Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Ferry bad news for Irish travellers

A sign that the financial situation linked to the high cost of fuel is taking its toll.

Buses at Stapleford Miniature Railway in Leicestershire

Ken Jones sent these pictures. At first glance the second one looks like a Midland Red C1 coach but it isn't. It is a Bristol RE which was new to Royal Blue in 1969.

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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Monday, 29 August 2011

Leyland National for sale

Cambridge busway (6) - single deckers

Stagecoach operate single deckers every 20 minutes on route A between St Ives park & ride and Trumpington.

Whippet operate single deckers every hour between St Ives and Cambridge railway station.

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Cambridge busway (5) - double deckers

Stagecoach operate air conditioned, wi fi equiped double deckers every 20 minutes on route B from Huntingdon to Central Cambridge.

The interiors have comfortable high backed seats.

Finally there are a number of power points, presumably for lap tops, which are labelled as being 240v ac.

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Hurricane Irene

An extract from the New York Times on the extent of damage caused to the transport system as a result of Hurricane Irene.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

In a move that has upset Scottish Government MP's and officials, Edinburgh City Councillors have rejected official recommendations to take the controversial project from Edinburgh Airport to St Andrew Square in the centre of the city.
Instead, they backed a Labour amendment to take it only as far as Haymarket railway station in the west end.
The vote means the council will no longer need to borrow £231m to partially complete the project into the city centre.
The decision went against advice by council officials that a tram line from the airport to Haymarket could be loss-making.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie also called on Finance Secretary John Swinney to review the decision by Edinburgh City Council to opt for the truncated line. The Scottish government has previously said it would "consider the implications" of the decision in light of a "fundamental change to the business case".
Mr Rennie said: "The Scottish government will not want to fund this loss-making and low benefit-to-cost-ratio scheme.
"The Scottish government should intervene now before it's too late. Their action could help stop the
Haymarket scheme and resurrect the profitable St Andrew Square option."
A spokesman for Mr Salmond responded: "We will be delighted to have a public inquiry into the trams fiasco, and will do so once there is greater clarity about the direction of the project so that its full circumstances can be examined."
A further piece of bad news is that Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (Tie), the council-owned firm set up to deliver the tram network, had hoped to raise up to £28 million by leasing ten trams to Croydon in Greater London.
However, Transport for London has now said it is not interested in Edinburgh's vehicles, which are being stored in Spain.
Tie, which is widely expected to be axed after costs spiralled from £545m to £773m, has 27 vehicles worth £2m each. The current shortfall is estimated to be more than £170m.

David Gambles

Last week on Focus Transport

The main site was updated on 21st August with 3 articles: an update to Parcels Carried by Tony Wilson, Animal Magic by Tony Wilson and Ecclesbourne Railway by David Gambles.
The following picture sets were added to Flickr:
Glasgow & Inverness by RogerKaye
Lathalmond by Paul Ogilvie
Lathalmond by Tony Wilson
Brislington by Bob Brimley
North East bus preservation by David Gambles
Showbus Woburn by Tony Wilson.

Cambridge busway (4) - Work in progress

Despite being two years late opening, the busway is still not complete. This is the sight that greets anyone at Cambridge Station.

It is necessary to walk through the roadworks to get to the bus stop and.....

...the shelter is coned off making it very difficult to read the timetable.

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Saturday, 27 August 2011

Cambridge busway (3) - infrastructure

The busway was constructed on an old railway. For most of the way has two bus lanes and a cycle path although there is a short section of single track controlled by traffic lights at Trumpington. The busway runs from St Ives (park & ride) to the outskirts of Cambridge and then from Cambridge Railway Station to Trumpington.

Road crossings are controlled by traffic lights.

The intermediate stops have low platorms and shelters.

The name signs at the stops are rather small and there are no announcements or displays on the buses which only stop by request.

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Friday, 26 August 2011

Aston Manor Press Release

From Ken Jones
It is with sadness that, following a series of meetings between the Trustees of the Museum and
senior Council officers and members, that the decision has been taken for the Aston Manor
Transport Museum to quit its current premises in the Historic Tram Shed in Witton. This follows
withdrawal of the long standing financial support from the City Council.
Over the last 14 months representatives from both sides have explored ways in which the Transport
Museum could be maintained as a viable operation at its current site. Unfortunately, it has not
proved possible for fundraising by the Museum to be completed in a timeline acceptable to the City
In considering the situation, the City Council has been extremely mindful of its relationship with
other voluntary groups and the support given to them, but also the financial constraints it finds itself
under in the current financial environment.
It is planned that the Museum will vacate the premises over an agreed period and the exhibits will in
the short term be placed in store pending a review of whether suitable alternative premises can be
located. If none are found quickly the collection will be broken up and disbanded.

