narrow. the ones that are the paths keep them well out of the way of buildings.

I can say that one was nearly ritten off on the first day of use dut to hitting something.

to me they are a very big wast out good money.
 

compsci

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There are some streets in Cambridge which are used by buses which are so narrow that any form of bendy bus would get stuck. There is even talk of some sort of automatic driving system controlled by road markings to prevent the common occurrence of buses fouling the pavement.
 

mbonwick

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That just wouldn't work: the situation that springs t mind is if the markings are for some reason, not visible or existent.
 

Nick

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I think the general idea seems to be similar to Fast Track in Kent, the benefit of a fast frequent service as with trams but at a fraction of the cost. Th eproblem is however it still uses a roadway and therefore like normal buses will be held up by traffic and so forth. Agreeing with what others have said, bar improved frequency some fancy stops I see little different to what buses it replaced?
 

tramboy

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Hands up if you have travelled on one?

I suggest going to try one first (no pun intended) as all those opinions were mine until I went to York to sample the concept. I agree that it has its flaws, and four things that really need addressing...
1: The Route. Shouldn't have been launched on an estate route in York, and may therefore find more success on an urban route in Leeds.
2: The Vehicles. Bit rattly, and I agree that the information needs looking at...19004 crashed the Windows system at the same place inbound and outbound to Acomb with "no signal".
3: Passenger information. On stop needs to be better, as well as having larger maps on the vehicles themselves.
4: Ticketing. The major flaw that hasn't been worked out. Needs to head to more like the continental system, with validators, onstop machines and on vehicle machines. If conductors are being used, you should be allowed to board by all doors, and like trams, get tickets sorted out on the move, not holding up queuing for a complex barcoded machine.

I like the concept...it replaces Eclipse Urbans with air conditioned, bright, spacious vehicles (well, as long as you're not sat over a wheelarch) and hopefully as it develops will improve.

Cheers

Dave
 

1D53

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1: The Route. Shouldn't have been launched on an estate route in York, and may therefore find more success on an urban route in Leeds.

In Leeds they've launched on a cross city route. Starting and ending in a rough estate with the town centre in the middle.
 

Russ

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I live in Leeds and tried the ftr bus as it passed not to far from where i live in Seacroft, i was quite dissapointed in them as i expected a state of the art bus only to get a modified bendy bus with route screens that dont work half the time. I could have spent £300.000 better myself:banghead:

As JST said whinmoor and pudsey arn't the best places to try new buses

Russ
 

Tom B

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It's a stupid idea. Sorry, but the money could have been much better spent replacing some of the crap that First think are alright to run in service. Is your bus secondhand, rattles like hell, graffiti everywhere, litter all over the floor, not low floor? Never mind - they have some tarted up bendies in York!
 

Nick W

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That just wouldn't work: the situation that springs t mind is if the markings are for some reason, not visible or existent.

The channel tunnel guided road way works with embedded beacons.


Anyway if ftr is the "future" of public transport then we haven't got much to look forward to.

Ticketing. The major flaw that hasn't been worked out. Needs to head to more like the continental system, with validators, onstop machines and on vehicle machines. If conductors are being used, you should be allowed to board by all doors, and like trams, get tickets sorted out on the move, not holding up queuing for a complex barcoded machine.

Yes I like the idea of buying tickets from places like newsagents and small kiosks and then just getting on any part of the bus.

Reminds of me Italy, buy one cheap ticket for unlimited travel for a time period. There were trams and busses to choose from and the new metro. The busses had 4 doors for quick loading and were low floor but not bendy or double decker. It was quite amusing that they had pantographs.
 

Z12XE

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The channel tunnel guided road way works with embedded beacons.

The one which was proposed a while back for Cambridge wasnt that advanced. Their idea was white lines and camera on the buses which would see and follow them.


Cue the students and a tin of paint..........
 

