School Days Afternoon Bus Timetables

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ashworth

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In these days of bus services having to be commercially viable and local authority subsidies decreasing, the bus companies must find local authority school contracts extremely valuable to them.

However, is anyone else finding it increasingly difficult to travel by bus during a large period of the afternoon, when buses are diverted away from their regular routes and timetables to provide these services. In large urban areas it is not really noticeable, but on services between smaller towns and in rural areas regular bus services can be disrupted for a large period of the afternoon.
You quite often find that bus routes which run to a regular hourly service throughout the day are disrupted sometimes from as early as 2.30pm until as late as 5pm. This happens through buses not running the full route, either starting or finishing short, or being taken off the route altogether.

My local route out of Nottingham runs hourly all day, but on school days the 3.30pm bus from Nottingham does not run, leaving a gap of 2 hours just at the time when those who have been on shopping or leisure trips want to return before the busy buses used by commuters.
Each week I like to do a reasonable 6-7 mile walk, but I have to be really careful where and at what time in the afternoon I finish my walk so that I do not require a bus back at that very time when buses are missing from the timetable. When on holiday in various more rural parts of the country where there are no evening services you have to be really careful that you don't get stranded somewhere by missing the last bus when doing a journey involving more than one bus. It is often very difficult to travel anywhere for about 2 hours just at the time in the afternoon when you need to begin your return journey to get back to your destination before the buses stop running for the evening.

On the subject of subsidies being cut and evening services being withdrawn, in recent months I have been quite surprised how few buses now run in many of the more rural shire counties after 6pm. Even buses between quite important, and sizable for the area, market towns cease at 6pm.
 
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overthewater

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You have to remember, sometime those school runs help keep the daytime service running.
 
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The Nottsbus 531 was developed initially as a peak service then daytime shopping journeys were added. So the first bus pass journey gets you to Phoenix Park tram stop at 1031am. Return journeys are hourly from 1036 until 1336 hours then 1646 & 1746. A nice 3 hour gap, so you either spend two hours in Nottingham, once you've made your connection or 5 hours or more.....
So it's no wonder no-one uses it....
 

PeterC

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Before the service to our village was cut from hourly to two hourly we had the same gap. This has been the case for the 18 years that I have lived here and caught me out when I first moved in. Looking at a 1968 timetable that I picked up at a transport fair recently our local services had the "siesta" back then.
 

Martin2012

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Here in Yate, there are journeys on the 84 and 86 Wotton Under Edge services and the 620 Bath service which divert into school grounds on certain journeys. I think the Wotton services even have a couple of dedicated journeys which only run on school days.

I've been on the relevant journey on the 620 a few times and its certainly been the case that school pupils have accounted for the majority of the passengers.

I also think the 82 service(Wotton to Southmead) has benefitted from running near to SGS Filton due to the fact that this will have no doubt brought some extra passengers to the route.


Until a few years ago there was an earlier journey on the 41 route between Malmesbury and Yate which diverted to serve a local school but that journey was removed from the timetable. Remember at the time it was suggested that it was only really school passengers who were using that journey and that the local council would be asked to make alternative arrangements for them
 

TheGrandWazoo

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In North Yorkshire, there was a policy about 20 years ago to separate schools runs from the standard bus services. Think the plan was to have some operator with a fully depreciated coach/decker for the schools traffic with a smaller vehicle (e.g. Metrorider, Merc Vario) to cope with the minimal traffic during the off peak and holidays when a full size vehicle would be overkill.

The achieve this, separate service numbers were even employed so that the Northallerton to Stokesley service was the 90 except for the schooldays runs which were numbered 172
 

oldman

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A further complication is when schools close earlier on a Friday, so the service gaps are at different times and you get headnotes like NFNS - not Fridays School holidays only - and FNSD - Fridays during school holidays. (First Scotland East X24).
 

