Friday, 25 March 2011
Buses in the states!
Now this is something I never actually ended up posting about, even though this was some 8 odd months ago, so please excuse me if my memory hasn't served me 100%.
On the holiday we stayed in Orlando, Florida, of course the tourist magnet of the USA. Surprisingly though, public transport was comparatively scarce when compared to what I would have expected. You would assume there would be loads of shuttles to the various theme parks and so on, and indeed in the morning and evening peak, there were, but these had no stops along the way. They simply went from A to B on pre booked tickets with the holiday you booked on, and generally there were few people using each service.
The service buses themselves were operated by a company called 'Lynx'. Unfortunately, no, the fleet was not entirely operated with Leyland Lynxs (hmm do I put Lynxes, to be correct in grammatical terms, even though technically is should be Lynxs?). I actually have no idea who made the buses, but they used only 2 different types, a high floor and a low floor, though both offered disabled access across the board. The gearboxes on both types sounded very similar, but the engines were certainly different. What is somewhat confusing is there's no real identity. True they are basically in a monopoly situation so why do they need to be specific liveries, but all the buses were painted in different plain bold colours. There was no hint of branding for each route due to this, it was simply random. I suppose it does make it a bit more interesting, but brand identity seems to have been completely forgotten about.
The bus station itself was certainly impressive. It looked very modern and airy, the waiting area was also very well kept. Generally it was all kept very clean and in good condition, with facilities plentiful, but what did strike me was the sheer lack of information across the board. Even in the bus station timetables were few and far between. There is no real time information to be seen whatsoever and I never saw one at stop poster timetable anywhere! There is also very little fare information, but we'll get onto that later.
The routes I travelled on were also somewhat different in their structure when compared to UK routes. Of course here we are used to express type travel using main roads only, and then supported routes using the back roads to put it very simply. Of course there are lots of variations but for the purposes of this we will stick to those 2 main types. Of all the routes I used there, all of them took forever to get anywhere. From my hotel to the centre of Orlando took some 1hr 30 - 2hrs if memory serves, even though the distance is only around 6-7 miles. It goes via everywhere possible on the route. Its simple things like this that make you see why people generally just jump in the car, especially as fuel is so cheap.
As I'm off to the Isle of Wight for the next few days I have pre-written several posts for you to enjoy over the next couple of days. Hopefully all will go to plan! Hopefully I'll be able to sneak away for an hour or 2 on the IOW to grab a few photos of what Southern Vectis has to offer, but we shall see what happens!