It's just seven miles from Melksham (pop 25,000) to Calne(pop 15,000) - and the two towns are both part of the Wiltshire Unitary area, with a lot in common. The road between them - the A3102 - always seems busy.
You would think that there would be a bus service that let you get between them, wouldn't you? Well - as Chris (who lives in Calne, and works in Melksham) has found out over the last couple of weeks with his car off the road - there sort of
is a service ... but it requires a certain amount of principled robustness (or forced necessity!) to make use of it.
* There's a bus at 09:40(?), five mornings a week, run by A D Raines, from Calne to Melksham, and a return journey from Melksham at 14:15. NOTE: The timetable says 14:15, but I understand that the bus doesn't actually wait until 14:15 if it's running early - get there at least 10 minutes early if you're going to use it!
* You can get a bus - either First or Faresaver from Melksham to Chippenham, then (usually after a long wait, as it doesn't connect!) a bus - StageCoach or APL Travel on to Calne.
* You can get a bus - First - from Melksham to Devizes then an APL travel bus from Devizes to Calne. If doesn't connect at Devizes - another long wait.
Tickets are not interchangeable between the bus companies, so you're left buying expensive singles or with irritating longer waits because there's only a First bus in the morning and they have a two hour gap in the afternoon. And "2 services an hour" is technically true on the Chippenham - Melksham leg most of the day, but it may as well be one an hour as much of the time there are two buses within 5 minutes, then nothing for 55.
Evening services are sporadic (and missing from Devizes to Calne)
Sunday services ... forget it. No buses, Melksham to Chippenham, no buses Devizes to Calne.
Chris has been taking up to 2 and a half hours to travel the 7 miles from work in Melksham to home in Calne. That's an average speed of 2.8 m.p.h. - so it would have been quicker for him to walk!
Could do better?
Yes - a bit of joined up thinking would help
* Co-ordinate the buses on each leg so that the gaps in service are more even. (change "2 buses an hour" into "half hourly")
* Tune timetables to make connections
* Provide through fares and allow the return half of tickets to be used on either company's buses.
* Have the buses wait for "right time" rather than leaving early!
Curiously, the solution doesn't call for any more money to be spent - no more buses to buy, just tuning existing resources. The net effect? A lot more people would use the lot more practical service, more "farebox" money take, less need for subsidy.
I guess this is too sensible a solution for it to actually happen!
(written 2010-05-20, updated 2010-05-22)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesZ511 - Public Transport - Road 
TransWilts Link - meeting notes from 19th October - (2013-10-20) 
A positive progress behind the scenes - (2013-10-14) 
Getting people to and from Melksham Station - not 20 but 700 times a day - (2013-10-12) 
A radical proposal - a cheap and effective way to provide home to city commuter transport - (2013-10-11) 
Melksham to Bath and Zigzag buses - at a turning point? - (2013-10-06) 
Grumbling about trains? Buses can be far worse! - (2013-09-29) 
Changing transport and destinations - looking forward to a good future - (2013-09-19) 
Mapping road accidents in Melksham and elsewhere too - (2013-09-12) 
Why are bus fares so high? - (2013-08-18) 
Melksham Regular Public Transport Map - as at August 2013 - (2013-08-09) 
Bus changes to Bath - good idea, but I despair at information available - (2013-08-08) 
Bus times - Melksham to Bath from 28th July 2013 - (2013-07-25) 
Chippenham - Melksham - Trowbridge bus changes next month - (2013-06-26) 
New timetables from 28th July - bus routes 271 and 272 - (2013-06-24) 
Wiltshire and Melksham Transport - what is going on? - (2013-06-09) 
Zigzag bus - forward for the future, or decaying service? - (2013-06-09) 
The painful cost of local travel to Melksham - (2013-06-01) 
Easier public transport from Melksham to Bristol Airport - (2013-03-06) 
Melksham to Chippenham (Station) bus services - times and routes - (2013-03-01) 
A request for all of Melksham transport groups to work integrated - (2013-03-01) 
Christmas Bus Schedule for Melksham - First Bus - (2012-12-14) 
A long overdue meeting - a steeping stone towards coordinate transport user inputs - (2012-12-02) 
