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A comparison of the public transport alternatives to the Royal United Hospital, Bath - from Melksham.

Two months ago, I wrote two pieces about the Connext 2 / RUH Hopper service that takes people from North and West Wilts to the ROyal United Hospital. The first - [here] regretted the location (not appropiate for the area it serves) of the RUH, appreciated the resulting need for transport to be provided, and wondered if the current provision was the most effective. The second - [here] was written after I had personally used the service to get to an outpatients appointment. I complemented the providers on an easy to use, excellent service, one which I would use again if the need arose to get to the hospital again, although (alas) I still questioned whether it's a dupication and whether it makes economic sense.

I had a futher outpatients appointment yesterday, and my immediate thought was the RUH Hopper / Connect 2. Alas, when I called they confirmed they weren't actually running yesterday, as it was a Saturday. Explaining my inabikity to drive after an unknon [to me] procedure that was going to be performed, I asked what alternative they would recommend. To be told that (!) "The hospital park and ride doesn't work on Saturday either - I suggest you call the department that's sent you the appointment".

OK .. what a golden opportunity to try out my suggested alterative. I took the (route 272) 11:25 bus which stops about 300 metres up the road from us into Bath bus station, changed there to the No. 14 to the hospital. After my appointment, the No. 14 back into the centre of Bath and then the 272 back out to the original stop.

* The return journey cost me £6.50 and being a commercial service cost the council nothing (that's aganst £10.50 for me and £20.00 from the council for the hopper)

* The outward journey took about 85 minutes including change time in Bath, and the return journey about 120 minutes. That compares to just over 60 minutes on the Hopper

* I got a seat on all buses, and the 272 buses were on time. Service 14 to the hospital is frequent; I used it as "turn up and go" and had less than 10 minutes to wait each time. This is a remarkably good performance considering that the Christmas market was on in Bath, the City was heaving, and the park and ride bus queues were ridiculous.

In summary, the service met my needs more cheaply than the Hopper, and is available when the Hopper isn't - six evenings and week and Saturday and Sunday daytime ... and as my appointment showned, a hospital ois not a five day, day time operation.

A system that combines multiple requirements - travel to the centre of Bath, and to the hospital - with people on the same vehicle will always be slower that two separate services. However, improvements could be made which would make the service better.

a) The 272 and x72 both serve Melksham from Bath, both run hourly, but I had to wait 45 minutes for a bus on my way back in the sentre of Bath. That's because they run 15 (or 45, if you like) minutes apart an don't combin to make a half-hourly service. I actually saw the x72 pulling away from its stop across the road from the bus station as we arrivd in from the Hospital.

b) 272 and x72 serve the same stop in Melksham, and they should serve the same stop at Bath bus station too. It's silly having to know where to go, and people with mobility issues / with frames of in wheelchairs must find this especially difficult.

c) Tickets should be interchangable between buses on the same(ish) route. I didn't mind seeing the x72 leave because I would have had to pay again, even though I has already paid for all four legs.

d) Better signage at Bath Bus station to help people find the bus to the hospital, or their onward buses. The screens at the end of the hallway are a bit to small to see from the middle of the hall, they don't cover all the buses that call just outside, and they only give the final detination in most cases.

