Why I hate Webberbus and what First/BoS are doing wrong

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THarris123

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Just thought i'd post a little thread to try to clear some of the South West thread.

why I hate Webberbus

Well why do I hate Webberbus?
1. Their stupid non structures fare system
2. Their way in which they run most of their services to mirror the BoS services
3. Their ability to be able to afford new buses
4. Some financial stability - caused by their school contracts and private work which helps fund everything
5. Their drivers
6. Probably the most significant factor - how they operate their services only near enough 9-17, without considering commuters or the young

What First has done wrong

I personally think that First West of England have made an error to take on the 20 and give up on 375 and 377.

Last August they were praised by me, other enthusiasts, bus drivers and enthusiasts for the changes they made - they invested heavily in New vehicles for 376, created new services out of unworkable and uneconomic services and cheered up the look of the depot and bus station. Now in May they plan to axe the 375 and send a reliable 377 to Taunton to be run by BoS.

So from May, Wells depot lose 6 buses (which in the full crew they have is about 12-15 drivers now having to work from other depots - which costs more than hiring new drivers and doing a recruitment campaign for Bath and Weston) and the drivers lose more variation in their work. They will only be going to Weston, Bath, Bristol, Shepton and Street. The main reason why so many drivers prefer to work in Wells is due to them wanting to work in the country, and considering that Bath pays the same wages as Wells, where would you rather work - sat in traffic all day everyday in Bath or out on open roads in Wells? I know where I would prefer to be. Weston and Yeovil are paid less, so going to Wells is a better deal. I know of quite a few drivers who have recently transferred from Bath, Weston or other areas into Wells, mostly because of this reason. So with quite a few drivers in Wells now, what do they do? Cut the workload. Very stupid if you ask me.

What BoS are doing wrong

So from May 377 gets renamed and gets interworked with new hourly service from Wells to Taunton 55 (which follows 38) and 54. That increases the number of vehicles by around about 4-6.

The 375 becomes the 73, which runs every 30 mins from Woolavington to Bridgwater, going on a slower route than 37 too.

Also in BoS, we see the Burnham to Weston section of 21 move to Weston and the route of the 14 gets a frequency increase in Bridgwater. The town services in Taunton, as far as I can tell get a few improvements too.

All of this, I believe doesn't really tackle the Webberbus problem.

We will now have 3 buses going Wells-Somerton every hour, 3 buses going Somerton-Taunton every hour, 3 buses going Somerton-Yeovil every hour, 3 buses going Bridgwater-Cannington every hour and 4 buses going Woolavington-Bridgwater every hour. Yet we then get 1 bus going Wells-Bridgwater every hour, compared to the 3 which were running soon after Webberbus introduced 37, as well as potentially no buses going through the villages between Ashcott and Woolavington (as I haven't seen any route registration changes to 37 in VOSA).

This personally hits me too. I moved to Wells to work in an accountancy firm. There are many based in Wells and many more based within 1 bus journey (Yeovil, Taunton, Bristol, Bath, Weston and other destinations in between). If I was offered a job in Yeovil, I would now have to tell the employer sorry I can work from as early as 7.30 in Yeovil, but from 9th of July I will only be able to work from 8.50ish. The same applies to if I was offered a job in Bridgwater. How many jobs do you think are available in Wells in comparison to the various towns around, not just in accountancy, but in any industry? Well I can certainly tell you there is more potential to find a job in a town surrounding Wells than actually in Wells and yet are there the public transport routes to allow commuters to be flexible? Not South of Wells anymore. This was something that I was very proud of where First differed from Webberbus and now they are just as bad. There doesn't appear to be demand from Wells to Yeovil early in the morning, but it does appear to be viable to have a service going from Wells to Taunton at 19.19 in the evening, just as everybody heads back home from Wells.