ChrisCooper

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The Channel Tunnel uses wires. These are fairly easy and cheap, since wiring isn't that expensive, and they don't need to be that deep (basically, you just need to scratch the surface, lay the wire, and put some tar over the top, like they do with detector wires for traffic lights). Put AC current through a wire and it emits a signal that can easily be detected. AFAIK they have a safety system that if the signal is lost, or the vehicle deviates too much, it will apply the brakes and warn the driver, who can then take over manually at reduced speed.
 

Nick W

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The Channel Tunnel uses wires. These are fairly easy and cheap, since wiring isn't that expensive, and they don't need to be that deep (basically, you just need to scratch the surface, lay the wire, and put some tar over the top, like they do with detector wires for traffic lights). Put AC current through a wire and it emits a signal that can easily be detected. AFAIK they have a safety system that if the signal is lost, or the vehicle deviates too much, it will apply the brakes and warn the driver, who can then take over manually at reduced speed.

While that does sound cheap than guided busway, is the devise on board the busses much more expensive?
 

ChrisCooper

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It would be, afterall a guided busway just has a pair of extra wheels linked to the steering system, wheras a wire guided system needs both the sensors, and also some way for the guidence system to steer the bus, although it could use the existing power steering servos. It's not going to be terribly expensive though, I'm sure under £1000 per bus at most, and since a new bus costs 100 times that amount, it's not a significant expense. Oviously though, any guided bus system is likely to be on a reserved section, which will have to be built anyway, so the expense will be not so different anyway. The real benefit a wire guided system has over a conventional system though is that with the latter, if a vehicle is stopped for whatever reason on the guideway (breakdown or other incident that prevents it from continuing), the entire service comes to a stop, wheras in the same situation with wire guidance, following vehicles can come off the guidance system and overtake before rejoining. Oviously, this would require the guideway to be "double track" with nothing between the "tracks" preventing a vehicle from crossing over, and also the formation to be wide enough for a bus to safely carry out the manouver (buses have considerable overhang at the front and rear which could be a problem), and really would require traffic to be stopped the other way for it to be done safely. Of cource also, despite both being developed around the same time, the wire guided system seems far more modern, which tends to count for a lot these days (at least for those involved in the project, if not the actual users, who probably wouldn't notice anyway).
 

ChrisCooper

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The problem with tram systems though is that they are very expensive and disruptive to develop, inflexable, noisy and don't really provide any better environment than a contemporary bus. The only real advantages trams have is that they can run at high speed over quite direct routes, often old heavy rail formations, in the subburbs, yet still get right into the centres, so in that respect they combine the best of heavy rail and buses. Then again, good interchange between heavy rail and buses could provide similar benefits. Infact, better integration of transport in city centres is really needed. Many cities would benefit from a fast, frequent and cheap (if not free, but at least flat fare, and with through ticketing) bus service linking the station or stations and the city centre.
 

Mojo

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The problem with tram systems though is that they are very expensive and disruptive to develop, inflexable, noisy and don't really provide any better environment than a contemporary bus. The only real advantages trams have is that they can run at high speed over quite direct routes, often old heavy rail formations, in the subburbs, yet still get right into the centres, so in that respect they combine the best of heavy rail and buses. Then again, good interchange between heavy rail and buses could provide similar benefits. Infact, better integration of transport in city centres is really needed. Many cities would benefit from a fast, frequent and cheap (if not free, but at least flat fare, and with through ticketing) bus service linking the station or stations and the city centre.

Trams are certaintly expensive. But in the long term, Light Rail schemes represent better value for money compared to bus schemes.

I've seen a few tram schemes, I certaintly wouldn't say they're noisy, IME buses, particularly some modern ones make a right howl when they pull away, compared to the electric motor sound you get on Trams.

Buses also suffer from a very poor image, search the internet or read a local newspaper, and you're bound to come across a horror story of someone waiting in the rain for an hour for a bus. Seeing 3 buses in a row proudly proclaiming 'Every 12 minutes' (as I frequently do), seeeing people standing on packed buses, buses sitting for ages at stops whilst the driver messes about with handling cash transactions, and vandalised buses and bus stops also acts to a negative image.
 
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