When it comes to buses, is the UK the epitomy of showing the world how NOT to do things?

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by 175mph, 19 Jul 2019.

  1. 175mph

    175mph Member

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    Don't get me wrong here, I'm not trying to bad mouth the UK, I see good in the vast majority of things in this country, even with public transport such as buses, even if not in my home town (but that's for another discussion).

    I fully agree and understand why we could use good ideas from countries like Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany etc to help make public transport better, but judging by the sheer amount I've times I've seen more praise for the way the Swiss or Germans do things with their public transport than praise for the way we do things with our public transport system, would you say that public transport in the UK outside London and Northern Ireland is an example of showing the world how not to run or do things with public transport like buses?

    From my personal views, I wouldn't say the whole non-London buses system across the UK is showing the world how not to do it, just certain places such as my home town and certain other parts of Lincolnshire.
     
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  3. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

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    The U.K. bus industry is streets ahead of other countries in managing to provide a service with relatively little in government funding.

    A couple of questions for you to answer: What tax rate do you pay? How much do you wish to pay?

    We are/have had this debate on the Welsh bus reregulation thread and elsewhere ad infinitum
     
  4. Mwanesh

    Mwanesh Member

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    As pointed by 2 every thing is on the Welsh thread. We will have the same points.
     
  5. Jordan Adam

    Jordan Adam Established Member

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    The issue is everyone expects service on par with Lothian's City operation when their local operator barely makes a any profit. With 75% of cities in the UK that's just not doable/viable to have Edinburgh-esque levels of service. UK bus services are underfunded and generally quite poor, however i don't think it's as bad as people like to make out, and certainly in more recent times maintenance standards have drastically improved. Truth be told everyone thinks they have it the worst, and they always will. As for "reversing deregulation", i actually believe that would cause more harm than good. Just look at how poorly many of the municipal operators are doing.
     
  6. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    More likely there will be fewer municipals left if deregulation ends as it would most likely be replaced by franchising, and municipals may find it difficult to compete with the big groups when winning tenders.
     
  7. Non Multi

    Non Multi Member

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    When I visited the O.P's region last summer, I used the bus network in and around Grimsby for the first time. I was impressed. The buses were reasonably frequent, being decent double deck or large single deck vehicles. The fares were affordable and seemed to be set at a level for those on low incomes. The day ticket seemed good value. The only negative was that punctuality wasn't totally brilliant, considering that that N.E. Lincs doesn't have high traffic congestion like South East England.

    'The grass is always greener on the other side', as they say. Stagecoach Grimsby Cleethorpes gets a thumbs up from me.
     
  8. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    But that's surely more about fare levels than anything else - which are typically higher in the UK than elsewhere.

    The UK does not operate efficiently - for a start, PVRs (peak vehicle requirements - I know you know what it means but for the uninitiated :) ) are way higher than they need to be, because each passenger boarding has to conduct a financial negotiation taking upwards of a minute on boarding, and time is wasted waiting for people to alight before that can even commence due to the ridiculous obsession with single door buses, which no other country in the world uses on city routes.

    And then there are bus lanes...which peter out just before junctions. The best system is a bus overtake at every signalised junction, and most other European countries already worked this out. (This is not helped by UK law apparently needing a traffic island to be provided for bus overtakes - but the law can and should be changed).
     
  9. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

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    Fare levels are higher because they aren’t massively subsidised - in The Netherlands, they have an aspiration at reducing subsidy so revenue is 50% of costs.....

    U.K. bus operation is very efficient.
     
  10. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    So why do they throw away some of this efficiency by continuing to employ slow boarding techniques as described above? This happens even in big cities with urban populations in excess of 2 million! Madness!
     
  11. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Yes, that was my point. You could have a more European style system but with higher fares, and that would have lower subsidy too.

    It's really not. How is taking a minute or more to process each passenger efficient?

    Look at London - with Oyster/contactless they've now got dwells right down - better even than they were with conductor operated RMs because of the dual door arrangement.
     
  12. Megafuss

    Megafuss Member

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    TfL may well have dwell times down, but London buses are not as efficient as other areas, not by any means. Vehicles have quite meaty layovers at terminus points which only adds cost to your route. Case in point the 119 service. I was in Purley a few days ago and witnessed THREE 119 vehicles at Collanades at a time when the frequency is every 9 to 12 mins.

    What you gain in reduced dwell time you lose in excessive layover
     
  13. WatcherZero

    WatcherZero Established Member

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    You can be sure if they thought it was more efficient to have multiple doors then they would, but the downsides of lower bus capacity, weaker revenue protection and/or cost of having to employ a second staff member on board outweigh the time saving.
     
  14. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    In my view a proper amount of layover is about 10 minutes in the hour. But that aside, there is no reason you can't operate reduced dwell time AND shorter layovers. They are not mutually exclusive.

    And it's not just about saving on the PVR. Buses in the provinces are just slow, and it puts car drivers off switching to them. And a big cause of that is how long it takes for everyone to pay.
     
  15. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Or they are just overconservative and cannot see the benefits for fear of the downsides.
     
  16. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    Surely you could say the same about operators that currently use multiple door buses? (i.e. the vast majority of buses in the developed world).

    (There can't be many places in the developed world where many buses use conductors)
     
  17. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Why on earth would a second member of staff be required to have two sets of doors? On at the front, off at the back. If the driver sees a fare dodger jumping on at the back (almost never happens in London, it's like there's an invisible force field) he stops the engine, makes an announcement that the bus isn't going anywhere until they cough up, and it quickly gets sorted.
     
  18. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    How can a single door bus be appropriate for the 192 bus in Manchester when you need double door buses on less busy routes in London?
     