From what I have seen over the last few years, there is not by any means enough demand for the planned 54, 55, 77, 73 and X14, but there is enough demand for a 375 service to go Wells to Bridgwater every 2 hours, as well as a 29 service every 2 hours. I get shot down every time I mention that and yet First go and implement the 55 which duplicates the 38 and provides a service that there isn't any demand for, which they also withdrew the 54 shorts (which was always a bad idea to initiate) a year after increasing the frequency. If that doesn't show a lack of demand I don't know what does. Every single time I have been on 377 and 375, the demand I have noticed goes Wells-Street and then Wells-Yeovil/Bridgwater. I have only ever once seen 1 person get on at Woolavington and I have very rarely seen people getting on or off at Somerton (although there is some demand there).

So what I would have done:
Kept 375 and 377 with Wells, renaming them and moving the 54 plate B7s to 77 and solos to 375. 375 would run two hourly.
Kept 21 as is having an hourly service going Taunton-Weston. Remove the Musgrove Hospital section onto 9 as has been done (very good idea). Have the 20 running, but only hourly during the summer, using deckers taken out of Bristol from the Uni reductions (as will be done).
Not decreased or changed any of the frequencies on the Taunton town services last year - that let Webberbus get into that and from what i've seen they're doing just as well as BoS on those services. They would have created those routes anyway (as that's what they do), but they certainly wouldn't be anywhere near as successful as they are at the moment.
Added an extra bus (taken from 375) to 29 to have that running every 2 hours. That maintains the Wells-Street service of every 15 mins, as well as creating a regular quicker service from Wells to Taunton to compete against Webbers. Revert the 29 back to its old route and run it from Wells, being interworked with 375.
Increased the frequency on 28 to every 20 mins
Have more buses running on a Sunday and running later into evenings (maybe even a 24 hour town service in Taunton).
Create a new service network around Bridgwater - maybe reroute 21A around the town to compete against Webbers
Sort out 22/22A - separated it into 3 services, all timed equally surrounding Webbers service
Create a new service going from Wells-Wookey Hole
Create a town service in Wells - will bring loyalty back to First - if they get a day ticket at somewhere like Churchill Road, they then get a service to Somerton/Bridgwater/Yeovil/Taunton without paying extra fares to travel by Webbers
Extend 14 to Minehead in summer - tourists
Create a new network around Taunton and Bridgwater for schools
Create a new brand for private hire work and use some of the buses/coaches from the school work.

First need to hit Webberbus where it hurts the most - private hire, school contracts, Bridgwater town services and other services that they are doing well on. To drive them out of Wells and Taunton you don't do what you've just done - take away the services that are unique in comparison to Webbers and create new services/increase frequencies where there is no demand. I'm really beginning to lose faith in First and they are forgetting about who are most vital to them in comparison to Webberbus - commuters and the young and their drivers. Virtually every last driver I have spoken to in Wells has very negative feedback on what's happening at the moment. It's not just in Wells, but also in Bath and Weston. I'd like to think there are quite a few passengers who will be annoyed by these changes, as they were when BoS changed things last March. I'd also like to think that there are other enthusiasts, hopefully on here that can agree with the comments made in this.

I'm sure to get a bit of backlash on this, but it is not a viable solution to do what First are doing in May to combat Webbers.

Cheers, Tom.
 
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Busaholic

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I can see you have thought long and hard about all this, but you haven't established to my satisfaction why you hate Webberbus so much - care to elaborate?
 

THarris123

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I can see you have thought long and hard about all this, but you haven't established to my satisfaction why you hate Webberbus so much - care to elaborate?

Think your missing the point of this thread slightly - it's mostly to say what I think First are doing wrong in competing effectively against Webberbus, not so much I hate Webberbus. I do hate them, but i've stated the reasons above. Their performance on every one of their services just doesn't add up to how they keep going. They run their private hire section and school work section well, but their bus services are just copied from First and they're just skimming off the few odd passengers, rather than offering anything unique, which can provide a decent public transport service to commuters and the young, as well as everyone else.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Which of these services are commercial and which are subsidised by local authorities?

