24 January 2012

Plympton Explained

Plymouth Citybus have now placed details on the changes to their Plympton services on their web site and also sent out a nice little email news letter which points to the details. What I really like is how they have gone out of their way to explain the changes, why they have been made and even to lay out their hopes and aspirations for future for each route.

Service 21

Service generally re-timed to adjust for the improvements now in effect in Prince Rock. To improve the overall efficiency of the service the service will no longer service Steer Park (See Service 20). Instead the service is to start and terminate at the District centre Chaddlewood. A couple of the very early morning journeys on Saturdays are to be withdrawn. For Steer Park the alternative fast bus provision would be either walk to the District centre or catch the Service 20 to Ridgeway and then change to the Service 21.

Why the change?

Service 21 has been something of a success story both for Plympton and the wider network in general. Despite the improvements in traffic flows, the service is unable to sustain the high level of resource required to maintain an up to every 10 minute service into Steer Park. This together with the reality that 1/3 of all customers using the service are in possession of the free travel pass which in turn severely restricts the overall income potential of the service and upcoming substantial changes to the price of fuel used for buses, especially in the area of fuel tax. These combined pressures means that the service is simply unable to generate the income needed to sustain the resources required to maintain a high frequency service running all the way into Steer Park and as such we need to reduce down our driver and vehicle commitment to the service meaning we can’t quite reach Steer Park on the new times and levels of resource.

Is the change to the Service 21 permanent?

We hope not, as more of our customers move to the smart card, boarding times will further improve (tap and go as opposed to paying the driver the fare). We may also see further improvements to running times in Prince Rock once the scheme is completely finished and enforcement of the bus priority takes effect. These changes alone may be enough to give us the extra time needed to reach Steer Park on a sustained basis. Once the change takes effect we will rely on feedback from the regular drivers to let us know when returning to Steer Park is possible.

Service 20

The Service is to see a change of route with the service no longer operating to St Marys bridge via Mudge way. Instead the Service is to operate along Ridgeway to Sandy Road and then on into Steer Park. The service will continue to operate up to every 30 minutes for much of the day but unfortunately due to very low customer numbers, the Service on Sundays is to be withdrawn. (See changes to the Service 22) Some very early morning journeys on Saturdays are to be withdrawn

Why the change?

Service 20 has a number of problems but the main essential truth is the journey through Woodford is shocking. The condition of the highway is really bad which together with a big problem of residential parking particularly in Crossway (but to be honest most of Woodford could hardly be classed as smooth running). Because of this we are unable to deliver the quality and level of service we feel the area should have. Service 20 is also victim to upcoming changes to the price of fuel, and has a higher than average use of the free travel pass which in turn severely restricts the overall income potential of the service. These challenges are too great for us to maintain the overall level of service which is why the Sunday Service is to be withdrawn. It is hoped that the extension to Steer Park will generate additional local use of the Service which is needed to help revive the fortunes of this service.

Is the change to the Service 20 permanent?

We feel that the Sunday service is unlikely to ever return, at least not until we are able to build up the Monday to Saturday usage. To do that would require a number of changes to how car parking is managed in the Woodford area. There would also need to be real improvements to the condition of the highway. We are pressing the local authority for improvements to the general condition and for changes to on street parking. Should this be achieved then the quality of what we provide will substantially improve which in turn should lead to increased level of service. Woodford as an area should be able to support a bus every 20 minutes all day, perhaps also a limited evening service. We hope that the environment will change to enable us to one day deliver this level of service. If we are able to return the Service 21 into Steer Park then the plan for the Service 20 would be to operate into Langage.

Service 22

Sundays and Bank holidays will see the frequency of the Service increase from hourly to every 30 minutes for much of the day. Some very early morning journeys on Saturdays from Plympton are to be withdrawn.

Why the change?

Service 22 is another great story for Plympton and the general network. Okay a couple of the early morning Saturday services are to be withdrawn, but these were incredibly low used. The great news is that despite the challenges with fuel and the slightly higher than average use of the free pass, income levels of the Monday to Saturday service is now at a level that we are able to expand the Sunday Service to operate every 30 minutes for most of the day.

Is the change to the Service 22 permanent?

Don’t see why not, the provision of a higher frequency service on Sundays should be very popular. We believe that the Service 22 will go continue to go from strength the strength with the long term aim of achieving a service level of every 15 minutes for most of the day. To achieve this there would need to be improvements to on street parking particularly in the Longcause area (this is where the buses would meet when operating at higher frequency) There would also need to be improvements to the income from those that travel free so that it is more reflective when compared to those that pay, but hopefully this may be possible in the coming years.

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  1. mike hudson PCTPG24 January 2012 at 21:35

    i am a citybus driver and i find the major problem with crossway is the fact that people who live there have driveways but cant be bothered to use them!!!
    maybe if the highways resurfaced the road and put double yellow lines all the way down, it would cure the problem! st. margarets road can bea problem sometimes but not as bad as crossways!

  2. I live very near Crossway, and I know what you mean! Yellow lines need to be painted, it's the same with St Margarets Rd when coming out of Lynwood Avenue!

    I can't imagine what it was like when the 20 used to go down Courtland Crescent with Boringdon school there at about 3.20! That was the reason the 20 was withdrawn from Courland Crescent, as I drive down Crossway several times a day the Council really needs to do something about it, e.g. yellow lines! The quality of the road is awful, a tiny part of it has been resurfaced at the top by 'The Mead' stop, the middle part of it is awful.

  3. Its almost as if the people in crossway dont want a service, the parking is terrible. Frequently have to slow the bus to a crawl as the gap left between cars is so tight. Id imagine fire engines would struggle there too.

  4. Mike, I'm pretty sure I saw you today. I got on the 27 at roughly 4.15 from Royal Parade (bus 216) to Mutley Plain, when we got to North Hill I chekced with you if you went to Mutley Plain and I made you jump! Was pretty sure it was you!


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