Monday, 16 July 2018

Bare Lane: A clarification

It's been pointed out to us, and rightly so, that we may have misled readers when we said that Bare Lane was to have "no bus service at all" under Stagecoach's network review.

Whilst that does apply to the section of Bare Lane between Torrisholme and Fairhope Avenue that is served only by service 4, we are happy to point out that the remainder of Bare Lane, through to the Promenade, will continue to have four buses an hour to both Lancaster and Morecambe, two of which continue to Heysham, and that these will be better spaced at an even 15 minute headway than now.

The original post below has now been corrected.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Stagecoach to Consult on Network Review

Service 2 heading for the University
Under the proposals this service will be run with single-deckers.
The re-opening of Greyhound Bridge in Lancaster in September will see some changes to Stagecoach's services in the city and passengers are being invited to have their say.

The changes mainly concern services that run between Lancaster University, the city centre, Morecambe and Heysham and are designed to better cater for increased demand from students living in Lancaster and Morecambe/Heysham.

Services 2/2A,  3/3A  and 4  (parts of which are currently running as U2, U3, U3R and U4) will be replaced by the following new services. There will also be changes to service 2X.

Service 1  University - Greaves Road - City - Torrisholme - Morecambe (Euston Road) - Battery, then either Kingsway or Heysham Road and Sugham Lane to Mossgate Park, which will be served for the first time. From Kingsway buses will run in a loop via Mossgate Park and A589 to Heysham Towers, returning via A589 and either Heysham Road or Sugham Lane/Kingsway to Morecambe and Lancaster.  Combermere Road will not be served by this service.
This service replaces service 2/2A between City Centre and Heysham and service 3 between University and Morecambe.
Buses will run every 10 minutes, with the section between University and City Centre reduced to every 20 minutes in university holidays.

Service 2. University - Hala - Bowerham - City - Torrisholme - Low Lane - Bare - Promenade - Morecambe Bus Station - Heysham Road - Heysham Village - Combermere Road.

This service replaces existing service 2 between University and city centre and services 3
Service 3 at the Clock Tower.
The link between Lancaster and Morecambe promenade will be 
provided by new service 2 in future.
and 4 between city centre and Heysham.  All journeys will run via Torrisholme Road and Low Lane. Scale Hall Lane will not be served by this service (it will continue to be served by service 1) and the section of Bare Lane between Torrisholme and Fairhope Avenue will have no bus service at all. The section of Bare Lane beyond Fairhope Avenue will keep its four buses an hour to Lancaster and Morecambe, but they will be more evenly spaced.
Buses will run every 15 minutes between University and Morecambe Bus Station with two buses an hour continuing to Combermere Road.  This frequency will apply all year round. From Combermere Road these journeys will continue back to Lancaster as service 2X

Service 2X Lancaster - Heysham Link Road - Combermere Road - Battery.
The two buses an hour that arrive at Combermere Road on service 2 (see above) will continue to Lancaster on service 2X and will continue to offer a fast service from Heysham to Lancaster, albeit from Heysham Road and Heysham Village rather than Kingsway. The two buses will run an even 30 minutes apart rather than every 20/40 minutes as presently provided.
Similar arrangements apply to buses from Lancaster, which on arrival at Combermere Road will continue to Heysham Village, Heysham Road and the Battery (and back to Lancaster via Bare)

Service 4.  University - Hala - Barton Road - Bowerham - Railway Station - Lancaster Bus Station.
This service follows the route of the current U4 service as far as Queen Square and then runs via the railway station and the quay to the Bus Station. It will not continue to Heysham, which is now served  by new service 2.
Buses will run every 30 minutes all year round.
This map from Stagecoach shows the new service pattern

Other Changes

Service 6A  Lancaster - Salt Ayre - Westgate - Morecambe  will be improved from 1 bus per hour to 2 buses per hour.  
Service 6  Hampsfell Drive - Westgate - Morecambe will also run every 30 minutes to give a combined 15 minute service between Westgate and Morecambe.

There will also be changes to the services linking Lancaster with Preston and Blackpool and in the way the university is served by these routes.
The times of buses on service 40 (not via the university) and service 41 (via the university) will be switched and the times of the 42 will be altered to obtain a better spread of service between Lancaster and Garstang.  One bus an hour will be extended to Morecambe to reinstate the through service between Preston and the resort and the direct link from Lancaster via Morecambe Road.

