06 February 2014

Rather windy and wet

I am sure I am not the only one who has welcomed the return of my favourite bus blog:  Omnibuses One of his first few posts looked at bus operator use of social media, in particular Facebook which is in the headlines as its ten years old now.

But I coincide that there’s nothing else like Facebook or Twitter—approaching eight years old—for getting messages out quickly… That’s why I believe a bus operator can’t really manage without Facebook these days. And few don’t

Omnibuses 2 Feb

I know several in the industry who really dont like Facebook, but even they concede that in time of crisis such as bad weather, it really comes into its own. Its certainly being used well at the moment when we are seeing an endless tide of storms across Devon & Cornwall which is causing unprecedented damage across the transport network. So lets have a look back over the last few days to see how our local operators have got their message across to passengers. This is to see how well they are using social media and also to keep as a record of just how bad things are out there…

Plymouth Citybus have been fairly quiet on Facebook, but then few city services have been really affected so far.

Due to the weather and closure of lanes on the Tamar Bridge there is major disruption to services in Saltash. School buses are being met in Saltash and the students transferred onto smaller buses. Torpoint services are also disrupted as there has only been one ferry running. We are told that there will soon be three ferries working so the delays should ease. Service 25 diverted away from the Hoe sea front as the road has been closed.

First Devon were a lot busier of Facebook as some of their routes were badly affected:

All everything ran out of the depots this morning as scheduled. We are dependant on the same sources as the general public for traffic information and road closures, local radio, Devon & Cornwall Police traffic watch etc. We often don't know about a problem until one of our drivers contacts us about a problem on his route. All Plymouth town services are operating but expect localised delays due to slow moving traffic and ground water. No news from drivers on service 76 so we are assuming this is operating normally. The 93 is currently unable to service via Slapton/Torcross so is operating via A3122 via Totnes Cross Garage to Kingsbridge. This will leave A379 and the villages along between Dartmouth & Kingsbridge without a service for the time being, updates on that when we get them. Service 81, 3 ferries now operating, cliff road not being served due to the high winds.

Services 1, 1A & 76 encountering severe delays due to the Tamar Bridge lane restrictions. Traffic is queuing both sides and high sided vehicles, motorcycles and caravans are prevented from crossing the bridge.

Devon & East Cornwall: 08:30 a quick update but things will no doubt change rapidly as the morning goes on but here goes for now.... 93 Kingsbridge to Dartmouth - Slapton Sands CLOSED due to flooding diverted via Totnes.... 89 Tavistock - tree down between Town Centre and old swimming pool, slight delays but may close road later to remove.... Gunnislake Bridge remains CLOSED (not that we go that way often).... Torpoint - Sheviock to Anthony CLOSED by Police, 81's not using the cliff top rd due to the winds so direct to Millbrook, Cawsand and Kingsand disrupted, Plymouth - localised flooding not causing service changes as yet but delays expected.... take care and back soon with some more as things develop..

Mountbatten turning circle on service is likely to be closed due to high tides and flooding. Our service will turn at the previous roundabout.

Due to the road closures between Anthony & Treburley we are unable to serve Crafthole.
Also not servicing along Whitsand Bays cliff top rd to Kingsand and Cawsand and the queue for the ferry is through the town and causing severe disruptions.

Service 93. It's sounding extremely unlikely that the Slapton Sands road A379 is likely to reopen in the near future due to storm damage. We understand structural engineers have been called to asses the situation. We will update as more information becomes available.

A passenger asks: We really could do with knowing what will happen to the "school" bus in the morning. We will have to make alternative arrangements if necessary and trying to do it at 0630 in the morning will be difficult.

First reply: we are as keen to know as you, unfortunately the council is unlikely to inform us directly so we will be finding out ourselves tomorrow. All I can say is if the road shows as closed on the Devon & Cornwall police traffic watch page late this evening and tomorrow morning that the service will almost certainly operate directly between Dartmouth & Kingsbridge missing the Strete Slapton parts of the route.

This does illustrate the frustration that must be shared by transport managers. Passengers need answers to questions that they cant answer! Another comment from a passenger caught my eye..

On the 93 not being able to serve Slapton Sands

So wat about us in the villages that have appts to be at...

