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Grumbling about trains? Buses can be far worse!

We grumble sometimes about a lack of information on the trains and linked things. But it took just a single journey by BUS today to make me realise just how much worse it could be.

I walked from home to the nearest bus stop; a five minute walk, in good time, for a bus that (accoring to an online check) was going to call there between 14:20 and 14:28.

I'm glad I checked my facts and times thoroughly, because the bus stop has ...
• No timetable
• No list of services calling there
• No local map
• No stop code (that magic 6 or 7 charcater thing for mobile usr)
• No QR code
• No fares information
• No live bus running display

14:25 came and went. As did 14:30, 14:35 and 14:40. No bus came though.

The one piece of information available was a help line number... I dislike 0871 numbers, but I thought I would give it a call and see what was going on. First menu - do you want bus or train information? Second menu - which part of the county are you in (surely they can tell automatically) and I end up speaking with a chap on the other end... who can only tell me the schedule, not what's happened to the bus. He's not able to ask the bus company. He's not going to give me their number ('there'll be nobody there on Sunday'), and when asked for his advice ("the next bus isn't due for two hours" I remind him), he says it's up to me what I do - he can't suggest anything and it's not his problem.

14:45, 14:50. Do I walk back home, admit defeat on my attempt to use public transport all the way and get a lift / get a taxi / even take a car all the way to Manchester?

A former Mayor jogs by and waves cheerfully, and another lady comes up the road - walking the bus route as she's only headed for the centre of Melksham. We exchange intelligence as to what's happening when... at 14:53 the bus appears around the corner and we get on...

A brief chat with the driver indicates that Bath is congested and he got held up on the way out. Seeing a big sign that says "Are you STILL buying single tickets? There's a cheaper way" I ask for a return to Bath, to come back on Wednesday evening and I'm told I'll need to buy... you guessed it... two single tickets. I feel a bit like an unwanted customer - branded as a dinosaur in my purchasing habits, and not really being the sort of customer who's wanted as they have nothing else to offer me.

Come 15:04, we pull into the centre of Melksham - half way along the route - and there's no-one at all waiting for the bus. As it's over half an hour late, and there's a taxi rank just across, I can't say that I'm surprised - a taxi for 4 into Bath if there was a group waiting would be much more attractive than hanging around when the bus hadn't appeared.

And, in spite of it being just one off and none on, the driver opens his cab door, gets of the bus and - ah - lights up a cigarette! Patiently, we wait for him and , no more that 5 minutes later, we're on our way again. It's 15:56 - that's around 43 minutes late - when we pull into Bath Bus Station and (needless to say) the train I had been planning to catch was long since gone. I'm writing this, after 8 p.m. at night and am still on the train on the approach to Manchester. Some sort of signalling problem now, so it's not just the buses that are having problems - but at least we're being kept informed!




Update... arrived in Manchester at 20:26. According to the schedules, it should have been 18:56 from an on-time bus... a catalogue of problems from a late bus to a total of a 90 minute delay...
(written 2013-09-29, updated 2013-10-05)

 
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A fond memory
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Welcome to Salford and Oldham
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