PeterC

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Here in Bucks we have a mix of schoolday variations on service buses and dedicated school buses. I don't know if any of the scholars on service buses have passes from the LA of if they are those who don't qualify.
 

Baxenden Bank

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In these days of bus services having to be commercially viable and local authority subsidies decreasing, the bus companies must find local authority school contracts extremely valuable to them.

However, is anyone else finding it increasingly difficult to travel by bus during a large period of the afternoon, when buses are diverted away from their regular routes and timetables to provide these services. In large urban areas it is not really noticeable, but on services between smaller towns and in rural areas regular bus services can be disrupted for a large period of the afternoon.
You quite often find that bus routes which run to a regular hourly service throughout the day are disrupted sometimes from as early as 2.30pm until as late as 5pm. This happens through buses not running the full route, either starting or finishing short, or being taken off the route altogether.

My local route out of Nottingham runs hourly all day, but on school days the 3.30pm bus from Nottingham does not run, leaving a gap of 2 hours just at the time when those who have been on shopping or leisure trips want to return before the busy buses used by commuters.
Each week I like to do a reasonable 6-7 mile walk, but I have to be really careful where and at what time in the afternoon I finish my walk so that I do not require a bus back at that very time when buses are missing from the timetable. When on holiday in various more rural parts of the country where there are no evening services you have to be really careful that you don't get stranded somewhere by missing the last bus when doing a journey involving more than one bus. It is often very difficult to travel anywhere for about 2 hours just at the time in the afternoon when you need to begin your return journey to get back to your destination before the buses stop running for the evening.

On the subject of subsidies being cut and evening services being withdrawn, in recent months I have been quite surprised how few buses now run in many of the more rural shire counties after 6pm. Even buses between quite important, and sizable for the area, market towns cease at 6pm.

I agree entirely with your comments. Many of the services operated by D & G in Stoke / Staffordshire suffer the same problem. As a result the service is not attractive to a prospective user (me) so they don't get my business - and I pay cash so as much income as at least four ENCTS pass-holders.

Reference to separate school and public routes is interesting, especially in the negative impact it has on bus routes available to the general public. Look at schools in rural areas, and the number of minibuses / buses / coaches used to transport kids to them. If only those buses were available for public use a) at school-times, and b) during the middle part of the day.

As an example, Cheadle schools (in Staffordshire) near me have about a dozen closed contracts serving them. My local route (D & G 31) is operated by one of those buses. It manages three round trips on a two hourly frequency between 0933 to 1428. I can go to Cheadle, arriving at 1125, and come back at 1130 or 1330. That is it! Strangely enough, no-one seems to be using the 'service'. Now why can't one of those other school buses be used to provide a better service (some of the 12 are non DDA compliant, some are)?
 
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johnnychips

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In North Yorkshire, there was a policy about 20 years ago to separate schools runs from the standard bus services. Think the plan was to have some operator with a fully depreciated coach/decker for the schools traffic with a smaller vehicle (e.g. Metrorider, Merc Vario) to cope with the minimal traffic during the off peak and holidays when a full size vehicle would be overkill.

The achieve this, separate service numbers were even employed so that the Northallerton to Stokesley service was the 90 except for the schooldays runs which were numbered 172

I was in Hawes this week, and the schooldays only buses to Leyburn Wensleydale School were on the notice board at bus stops, even though they carry numbers like 516R (I think!), which I suppose implies you can use them. However, I did not see anything for primary schools.
 
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Baxenden Bank

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I was in Hawes this week, and the schooldays only buses to Leyburn Wensleydale School were on the notice board at bus stops, even though they carry numbers like 516R (I think!), which I suppose implies you can use them. However, I did not see anything for primary schools.

The problem with North Yorkshire is that some contracts are 'permits only' and some are 'available to the general public'. The ones advertised in Hawes are, I assume, actually available to the general public rather than being theoretically available but not so in practice.