e) Better still ;-) ... the no. 14 runs from Odd Down via the Bus Station to Weston and I noted that nearly everyone coming in from Odd Down gets off before the bus takes on a fresh load. So why not extend the 272 (and perhaps the x72, 265 and 231) to Weston and turn the 14 round at the Bus Station. You then have through services to the hospital and take away the need to change; journey time of around 75 minutes, no need to change, and patients who have completed their appointments can wait for their direct bus in the hospital cafe which has the facilities rather than in the much busier, much colder, less facilitied bus station. It's not too bad a bus station - it's just not where I want to choose to change when I'm shaking, tired, dizzy, really just wanting to get home.
(written 2015-12-06)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z511 - Public Transport - Road
  [4703] What do people use the bus for in Wiltshire - survey interim results. - (2016-07-11)
  [4692] How are bus support payments currently calculated? - (2016-06-07)
  [4690] Buses in Wiltshire - potential changes and where we stand at the moment - (2016-05-30)
  [4683] Saudi Arabia or Weymouth? - (2016-05-22)
  [4670] The end, or the start? - (2016-04-05)
  [4667] Wiltshire Supported Bus consultation - final few days - (2016-03-30)
  [4664] Mallory Place bus stop - services to Bath - (2016-03-25)
  [4660] What is happening on the 231 bus? What are you going to do about it? - (2016-03-04)
  [4654] Getting to the Royal United Hospital - the Hopper and the alternatives - (2016-02-24)
  [4648] Why is bus funding a much hotter topic than a new set of traffic lights? - (2016-02-16)
  [4639] Working out the costs of running a bus service through the day - (2016-02-06)
  [4636] Rail user groups worried about what is happening on the buses - (2016-01-31)
  [4631] What would the Wiltshire Council bus cuts mean for Melksham? - (2016-01-25)
  [4629] Making travel time useful time on public transport - (2016-01-22)
  [4624] Campaigning for a sensible bus solution and not against anyone! - (2016-01-17)
  [4619] Buses - not about the buses, but about the people who use the buses - (2016-01-10)
  [4615] Questions for First (West of England) - (2016-01-05)
  [4547] RUH Hopper - experience and thoughts forward - (2015-10-20)
  [4546] Is the RUH hopper a limited, duplicate service running unnecessarily and at high cost? - (2015-10-18)
  [4500] The TransWilts Community Intergrated Transport Corridor - (2015-05-29)
  [4425] A Welsh valley - what the transport looks like in 2015 - (2015-02-14)
  [4290] National Express replaced by train and by Megabus from Chippenham to London - (2014-07-16)
  [4286] Reaction in Radstock to new First bus prices - (2014-07-12)
  [4263] Chippenham - Melksham - Trowbridge, public transport over Easter (2014) - (2014-04-12)
  [4257] Over a pound a kilometre - my bus in Weston-super-mare - (2014-04-06)
  [4247] You wait a long time - then buses come in threes. It's timetabled that way! - (2014-03-09)
  [4240] Melksham Rail Link - (2014-01-27)
  [4228] Mallory Place, The Spa, Wellington Drive, Melksham - a Christmas present for you - (2013-12-26)
  [4194] TransWilts Link - meeting notes from 19th October - (2013-10-20)
  [4192] A positive progress behind the scenes - (2013-10-14)
  [4191] Getting people to and from Melksham Station - not 20 but 700 times a day - (2013-10-12)
  [4190] A radical proposal - a cheap and effective way to provide home to city commuter transport - (2013-10-11)
  [4186] Melksham to Bath and Zigzag buses - at a turning point? - (2013-10-06)
  [4181] Grumbling about trains? Buses can be far worse! - (2013-09-29)
  [4179] Changing transport and destinations - looking forward to a good future - (2013-09-19)
  [4171] Mapping road accidents in Melksham and elsewhere too - (2013-09-12)
  [4152] Why are bus fares so high? - (2013-08-18)
  [4150] Melksham Regular Public Transport Map - as at August 2013 - (2013-08-09)
  [4149] Bus changes to Bath - good idea, but I despair at information available - (2013-08-08)
  [4143] Bus times - Melksham to Bath from 28th July 2013 - (2013-07-25)
  [4124] Chippenham - Melksham - Trowbridge bus changes next month - (2013-06-26)
  [4123] New timetables from 28th July - bus routes 271 and 272 - (2013-06-24)
  [4113] Wiltshire and Melksham Transport - what is going on? - (2013-06-09)
  [4111] Zigzag bus - forward for the future, or decaying service? - (2013-06-09)
  [4108] The painful cost of local travel to Melksham - (2013-06-01)
  [4032] Easier public transport from Melksham to Bristol Airport - (2013-03-06)
  [4023] Melksham to Chippenham (Station) bus services - times and routes - (2013-03-01)
  [4022] A request for all of Melksham transport groups to work integrated - (2013-03-01)
