Clear up the timetables
The invitation last month for '˜Those Who Know The Truth' to tell us members of the public about it, so that we all can know what is going on, has produced early results.
I had previously commented that the disadvantages of the original High Speed Trains (HSTs or InterCity 125s), as they have been running for the past 40 years, have been their slam doors and their toilet facilities.
I also said that I wondered what Scotrail would do about these features.
Ian McConnell, the Scotrail Alliance’s programmes and transformation director, has written the following in response.
“When our InterCity trains enter service they will bring a step-change in travel between Scotland’s seven cities – and there won’t be a slam door or archaic toilet in sight.
“Our customers can look forward to fully refurbished trains, with an on-board buffet, offering an enhanced selection of food and drink.”
So hurrah for Scotrail!
That all sounds really promising.
And if it is accompanied by good marketing, then we should be able to see some excellent results.
Talking of marketing, there are still some serious deficiencies in the way that members of the public can find out about the bus service times.
The information about bus services, as shown at bus stops, now amounts only to the times they leave that particular stop.
There is no longer any information about the time the buses arrive at other points along the route.
And, worst of all, there is no information about the return times of the bus services.
This information, of course, may be available for potential passengers online, or by telephone.
However, buses are particularly useful to the elderly, many of whom are not computer-savvy, and to whom traditional leaflet information is still important.
Often these leaflets are available in libraries and tourist information centres, for example, but one of the most useful sources of such information for people would surely be the local post offices.
While trains run during the whole of the waking day, buses tend only to run during the working day.
With that in mind, it could be all too easy for a passenger to set off to some destination only to find that they cannot get back again until the following day.
The other difficulty I have found about bus timetables is that the buses are often needed to take children home from school in the middle of the afternoon.
This means that many of the timetables are littered with notes saying, for example, ‘Non-schooldays only’.
This becomes even worse in areas where schools finish early on Fridays, which really makes a mess of the timetables.
The local councils that provide financial support for some services to continue to run might consider making those services more user-friendly, rather than requiring the operators to pare them down to the cheapest possible method of operation.
In such cases as that, of course, potential passengers will do everything they can to avoid having to use them.
This results in a vicious circle.
The original idea of council involvement was to make the bus services more attractive so that more people would be encouraged to use them.
If the councils are to do this, they must be underpinned by central government.
However, central government, to me, seems to be intent on eliminating these services, if possible, rather than encouraging them.
I believe that our local councils have done great work in providing bus stops and display panels for the public.
It is just such a shame that these facilities are not currently being used to their full potential.
John Wylde is the author of Integrated Transport – a Will-o’-the-wisp?’ This book is priced £14.95, post paid and signed by the author. Also Experiments in Public Transport Operation, at £11.95.
Order through the author’s website www.john-wylde.co.uk or from Grieves on the corner of Church Street in Berwick.