Friday, 20 April 2018

Stagecoach Re-Jigs Greyhound Bridge Timetables

Skerton Bridge has had two-way traffic since January
Stagecoach has confirmed what has been apparent to bus passengers for some time: the traffic congestion following the closure of Greyhound Bridge - and the diversion of west and northbound traffic over Skerton Bridge - has not been as bad as everyone expected.

Acting on the advice of Lancashire County Council Stagecoach added extra running time to most of its Lancaster services from 29th January and drafted in additional vehicles and drivers to maintain frequencies. Cross-river services were split at the bus station to prevent delays at Skerton Bridge affecting reliability in the south of the city. No help was forthcoming from the county council for the extra costs involved despite  requests from the company and the Bus Users' Group.

The extra running time combined with the relative lack of congestion led to two
Hopefully the new arrangements will
see an end to scenes like this.
unfortunate side effects. Outbound buses, if they left the bus station on time, were arriving early at their first timing points and having to wait, sometimes for considerable periods, until they could proceed.  Meanwhile inbound buses, despite having left their previous timing points on time were getting back to the bus station early, which lead to the departure stands becoming clogged with buses that shouldn't have been there and, when all stands were full, queues of buses waiting to enter the station.  The extra buses in the station meant that departing
Stagecoach has had extra staff on duty to help.
buses couldn't always leave from their allocated stands causing passengers to miss their buses on occasion despite the best efforts of drivers and inspectors to alert them. Your writer had a number of near misses himself!


But Stagecoach management has been well aware of the situation and has now announced that from 22nd April new timetables will be introduced to put things right. Most of the additional running time allocated to services that cross the river has been removed meaning that not all the extra vehicles are required and the congestion in the bus station should be reduced.  The changes appear to have been brought in at short notice, with the usual 56-day notice period being waived by the Traffic Commissioner.

On service 2/2A (University - City - Heysham) buses on the City to Heysham leg were given an extra 10 minutes to complete their journeys in January. This has now been reduced to just 2 additional minutes in most cases. On Monday to Saturday evenings (but not Sundays) the through service between the University and Heysham is restored, although this is shown only on the "U2" timetable with that for the 2/2A continuing to show buses as terminating in Lancaster!  The 20-minute headway between Heysham and the University at night is also restored and late journeys from Lancaster now all run through to Heysham Towers up to and including the 0038 from Lancaster (0010 from the University).
The new timetables are:
2  City - Heysham
U2 City - University*
* Details of the through evening service between University and Heysham are shown only on the U2 timetable.

Service 2X (Lancaster - Heysham By-Pass - Heysham - Battery) has had a seven minute reduction in running time on journeys towards Heysham and a 6 minute cut for buses towards Lancaster.
New Times:
2X Lancaster - Heysham - Battery

Service 3/3A (University - City - Heysham): Buses from Lancaster towards Morecambe and Heysham were given an additional 8 minutes in January, an allowance that has now been cut to 3 extra minutes over the normal times.
On the City to University section (numbered U3, or U3R for buses via the railway station) the timetable has been re-issued to make it clear that there is a service from the station through to the University as well as in the opposite direction, something the previous version failed to do.
For the first time, the two short workings towards the University that start at Greaves, Belle Vue Terrace are now shown in the timetable ("Belle Bue Terrace" is a typo!)

Only the journeys which start there at 0830 and 0841 are shown as calling at Belle Vue Terrace, although as the stop is, of course, served by all buses on the U3 / U3R as well as every other bus on Scotforth Road!  If you are not sure where this stop is, it's the stop called "Greaves Hotel" (named after a now-demolished pub) on your ticket if you travel to or from there!  
There continue to be separate timetables for "University Term Times" and "University Holidays" on these services although there is no indication anywhere as to when these term times and holidays are! (A fault that also applies to the U2 and U4 timetables).
New times:
3/3A Lancaster - Morecambe - Heysham
U3 / U3R  Lancaster - University

Service 4 (University - City - Higher Heysham) buses have also lost 5 of the extra 8 minutes running time between the City Centre and Torrisholme that they were given in January.
New times:
4  Lancaster - Heysham

Service 6 (Morecambe - Westgate) and  6A (Lancaster - Westgate  - Morecambe).  In January, 6A buses got an extra 13 minutes to cross the river, more than any other service. This has now been reduced to 7 minutes and a further 3 minutes has been saved on the next stage to Asda. The through journey time is now 42 minutes as opposed to 51 in January and 38 before the bridge closure. Buses will leave Lancaster at 15 minutes past the hour and return from Morecambe Bus Station at the same times.  Because the 6A interworks with the 6 (Morecambe - Westgate ) and forms part of a standard 15-minute frequency between Westgate and Morecambe the times of the 6A have also changed.
New times
6 / 6A  Lancaster - Westgate - Morecambe