Most of the services are run commercially - a few odd services and journeys are funded by Somerset, but not many anymore.

I know what you'l say to that - it means First and Webberbus have no real obligation to keep or not change a service, which is true, but it is annoying how they aren't particularly considering commuters and other passengers in making the changes as much as I would like.
 

Busaholic

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Think your missing the point of this thread slightly - it's mostly to say what I think First are doing wrong in competing effectively against Webberbus, not so much I hate Webberbus. I do hate them, but i've stated the reasons above. Their performance on every one of their services just doesn't add up to how they keep going. They run their private hire section and school work section well, but their bus services are just copied from First and they're just skimming off the few odd passengers, rather than offering anything unique, which can provide a decent public transport service to commuters and the young, as well as everyone else.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---


.

In other words, Webberbus are being accused by you of what the 'big boys' like Stagecoach (especially) but also First and Arriva have also been charged with over the years in getting to their dominant positions in the industry i.e. cherry pick some plum routes and wait for the competition to fail when they cannot provide the same level of resources, then, when the smaller company has failed, quickly withdraw those unnecessary extra resources. The biter bit!?

Actually, what prompted me to ask you the question was your original reason (3) for disliking Webberbus and that was their ABILITY to provide new buses! Actually, I've highlighted the word because I find it extraordinary. If you'd said inability I'd have found it more logical. No public funding has presumably gone into this funding, so am I looking at a hidden agenda here? It does seem to me that in SW England over the last few years whenever a small operator with some decent ideas has come along and disturbed First's hegemony First has got uppity, either directly or indirectly.
 

freetoview33

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Okay I think the 77 being worked by Taunton is madness, It would be better worked from Wells or even Yeovil (With Yeovil becoming BoS)

I fully understand South of Wells going to BoS though!
 

THarris123

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In other words, Webberbus are being accused by you of what the 'big boys' like Stagecoach (especially) but also First and Arriva have also been charged with over the years in getting to their dominant positions in the industry i.e. cherry pick some plum routes and wait for the competition to fail when they cannot provide the same level of resources, then, when the smaller company has failed, quickly withdraw those unnecessary extra resources. The biter bit!?

Actually, what prompted me to ask you the question was your original reason (3) for disliking Webberbus and that was their ABILITY to provide new buses! Actually, I've highlighted the word because I find it extraordinary. If you'd said inability I'd have found it more logical. No public funding has presumably gone into this funding, so am I looking at a hidden agenda here? It does seem to me that in SW England over the last few years whenever a small operator with some decent ideas has come along and disturbed First's hegemony First has got uppity, either directly or indirectly.

I would suggest using Webberbus. In comparison to other operators, they have a thriving private hire and school work section, which allows them to lease new and modern buses and create new services. Those services near enough directly copy those of Firsts. There are only 2, soon to be 1 which have any form of unique value to them in comparison to First. Over the last couple of years that has driven First to look at what are the more profitable parts of a route/what routes are profitable and Webberbus are doing well on. That then results in what's happened - we will end up with masses of buses operating on some routes which don't require it and then we lose other bus services or the frequencies drop.

Webberbus aren't like the smaller bus companies around here - Somerbus - he operates Bath to Peasedown, which does admittedly copy First, but the route served in Peasedown differs and he also has a decent structured fare system. Citistar - he operates mostly tendered work which doesn't compete with First. Faresaver - they admittedly compete quite a bit on Firsts routes, which has resulted in a draw back from Wiltshire, but they still provide many services in Wiltshire that differ from Firsts. The big difference with these is that these companies are more considerate of their passengers, the economics in running a service tie up with the age of the fleet used on the service and generally things are run better.

