Friday, 25 September 2020

We Missed The Bus...!

 ...or, rather, the coach.  Just before lockdown, in early March, National Express withdrew the last of its routes serving Lancaster, leaving the city without a long-distance coach service for the first time since long-distance motor coaching began. At about the same time Megabus, which served the University, but not the city centre, also ceased its operations.

But a chance discussion at a recent BUG committee meeting led to the discovery that both operators are once again serving our area.  We must admit that we don't know exactly when this happened.  Long distance coach services do not require any formal notice to operate and can come and go as operators see fit.  Both these compnaies choose to publicise their services and sell tickets solely over the interent. This is all very well and the information is relatively easy to find -  if you already know it is there!  The continued closure of the Travel Shop at Lancaster Bus Station means that it isn't possible to ask anyone there about coaches, but there is no gaurantee that they would have any information either.

National Express and Megabus are presumably happy with this operating model, but we doubt that we are the only Lancaster residents unaware of the return of long distance coaches to the city.

Unfortunately, the services now operating are a lot less useful than those we previously enjoyed, although the National Express website suggests that services are being gradually increased so improvements may follow.

National Express

National Express provides one journey per day between Birmingham and Edinburgh, calling at Lancaster at 11.55 northbound and 16.10 southbound.  Although the route serves the National Express hub at Birmingham, the northbound coach leaves at 07.30 whilst southbound it arrives at 20.30 meaning that it offers few, if any, useful connections to anywhere else.  

Here is the timetable:  National Express 182 Birmingham - Lancaster - Edinburgh

Megabus

Lancaster is served by the London to Glasgow service, although the only stop locally is at the University and the city centre isn't served.  The northbound bus runs overnight,leaving London at 22.30 and reaching the University at 04.00 before continuing to Glasgow, which is reached at 06.30

In the opposite direction it's a daytime service: 11.00 from Glasgow and 14.05 at the University continuing to Preston, Manchester, Birmingham and London, which is reached at 22.10

Because of the user-unfriendly way Megabus presents its services online it's not possible to link to an actual timetable. You just have to pretend you want to buy a ticket - and start the purchasing procedure -  before you can find out what's actually on offer!  But here's a link to their website.

Megabus

Disclaimer:  These services can come and go without formaility or notice to the public and the Bus Users' Group cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information or how long it will be current.  Good Luck!

Monday, 14 September 2020

Bus Gate Gate

Observant bus travellers in Lancaster will have noticed what appears to be  the promise of a number of "Bus Gates" in the streets surrounding Lancaster Bus Station as displayed in white paint on the carriageways.

"BUS GATE" markings have appeared in Wood Street, Chapel Street, Cable Street and (not pictured) North Road.
         
          Wood Street Entrance                            Cable Street Entrance
Chapel Street

However, anyone expecting to see some exciting hi-tech street furniture dedicated to keeping all other traffic out of the way of Lancaster's buses and looking a bit like this will be disappointed. 
                            Bus Gates - Videalert Videalert | Think traffic, think CCTV, think Videalert

Our "Bus Gates" will be nothing more than the white paint (backed up by a traffic regulation order) that is already in place.  A spokesperson from Lancashire County Council's Highways Department explains: 

Historically the regulations allowed us to mark the road with either "Buses only" or "Bus lane", Buses only meant a road that only buses could drive down and Bus lane meant essentially 'this is a lane for buses only, normally next to a general traffic lane' (think Greyhound Bridge).

In 2016 the wording "Buses only" was retired and the alternative "Bus Gate" was introduced. It essentially means the same thing. I.e. this is a section of road that only Buses (or other modes of traffic that may be signed - often Taxis and cycles) can proceed down.

In your first photo (Wood Street)  the No Entry except Buses supports the Bus Gate - i.e. only Buses are allowed along this road.

In the third photo which I believe is Chapel Street the markings are likely to be the introduction of the TRO that was advertised back in February, the details are still on the website https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/media/914713/plan-lancaster-1-damside-street-area-lancaster.pdf but the idea was to reduce the general traffic abuse of Chapel street and maintain car park access etc.


 The BUG must admit that we missed the advertisment for the Traffic Regulation Order when it appeared on the Council's website last year, although its possible we didn't look closely enough

and didn't expect to find it listed along with "Burnley and Hyndburn"!

The Order confirms that Wood Street is to be a "Bus Only Street"

Chapel Street is more complicated as is explained (!) is the following paragraphs

2. Introduce a prohibition of driving, except buses, cycles, taxis, access and authorised vehicles, in Chapel Street, Lancaster, from its junction with Cable Street for a distance of 31 metres in a south easterly direction. 

5. Introduce a bus lane, except cycles, taxis and authorised vehicles in Chapel Street, Lancaster, from a point 31 metres south east of its junction with Cable Street for a distance of 18 metres in a south easterly direction. NB in accordance with section 3(2) of the Act, the council is satisfied that for facilitating the passage of vehicular traffic on the road it is requisite that the provisions of section 3(1) of the Act should not apply to the restriction contained herein. 

7. Introduce a bus only street in the following lengths of road: a) Bus Station Westerly Access Road, Lancaster, the entire length; b) Wood Street, Lancaster, the entire length. 8. Introduce a bus only street, except cycles, taxis and authorised vehicles in North Road, Lancaster, from its junction with Chapel Street to its junction with Damside Street in a westerly direction. NB in accordance with section 3(2) of the Act, the council is satisfied that for facilitating the passage of vehicular traffic on the road it is requisite that the provisions of section 3(1) of the Act should not apply to the restriction contained herein. 

If you are wondering what happened to paragraphs 3, 4 and 6 they cunningly refer to similar proposals in parts of Burnley and Accrington, which isn't in the slightest bit confusing.

The work of the county council in managing road traffic is obviously about a lot more than just sticking up a few road signs and slopping on a litre or two of white paint and no doubt all of the above is necessary to make the restrictions legal and bullet-proof from those parts of the legal profession that specialise in helping motorists get away with driving where and how they shouldn't.  

Hopefully, if they are enforced, these measures will reduce the amount of traffic around the bus station  but it's a pity that similar effort can't be expended in providing a safe crossing point on Damside Street for passengers walking between the bus station and the city centre.

There is still no replacement for the unusable crossing in Damside Street.