Service 7 (Lancaster - Vale).  Buses to and from Vale have had 5 minutes cut from the round-trip time, which means that they now have 10 extra minutes per round-trip than they did before the bridge closure.
New times:
7 Lancaster - Vale

There are no changes to city services 10 (Ridge), 11 (Marsh) or 18 (Williamson Park). Inter-urban services 40/41 (Lancaster - Preston) and 42 (Lancaster - Morecambe) have only minor changes, mainly the reintroduction of some early morning and late evening through journeys from or to Morecambe).   On services 80 (Ingleton) and 81 (Kirkby Lonsdale) just 2 minutes has been cut from off-peak journey times and 5 minutes at peak times although there are more significant changes to the 0655 from Ingleton, which will arrive Lancaster at 0803 rather than 0820 and the 0710 from Kirkby Lonsdale, which will reach the city 17 minutes earlier at 0822.
New times:
40/41 (Morecambe - Lancaster - Preston)
42 (Lancaster - Blackpool)
80 (Lancaster - Ingleton)
81 (Lancaster - Kirkby Lonsdale)

Not mentioned in the Stagecoach Service Update, there are also changes to the following services.
49 Lancaster - Halton - Carnforth - Warton: Buses from Warton / Halton to Lancaster will arrive at Lancaster Bus Station 5 minutes earlier than previously. Times at other stops are unchanged and buses from Lancaster to Halton and Warton are not affected.

55 Lancaster - Hest Bank - Carnforth: Buses leaving Lancaster between 1550 and 1730 have had 2 minutes cut from the running time to Beaumont Bridge. Curiously, the 1610 Lancaster to Carnforth runs 2 minutes earlier between Beaumont Bridge and Hest Bank but the arrival times at Carnforth and Over Kellet differ depending on whether one looks at the 49/55 timetable page (Carnforth 1647, Over Kellet 1704) or the joint 55/555 pages (Carnforth 1652, Windermere Road 1704). Either Stagecoach has mastered the art of having buses in two places at once or the timetables were done in a bit of a hurry! (The BUG is loathe to criticise however and realises that timetable compilation and publication is a much bigger job than it might seem to the outsider!)

Journeys into Lancaster on the 55 have had reductions in running time of 2 to 3 minutes in the morning peak and late evenings (except the 0725 from Carnforth which continues to arrive at 0757) whilst off-peak journey times are reduced by up to 12 minutes.
New times: (and thanks to blog reader Peter Brown for finding them)
49 Lancaster - Warton
55 Lancaster - Carnforth

The Bus Users' Group hopes that these changes will alleviate the problems experienced by passengers due to buses having to stop and wait for time during their journeys and also that most buses will now be able to use their correct stands in the bus station.  We will be keeping an eye on things and letting Stagecoach now what we find.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Change of Stop in Blackpool for service 42

If you're planning on a trip to Blackpool in the next few weeks please note this announcement from Stagecoach

The latest phase of works on Talbot Road, affecting Clifton Street and Corporation Street run from Tuesday 3rd April and will last for approximately five weeks. During this time service 42 to Lancaster will start from the stop on Talbot Road outside Wilko's instead of  its usual stop on Abingdon Street. Buses arriving in Blackpool from Lancaster will set down passengers opposite Wilko's. (We've amended the wording slightly to make it clearer).
If you want to learn more about these works please visit www.blackpool.gov.uk/BetterBlackpool
Stagecoach would like to apologise for any disruption caused to your journey during these works.
This map, from Blackpool Transport's website, hasn't been updated to show the new arrangements but does show the usual stop in Abingdon Street (at bottom of map) and the temporary stop on Talbot Road between the two roundabouts (numbers 2 2c 5 6 7 9 14 18 19 - to which should now be added 42 for journeys to Lancaster).

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Don't Forget Dales Bus this Easter.


Here is a press release from Dales Bus concerning their "Malham Tarn Shuttle 881" service.


EXTENDED DALES BUS SERVICE LINKS LANCASTER & MORECAMBE WITH THE YORKSHIRE DALES NATIONAL PARKS.

The popular Dales Bus service 881 from Morecambe, Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale has been extended to operate from Easter weekend to provide a direct link for walkers and sightseers to Malham, one of the most iconic visitor destinations in any UK National Park.

