Common Garden Street is the main picking-up point for south and eastbound buses leaving the city centre and, due to the one-way system, is also a major setting-down point for buses from the south of the city. There are three stops, helpfully lettered by the county council as "A" "B" and "C" Each stop has a flag showing the service numbers as well as a timetable case showing departure times. So far, so good.
The service changes necessitated by the Greyhound Bridge closure mean that the displays at these stops, along with every other stop in the city, have been updated. A mammoth task, for which the county council, which maintains them and which deserves praise - especially with the reduced staffing levels under which it operates these days.
But it looks as if the city centre stops have been just a little bit too much for them this time.
Stop A (just off camera to the right in the image above) is for buses heading towards the University on services 2, 2A, 3, 3A and 4. For the duration of the bridge closure (which is expected to be six months) these services have had a "U" prefix added to the number to distinguish them from buses heading to Morecambe that were previously part of the through services that have been split at the bus station. LCC's first failure is not to have updated the flag.
As far as the Bus Users' Group can determine - and as Stagecoach has confirmed to us - there have been no changes to how these stops are used, so we are puzzled as to why the display case now contains times for:
2X Battery-Lancaster .
3A Lancaster - University
18 East Lancaster Circular
U2 University - Lancaster(i.e. towards the bus station)
The 2X (just one journey at 0821) and the 3A towards the University DO use this stop, although the service number 3A is not in use for the duration, having been replaced by U3 and U3R. Service 18 uses Stop C as do buses on the U2 towards the bus station. However, buses on U2 U3 U3R and U4 towards the University, which use this stop, are not mentioned on the display!
Stop B, behind the bus in the main image, is for buses to Preston, Blackpool and Knott End as well as local service 9 to Bowerham. The stop sign has never been updated to take account of the fact that alternate journeys on the 40 to Preston were renumbered 41 several years ago and that the 89H was discontinued last year. The N1 is a late-night service to the University, which surely uses Stop A (although this blog author is usually fast asleep when that operates) and which in any case has been numbered N2 for some time.
The display case here correctly includes the 9, 40, 41, 42 and 89. But it also includes the service 3 journey at 0630 to the University that almost certainly uses stop A as well as, inexplicably, all the U2 journeys (every 10 minutes all day) to the University that also use Stop A
Stop C is for westbound buses towards Heysham (although these are terminating at the bus station during the works) as well as city services 10 (Ridge) and 18 (Williamson Park) that, despite the stop designation, head east out of the city. It's main use however is as a setting-down point for buses coming into town from the south.
Here, the council has put up a display for the 10 (which is correct) as well as some - but by no means all - of the buses that are heading for the bus station. The rest of these buses as well as service 18 to the Park are wrongly included in the Stop A display instead!
The Bus Users' Group watched these stops very closely to see what actually happened before writing this post and we can confirm that buses are using the very same stops that they always have done. Regular passengers know the times they are due and buses to the University are frequent enough for passengers not to need a timetable (at least during the day), but for infrequent users or visitors to the city it must be a nightmare.
Just up from Common Garden Street is George Street, used by services in the opposite direction. There are two stops here, but the confusion that must be caused by the displays the council has put up here is so great that we don't have the time to go into it here. Suffice it to say that they are just plain wrong! Fortunately these stops are mainly used by alighting passengers - which is just as well.
This group normally holds LCC's public transport team - and especially the people dealing with bus stop publicity - in very high regard. They are very keen to get things right and usually reply to and act promptly on any suggestions we make when we discover an error or something we think could be improved in their displays. However, these faults were brought to their attention over a week ago and we have not received even an acknowledgement, let alone seen any action on their part. It's a shame, as generally the bus service is coping extremely well with the disruption and is being let down only by poor publicity from the county council.