I do praise Webberbus for how far they have come and their modern fleet investment, but they aren't a very pleasant company with a very confusing fare system, who basically only operate from 9 to 5 and just skim off work of Firsts by putting a service 2 mins ahead of Firsts usually - on the Wells to Somerton section at the moment, you have to wait 50 mins forWebberbus and then First run 10 mins after. I personally hate it. If they are going to have any chance at all of making First walk out of somerset, they have to put in a structured fare system and have to operate on evenings and Sunday's, as well as having the necessary resources and finances to be able to run things when First are gone.
 

baza585

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I fully understand South of Wells going to BoS though!

I agree. It means that the "war" with WB is being conducted by one set of First management rather than two (excepting the 26/126 skirmish).

FSA was/is losing money. I doubt the 377 does more than break even whilst the 375 is almost certainly loss-making. Status quo is not an option.

First cannot just sit and watch WB destroy their business; they need to react. There is no shame in copying a couple of WB routes; the chances are that WB got these right and have abstracted revenue from First.

I agree that First offer earlier/later and Sunday services in some parts which will get them some customer loyalty/regular trade, but passholders will tend to catch the first(!) bus that comes. Indeed, WB has a more modern fleet than BoS.

But ultimately I think this is a war First will win; no-one will make any money in the meantime but it is about choosing the correct strategy and then sticking to it, which is what First/BoS are doing.

That said, it would make more sense for Yeovil depot to be under BoS control and I still expect this to happen at some point, although not until Yeovil's fleet reliability has been sorted out.........................
 

CD

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That said, it would make more sense for Yeovil depot to be under BoS control and I still expect this to happen at some point, although not until Yeovil's fleet reliability has been sorted out.........................

Yeovil is quite happy with 14 plate Solo SRs. Certainly do not want BoS castoffs again like before it joined FHD. At one time Bridgwater got new 2008 E200s and Yeovil got their castoff Plaxton Beaver Mercs.
 

THarris123

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I agree. It means that the "war" with WB is being conducted by one set of First management rather than two (excepting the 26/126 skirmish).

FSA was/is losing money. I doubt the 377 does more than break even whilst the 375 is almost certainly loss-making. Status quo is not an option.

First cannot just sit and watch WB destroy their business; they need to react. There is no shame in copying a couple of WB routes; the chances are that WB got these right and have abstracted revenue from First.

I agree that First offer earlier/later and Sunday services in some parts which will get them some customer loyalty/regular trade, but passholders will tend to catch the first(!) bus that comes. Indeed, WB has a more modern fleet than BoS.

But ultimately I think this is a war First will win; no-one will make any money in the meantime but it is about choosing the correct strategy and then sticking to it, which is what First/BoS are doing.

That said, it would make more sense for Yeovil depot to be under BoS control and I still expect this to happen at some point, although not until Yeovil's fleet reliability has been sorted out.........................

Well from what i've seen 377, 375 and 29 would be better run from Wells. The direction of demand on the services in the morning is mostly from Wells and Street and then from Yeovil/Taunton/Bridgwater in the evening. I've been told of many times for saying that 376 should have an earlier service into Wells, but it has taken me some time to realise that the direction of demand is out of Wells to Bristol. It is the same on practically all other services that run into Wells - the direction of demand in the morning is from Wells and to Wells in the evening. Getting commuters on there side should be the most important thing, certainly not turning them away. They are the ones that make First money, not the pensioners, especially with the cuts in reimbursements.

I'll give you a statistic - Wells is currently 87% punctual as a depot i'm told. How do you think that is going to be affected with the losing the pretty reliable 377 and 375 and gaining the unreliable 178/379? It will certainly not have a good affect to it.

BoS should be concentrating fighting Webberbus on services they make money on - from what i've seen they don't make money on 37 or 38. So instead of creating the 55, they could have used those extra 4-6 buses on other routes in Taunton and Bridgwater where Webberbus are doing better.

So if 377 is currently just breaking even, what's the point of adding another bus an hour to the mix?