Malham Tarn: Visit it on service 881.
The Malham Tarn Shuttle 881 will operate every Sunday and Bank Holiday from April 1st until 21st October.  It will pick up from Morecambe Bus Station at 0825, Lancaster Bus Station at 0850 and Kirkby Lonsdale (Market Square) at 0930 for Ingleton, Clapham (for access to Ingleborough), Austwick and Settle before crossing over some of the most spectacular limestone countryside in England, past Malham Tarn National Nature Reserve before descending to the village of Malham and terminating at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre.

Malham is a paradise for walkers. There are beautiful and spectacular walks – to Malham Cove, Janet’s Foss and Gordale, or for keen walkers along the Pennine Way to Malham Tarn or the Pennine Bridleway back to Settle.

To keep prices as low as possible to encourage everyone to get out into the National Park for their health and wellbeing, Dales Bus offer a range of good-value day tickets purchasable from the bus driver. A Western Dales Explorer Ticket covers a day’s travel on Dales Bus from Morecambe or Lancaster as far as Malham for just £9 (adult), or £15 for a family ticket for up to 2 adults and 3 children. A £7.50 Dales Privilege Rover Ticket is available for anyone with a senior or disabled bus pass, railcard or student ID. 

The Northern Dalesman services from Lancaster to Wensleydale and Swaledale and the Bowland Explorer bus service will both commence at Spring Bank Holiday weekend on May 27th following new rail timetable changes.

Full details of all Dales Bus services for 2018 are now on the Dales Bus web site – www.dalesbus.org.   

Friday, 16 March 2018

Thirty Years Later

The new picture on our masthead celebrates the introduction of Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire's new service 582 between Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale, introduced on 5th March.

Lancaster to Skipton by bus in 2018
Buses on this service continue through to Settle and Skipton as services 581/580 and restore the link between Lancaster and Skipton. Buses were first operated between the two towns by Pennine Motor Services of Gargrave in 1926 and from 1931 the service was jointly-operated with Ribble Motor Services of Preston (which eventually became part of the Stagecoach empire).

How things were in 1981: A Pennine bus at Settle bound for Ingleton, where it would connect with a Lancaster service

1981 Again: This bus is at Clapham, heading for Skipton from Lancaster.  Service 582 now provides this link.
The joint service was numbered 580 in the Ribble series and had co-ordinated timetables and common fares with inter-available tickets.  By the 1980s only Pennine buses completed the whole route, with four through journeys per day. At other times, Ribble buses ran from Lancaster to Ingleton and connected with Pennine buses on to Skipton to give an hourly link. This arrangement lasted until 1986 when the government decided that such co-operation was bad for passengers and what was really needed was competition.  Unfortunately, the decline in the use of rural bus services  meant that there was no room for two competing companies on the route and the operation was soon split into two halves, with Ribble operating between Lancaster and Ingleton and Pennine running between Ingleton and Skipton, with all the benefits of a through service being lost.

Pennine Motor Services ceased to trade in 2014, although by then it had retreated from Ingleton to Settle, and after a short period when replacement services between Settle and Skipton were provided by North Yorkshire County Council using its own 16-seater minibuses, Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire, which was by then operating between Kirkby Lonsdale and Settle, extended its service to Skipton, marketing it as "The Craven Connection"

The Ingleton to Lancaster section continued to be operated by Stagecoach, the successors to Ribble Motor Services, as its service 80 and continues to follow the original joint route via Bentham. The Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire services link Lancaster and Skipton in a slightly different way, taking passengers through Kirkby Lonsdale rather than Bentham, but the reintroduction of through buses is very welcome and restores the historic connection.

If you fancy a ride on the new service you will find a link to the timetable here.





Monday, 26 February 2018

Easter Start for Dales Bus This Year

See Malham Tarn with Dales Bus
Fans of the Dales Bus services that link Lancaster and Morecambe to the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland will be pleased to learn that one of their favourite services - the "Malham Tarn Shuttle" - will have an extended season in 2018 starting at Easter and continuing through until 21st October.

Service 881, which will be operated by Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire, runs on Sundays and Bank Holidays linking Morecambe, Lancaster and the Lune Valley with Ingleton, Settle, Malham and Malham Tarn.  The bus leaves Morecambe at 0825, Lancaster Bus Station at 0850 and Kirkby Lonsdale at 0930 and arrives in Settle at 1020, Malham Tarn at 1038 and Malham village at 1050.

