Tagged: 68006-a-history

Steve's Bus & Train Page: What A Grey Day!

I have been looking forward to today for sometime. Back in Februrary I rode a batttery powered train and a Mercedes Citaro demonstrator that Ipswich Buses had on trial (see here 1 ). In that review I stated that I was so impressed with the Merc I emailed the then Managing Director of Ipswich Buses, Malcolm Robson, with one word – invest.

Well invest they have and this week the three brand new Citaros entered service. It takes a lot to drag me to Ipswich these days but the prospect of spending a few hours riding around on these impressive looking buses was enough to brave the pouring rain for. Now it must be said that from the outside these buses looked exactly as I expected them to – attractive and enticing.

I like IB’s modern livery and think it suits everything it has gone on. I let 154 go as it was already full so of course the next two buses were the two Scania Olympus deckers. Eventually, though, 155 rolled in and I boarded full of anticipation.

Immediately my vision changed from colour to black and white. Everything is grey. The seats are grey and grey, the floor is grey, the side panels and window surrounds are grey, the poles and grab handles are grey, the roof panels are light grey.

It has truly got to be the most depressing and drab bus interior I have ever seen. Ever. But never mind I settled into my sumptuous seat to enjoy the journey.

Oh hang on that’s wrong I don’t mean sumptuous do I. I mean rock hard. I have sat on softer wood.

On the demonstrator I said the seats looked threadbare but were comfortable. These seats are not comfortable. Anything but.

A complete disappointment in fact. When will operators learn that if people are going to leave their cars at home then the least they expect is a comfortable seat. You don’t expect car passengers to sit on seats like that and they haven’t waited 20 mins in the rain.

Ipswich Buses have decent seats on all their other buses but these seats on the Mercs are appalling. And then as we pulled away it rattled. I could see a loose roof panel and it wasn’t just that I could hear rattling.

Having said that the Citaro’s suspension is awesome and speed bumps are effectively flattened – you cannot fault the ride in anyway.. But the engine seemed louder than the two demonstrators and sounded like a truck. I compared the demonstrator to the gas buses but not this one.

One thing that was as quiet as a mouse though was the bell. In fact it’s inaudible and passengers were checking the screen at the front to make sure it said “bus stopping”. My intention was to do a rounder on all three of the Mercs but I ended up getting off 155 in Whitton, doing some shopping and catching 153 back to Ipswich.

That was it.

153 was a lot better in that it didn’t rattle at all. However, it took ages to board with my shopping due to a buggy jam. The 9/10 serve a part of Ipswich that to put it mildly has a few buggies.

A lot of buggies actually, so you would have thought the design of the interior would have taken that into account. Not so. Even one buggy intrudes onto the aisle and I can see a lot of time being lost purely through buggy problems.

In fact they may not last too long on the route. So to conclude: They look great but only from the outside. They are German so the engineers will love them as they will be extremely reliable.

The ride is superb. But the interiors let them down badly. Colour, design and comfort are all lacking in imagination and with the customer in mind.

The bell is silent yet the engine was louder than I expected. One is already rattling. In short they give the impression that the cheapest possible options in every area were chosen.

I seriously thought they would be favourites for my “Bus Of The Year” award, but no.

Had one of these been the demonstrator my email to Malcolm Robson would have contained two words not one – don’t bother.

References ^ here (busandtrain.blogspot.co.uk)

Steve's Bus & Train Page: More Cuts Coming

I have been waiting over a week to break this news but thanks to the VOSA website being down have been unable to get all the details. However, hot on the heels of Konect’s draconian cuts coming on November 2nd is the news that on the same day Anglian is cutting its services too, and reducing the on road fleet by some 33%. Please note the underneath is subject to change, but this is what I have gathered from multiple sources.

The main casualty is the 60, which runs between James Paget Hospital and Bungay via Lowestoft and Beccles. This service is being scrapped completely. The 60H from Beccles to Halesworth and 60S from Beccles to Southwold will continue to operate but with changed timetables, so as yet I don’t know if frequencies will be maintained.

For those in Lound and Blundeston, currently served by the 60 a new 60J will operate three times a day serving those villages. The 7 and 61 is changing too. Again full details are to be confirmed, but from what I understand the 7 will now operate between Norwich and Lowestoft – in fact VOSA confirms that – with a change of bus required at Lowestoft for the 61 to Kessingland and Southwold.

Frequency will be reduced to every 30 mins. There was debate about changes to the route between Lowestoft and Gorleston, but I have had no firm confirmation yet so won’t publish the rumours! The Beccles Town Service 82 is having route and timetable alterations.

There was talk about the service being scrapped but that decision has been reviewed. However there have been no changes registered on VOSA for the 83/4/5/6, which are sponsored routes. There are timetable changes to the 80/81 between Great Yarmouth and Diss.

I presume most of these will affect the journeys between Beccles and Bungay. At the moment the 80 goes fast via Shipmeadow (very popular too I gather) but if the 60 has been scrapped I would think, though must emphasise not been confirmed yet, that the 80 will revert to its former route via Broome and Dtchingham. As soon as I receive confirmation I’ll publish it.

The only positive news appears to affect the 88 between Halesworth and Norwich. It would seem that after the success of the one journey a day each way there are to be more X88 journeys running fast between Bungay/Poringland/Norwich. As a result the 88A from Southwold to Halesworth timetable is changing too.

If this is the case I am delighted as I’ll personally benefit from that. However the cynical side of me wonders if this is to match the journey time of Borderbus’s 146 between Norwich and Southwold. Again I’ll confirm when timetables are released.

All in all it’s not good. When Go-Ahead took over Anglian there were over 100 vehicles. Now that will drop to less than 40.

Go-Ahead? Seems a huge step backwards again. Anyway that is the jist of it as I know it.

I was told Anglian were making a press release by the end of last week. They haven’t. It is also notable that within a couple of days of notices going up on VOSA Konect had the details on their website.

Anglian haven’t, and I’m afraid that rather sums things up. Passengers are not just put last they don’t even enter the equation right now. All very depressing, but as one of my commentors pointed out you can always jump in a taxi and we must have chosen to live in an area with poor transport links so really folks it’s all our fault!

I’ll publish full details on these changes as soon as I have them.