06 January 2015

Cornwall Transit No 1

Cornwall Transit News

The first of a what should be a regular look at what is happening down in Cornwall. The aim is for Tuesdays alternating between Devon and Cornwall… 

First Kernow

There have already been quite a few timetable changes for First with all of these from the 4th January:

Vehicle wise, at least two Dennis Darts have been transferred from Hampshire 42511 and 42522 to help booster the fleet. There are also a couple of green Solos!

    Group Travel

    Group Travel have cancelled a set of routes serving Trago Mills with services ending 14 January 2015:

    Travel Cornwall

    Travel Cornwall (Summercourt) introduce new timetables from the 19th January 2015:

    Western Greyhound

    Its early days for the new owners but there is clearly some route consolidation in progress as can be seen from the following cancellations registered on VOSA recently:
    • PH0006741/65 Cancellation Accepted: Operating between Okehampton West Street and Launceston given service number 510 effective from 21-Feb-2015.
    • PH0006741/95 Cancellation Accepted: Operating between Wadebridge Bus Station and Camelford given service number 510 effective from 21-Feb-2015.
    • PH0006741/96 Cancellation Accepted: Operating between Camelford, Museum and Launceston, Westgate Street given service number 510 effective from 21-Feb-2015.
    • PH0006741/97 Cancellation Accepted: Operating between Okehampton, West Street and Exeter Bus Station given service number 510/599 effective from 21-Feb-2015.
    • PH0006741/98 Cancellation Accepted: Operating between Bude, Strand and Holsworthy, Church given service number 599 effective from 21-Feb-2015.
    • PH0006741/99 Cancellation Accepted: Operating between Holsworthy, Church/Library and Okehampton, West Street given service number 599 effective from 21-Feb-2015.
    This leaves this corridor to Stagecoach who were already competing with Western Greyhound. I will be looking at Stagecoach's operations here in more detail in a forthcoming 'Devon Transit News'

    Far more interesting, are a few new VOSA registrations for Western Greyhound:

    • PH0006741/119 - WESTERN GREYHOUND LTD, WESTERN HOUSE, ST. AUSTELL STREET, SUMMERCOURT, NEWQUAY, TR8 5DR Registration Accepted by SN Starting Point: Bitterne Shops Finish Point: Bursledon Tesco Via: Harefield, Thornhill, Sholine Service Number: 15 Service Type: Normal Stopping Effective Date: 12-JAN-2015 Other Details: Monday to friday except public and bank holidays.
    • PH0006741/120 - WESTERN GREYHOUND LTD, WESTERN HOUSE, ST. AUSTELL STREET, SUMMERCOURT, NEWQUAY, TR8 5DR Registration Accepted by SN Starting Point: Southampton City Centre Finish Point: Shirley Precinct Via: Regents Park, Millbrook Service Number: S2 Service Type: Normal Stopping Effective Date: 12-JAN-2015 Other Details: Monday to Saturday, Except public and bank holidays.
    • PH0006741/121 - WESTERN GREYHOUND LTD, WESTERN HOUSE, ST. AUSTELL STREET, SUMMERCOURT, NEWQUAY, TR8 5DR Registration Accepted by SN Starting Point: Lords Hill Centre Finish Point: Hedge End (Sainsubury's Superstore) Via: Shiley Precinct, Southampton City Centre, Thornhill Service Number: S1 Service Type: Normal Stopping Effective Date: 12-JAN-2015 Other Details: Monday to Saturday, except public and bank holidays

    Yes, they really are registering routes in Southampton which is outside the usual area of operation by Western Greyhound! These are of course services operated by Velvet Travel who are also owned by the new owners of WG. I guess it makes sense to have all of their operations under one licence. It remains to be seen if both fleets trade as Western Greyhound or the Southampton operations retain their Velvet names.

    At least two Mercedes Varios including WK04KUO have been seen on Southampton services in full WG livery along with Trident Y447NHK. The Varios are a temporary addition to the Southampton fleet as they are really just on their way to Ensign for disposal. Coming the other way is at least one more Dennis Dart PJ02RGZ which is running in Cornwall in orange and grey livery.

    Cornwall Busways

    While a lot of attention has been on the troubles of Western Greyhound, the tiny Cornwall Busways operation has had all sorts of troubles in its short existence and has finally thrown in the towel:

    It is with regret that we advise you that Cornwall Busways services will cease on 31 December 2014, with the exception of a special timetable on service 30 on 2 January 2015 only. After this date, Cornwall Busways will surrender its Operating Licence and will cease trading. This action is taken as a result of a continuing dispute with the West Of England Traffic Commissioner. From 5 January 2015, First Cornwall will extend its popular Truro to St Austell service 27 onwards to Bodmin Morrisons via Penwithick, Bugle & Stenalees and maintaining a hourly link through Kerrow Moor, Rosevean & Rosevear Road. First Cornwall, with support from Cornwall Council, have also applied to register a partial replacement for the 30 between Carclaze & St Austell via Boscoppa. Tesco & Asda. The introduction of this service is subject to approval by the West Of England Traffic Commissioner. Also from 5 January, First Cornwall will introduce a new service 24 between Fowey, Par, St Blazey & St Austell which will cover many parts of service 31 which has been withdrawn with immediate effect.. This service will operate up to every 30 minutes, Mondays to Saturdays. The whole team at Cornwall Busways would like to thank you all for your custom, support & well wishes over the past 7 months and hope you will support your new services provided by First Cornwall.