One issue I had with the local situation in Cheadle is that most of the services were (not now) registered as local services, but the general public weren't expected to try and use them. They effectively operated as closed contracts but with the financial benefits of a registered local service. So I had the pleasure of alighting the D & G 31 service at 1520, off it went to do a school run (which went quite close to my house) and came back. I then got back on the same bus, with the same driver, at 1645. Strange as it may seem, the novelty was short-lived and I stopped using the service.
 

fairysdad

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However, is anyone else finding it increasingly difficult to travel by bus during a large period of the afternoon, when buses are diverted away from their regular routes and timetables to provide these services . . . You quite often find that bus routes which run to a regular hourly service throughout the day are disrupted sometimes from as early as 2.30pm until as late as 5pm. This happens through buses not running the full route, either starting or finishing short, or being taken off the route altogether.
Possibly not quite the same, but when I was at University in Bournemouth, I used to catch the U2 service from Poole town centre to the main Wallisdown campus. A very annoying aspect of the timetable was that the first bus left Poole at 8.05 (although often one of the other services would start there to take on the extra people), the next at 9.10, then half hourly (xx:10 and xx:40 IIRC). Until around 3 when they would go hourly again. At just the time when it would get busy when people's lectures finished. Eventually, after much pressure from the SU, Wilts & Dorset explained their reasoning – so the buses could form extra stock for the quarter-hourly U1 service into Bournemouth town centre. Admittedly, the U1 buses were busier as all but one of the halls of residence were in Bournemouth rather than Poole, but they never seemed so busy that they needed relief stock (bar possibly at the beginning of the academic year).

A further complication is when schools close earlier on a Friday, so the service gaps are at different times and you get headnotes like NFNS - not Fridays School holidays only - and FNSD - Fridays during school holidays. (First Scotland East X24).
Are schools finishing earlier on a Friday a common thing in Scotland? Never heard of that down south!
 

oldman

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Are schools finishing earlier on a Friday a common thing in Scotland? Never heard of that down south!

It happens in Edinburgh, the Borders and the three Lothians. Don't know about the rest of the country.
 

Baxenden Bank

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It happens in Edinburgh, the Borders and the three Lothians. Don't know about the rest of the country.

Finishing early on one day of the week seems quite common, but not necessarily Friday. My old secondary school finishes early on a Wednesday. My old college always did this to allow for sports activities, I don't know if schools do it for a similar reason.

Perhaps it is my age / memory but are schools generally finishing earlier every day of the week than in times past?
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Finishing early on one day of the week seems quite common, but not necessarily Friday. My old secondary school finishes early on a Wednesday. My old college always did this to allow for sports activities, I don't know if schools do it for a similar reason.

Perhaps it is my age / memory but are schools generally finishing earlier every day of the week than in times past?

My schooldays (30-40 years ago) had finish times of 1530 (Primary) and 1545 (Secondary) - those same schools now finish at 1515 so certainly the case there.

I think there was a policy of staggered times (late 80s) in the Tyne Valley whereby the Haltwhistle area finished at 1430 and Hexham area at 1530 so that there was some ability to utilise some vehicles on two sets of schools services
 

Andyh82

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This happens in Bradford where two major schools with a large number of school contracts finishes at 1420/1440 meaning all the school buses there can do those school runs and then turn up at another two major schools which finish at 1530

Same in the morning where the first set of schools start at 0800/0815 and the latter two at 0900
 

neilmc

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When I was a conductor in Leeds in the 1970s, this posed no problem. The very early turn crews would run the low-frequency early morning service until the other early and split crews had turned up to run the basic service, then they would do a morning schools run before taking the bus back to the garage.

In the afternoon, the late turns which started at the garage would do an afternoon schools run before supplementing the basic service for the evening peak. Schools "boards" were sacrosanct and had to be prioritised in the event of staff or vehicle shortages.

During school holidays the lucky crews got an extra cup of tea or two.

Leaving a glaring gap in the timetable whilst a bus potters off to do a school run is disgraceful customer service but it seems all too commonplace today.
 

