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

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Improving travel advise information in Wiltshire

I am ... happy to see Wiltshire Council and their "Improving Wiltshire's Rail Offering" project offering on line information, and I am delighted that they are also proactively visiting many residents and helping them learn about the best travel and journey options. Some of their Transport Planner are really excellent folks, and they can do far better than the current Beta version of the Transport Planner.

For the last few days, I have been working on the Aztec West business park in Bristol, right next door to the offices of Atkins who are Wiltshire Council's consultants for much of the work on this project. I've had experiences driving to that part of North Bristol before - it's awful, and so I decided to use public transport.

Cycles at Bristol
Where do I get the best advise for a journey that involves cycling to the station to catch a train?


On Wednesday, I drove to Melksham Station and parked up for the 06:38 train. At 06:39 a freight train went through, and a phone call to National Rail informed me that the 06:38 would arrive too late to make the connection at Trownbridge, so I drove all the way. I siply couldn't afford to be late on the first day of a new job / course.

On Thursday ... I walked to the station and took the train.

06:04 Home (404, The Spa, SN12 6QL)
06:12 Well House Manor (SN12 7NY)
06:16 Melksham Market Place
Through Town Centre
06:22 Melksham / River Bridge
06:24 Cooper Tires, front gate
06:31 Melksham Station

06:53 - train departs (06:38 running 15 minutes late)

07:03:15 - arrives Trowbridge
a close connection.
07:03:45 - leave Trowbridge

08:06 - arrive Patchway station
08:35 - arrive Aztec West / office I'm teaching in

Not too bad, and regular travellers could save half an hour taking a cycle on the train

Cycle "2.1 miles" - 12 minutes (official) or 1.5 miles / 10 minutes to MKM station
Cycle "1.7 miles" - 12 minutes (offical) or 1.4 miles Patchway to Aztec West

06:20 to 06:30 - cycle / brompton
Train as SCHEDULED above 06:38 to 08:09
08:15 to 08:25 - cycle / brompton

So what does the online travel planner at Connecting Wiltshire tell me for an 09:00 arrival?

Too far to walk
Too far to cycle
By car, 35.1 miles taking 51 minutes

By public transport ...

22:19 Walk to Melksham, the Spa for 22:24
• 22:41 Bus 271 to Bath Bus Station, arrive 23:16
• Walk to Bath Rail Station (23:16 - 00:01 - 45 minutes)
• 00:01 train to Bristol Temple Meads, arrive 00:14
• Walk to Old Market (27 minutes, arrive 00:41)
• 00:41 bus no. 44 to Broad Quay, stop Co, arrive 00:48
• Walk to stop Ck (46 minutes, arrive 01:34)
• 01:34 bus number 75 to Patchway Roundabout A (arrive 01:57)
• Walk to Patchway Roundabout B (19 minutes)
• 02:16 bus 75 to Patchway Underpass (arrive 02:17)
• Walk to BS32 4SR ... 02:17 - 02:49

I'm sorry - that would put me completely OFF public transport. The idiocies in what should be a pretty standard commute from Melksham to North Bristol (Aztec West, Filton Abbey Wood, etc) are too numerous to list out, and the results had me leaving home a full 8 hours before I needed to, and taking 4.5 hours for a 2 hour journey.

That's not constructive criticism, though - what would I recommend?
a) • That longer walking times are allowed
b) • That short bus journeys (just a minute or two) are replaced by walks
c) • That walk times are split into "walk time" and "wait time"
d) • That cycle / train / cycle options are also included
e) • That journeys with a car to / from an interchange point are included
... Did you know that 80% of passengers from Chippenham Station arrive there in a car?
... Taxi is a wonderful way of making occasional local transfers that are awkward by public transport
f) • That fare information is also provided, and a booking system (with between 5% and 9% of public transpor fares being paid to booking agents this offers Wiltshire Council a revenue opportunity)
g) • Regrettably, public transport is sometimes delayed and occasionally cancelled. Wouldn't it be good if the system could store your route under a reference, and offered a mobile app through which you could call up alternatives if you got off one bus just to see your connection disappearing up the road!

Actually - I am heartened in some ways. Wiltshire Council's travel advisors have information sources that let them deal with (a) through (e) during face to face work, and they have some knowledge that will help them advise on price too. And they'll typically have a pretty good idea of servicce frequency so that they can offer advise on using frequent services only on critical journeys.

Travel Advisor Advise is available in Bradford-on-Avon ... and Trowbridge. And Salisbury and Chippenham. But not in Melksham. Hmmm - and that's probably a good thing - let's have that travel advise in 14 weeks time, and let's train up the TIC's volunteers too so that they can carry on offering excellent public transport advise long after the current program has finished.
(written 2013-09-06, updated 2013-09-07)

 
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Improving travel advise information in Wiltshire
Melksham Market - every Tuesday
TransWilts Community Rail Partnership - formally constituted
Pimms and Croquet at Well House Manor - 7th September 2013
Python varables - checking existance, and call by name or by value?
Bank Holiday Monday - pictures of a great train trip to Weymouth
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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