I was at work reading my emails at lunch time when I came across this comment left on a previous post:
I never really post on this blog and thats because quite a few important comments that i've posted have been treated like spam by Mr Richardson, he's constantly biased in favour o PCB(probably cos he gets paid by them), his behaviour is typical of the 99% rivet counter enthusiasts who ruin the bus industry for everyone else (anon)
Now, as its anon, I have no idea what comments he is referring to, although I can guess at some of them.
First of all lets get one thing out of the way – I am not employed in any way by Plymouth Citybus and have never received any financial contribution from them. (It would be nice if they did!) Indeed I am not employed in the transport industry at all. Never have been. If I am being charitable I can see how it may look like I am biased in favour of Plymouth Citybus. When you have two main bus operators in the city and one is buying brand new buses and expanding services whilst the other is cutting back and clearly doesn't want to be here at all then its hard not to sound more positive for Citybus. Historically though I have always been more biased towards Western National as when I was growing up in Plymouth I was always on Western National routes and caught them to school. Given the choice between at Atlantean or a Bristol FLF or VR, the Atlantean never stood a chance!
I may believe that Citybus have been doing a better job than First over the last few years but I am still very sad to see First leave the City. There have been periods when they were very much on the up and Citybus were the ones under attack and cutting back. The balance between the two operators has ebbed and flowed back and forwards quite a bit over the 40 years I have been interested.
Having said that I will be sad to see First leave, I do think that it will be good news for the city as I am sure Stagecoach will do a much better job, if only for the fact that they actually want to be here. I have watched as SC have taken over in North Devon and transformed what looked like a dead duck under First. I have watched the underperforming X80 transform overnight into GOLD with brand new high quality buses. Something First could have done at anytime but never did. I may look like a Citybus fan, but I am equally impressed by Stagecoach and welcome their investment and look forward to seeing what they can do in Plymouth.
The comment about 99% rivet counter enthusiasts is more puzzling. Yes I am an enthusiast. Always have been. I am not sure if I count myself as a rivet counter or not, but then I'm not that bothered by the term anyway. I am sure many readers will disagree with the bit about them ruining the bus industry for everyone else though. Many of the bus enthusiasts I know are actually in the industry.
So that covers me. That is where I am at. The big question I have is how to deal with comments. Do I even want to encourage comments anymore? The last month or so and the next month is clearly an upheaval and I know many staff have found it stressful. There has been a period where many staff at First have faced uncertain futures. That is always going to have an affect on the comments being left here. We saw it when Citybus were up for sale and under attack from First. I can understand that. Some of the comments I have held back were because they were making specific comments / allegations against Citybus (and some also against First) which would be unfair, and maybe even legally dangerous for me to post. There have been an awful lot of facts being given in comments which have clearly turned out to be rubbish. When I was publishing the details of the routes which SC were taking on, and more importantly not taking on, I was repeatedly being informed that I was talking absolute rubbish and that SC had to run a full network cus the council said that they had to. If it wasn't the council it was the traffic commissioner or the competition people. All I can say to that is that apart from the late addition of Saltash back to the network, the routes being run by Stagecoach are exactly as I reported they would be. The many people telling me I was wrong were clearly misinformed themselves. One thing I did get wrong was to accidentally overstate how many redundancies were in the air at First Plymouth after receiving and believing comments that were sent to me. That particular post was amended the same day to remove that line so was only ever actually on the web site for about 5 hours as it had been removed by about 10am on the day it was published. That lesson was learnt.
So where next?
Having asked the question – do I even want comments? I have to say that generally yes I do. I know many people enjoy reading them and find them useful. Most readers can disagree with stuff that I post or that others leave as comments and then make perfectly reasonable comments in return. The majority of comments are useful and interesting although I have had to hold quite a few back recently. I prefer not to as its a lot of extra work for me as its hard enough wading through the 50-60 ‘spam’ comments that I get in my inbox let alone weeding out genuine but inappropriate comments being left. As the anonymous writer points out I have treated some as spam and not published them. I dont generally keep them so cant see all the ones I have blocked but here are just a few of the recent comments I have held back:
- Neither as I'm anti pcb & want to see them go out of business, they have no right ripping off the people of Plymouth
- hope city bus has only put fares up on the route 50 seeing it new buses (have they – Ive not seen anything to say they have?)
- why has the bus fare gone up on the red flash if so I walk so catch stage coach (what does that mean?)
- To be honest I have been using First for several years now as I got totally fed up with spiralling costs of the already expensive fares of PCB. I really could not give two hoots about RED, BLUE, YELLOW or whatever other form of gimmick FLASH bus they want to come up with, all I care about is COST and reliability plus friendliness of drivers, all of which First have constantly excelled at. First charge half what PCB do, and if as they promise Stagecoach keep fares the same then I for one will be using Stagecoach next week. There is no way I will go back to PCB ever and i know I am by no means the only one. From several reliable sources I have (not driver gossip either!) Stagecoach have big plans for expansion in the city in the next few years, this is just a start up skeleton network so PCB should take note!!!! (Now I would probably have posted this one as at least its readable and makes sense even if its not saying anything new)
- Citybus fares aren't reasonable, they're pricing themselves out of the market & losing customers everytime, they also don't care about the customer, all pcb care about is lining the pockets of their fatcat owners
- I think you'll find that the 6 was full every trip so yes you can do it, the only reason first are closing down Plymouth is they can't be arsed to invest in new buses
- gramham do u use the number 3 bus ,I do all time and it always busy more people on it than red flash and people even walk from barren bartton to catch 3 if number was not doing well why has stage coach had 100s of people say about it (then why have Citybus increased their buses and SC decided not to cover it?)
- I hard that stage coach may be start up some more old first routes like the 3 if there can get more buses
My initial reaction was to stop all anonymous comments. I really don't want to do that as it would stop a lot of interesting points being made. I still enjoy reading the comments so I wont let a few people spoil it for me. I will however continue to monitor comments before I publish them. I will block comments which make allegations or name staff. I will block comments that just state that Citybus (or any other bus co) are crap and ripping people off. Its getting boring. I will block comments that are so poorly written its impossible to work out what they mean.
As for the perceived bias for Plymouth Citybus, well all I can say is that I do genuinely try not to be biased for any operator. The fact that as from this weekend the second operator in Plymouth is now Stagecoach will actually help here as they are a professional outfit with a good record of investment and who seem to me at least to be a lot better at marketing their services. The fact that Citybus will now have some serious competition in Plymouth is a good thing. All these comments being left stating that SC will be running lots of new services in the future – great. I hope that they do. It will be great to have two operators who believe in investing in new buses and services.
OK so rant over lets get back to blogging about buses again.
Plymouth Citybus 531 the new red Enviro looking very smart. Just needs a white swoop now to finish it off!
Photo replaced with another version as it seems to have disappeared from my account! I hope to see some of you at least in the morning at Bretonside – have a good day