Councillor Randall Brew, the Cabinet Member for Finance at Birmingham City Council said:
“The City Council would like to place on record its sincere thanks to the Museum Trustees and
volunteers for all the efforts they have made to try and secure a financially sustainable future for the
Museum. This work has demonstrated a sincere commitment to the Museum itself and the concept
behind it. We wish the Museum every success in finding new premises.”

Geoff Lusher Chairman of Aston Manor Transport Museum said:
“The Museum has in the last 20 years attracted well over 100,000 visitors to the City, and whilst we
understand the financial constraints on the City Council we believe the closure of such an important
Heritage Asset and its display of local artefacts is a cultural loss to Birmingham and the prospects for
keeping the collection together are slim”

Bristol KSW PHN 829 has recently returned home to the UK having spent many years based in Mainland Europe. The North East Bus Preservation Trust used the bus for their August evening tour, where the bus was driven around some of the original United routes that the bus would have operated on.
Photos on Focusflickr

David Gambles

New trams for Croydon Tramlink

From Tony Wilson.
A recent Press Release from Transport for London as regards extra trams for the successful Croydon Tram system. There had been conjecture that some of the new already completed trams for the Edinburgh system may have been hired in. However, that plan has been dropped. Unlike the Edinburgh tram!
See linked attached.
The new trams for delivery early next year are of the same design as the trams being run in Bergen Norway.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Cambridge busway (2) - fares and tickets

All buses operating on the busway are equipped with ticket machines which are used at ordinary stops off the busway. However tickets must be pre-purchased from a machine at busway stops. This complicated by two factors. First you must choose which operator's bus you want to travel on and secondly OAP passes are not processed by the machine - OAPs 'pay' the driver but this is not made clear.
The first prompt on the machine is 'Stagecoach' or 'Whippet'. The PID only displays the service letter, the destination and the departure time. So armed with this information it is necessary to walk along the platform to the map which says that services A and B are Stagecoach and C is Whippet. The next display asks for your intended destination but it is necessay to scroll down using a small arrow at the bottom left to find most stops. It is then necessary to choose a ticket type but no mention is made of OAP passes. Payment can then be made by coins, notes or bank cards.
When the bus arrives fare paying passengers can board quickly but OAPs have to put their card onto the drivers ticket machine and wait for it to issue a ticket. This caused endless confusion for the family groups trying out the new service during the school holidays. It is a cheap dayout for grandchildren but the two different methods of payment are confusing.
St Ives park and ride. The ticket machines areon the right and the map on the left.

At Trumpington there is a further complication. The park and ride site is shared with a long-standing service operated by conventional Stagecoach buses for which older, coin only, machines are used.

The guided buses take an indirect route via Addenbrooke's Hospital. The fare to Cambridge was shown as £2.20 single compared with £2.40 return on the conventional buses. A notice had been stuck onto the machine offering a £2.50 return to Addenbooke's - pay the driver!

Cambridge busway (1)

Richard and Kath Lomas had a look at Cambridge busway on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning this week. It is rather complicated and can be quite confusing. There are 3 overlapping services: A is operated by Stagecoach single deckers every 20 minutes, B is operated by Stagecoach double deckers every 20 minutes and C is operated by Whippet single deckers every hour. Rather surprisingly even after a delay of two years parts of the system are incomplete and even more surprisingly there isn't a direct main road, busway, main road service between the centres of Huntingdon and Cambridge.
to be continued

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Another cut

Yesterday I received an email from National Express Coaches:

Important news on the concessionary fares scheme
As somebody who has used the Government's half price coach ticket scheme, we want to give you some important information.
The scheme currently provides up to half price travel for over 60 year olds and disabled people through Government funding.
The Government has announced that this funding will end on 31 October 2011 as part of its spending cuts programme.
While we are looking to introduce a replacement scheme, without the government funding it is not possible to make discounts as high and the cost of travel will increase for you.
We have written to the Government to ask that they reconsider this decision. We have also written to a number of MPs to raise our concerns. Many MPs have told us they agree and have written to ministers at the Department for Transport to ask them whether they have considered the potential impact on eligible passengers' ability to travel.
From your letters and emails, we know that many of you rely on the half price fares. Some have also expressed concern that without it, they may not be able to travel. If you share these concerns, perhaps you could write to, or email, your local MP to encourage them to raise your concern with the Department for Transport. 
If you wish to write to your local MP we have included a letter template that you may want to use, simply add your details, print and send.
We will be in touch soon with more information on how you can take advantage of the half price travel scheme before it ends.