    Cornwall Busways_Dennis Dart_X513 ADF

    No, its not Stagecoach, rather its Cornwall Busways X513ADF seen in St Austell August 2014

    © Tom Pearce

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    1. It has been pointed out that Velvet Travel has just posted on its Facebook page that the 3 Southampton services will be run by Xelabus from Monday 12th and not as per the Western Greyhound registrations above. Interesting.

    2. To be accurate the timetable leaflets for the Southampton S1, S2 and B4 have small print saying "These services are operated by Xelabus Limited on hire to Western Greyhound." The registrations above therefore apply, but run by Xelabus, who took over most of the other Velvet Bus routes (college runs) in the summer.

    3. I am posting here regarding Cornwall busways. The only reason this company ceased trading was the apparent bias decisions taken by the West of England traffic commissioner against that company but in favour of western greyhound who despite numerous service and maintenance deficiencies which have affected its passengers continue tp be protected against any public enquiry by the tc. It should also be noted that my understanding is that the Southampton registrations come after black velvet have been summoned to an enquiry on 22 january. It seems therefore to be a ploy to continue operation the services but avoid the inquiry. Cornwall busways were called to the same on 18 December to bw heard on 7 january related to the Bodmin service withdrawal on July itself the source pf a major dispute between the company and the tc regarding competition issues related to bias treatment of registration s by different operators. The company was rated highly by its passenger s for reliability customer service and had no staffing issues having had a very good team of drivers. So the only reason for cessation was the traffic commissoner herself who we will continue to press our caae with using the evidence we have.

    4. Cornwall Busways. The TC can look at Western Greyhound and see a history of sound and compliant operation and thus the TC knows that WG knows how to do it even if there is currently a period of difficulties. The evening cancellations is a sign of effective coping. The TC will call them in if things are not sorted, but in the TC's timescale. Cornwall Busways being new has to prove that they know how to run reliable public services in accordance with the rules. The TC knows the rules. CB's Facebook page shows many service cancellations involving the whole service all day. This appears to be under normal operating circumstances. That is not allowed for a new company and shows a lack of appreciation of the complexity of bus operation. Also competitors will compete to avoid losses to their business; they don't just watch their customers being pinched.

      Black Velvet has been closed down and the Southampton contract routes are now being run under sub-contract by local operator Xelabus, which should keep the TC and Southampton City Council happy. The economics and longer term operation here are other matters.

    5. Interesting comments above, apparently from Cornwall Busways themselves, who would do well to note that the TC does not appreciate "washing dirty linen in public" type comments. It is, at the very least, not a very professional to do so. Too many operators have scant regard for the office of TC. They would do well to remember that the TC is the judge in a court.

      Cornwall Busways obviously feel aggrieved, they may have good cause to be, but a response like that above shows an immaturity and the lack of respect for the authority who ultimately allows them to be a bus company, or not. Indeed it shows a big misunderstanding of the industry in which they wish to participate.

      Of course we don't know if the comment is actually from Cornwall Busways, so my comments, whilst they are applicable to all in our industry, should be read on the assumption that the above comment is genuine and not someone stirring behind the banner of anonymity - a banner which I accept I use, due to my own position in the industry.

      1. Likewise, I have my own position in the industry, hence my anonymity.

        Cornwall Busways are in effect the masters of their own downfall. Like many 'enthusiast run' operations, they seem to have no idea on how to operate a bus service. They chose to register their timetables, and then chose to service those timetables with fleet that most operators would deem life expired. If you're going to operate an intensive 6/7 day a week service, you need the right sort of vehicles. Knackered 17 year old Dennis Darts are not that vehicle and their failure to function on such intensive operations is indicative of the complete lack of competence of those making the decisions.
        Likewise, the cancellation of services due to 'no drivers'. If you register a timetable, you must ensure that you have sufficient vehicles for your needs, and sufficient drivers to operate your timetable. If you don't you will be called to account by the TC. And they have been.

        I have no doubt WG will be appearing before the TC in due course, for their own unrelated to Cornwall Busways' issues - but their history will count for something, and they have mitigating circumstances which they will doubtless use. But they do need to ensure they turn things around, as continuing to operate as they have done longer term will not be acceptable to the TC, they know that and they will hopefully succeed in turning it around. It used to be the model of how to run a bus company.

        These 'enthusiast' run outfits like Cornwall Busways do far more damage to the industry than the professionals who occasionally get it wrong. If Cornwall Busways is unwilling to accept that a competitor can change its services to meet the introduction of their unsustainable service then their disappearance from the roads is a good thing and they won't be missed. You didn't have to register your bus services and run a rubbish service, you could have done other things with the discs like going into classic bus hire which is something enthusiast operations seem to do very well at.


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