Saturday, 7 May 2011

Frequent Intervals?

A common topic in the bus industry, is the debate on how best to produce timetables, to give clear information, while trying not to confuse the passenger. With bus stop signs I generally find that FDC's are better than Plymouth Citybus'. Though both share the same format of showing a time for every bus, along with a route, the extra bit of colour with First really adds something. Colour coding just makes it that bit easier to distinguish between routes, so you don't get confused. First also split up their routes into a Ugo section and a standard service section, again making it easier to identify. The thing that really puts FDC's on top though, is that they DO tell you how long your journey is going to take! PCB's state an ultimate destination as well as significant points, but fail to tell you how long it will take to get to your destination. 

But onto the real point of all this, as some of you may know, service 3 to Barne Barton is going to enjoy a frequency increase to every 7-8 minutes. I was therefore quite keen to have a look to see how they've adapted to this, if buses are getting less time to get round the route, and how many more buses will be employed onto the service. But this is what greeted me on the forthcoming timetables: 

Service No.:333333333
Royal Parade [A2]06300640065007000710072007300740and1800
Stonehouse Brewery Tap06340644065407040714072407340744at1804
Devonport Park Avenue06380648065807080718072807380748frequent1808
HMS Drake06440654070407140724073407440754intervals1814
St Budeaux Square, Opp Shops06490659070907190729073907490759until1819
Barne Barton, Barne Road065307030713072307330743075308031822

At frequent intervals? The general public who will look at the new timetables, won't necessarily know that they are now ever 7-8 minutes. This therefore really doesn't aid you in journey planning. What if I needed to get to Town for a dentist appointment from Devonport by a certain time? Its just not really very obvious. Even if it stated 'And then every 7-8 minutes' this is still somewhat vauge, as there are no previous timetables you can look back on from earlier in the day, to find the pattern. The best thing of course, would be to see it going 00, 07, 14, etc "And then at these minutes past the hour until". This is by far the best way of showing whats going on, as it shows a concise yet clear clock face pattern, and you can still work out journey times. On further investigation, even the every 10 minute routes now say at frequent intervals. Yet other services such as the 4, show "And then at these minutes past each hour". I wonder why there is a lack of continuity. You aren't exactly wasting any money, by putting a few virtual numbers on a computer screen. I'll therefore be interested to see what will now appear in the bus shelter displays. 

Maybe I'm just being a bit picky! Every 10 minutes is pretty much, the Holy Grail of frequency, so a route every 7-8 minutes is extremely good to see. I believe therefore this is the only route in Plymouth that currently has a 7-8 minute frequency, but correct me if I'm wrong! True that some corridors are covered by multiple routes, so have a better than every 10 minute frequency, so it doesn't really cover the whole picture. The Devonport corridor is only the 3, with the hourly 81A chucked in there as well. It will be interesting to see if the 26 will see a decline in usage. At the moment, 'most' people seem to wait for a 26. But with them seeing even more 3s drive past while waiting, will more people be encouraged onto the 3? I certainly would think so. How can you ignore 2 or even 3, 3s coming past, before one 26. Interestingly, this week I haven't actually seen any Volvo B7 deckers on the 26. Is this just me not looking hard enough, or at the wrong times, or have they been displaced onto another route. I've noted N reg Darts as well as a range of standard Pointer 2 Darts, and even M129 HOD to top it off! 


Anonymous said...

There has been double deckers on the routes, I've had them in the morning all this week, but there are many that are out of action do to over heating problems, most have been older style darts lke 8 or 2 and some Step Darts, I had all Step Darts last week on the 26 and 43A!


Laurence Mayhew said...

Ah right I see, thank you for clearing that up! Thought they may have been taken off totally. Certainly makes sense to run them in the morning peak though.

Ah you lucky person! I'd much rather have a step Dart on all my journeys than a bloomin Vario!

Anonymous said...

I really wish I could trust First. To me they seem like having a mate that you want to be friends with. The problem is that sometimes they will be all over you, when you really need them they don’t want to know and occasionally they will simply beat you up! Having said their drivers and other front line staff (Bretonside travel shop) are absolutely excellent and are a credit to their employer.