Passenger services changing to restricted S routes

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d9016

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In my area there have recently been split services with normal routes running (123) and extra (123S) services for school only to reduce school passengers mixing with regular passengers due to restricted occupancy (although in practice it ended up with all the school students on the normal service leaving the school only bus empty and everyone stranded. This system seems to have been abandoned by some operators in my area as buses can carry passengers on all forward facing seats now.

However as I have experienced today that after waiting for a service (using 123 as an example) a bus arrived on stand the destination was then set as "Example 123" (normal public), but when a group of 5/6 school kids pushed their way to the front of the queue the display was quickly changed to "Example 123S" (school students only written underneath instead of via location). I noticed the same also happening with other routes. This left multiple people waiting a further 20 minutes. However, there is nothing showing on the timetable as it being a school only service and there is also a school service "Example 923" that runs along the same route as this one.

Is this a permanent thing now and why has this been introduced? I don't want to end up being fined for being late to an appointment if two buses in a row end up as S restricted.
 
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GusB

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In my area there have recently been split services with normal routes running (123) and extra (123S) services for school only to reduce school passengers mixing with regular passengers due to restricted occupancy (although in practice it ended up with all the school students on the normal service leaving the school only bus empty and everyone stranded. This system seems to have been abandoned by some operators in my area as buses can carry passengers on all forward facing seats now.

However as I have experienced today that after waiting for a service (using 123 as an example) a bus arrived on stand the destination was then set as "Example 123" (normal public), but when a group of 5/6 school kids pushed their way to the front of the queue the display was quickly changed to "Example 123S" (school students only written underneath instead of via location). I noticed the same also happening with other routes. This left multiple people waiting a further 20 minutes. However, there is nothing showing on the timetable as it being a school only service and there is also a school service "Example 923" that runs along the same route as this one.

Is this a permanent thing now and why has this been introduced? I don't want to end up being fined for being late to an appointment if two buses in a row end up as S restricted.
Which company?
 

markymark2000

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In my area there have recently been split services with normal routes running (123) and extra (123S) services for school only to reduce school passengers mixing with regular passengers due to restricted occupancy (although in practice it ended up with all the school students on the normal service leaving the school only bus empty and everyone stranded. This system seems to have been abandoned by some operators in my area as buses can carry passengers on all forward facing seats now.

However as I have experienced today that after waiting for a service (using 123 as an example) a bus arrived on stand the destination was then set as "Example 123" (normal public), but when a group of 5/6 school kids pushed their way to the front of the queue the display was quickly changed to "Example 123S" (school students only written underneath instead of via location). I noticed the same also happening with other routes. This left multiple people waiting a further 20 minutes. However, there is nothing showing on the timetable as it being a school only service and there is also a school service "Example 923" that runs along the same route as this one.

Is this a permanent thing now and why has this been introduced? I don't want to end up being fined for being late to an appointment if two buses in a row end up as S restricted.
There has been a lot of instances of services being closed to normal passengers. Wales has been the worst for it and I believe still is bad for it because rather than running extras as happened elsewhere, the tendered routes which carried school kids simply became school only buses leaving the general public with less buses to use, sometimes with no alternative. As an example P&O Lloyds route 8. the 07:45 trip is marked as School Days Only but not 'School Pupils Only'. I opted to head out for this bus one day and the driver said school kids only. I asked if another bus was coming and I was given the wrong information saying Arriva was duping it for normal people (I knew this was wrong instantly). I then rang the depot to ask for an update and was told 'yeah, its school kids only that one. Your next bus is 9am'. Yeah, great. Just what I wanted to hear, I'll find another bus then thanks.

I think the key issue is some councils/PTEs are trying to minimise costs while keeping everyone safe and also taking into account local PSVAR resources, it's sometimes easier to bite the bullet, take a bus off a normal route and make the trip school kids only.
 

d9016

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There are other services running contracted school services and the passenger number restrictions have mostly have been lifted (signs show all forward seats now in use). There was also not too many waiting for the first one, in fact there ended up being more on the second than there would have been on the one 20 minutes earlier if the normal passengers would have been permitted on. It seems the moment there are school kids waiting in the bus station it must immediately turn in to a school service. Although I might not want to ride the same bus as anyone from a particular school due to events which occurred in the past, I would rather be able to get to where I need to be and just sit in a location away from them.
 

duncombec

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I'm a little confused by the original story, but I think it's just unclear telling. As I understand it, all journeys still have to be registered with the Traffic Commissioners as normal, specifying which journeys are scholar restricted and which are duplicated. As such, it wouldn't be possible (at least in theory) for a driver to just "decide" to change his bus to scholars only. Could it have been that he was still displaying the inward destination, or that he had put up the normal destination but then checked on seeing scholars and realised he should be on the scholar only journey? Perhaps the bus you saw was a scholar duplicate, and the service bus was delayed for whatever reason? As we are coming close to the end of the school term, perhaps it was a one day running board to cover an early closure? However, without knowing which company and service (is there any reason for not specifying even the vague area?) it is hard to know for certain.