First reply: Its unfortunate but we are at the mercy of the weather conditions, we will aim to operate a service that offers the least disruption along its entire length. As the road has been closed we have no access along it.

To see an example of what can happen when a bus attempts to use a road which has been closed see here

First Cornwall have had a fair bit to say too

All everything ran out of the depots this morning, we have not cancelled any services. We are dependant on the same sources as the general public for traffic information, such as local radio, Devon & Cornwall Police site. The first we know that a service can't get through a stretch of road is when the driver informs us. the only issue I'm aware of currently is around St Keverne & Coverack with fallen trees, this may effect the 36 and any college service.

Which prompted a response

seriously why don't first cornwall have c.b. radios for the drivers to communicate it confuses me!

radios to communicate over a large area such as Cornwall would require a large infrastructure of very costly equipment to give the range required. Drivers would be unable to use them whilst moving anyway. they work ok in a town environment for taxi's or local services, once you get a few miles out your better relying on the mobile phone networks, in some of the rural areas of Cornwall of course even this is patchy.

Another comment raises a good question

Info on Radio Cornwall regards your trains, *nothing* about busses.

to which First have replied:

It's easy to quote about a single stretch of railway line that flooded, compared to hundreds of miles of roads in the Cornwall area. We would encourage all travelling public (what ever the choice of travel or operator) to check the local radio & sites such as the Devon & Cornwall Police traffic watch page to see if they are liable to be affected in there local area. We can only post specific information when we actually know a problem exists.

I have to say I do like how First work on Facebook. They do their best to answer questions and will stand up and state why they make decisions and how and why its difficult to provide services which passengers demand.

Western Greyhound: have been busy on their Facebook page too in a slightly;y different way to First in that they have also shared lots of information from other sources which may be useful to their passengers including several inks to weather forecasts and some dramatic satelite images!

Below is an update of the services not running, and expected not to run for the rest of today:
1445 594 Truro to Wadebridge
1445 586 Newquay to Truro
1515 597 Truro to Newquay
1525 576 Launceston to Plymouth
1530 555 Bodmin Parkway to Padstow
1540 586 Truro to Newquay
1600 594 Wadebridge to Truro
1630 555 Padstow to Bodmin Parkway
1645 588 Truro to Perranporth
1705 576 Plymouth to Launceston
1730 555 Bodmin Parkway to Padstow
1835 556 Padstow to Newquay
All other services should be running normally, though maybe delayed.
Please note that unless otherwise informed, we expect to return to a full service for tomorrow and Friday. With more bad weather expected on Saturday.
Road remains closed between Duloe and St Keyne on Service 573
All other services are operating but please bear in mind there may be delays.

First Great Western have been really badly hit by these storms but they have very little on Facebook. They seem to prefer Twitter to anything else. Stagecoach Devon dont do Facebook at all!

Finally a selection of weather related tweets

I shall leave the final word to First who put sum it all up in a nice simple graphic:



  1. To be fair the Stagecoach SW, they do publish details of service disruptions on their website.

  2. A little outside the area covered by Plymothian Transit, but worthy of mention is the Twitter feed that First Bristol and Bath use. Sure there are lots of moans and gripes on there, and the Customer Services staff who man it have way more patience that I do, but First really do try to be friendly on the feed.

    There was a case on Monday where a bus driver (don't know company) flagged down a Police car to report he'd seen a crocodile on the loose! This was Tweeted by the Police, and it became bit of a talking point locally. So when First signed off that evening they left the usual "see you tomorrow from 07:00" message, but added "if the croc doesn't get us!". The following day 'the croc' Tweeted that he was hiding in one of their depots to which they replied "don't eat our drivers!", they subsequently Tweeted "Croc spotting? Why not snap up a First Day Inner Zone ticket?"

    All a bit of fun, but very welcome in amongst the "where is the number...?"

  3. Spotted an ex Brighton & Hove Dart at the Asda junction going into Leigham.Too far away to see reg number or service number,Jacketts perhaps?.

  4. http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Bus-car-involved-crash-busy-Plymouth-road/story-20590661-detail/story.html

  5. indeed it is jackets. ex B & H 207 N207 NJJ

    1. Hi Mike, just a small correction N207 NNJ not NJJ.


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