PeterC

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Late turn? Sounds like something from the evil days of nationalisation when there were buses after 6pm.
 
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Statto

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In Lancashire couple of 40/41 Preston-Morecambe terminate short in Garstang then form a journey from the high school in Garstang to Preston/Morecambe.
 

nickw1

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When I was a conductor in Leeds in the 1970s, this posed no problem. The very early turn crews would run the low-frequency early morning service until the other early and split crews had turned up to run the basic service, then they would do a morning schools run before taking the bus back to the garage.

In the afternoon, the late turns which started at the garage would do an afternoon schools run before supplementing the basic service for the evening peak. Schools "boards" were sacrosanct and had to be prioritised in the event of staff or vehicle shortages.

During school holidays the lucky crews got an extra cup of tea or two.

Leaving a glaring gap in the timetable whilst a bus potters off to do a school run is disgraceful customer service but it seems all too commonplace today.

This reminds me of a potential logistical issue with school and commuter peak services. (more historical, admittedly, as can be seen from the topic of this thread)

During the afternoon, it's possible for a school run to then form an evening peak service as schools finish (I presume they still do) around 1530 so plenty of time to then do a commuter extra run at say 1700-1800... or allow a service which is normally single-deck to be double-deck during the peak (the single-deck normally on the service then maybe doing a peak-hour-only route)

During the morning however, both school children and commuters get into work/school around the same time, say between 0830-0900 so the same sort of plan cannot happen.

Were there typically then no morning peak commuter extras, as they clashed with the school runs?
 
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PeterC

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The examples that I have seen locally are in low frequency rural services which do not have a significant commuter element. Buses are not taken out of public service, schools are served by minor route variations.

The afternoon gap allows vehicles to reposition so that they are at a major school when the kid are coming out rather than at an outlying village.

Dedicated school transport is provided by coach companies with rather better vehicles than those on our service buses. I think that they might be seat belt fitted which service buses aren't.
 

LewFinnis

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A large proportion of Stagecoach services in East Kent are 'mucked about' on schoolday afternoons to allow buses to do school journeys. For example, what on Saturday and non-schooldays are through journeys between Dover and Canterbury (and vice-versa) on service 89 run only part way from each end then go onto a school journey, leaving an unserved gap.
 

175mph

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We have an issue like this in Scunthorpe with our number 10 circular routes, during college term time during the week, the late afternoon runs of the number 10 don't run at all, because the buses are being used on a college service to Barton which is duplicated by three buses, leaving Saturday as the only day where the number 10 runs all day.
 

AaronR

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Same happens in Ipswich with the ex Carters routes between Ipswich and Colchester, as the buses all seem to serve East Betgholt High and Suffolk One sixth form. The timetable on a Saturday is far simpler to the travelling public, it must be so off putting with the "Schooldays only" codes on half the timetable
 

mildertduck

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I used to finish school at 2.30pm. Where I live now, one school finishes at 2.30, most around 4pm, and one finishes at half 5! It's getting silly - how can students be expected to do 3-4 hours of prep per night if they don't get in home before 6pm and fed before 7?

(Not related to the buses, so please delete if deemed sufficiently OT!)
 

the101

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Leaving a glaring gap in the timetable whilst a bus potters off to do a school run is disgraceful customer service but it seems all too commonplace today.
No, it is not. In many cases, were the school duty not there to soak up a proportion of the full day's overheads then the associated 'public' service would not run at all.

Far from it being 'disgraceful' as you describe it, it is a cost-effective way of providing servces that potentially would not exist, or would exist but at the expense of other routes.
 

Tetchytyke

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In these days of bus services having to be commercially viable and local authority subsidies decreasing, the bus companies must find local authority school contracts extremely valuable to them.

Although for how much longer, it remains to be seen. There are several schools services in Tyne and Wear which are now operated commercially by Go North East, after local authority funding was withdrawn.
 
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