Services not mentioned above will have no, or only very minor, changes.

Our View

The Bus Users' Group welcomes the changes in general albeit with some reservations.

The changes will mean that the most frequent service between the city centre and the University will also be the most direct - the new service 1. Stagecoach intend that most passengers to and from the university will opt for this service and double-deckers will be provided to ensure sufficient capacity. 
Bowerham buses will then have more room for local passengers and for students - and others - travelling from Bowerham to the University and vice-versa.
Bowerham passengers will also have a consistent service throughout the year with no reductions in the holidays. These reductions will, of course, transfer to the Greaves Road service, although that route also has the 3 buses an hour on the Preston and Blackpool services.

Greaves Road loses its link to the railway station, but Bowerham Road gains it!

The Group particularly welcomes the new service to Mossgate Park, the improved service on the 6A and the better spacing of buses between Garstang and Preston all of which we have campaigned for.

We are disappointed that Stagecoach has not been able to find a way to serve the Lancaster City Retail Park off Mellishaw Lane (particularly when service 2X passes so close to the site without being able to stop) and we doubt strongly that the proposal to remove buses completely from Bare Lane will be well-received. It also remains to be seen whether the extra buses  running via Fulwood Drive and Warwick Avenue on new service 2 will be appreciated by residents.

Have Your Say

network changesSomething we can't fault Stagecoach for, however, is the efforts they are making to communicate the changes to the public. The new network won't be introduced until mid-September but the outline proposals are already on the website here.  That link also leads to a comment form, where you can make your views known to the company.

Stagecoach is also holding two Consultation Days in Lancaster Bus Station, where a senior manager will be present to explain the proposals and receive feedback.  These are on:

Tuesday, 17th July  between 0800 and 1800  and
Wednesday 18th July between 0800 and 1630.

So why not go along and learn more about what is being proposed.  If you are unable to make either of those dates you can use this link to send your feedback to the company or please write to the Bus Users Group by using the comments box below.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Government to Consult on Accessible Information for Bus Passengers

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation to legally require operators to provide audible and visible information on local bus services.

An example of on-bus "next stop" display from Switzerland

DfT want to introduce regulations under the Bus Services Act 2017 that will require bus operators to provide audible and visible information on local bus services to help people identify:
  • the route and direction of services
  • each upcoming stop
  • points at which diversions start or end

This information is already available to all bus passengers in London and increasingly in other parts of the country. In Lancashire some services operated by the Blackburn Bus Company (Transdev) offer this system but in Lancaster only on parts of Stagecoach service 555 Lancaster - Keswick persons is the system in use and then only the "audible" part is available, leaving persons with hearing difficulties unserved.  And what's worse, on many journeys the system appears to be switched off altogether and is of no help to anyone.

The Department intends to specify when this information must be made available and to what standard, leaving it up to operators to select equipment or process that works for them. We propose an approach which recognises the risks to smaller operators, marginal services and community transport.

The consultation document is available via this link and consultation closes on 16th September. The Bus Users' Group will be submitting a response and details of how to make an individual response are in the consultation document.

Second consultation on open data

The Department is consulting separately on requiring bus operators  and local authorities to publish open data digitally for buses in England (outside London). They want to make it easier for bus passengers to plan their journeys through access to routes and timetables data, fares and tickets data, and real time information.

Details of this consultation are available via this link.

The BUG welcomes these proposals, especially in regard to fares, which far too many bus companies seem to regard as an official secret!
The DfT says that together the two initiatives will ensure that passengers have the information they need, when they need it, regardless of their location and the company running the service.
Buses minister Nusrat Ghani said: 'Nobody enjoys waiting at a bus stop for 20 minutes not knowing when the next bus is going to turn up, only for two to then pull up at the same time.'
'By requiring bus operators to share their data, we can make sure that passengers have the information they need to catch the bus with ease, equipped with the right information about the time and cost. 'This move will also open up opportunities for innovation within the industry, support local services where demand is falling and help increase bus usage across the country.'
The DfT added that requiring bus companies to share their data would pave the way for improved information across all modes of transport, meaning quicker, easier journeys for passengers travelling on more than one form of transport.
It said transport data is already widely shared within the rail industry and across modes in the biggest cities, with apps such as Trainline and Citymapper, helping passengers make informed choices about their method of travel.
This story first appeared on Smart Highways.