Agenda for Wiltshire Link Travel groups meeting, Saturday 1st December 2012 - (2012-11-27) 
Melksham Bus Issues - to be raised at First Bus Customer Panel - (2012-11-21) 
Want to help us improve transport in Wiltshire? Here is how! - (2012-10-26) 
Public Transport across Wiltshire - a new map - (2012-10-13) 
Mixed mode travel - Information systems - (2012-10-03) 
Public Transport Services - from and to Melksham - (2012-10-01) 
Celebrate! Buses from Meksham to Bath - (2012-09-18) 
Bus times - Chippenham Station to Melksham, with London connections - (2012-08-25) 
New bus times - Melksham to Bath - (2012-08-25) 
Bristol 50? Bristol 25? - (2012-04-17) 
Getting around Dublin by public transport - some observations - (2012-03-01) 
Melksham Area - buses, trains, cycles, and roads. Meeting, 17.1.2012 - (2012-01-15) 
Transport in Cambridgeshire - seen by an outside observer. What can Wiltshire learn? - (2012-01-15) 
I wish I was not a special case - (2011-12-29) 
When competition is not a good idea - Melksham Bus Absurdity - (2011-11-16) 
Coaches from Trowbridge and Melksham to London - (2011-11-01) 
Public transport - road and rail - (2011-10-19) 
How important is public transport to people in the Melksham area? - (2011-10-19) 
Vintage Bus Running Day in Warminster. An example of good bus practise. - (2011-10-09) 
Buses on the Cambridge Guided Busway - (2011-08-24) 
Using public transport - USA style - (2011-05-25) 
Changes (and no changes) at Melksham bus stops - (2011-05-15) 
Buses - what they cost and their future direction in the SW and in Wiltshire - (2011-03-06) 
Car Parking in Melksham - thoughts on the proposed scheme, and wider thoughts too - (2011-01-09) 
Strong arm tactics in the bus industry? Poor result for the customer! - (2010-10-03) 
Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03) 
What do these road markings mean? Could Confusion Kill? - (2010-09-17) 
Bath - Melksham - Devizes buses from September - (2010-08-23) 
London to Calne, Corsham, Melksham, Bradford-on-Avon, Chippenham by public Transport - (2010-08-13) 
Bath to Devizes bus via Melksham - changing again in September - (2010-08-04) 
Park and Ride at Batheaston - will it solve Wiltshires Ills? - (2010-07-06) 
Bath to Melksham buses - times - (2010-06-03) 
Melksham to London (Heathrow, and Central London) - (2010-06-02) 
Dear Planners, please provide viable alternatives - (2010-03-11) 
Is Melksham public transport actually used? - (2010-03-05) 
Five guests, three groups, one car - (2009-12-11) 
Integrated public Transport - what could be done for Melksham - (2009-12-01) 
Why we have two buses an hour - but not a half hourly service - (2009-11-28) 
Moving busstop! - (2009-09-30) 
Public Transport from (and to) Melksham on Sundays - (2009-08-23) 
Melksham - no trains, no southbound buses through the town - (2009-08-08) 
Westbury Bypass Refused - looking forward - (2009-07-04) 
Do you support a decent train service? Please sign up! - (2009-03-15) 
Supporting Parkinsons and Trains - (2009-03-11) 
The Rise and Rise of First Bus Fares - (2008-08-29) 
Bath - Melksham - Devizes. Bus route changes, new timetable - (2008-07-26) 
Talk on TransWilts train service to Green Party - (2008-06-07) 
Melksham - Swindon. Train v Bus v Car - (2008-03-07) 
HST Power Car TravelWatch SouthWest - (2008-03-01) 
Buses from Well House Manor, Melksham, to Bath - (2008-01-18) 
Travel Across Wiltshire - the game - (2007-11-11) 
Two years of campaigning for a train service - (2007-08-22) 
Comparing bus stops - (2007-07-01) 
Train service - petititon reply - (2007-03-31) 
Lawrence Webb's Melksham Taxi service - (2007-02-18) 
Heard, yes. Considered, no. The case for the train. - (2006-07-30) 
Journey planning - Xephos v Transport Direct - (2006-06-16) 
Vintage Bus Day - (2005-10-23) 
Kiss and Ride - (2005-10-09) 
a popular bus number - (2005-01-23) 
PHP course. Come by train. - (2004-11-15)
Some other Articles
Declarations of interest - knowing where you stand with peoplePHP - Object Oriented Design in useDynamically watching your web site via a PHP wrapperGraham Ellis - Summary of Training RecordMelksham to Calne by public transportMelksham Chamber of Commerce - Presidents report to AGMEasy - but for whom?Carrying a long URL around - looking for memorable shortsBack from a Python course in GlasgowOptional and named parameters to Python functions/methods