  19. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    To be fair, the 192 is probably an example of a route that probably doesn't need dual door that much, as it goes through cycles of loading at stops then unloading at Stockport, then loading along the way, then unloading in Manchester. Dual door is of most benefit on "cross city" routes where people both alight and board at most stops - like almost every route in London and all but a couple of routes in Milton Keynes.

    However, they do waste a tremendous amount of time (probably well over 15 minutes on a run into Manchester from Stepping Hill) pratting about with individually negotiated transactions. That must put several buses onto the PVR for no good reason.
     
  20. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    Quite a few people travel between Levenshulme, Heaton Chapel and Stockport meaning they conflict with passengers to/from the city centre.
     
  21. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    How can bus capacity be an issue when patronage outside London is so much lower? A typical 2 door London double decker bus can take at least 60 seated passengers plus standing, so if it is enough for London it will be enough for anywhere outside London.
     
  22. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    In any case it doesn't reduce overall capacity, though it does reduce seated capacity by approximately 4-6 seats depending on the layout. If the bus is very busy, you can get more than 4-6 standees in the space there, and London buses often do.
     
  23. 175mph

    175mph Member

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    In Paris, I found that the driver immediately drove away after I tried scanning my ticket as I boarded and it was rejected. I, of course alighted at the earliest opportunity afterwards, but was surprised he didn't refuse to leave the stop I boarded at and call me out for not paying up.
     
  24. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Is revenue protection the driver's responsibility in Paris? It isn't in many European countries (and Borismasters); PFs apply like on the trains.
     
  25. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

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    I think the reason for generally not having dual door vehicles in this country is the perception of (in no particular order):
    1. Weaker revenue protection [dodgers boarding through centre door while driver is distracted with boarding passengers, passengers less likely to override if have to pass driver to alight]
    2. Weaker safety [numerous cases of trapped passengers making claims, plus passengers alighting into voids and obstructions, because of....]
    3. Many bus stops not set up for centre exit (street furniture obstruction inc. shelters, railings etc, surface limited to small patch for front door in suburbs and rural areas)
    4. Reduced seating capacity [specifically at peak times/compliance with tender requirements, which may not appear to be an issue on individual routes, but operators want maximum allocation flexibility]

    I say perception because some of these issues may not seem to be significant to others.

    Maybe we are not as 'developed' as we like to think!
     
  26. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

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    Much of this comes from history. Dual doors were relatively common in major cities but two main issues. The unions cited issues with visibility of the exit door etc so it meant that conductors were often specified for dual door buses at a time when OMO/OPO was being pursued. That was compounded by an incident in Birmingham where an elderly woman was killed and so there were more regulations about the construction and operation of dual door vehicles. Hence single door vehicles were specified and that has then subsequently being ingrained in the design of bus stops etc.

    Also, with a lack of urban rail or light rail systems, buses in the UK have also performed a role with longer journey duration so the focus on increasing seated capacity. Also explains the terrible comfort on many European buses. It is all to simple to head to another country and think "wow, this is all great" and "we're lousy in the UK" without understanding how the respective countries have got where they are. As in many ways in the UK, we are constrained by history (and not saying that's a good or bad thing).

    ps there has been comment made that UK bus managers are simply ignorant of other countries and this extends to road planners etc. The reality is (having known senior people) is that they most certainly look around the world but they are constrained by the environment in which they have to work.

    pps Just to highlight not everything is ideal elsewhere in the world. Here's a lovely pic of a Pismover (the shuttle to Pisa airport from the town centre). Seating capacity about 18 (yep, less than a Solo) on a heavyweight chassis and what a quality terminal (even if it was temporary for about 12 months).
     

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  27. WatcherZero

    WatcherZero Established Member

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    Bus capacity is usually higher outside London to provide a similar capacity from lower frequency, A Routemaster with 60 seats say versus an E400 with upto 90. As the distance passengers are travelling is also far longer on average (1/3rd greater in cities outside London and twice as far in rural areas than London) then there is less advantage in providing standing over seating space.

    As to fare evasion outside London it is practically zero, in London its 1.5% (probably an underestimate due to TfL policy of only issuing fines to repeat offenders and only recording fines/prosecutions) but its even higher on other multiple door bus operators, for example the New York MTA says fare evasion on their buses is 22%!!!
     
  28. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

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    Absolutely, and whilst bus patronage is lower in the provinces, that's not to say that full vehicles with 70+ passengers aren't experienced in peak. They are and hence, with the longer average journey duration. why seated capacity is more of a consideration.
     
  29. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

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    But it doesn't take a minute or more to process EACH passenger, does it?

    Otherwise, a full double decker arriving in Bristol city centre would have to have taken a minimum of 70 minutes plus actual travel time to do a journey , and they just don't.
     
  30. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    It does for each cash payment. But why not seek to reduce that wasted time to zero? It's a waste of money and makes the service unattractive.
     
  31. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

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    As has been explained, a lot of these things are a reflection of history, often as a consequence of differing technologies, labour agreements etc.

    You are right to say that many bus companies have been slower to adopt new technologies. Can't deny that but when you look at other European countries in the past, you have had to have an exact fare (not exactly customer friendly) or had to get a pre-paid ticket or carnet available from approved outlets like stations or tobacconists - again not exactly customer friendly. Also, companies were well aware of losing a fair chunk of margin to those third party sellers - not an issue if you don't have the commercial realities of day to worry about.

    We now have the technology to be able to change that and, for the most part, bus companies are doing so. Tap and go has been less quick to get going but companies are most certainly pushing m-tickets and that is to be welcomed.
     

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