Richard Lomas

Monday, 22 August 2011

Can you identify this bus?

Ken Jones writes:
"Here are the first pictures of the latest N gauge model I've acquired. It's a very thin gauge white metal kit and I've not seen one like it before so it may have been a prototype model. It came in 5 parts - 2 sides, front, back and roof.

It looks to be a service bus as it has destination blinds. It is right hand drive because the passenger doors are on the nearside - it has emergency doors at the rear on both sides and part of the sides look more like an American coach.

It came from Ebay in a paper bag marked "bus" and cost me £1 plus postage. I'm the last of the big spenders. There were no other bids probably because no-one knew what it was meant to be.

I may have stuck the roof on back to front but it fitted together better this way as in the pictures."

David Gambles recently visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway in Derbyshire. His report and pictures appear on the Focus Transport main website.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Roger kaye has recently visited Glasgow and Inverness and a selection of his pictures can be viewed on Focus Flickr.

Premiere service 2

Yesterday we had a ride on Premiere's new service 2 from Eastwood to Hucknall which is partially funded by the European Regional Development Fund. We were the only passengers leaving Eastwood but in total it carried 15 (11 pass holders and 4 paying customers) which was more than I expected.
The bus left Eastwood 4 minutes late and was 6 mins late arriving in Selston where it took a wrong turn and had to reverse at Church Lane/Stoney Lane where the driver had difficulty in finding reverse. At the next stop the driver couldn't change a £20 note causing another delay whilst the lady borrowed money from her friend. We left Selston 8 minutes late but negotiated Sherwood Business Park very quickly on a Saturday morning leaving 2 minutes late and arriving in Hucknall 1 minute early at half past the hour.
The next Rainbow 3 to Nottingham Victoria was due in 2 minutes from the same stop but this was 6 minutes late.

I also picked up a timetable for the new Red8 service to Nottingham. The terminus will be in Milton Street which is nearer the city centre than Victoria bus station and there will be 'special launch offer cash fares' of £1 single and 7 days unlimited travel for £5. 
Richard Lomas

Last week on Focus Transport (3)

The main site was updated on 14th August with the first part of a series of articles by Tony Wilson on the history of Showbus. Oliver Foreman published a few pictures of his recent holiday and asked readers to identify the locations.
The following picture sets were added to Flickr
Kingston upon Hull
Sheffield Enviro 400H is delivered
Nottingham sightings (including Wright StreetLite demonstrator)

Saturday, 20 August 2011

York City Council's unpopular plan to close the Union Terrace Coach Park has finally bit the dust after York St John University has now withdrawn their offer to buy the coach and adjoining car park.

Plans to sell part of the site to the university had been approved by the City of York council, and options for the sale were at a consultation stage.
The vice chancellor of the university said it had decided to reconsider after taking part in the consultation following many objections to the scheme including a 22,000 signature petition.
The City Council had ignored the objections and were pushing forward with the plans, in spite of the coach park being heavily used all year round. The amount of available coach parking is, at times not enough to meet demands and the council were unable to grasp the link between the many visitors who arrive by coach and the fact that coaches require parking suitable facilities.

Council leader, James Alexander is unrepentant and, said "Naturally, we are disappointed that despite all the work that has been done, the university has chosen to withdraw their proposed plans for expansion on the Union Terrace site." 
It can be assumed from this comment that the Council Leader hasn't realised how out of touch he and his fellow councilors are with the role that coaches and tourism play in the city.

David Gambles

Friday, 19 August 2011

As widely expected, Stagecoach have today, announced a return of capital to shareholders amounting to 47p per share.
In the statement issued by the group they state that " By 30 April 2011, the Group's consolidated net debt had reduced to £281m while the Group's profit (excluding intangible asset expenses and exceptional items) had increased.  The reduction in net debt reflects the Group's strong cash generation over the period.  This led the board of directors of the Company (the "Board") to review the Group's capital structure and the Board has concluded that it is appropriate to return approximately £340m to shareholders."
The Return of Cash (together with certain other matters) requires the approval of shareholders. These approvals will be sought at a general meeting of the Company, which is expected to be held at the Company's registered office at 10 Dunkeld Road, Perth, PH1 5TW at 9.30 a.m. on 7 October 2011.
The Group's last major return of cash to shareholders was in 2007 when it returned approximately £700m. 
 Also stated in the announcement is that  "The Board has taken full account of the Group's development plans and access to funding in reaching its decision that this was an appropriate amount to return to shareholders."
 As at 15.45 today (19th August) shares had risen by 10p to a price of £2.43 per share.


Pictures taken in Hull this week, can be found on FocusFlickr