I understand why they've done what they've done, but you do have to ask whether its really that beneficial. It certainly can't be a long term plan.
 

freetoview33

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Because it's easier to push them off marginal services than ones that are doing well. It's not perfect but it is a start.

Same with First and Wessex in Bristol. They ran them out of routes by running more services and with the 309 at the time then when Wessex gave in the additional 309 trips went!
 

THarris123

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Because it's easier to push them off marginal services than ones that are doing well. It's not perfect but it is a start.

Same with First and Wessex in Bristol. They ran them out of routes by running more services and with the 309 at the time then when Wessex gave in the additional 309 trips went!

How is it the same as Wessex exactly?

Webberbus have a thriving private and school contract, as well as unfortunately a bus service network which has grown into a near enough commercial operation.

Wessex don't have a private network, nor much school work. They depended and still depend heavily on money coming in from the Universities. All First needed to do was increase the frequencies on some of their routes, reroute some routes and create a new network in Bristol to show how much better at running the Uni work they are than Wessex. Wessex hardly have much of a commercial operation, but they are backed up by Rotala. Wessex's operation is mostly based around university work, so when the Universities would rather fund another company to run buses to and from their buildings, Wessex lose a lot. There is plenty of demand to play with in dealing with Unis and to compare that with Somerset which is very sparsely populated (obviously not from Wells-Somerton-Yeovil/Taunton, as that's doing as well as 376 and 173/4 to increase the frequencies) is absurd.

As I say, I can see why First are doing it and why, but the viability of those ideas just won't work in the slightest in the long term.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Buses of Somerset: http://www.busesofsomerset.co.uk/

IE the name First give some of its operations in Somerset.

Sorry didn't make that very clear. :(
 

henairs

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Hi,
How will ticket validity work when BOS take over these routes as they issue their own tickets which are not valid on anything beyond Wells.
The few of us who buy a day ticket out of Yeovil buy a day explorer on a Yeovil route which is accepted in Bath and Bristol where the BOS one wouldn't be despite it being a so called First company irrespective of name.
When 377 (as of now) was run by Wells Depot either a West of England Day or Plus ticket could be bought from the driver.
Of course the Plus ticket at £10 is valid on BOS services so why not the other way round.
Interesting that a Yeovil bought First Dorset ticket is okay as its all West of England it could not be used in the Dorset, Weymouth area due to their crackpot ticketing system where there is no day ticket but a day return offers unlimited trips between the two points on that ticket.
Complex isn't it !
Cheers, Mike R
 

THarris123

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Hi,
How will ticket validity work when BOS take over these routes as they issue their own tickets which are not valid on anything beyond Wells.
The few of us who buy a day ticket out of Yeovil buy a day explorer on a Yeovil route which is accepted in Bath and Bristol where the BOS one wouldn't be despite it being a so called First company irrespective of name.
When 377 (as of now) was run by Wells Depot either a West of England Day or Plus ticket could be bought from the driver.
Of course the Plus ticket at £10 is valid on BOS services so why not the other way round.
Interesting that a Yeovil bought First Dorset ticket is okay as its all West of England it could not be used in the Dorset, Weymouth area due to their crackpot ticketing system where there is no day ticket but a day return offers unlimited trips between the two points on that ticket.
Complex isn't it !
Cheers, Mike R

Hi Mike,
Think FSW can confirm in more detail, but I was informed that First WoE day tickets will be allowable on 77, but not sure about the rest. It's pretty stupid that if i want to go from Wells to Salisbury it costs £7.50 and yet Wells to Taunton costs £10. I think if you were buying a WoE day ticket in Bristol, that should get you as far as Wells/Street and that's fair - to go to Taunton it would cost £10, but from Wells to Taunton should be cheaper really - same applies in Yeovil - if going from Yeovil to Bristol and back £10 is fair, but just to Wells is a bit pricy.

Thanks for getting involved in this thread. Tom.
 
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