There has been a lot of instances of services being closed to normal passengers. Wales has been the worst for it and I believe still is bad for it because rather than running extras as happened elsewhere, the tendered routes which carried school kids simply became school only buses leaving the general public with less buses to use, sometimes with no alternative.
Different councils seem to be doing different things, and sometimes it depends on operator/vehicle availability. Kent seems to have favoured duplicates (even where they carry very few pupils, but too many to fit on the normal bus with distancing), whereas East Sussex seems to have favoured scholar-only restrictions. Perhaps they have an idea how few non-scholar passengers are currently travelling from rural hinterland into town at 8am? With things as they are at the moment, I can't imagine there are too many takers for some services!
As an example P&O Lloyds route 8. the 07:45 trip is marked as School Days Only but not 'School Pupils Only'. I opted to head out for this bus one day and the driver said school kids only. I asked if another bus was coming and I was given the wrong information saying Arriva was duping it for normal people (I knew this was wrong instantly). I then rang the depot to ask for an update and was told 'yeah, its school kids only that one. Your next bus is 9am'. Yeah, great. Just what I wanted to hear, I'll find another bus then thanks.
On checking the online timetable PDF, the note "SDO" is explained as being restricted to scholars (although admittedly it does usually mean School Days Only). It also looks as though it only runs to the school campus anyway? How many 'regular' passengers travel on that journey in "normal times! who might plausibly still be doing so now?
I think the key issue is some councils/PTEs are trying to minimise costs while keeping everyone safe and also taking into account local PSVAR resources, it's sometimes easier to bite the bullet, take a bus off a normal route and make the trip school kids only.
I think most councils are only able to fund this much provision because of a hefty dollop of funds from central authorities somewhere (Westminster/Cardiff/Edinburgh/combination thereof) - it's less the local councils themselves that are trying to reduce costs out of stinginess, but they are being instructed to do so as a condition of receiving the funds. They don't want the Whitehall Inspector calling and asking why they are running a scholar only duplicate at cost to central purse whilst the service vehicle is carrying two passengers a week.
 

markymark2000

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Different councils seem to be doing different things, and sometimes it depends on operator/vehicle availability. Kent seems to have favoured duplicates (even where they carry very few pupils, but too many to fit on the normal bus with distancing), whereas East Sussex seems to have favoured scholar-only restrictions. Perhaps they have an idea how few non-scholar passengers are currently travelling from rural hinterland into town at 8am? With things as they are at the moment, I can't imagine there are too many takers for some services!
The difficulty is 8AM is commuter time and 3pm shoppers are still going home and so on irregular routes, you effectively lose a first and last bus.
I do take your point though

On checking the online timetable PDF, the note "SDO" is explained as being restricted to scholars (although admittedly it does usually mean School Days Only). It also looks as though it only runs to the school campus anyway? How many 'regular' passengers travel on that journey in "normal times! who might plausibly still be doing so now?
That is online now but previously it was only SDO with no explanation. That was on Traveline and Flintshire County Councils page. While the bus may look to not serve the bus station, in reality, it would. Go through Mold Bus Station at any time around then, you will see most of the school buses go through. If not, you would get off close enough.

I think most councils are only able to fund this much provision because of a hefty dollop of funds from central authorities somewhere (Westminster/Cardiff/Edinburgh/combination thereof) - it's less the local councils themselves that are trying to reduce costs out of stinginess, but they are being instructed to do so as a condition of receiving the funds. They don't want the Whitehall Inspector calling and asking why they are running a scholar only duplicate at cost to central purse whilst the service vehicle is carrying two passengers a week.
I don't know. Merseytravel have been doing exactly that for a number of months and running 'S' buses significantly further than needed (resulting in buses going to Liverpool City Centre past 9am and leaving at 2-2.30pm. I don't know about anyone else but I don't know of any school kids travelling to/from Liverpool City Centre interchanges at that time, the kids should be in school). There is an S bus which kept being dropped with staff shortages but it was ok because the normal bus had capacity with the revised rules
I think some councils are just being more careful with the funds than others, possible more funding in some areas, I am not sure. It's an interesting way of working and one which certainly isn't ideal for a lot of people who do travel or may wish to travel. Yes it may be low numbers but you don't encourage people onto buses by taking away trips.
 

d9016

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Some sites I have different usernames for anonymity and some I have different names as a pre-standardisation, I seem to automatically put myself in higher anonymity mode whenever my username is not "VolvoB10M" as it is on a lot of sites now. Since my join date was in 2011, before I standardised and used VolvoB10M as my standard internet persona with less anonymity for everything transport related.

The operator is Diamond Bus North West, (Bolton depot) that I noticed this happening with. Transdev and Go North West were not running any S services at all, all were public. There were no services designated as school only on the timetable as these are run as different routes by Tyrers and Vision (with rare Voith B9s by the looks of it). The destination would not normally have been changed due to the route being a circular which was already set, the opposite circular route did the same with two buses in a row although one was an Enviro 200 (unknown engine/gearbox variant) which seem to have never run on normal passenger services from what I have seen of them. I was hoping the 200 would be on normal service so I could see what variation it was (post MMC introduction year but with pre MMC front end indicating a likely non-standard variant like the Scania E400s).

Sorry if what I have said does not make much sense but I think the heat along with the resulting lack of sleep has broken my brain.
 
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