  [3951] Christmas Bus Schedule for Melksham - First Bus - (2012-12-14)
  [3938] A long overdue meeting - a steeping stone towards coordinate transport user inputs - (2012-12-02)
  [3937] Agenda for Wiltshire Link Travel groups meeting, Saturday 1st December 2012 - (2012-11-27)
  [3929] Melksham Bus Issues - to be raised at First Bus Customer Panel - (2012-11-21)
  [3904] Want to help us improve transport in Wiltshire? Here is how! - (2012-10-26)
  [3893] Public Transport across Wiltshire - a new map - (2012-10-13)
  [3879] Mixed mode travel - Information systems - (2012-10-03)
  [3877] Public Transport Services - from and to Melksham - (2012-10-01)
  [3866] Celebrate! Buses from Meksham to Bath - (2012-09-18)
  [3850] Bus times - Chippenham Station to Melksham, with London connections - (2012-08-25)
  [3849] New bus times - Melksham to Bath - (2012-08-25)
  [3699] Bristol 50? Bristol 25? - (2012-04-17)
  [3631] Getting around Dublin by public transport - some observations - (2012-03-01)
  [3580] Melksham Area - buses, trains, cycles, and roads. Meeting, 17.1.2012 - (2012-01-15)
  [3579] Transport in Cambridgeshire - seen by an outside observer. What can Wiltshire learn? - (2012-01-15)
  [3564] I wish I was not a special case - (2011-12-29)
  [3523] When competition is not a good idea - Melksham Bus Absurdity - (2011-11-16)
  [3504] Coaches from Trowbridge and Melksham to London - (2011-11-01)
  [3487] Public transport - road and rail - (2011-10-19)
  [3486] How important is public transport to people in the Melksham area? - (2011-10-19)
  [3471] Vintage Bus Running Day in Warminster. An example of good bus practise. - (2011-10-09)
  [3404] Buses on the Cambridge Guided Busway - (2011-08-24)
  [3301] Using public transport - USA style - (2011-05-25)
  [3290] Changes (and no changes) at Melksham bus stops - (2011-05-15)
  [3194] Buses - what they cost and their future direction in the SW and in Wiltshire - (2011-03-06)
  [3126] Car Parking in Melksham - thoughts on the proposed scheme, and wider thoughts too - (2011-01-09)
  [2983] Strong arm tactics in the bus industry? Poor result for the customer! - (2010-10-03)
  [2982] Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03)
  [2958] What do these road markings mean? Could Confusion Kill? - (2010-09-17)
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  [2919] London to Calne, Corsham, Melksham, Bradford-on-Avon, Chippenham by public Transport - (2010-08-13)
  [2903] Bath to Devizes bus via Melksham - changing again in September - (2010-08-04)
  [2857] Park and Ride at Batheaston - will it solve Wiltshires Ills? - (2010-07-06)
  [2791] Bath to Melksham buses - times - (2010-06-03)
  [2789] Melksham to London (Heathrow, and Central London) - (2010-06-02)
  [2771] Melksham to Calne by public transport - (2010-05-20)
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  [2662] Is Melksham public transport actually used? - (2010-03-05)
  [2533] Five guests, three groups, one car - (2009-12-11)
  [2522] Integrated public Transport - what could be done for Melksham - (2009-12-01)
  [2515] Why we have two buses an hour - but not a half hourly service - (2009-11-28)
  [2431] Moving busstop! - (2009-09-30)
  [2372] Public Transport from (and to) Melksham on Sundays - (2009-08-23)
  [2328] Melksham - no trains, no southbound buses through the town - (2009-08-08)
  [2268] Westbury Bypass Refused - looking forward - (2009-07-04)
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  [2075] Supporting Parkinsons and Trains - (2009-03-11)
  [1777] The Rise and Rise of First Bus Fares - (2008-08-29)
  [1723] Bath - Melksham - Devizes. Bus route changes, new timetable - (2008-07-26)
  [1668] Talk on TransWilts train service to Green Party - (2008-06-07)
  [1567] Melksham - Swindon. Train v Bus v Car - (2008-03-07)
  [1560] HST Power Car TravelWatch SouthWest - (2008-03-01)
  [1511] Buses from Well House Manor, Melksham, to Bath - (2008-01-18)
  [1428] Travel Across Wiltshire - the game - (2007-11-11)
  [1315] Two years of campaigning for a train service - (2007-08-22)
  [1254] Comparing bus stops - (2007-07-01)
  [1125] Train service - petititon reply - (2007-03-31)
  [1085] Lawrence Webb's Melksham Taxi service - (2007-02-18)
  [818] Heard, yes. Considered, no. The case for the train. - (2006-07-30)
  [764] Journey planning - Xephos v Transport Direct - (2006-06-16)
  [474] Vintage Bus Day - (2005-10-23)
  [459] Kiss and Ride - (2005-10-09)
  [187] a popular bus number - (2005-01-23)
  [119] PHP course. Come by train. - (2004-11-15)


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Progress on moving from Python 2 to Python 3 - training for both versions
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