A personal post from Graham Ellis
Lisa and Graham live in Melksham, Wiltshire, England

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Zigzag bus - forward for the future, or decaying service?

I'm writing up this, on the Zigzag bus, as a result of discussions at yesterday's TransWilts Link meeting, when the subject was discussed by a number of bus users and experts; it's in draft form at the moment, but I have been especially encouraged to document it early and not at the August close of consultation




The Zigzag bus service covers villages in West to North Wiltshire, and journeys between some of the smaller market towns. It runs irregularly, looking to mop up specific long-established service requirements. The service as it currently stands requires a substantial subsidy, and uses two vehicles which are more or less dedicated to the service. These will need to be replaced by low floor provision within a short time, and there is a proposal to retime and reduce the service so that a vehicle can be saved, and the less used services will cease.

Silly question - why not take a wider look to include other buses on the same corridor? It looks like you may be able to save 2 vehicles rather than saving the one vehicle proposed, and build a true network for the future - using modern vehicles on all services; running the whole service, regular through the day, with vehicles currently running between Bath / Chippenham / Trowbridge / Devizes via Melksham.

This suggestion provides for:
• A much more saleable / marketable bus service
• Journeys for passengers for whom no bus is currently available
• Multiple flows on same bus
• Reduced (but probably still some!) subsidies
• Some reduced journey times between market towns
• No dramatic cuts in service - almost everything now hourly
• Even lowest service is a bus every 2 hours

Current services:
• Chippenham - Lacock - Corsham - Melksham - Bradford-on-Avon - Trowbridge (Zigzag)
(Villages served - Gastard, Whitley, Purlpit, Atworth, Broughton Gifford, Holt)
• Chippenham - Melksham - Trowbridge (234 and x34), some extended to Frome
• Melksham - Bowerhill - Trowbridge (235)
• Bath - Melksham (272 and x72), some extended to Devizes

Proposal, showing operator of minimum change:
• Chippenham - Lacock - Melksham - Semington - Trowbridge - Frome (234, hourly; Faresaver)
• Chippenham - Lacock - Melksham - Bowerhill - Semington - Trowbridge - Frome (235, hourly; First)
• Chippenham - Melksham - Bradford-on-Avon - Trowbridge (237, hourly; Faresaver)
• Bath - Kingsdown - Atworth - Melksham - Bowerhill - Devizes (x72, hourly; Faresaver)
• Bath - Box - Atworth - Whitley - Melksham - Bowerhill (272, every 2 hours; First)
• Bath - Box - Corsham - Whitley - Melksham - Bowerhill (274, every 2 hours; First)

There are commercial issues to resolve in co-operation between services, and in part-subsidising a route, but these have been achieved previously - examples available from Dorset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Work remains to be done on school and peak hour updates to cover the unusual flows at around those times.

Let's take the opportunity that attention required by ZigZag offers us to come up with something right for the future, not something that patches up the past!




In detail - split into North / South corridor and East / West corridors

Chippenham - Melksham - Trowbridge - (Frome) proposal


 

Chippenham to Trowbridge bus proposal

• Currently 3 buses per hour on Chippenham - Trowbridge corridor
• Plus irregular ZigZag (South). Plus 235.
• Becomes 3 buses per hour, 6 vehicles.
Some buses currently extend to Frome. Extensions remain (an hour round from Trowbridge)

• Diversion of one bus per hour via Holt from main corridor replaces Zigzag
• By spreading off-route calls, service covers all locations
• Some reductions from 3 to 2 buses per hour
• Service 234 also serves Trowbridge housing
• Dramatic improvement Melksham and Holt to Bradford-on-Avon
• New direct service - Chippenham to East Melksham and Bowerhill (Melksham Oak)

234 in Trowbridge serves housing areas; 235 runs direct into town centre

234 to run into evening and every 2 hours on Sundays, using 00:03 to 00:19 in Trowbridge to serve station.

Timing at Chippenham station is key - 8 minutes after arrival of London train, 10 minutes before
departure of London train.

 



Bath - (Corsham) - Melksham - (Devizes) proposal

Proposed changes to Bath to Melksham buses to cover Zigzag route too

 

Bath to Melksham Bus Proposal
Z - travel via Melksham Oak

• Services from Bath at :20 - First to Bowerhill
Returning at from Melksham Oak at :16 or :20

• Services fron Bath at :47 - Faresaver to Devizes
Returning from Melksham Oak at :51

Changes from current timetables - suprisingly few!
- Alternate First buses run via Corsham not Purlpit
- First buses loop Bowerhill rather wiggling twice through

• Notes:
Service via Corsham runs direct to Box, not via Rudloe
All services call at Shaw; Faresaver call at Batheaston

• Losses:
Direct Atworth/ Purlpit to Corsham (go via Melksham)
Direct services from north villages to south villages

• Gains:
Low floor, modern buses on all services
2-hourly Melksham to Corsham service
Some faster buses Corsham to Bath!
Direct Gastard to Bath service

I have allowed slack / catchup in various places
There may be time in First schedule to serve Melksham Station or East Melksham

• Commercial comment:
Uses existing "quality" bus fleet to cover zigzag services which are run by older vehicles.
2 vehicles (current Zigzag), 1 vehicle (consultation Zigzag) no longer required.
Multiple flows handled by same vehicle - e.g. Melksham -> Corsham and Melksham -> Bath
All routes as current or main road; should be no issue with big buses in little lanes.
A small subsidy element for "via Corsham" may be appropriate; a lot less than ZigZag


Update - 22.10.2013 to make it clear what serves Lacock
(written 2013-06-09, updated 2013-10-22)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z511 - Public Transport - Road
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  [4547] RUH Hopper - experience and thoughts forward - (2015-10-20)
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More or less back - what happened to our server the other day
Teaching CodeIgniter - MVC and PHP
Really good friends - four in a bed!
Zigzag bus - forward for the future, or decaying service?
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What might you find at a tiny bed and breakfast?
Snog, Marry, Avoid
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