The timetable allows either a full day at Malham, with the return bus leaving at 1605 or there are earlier buses at 1125 and 1330 to Settle and Ingleton allowing passengers to spend some time in one or both towns before returning to Lancaster for 1805 and Morecambe at 1825.

A full timetable can be found via this link

Unfortunately, concessionary bus passes cannot be used for free travel on the Malham Tarn Shuttle because Lancashire and North Yorkshire County Councils say that it should only be used by "tourists" rather than local people (who actually make up the bulk of the ridership), but good-value discounted tickets are available to all bus pass holders.

Lancaster's other Dales Bus services, the 830 Northern Dalesman to Ribblehead, Wensleydale and Swaledale and the 833 to Ingleton, Gisburn Forest, Slaidburn and Clitheroe will re-start on 20th May and full timetable details will be posted here as soon as they are available.

The Bus Users' Group wishes to offer its congratulations to the Dales & Bowland CIC, which organises the services, for once-again securing the funding for the network in what are still very challenging times for public services and we will be encouraging our members to make full use of the services over the coming summer.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Stagecoach, Don't Park Here!

Greyhound Bridge has been closed to all traffic for four weeks now, with all buses - and other traffic - diverted over Skerton Bridge. Initial impressions are that the disruption has not been as severe as everyone thought and, with some exceptions, buses appear to be coping very well.  But there continue to be a number of problems.

Stagecoach:  Don't Park Here   DON'T"!
The bus station continues to be clogged up with all the extra buses that perhaps aren't actually needed and which therefore spend more time in the station waiting for their next trip instead of being stuck in the traffic as was expected.  There can be queues of buses waiting for a free stand at times and, unfortunately, passengers are still missing their buses despite the efforts of drivers and inspectors to direct them to whichever stand their bus is on.  The Park & Ride service has been badly affected by this, which is a shame as its passengers, not being used to using buses, need a bit more mollycoddling than the regulars. It has been allocated its own dedicated stand to help in this, but it looks as if this might not always work and perhaps a certain amount of desperation is setting in after problems keeping it clear as the hand-written notice on Stand 4 implies.

Temporary stop at Ryelands Park

Elsewhere in the city the bus stops at Common Garden Street and George Street are now correctly signed and have the right timetables in the right cases, after the Bus Users' Group pointed out some errors and we have had another success - this time at Ryelands Park

Due to the alterations to the traffic flows following the bridge closure the stop on Morecambe Road opposite Our Lady's school cannot be used by buses heading out of the city to Torrisholme, Vale or along the A6 north.  Instead a temporary stop was created on Owen Road outside Ryelands Park. Despite it having a projected life of at least six months it was initially marked only by an "A" board, weighted down with a couple of sandbags and placed on the footway.
Needless to say, the stop quickly became rather more "temporary" than intended and kept going for a walk in the park or even disappeared altogether, leading to much confusion amongst bus drivers and passengers.  When the BUG became aware of the problem we asked the county council whether they could provide a proper bus stop, with a fixed pole and sign. After all, given the multi-million pound cost of the repair scheme surely they could find a few quid to stick a pole up!
To the fair to LCC, they agreed to do so almost immediately and the pole was in place just two days after our request, although we are not sure why the gang who put the new pole up didn't take the A board away! But it seems that the county council will listen to the concerns of passengers where the bridge works are concerned, so if you become aware of any similar issues please let us know. A "comment" at the bottom of this post will suffice,

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

All Present and Correct Now on Common Garden Street

 The very busy bus stops on Common Garden Street
 now have correct timetable displays.
Lancashire County Council has now responded to our report of  the very confusing situation at Common Garden Street  published on this website last week.  The county council is normally very prompt to respond to our requests and suggestions but apparently the problems at Common Garden Street and George Street have taken longer than usual to sort out.

The council produces its timetables using specialist computer software that takes data directly from bus companies such as Stagecoach and translates it into roadside displays showing lists of buses in departure time order. The system is designed to work automatically, without the need for manual intervention, but when things go wrong - as they clearly did here - it can take a while to sort out. The problems with the data for Common Garden Street were particularly challenging and it appears as if much discussion has taken place between the county and Stagecoach to sort it out after we reported them.

We were promised everything would be put right by this morning and at 10.30 this was the scene at Common Garden Street:




 Three shiny new "Bus Stop" signs all with up-to-date service numbers and with buses to the University and southbound from the city distinguished from the rest. All the timetables were in the right places too.

Of course, it's a shame that it wasn't all done properly in the first place and the Bus Users' Group trusts that the County Council and Stagecoach continuing to talk to each other to ensure that similar glitches in the data don't occur again.