29 July 2009

Keeping Casper Happy at least

"I don't know what the attraction is but he loves big vehicles like lorries and buses”

PlymTransit on Twitter
A news story involving First Devon and Cornwall goes national with even The Sun getting into the act:

The BBC puts it:

A cat has become such a well-known user of a Devon bus service that its drivers know where to let him off. Casper has been queuing with other passengers to get the number three service from his home in Plymouth for months, bus company First said. It added that he often sat in the queue and then quietly padded on board and curled up on a seat for the ride. Casper's owner Susan Finden, 55, who picked him from a rescue home in 2002, said he had always been a free spirit. Mrs Finden said she named her pet after Casper the Friendly Ghost, as he has a habit of wandering off. A spokesman for First said that drivers had been bussing Casper around for months, but Mrs Finden said she had only just found out about his use of public transport. The care worker said: "He'd always go off and have a wander. "Once I had to walk a mile-and-a-half with a cat basket to bring him back from a car park. "He does love people, and I don't know what the attraction is but he loves big vehicles like lorries and buses." A notice has been put up by First in the bus drivers' rest room in Plymouth bus station asking them to look after the rogue passenger if they spot him sneaking on board.

On more usual news First has started to announce some changes to its services in August:


The Timetable for Ugobus service 7 has been revised in the afternoon between Derriford Hospital and Woolwell in order to allow additional time as a result of congestion problems around the hospital. Most journeys will now operate up to 5 minutes later from approximately 1600. Due to low customer usage the departures from the City Centre to Woolwell at 1805 and 1825 will be withdrawn. 2nd August

Service 17 is being withdrawn from 30th August 

Following a review of passenger numbers and the cost of operation exceeding the return in revenue it is with regret that this service is no longer commercially viable LINK

Slight changes to service 48 occur at the same time

The 30th August also sees changes to the Ugobus network:

Service 2

The Monday to Saturday daytime frequency will be changed to operate every 10 minutes during the peak periods and every 12 minutes off peak. Certain evening journeys operating Monday to Saturday and certain late afternoon Sunday journeys have also been withdrawn.


Service 6

the 6 is being re-routed onto The Viaduct to avoid Drakes Circus:

This change has been implemented in order to improve the reliability and punctuality of the service by avoiding the congestion at the entrance to the Drakes Circus car park.
Service 5


The Monday to Saturday daytime frequency will be changed to operate every 30 minutes during the peak periods. Off peak journeys will remain at a 15 minute frequency.

Service 11

Following the successful launch of Ugobus service 11 between Plymouth and Honicknowle, some amendments to the evening journeys will come into effect from Sunday 30 August.

I guess the 2 being reduced from 10 mins to 12 mins intervals off peak isn't that big a deal but the evening service down to hourly from half hourly is a big change that will further annoy Plymstock residents who have seen big reductions in their evening and weekend services this year.
Service 6 seems an odd change as it comes a good few months after Citybus have re-rerouted most of its buses back through the Drakes Circus stops after road improvements seem to have reduced the delays. First having made a point at the time that their services were not being moved off Mayflower Street unlike Citybus!
Service 5 is the odd one. I assumed that the news release had got it the wrong way round but the timetables do confirm the odd news that the service is running twice as much off peak as it is during the peak. Surely its normally the other way round?
Service 11 is another big cutback. “Some amendments to evening journeys” translates to the evening service is withdrawn after the last bus departing 18:35.

There were rumours that the 11 was being cut back in the evenings so the company could improve its evening services in Plymstock, its traditional operating territory. There may be more changes yet to be published but I don't see any signs of increased evening service for Plymstock so far.

With cut backs in Cornwall also due to happen in September with a lot of work believed to be passing to Western Greyhound, and strong rumours of depot closures for First these are not happy times for the company or its customers. A few years back Western Greyhound was just a small independent operator running a smart fleet of Mercedes minis. Its now rapidly turning into the main operator in Cornwall with a growing fleet of smart low floor Solos and even a few low floor double deckers. As I have often pointed out, the appearance of the First Fleet these days is extremely smart. Its just getting a lot harder to actually see one.

I guess at least Casper can still keep catching his number 3 - that seems to escape the cut backs this time around!

Omnibuses has a nice post which looks at the current economic conditions and how they impact on bus operators.

1 comment:

  1. yeah they are closing callington and st austall depots, drivers and other staff being moved to other depots.
    the latest rumour is the sighting of a board at langage saying "site aquired for first group"??
    it is well known wakehams quarry has been sold to redrow, so looks like a move could be on the cards


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