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View Full Version : Why does rail suffer a poor reputation when it's buses that are always late?


Shaggy Sheep Driver
4th Feb 2014, 16:11
I've just spent a day travelling around by public transport. One leg by bus, 6 by train, and a final one home from the railway station by bus.

I travel a lot by train in UK - several times a week. Everything from inter city (Cheshire to London - sometimes a lot further) to local trains into Manchester or up to the Airport. These days, it is extremely rare for a train to be late. Today was no exception - every one was on time almost to the second.

The bus I started the day on arrived 5 minutes late and was 10 minutes late by the time it got into the nearby town.

The bus I finished the day on was 25 (yes twenty bleedin five!) minutes late when I boarded and its timetabled time to my boarding point from where it started its journey was half an hour. So on a half hour journey it was 25 minutes late!

So why are our railways a music hall joke when really it's buses that are not fit for purpose? I think it's because trains were so bad back in BR days that many were put off, have never darkened a rail station door since, and have no idea how good the service is these days. Rail needs to shout louder about how good it is now (though I suppose a 3-fold increase in pax numbers since privatisation plus a vast improvement in safety speaks volumes).

And nobody expects anything better of buses anyway - they are rubbish and everyone knows it!

vulcanised
4th Feb 2014, 16:38
they are rubbish and everyone knows it!


Presumably everyone around here does, and that is why the buses that pass the end of my road every twelve minutes are invariably empty.

Hate to think how much they cost in subsidies.

27mm
4th Feb 2014, 16:44
Trains don't get stuck in traffic......

Groundgripper
4th Feb 2014, 17:10
So on a half hour journey it was 25 minutes late!

Are you it wasn't the next one five minutes early?:E

GG

uffington sb
4th Feb 2014, 17:53
27mm. Yes they do. A person uses a crossing to take a horse over and then doesn't phone the signaller back to say the crossing is clear. Trains then have to be stopped and cautioned. Trains behind them are also delayed.
I've often wondered why everyone expects compo if a train is late, but not from buses, coaches, ferries, 'planes when they are late.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
4th Feb 2014, 17:57
Are you it wasn't the next one five minutes early?

That's what my wife said! Actually, it would have to have been 35 minutes early - it's an hourly service. And since the service is run by just 2 buses running an hourly service in opposite directions, and I'd seen the one going the other way leave (10 minutes late!) it could only be the correct bus I caught, but 25 minutes late.

But that bus service has been known to run early, making it even less reliable! It's timetabled to leave our local stop inbound to the nearby town at 37 minutes past the hour. Yet I've seen it depart that stop as early as 30 minutes past! So to be sure of catching it you'd have to be at the stop before half past, but as it's usually late you'll more than likely have a wait of probably 20 minutes!

If a train arrives early at an intermediate station, it will wait there until timetabled departure time before leaving, thus you know you won't miss it as long as you are at the station on time. Far more civilised!

And that [email protected] Beeching thought buses a suitable substitute for local trains!

AtomKraft
4th Feb 2014, 18:09
If you take bus 759 from Zurich airport, it leaves on the correct second.

They don't have to be crap, it's a UK thing.

sitigeltfel
4th Feb 2014, 18:36
The trains here are normally punctual. But that is only when they are not on one of their all too frequent strikes.

Oh, and also the "one unders". We get a lot of that. :sad:

Standard Noise
4th Feb 2014, 18:38
One is most aggrieved that buses fail to cater for those of us who prefer to lounge in First Class. One doesn't like to mix with the hoi polloi too often. One prefers to waft around on the choo choo.

sitigeltfel
4th Feb 2014, 18:47
One is most aggrieved that buses fail to cater for those of us who prefer to lounge in First Class. One doesn't like to mix with the hoi polloi too often. One prefers to waft around on the choo choo.

Enjoy it while you can.

First class rail seating to be dumped | UK news | The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/feb/20/transport.politics)

Note the name of the articles author. :p

uffington sb
4th Feb 2014, 18:56
And note the date of the article. February 2002.

However other TOC 's are now thinking of reducing their First Class seating.

Capetonian
4th Feb 2014, 18:58
As far as buses are concerned, I try to avoid them, except in Switzerland, Germany, and Holland. Elsewhere, I look at the frequency and nothing else, so if there are two services an hour, and I wait less than 30 minutes, I reckon I'm ahead of the game.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
4th Feb 2014, 19:05
If first class has quite a few unsold seats at peak times while standard is over-full, then it makes sense to convert some first to standard seating. But I can't see first going altogether; it brings in lots of revenue for the TOCs!

Standard Noise
4th Feb 2014, 19:06
FGW dredged up the idea of cutting the amount of First Class seats again a few weeks back. I have written to them as a concerned shareholder at their utterly ridiculous plan to give the cattle more room at the expense of the cultured classes.

jimtherev
4th Feb 2014, 23:29
Not all buses are empty or late - even out in the UK sticks. I never thought I'd say 'I've got an app', but, I've got an app on my fairly ancient phone which tells me to the minute what time I may expect the bus at my local stop. Usually correct to the minute, and, here's a thing: they're manuring the local large roundabout to make it grow, or something, and everyone said it would knacker the bus service. On the contrary: they seem to have put another bus on the service, to take up any slack in the timetable, and the things are more punctual than they were before the road works started.


Rose coloured specs? Not me. I still prefer train travel.

John Hill
5th Feb 2014, 00:21
Heard at an Indian railway station:
"Yes sahib, I know you have a reservation but please be to understanding this is yesterday's train."

jimtherev
5th Feb 2014, 09:38
Me dad, who was stationed in Berlin back in the day told me that if a train was more than 50 minutes late it was cancelled, so that train 101 became train 102 running 10 minutes early. A wizard wheeze which worked well, until the day his boss (whose name was Bernard and who wore two badges in his cap) demanded "Where's my Inspection Saloon, then?"
"Err on the next train, Sir."


Punctuality improved shortly thereafter.

Fox3WheresMyBanana
5th Feb 2014, 09:41
..and therein lies the point.
No-one with the power to do something cares enough to do it.

Gertrude the Wombat
5th Feb 2014, 09:59
And nobody expects anything better of buses anyway
And the difference is ...


... the roads are cluttered up with cars, but the railways aren't.


If there aren't any cars the buses run to time. Hence bus lanes etc.

MagnusP
5th Feb 2014, 10:07
Must admit that the buses here are pretty good. Generally bang on time except for exceptional situations causing delays, you get free wifi on some services, display of anticipated journey time to significant stops. No bar, though.

Keef
5th Feb 2014, 10:15
The buses round here are excellent. We know the drivers by name, and they stop outside our houses to let us on and off. We did have one arrive 15 minutes late last month, but he explained that there had been an accident up the road.

The trains are pretty good, too, after the two-bus-ride to the station. Sadly, the standard fares are so high that it's cheaper, even for one, to drive into London. Booking a month ahead and travelling off-peak sorts that.

The SSK
5th Feb 2014, 12:39
My journey to work involves a bus into the city from the stop outside my door. It is a regional service that originates about 40km away. It is very often between 4 and 6 minutes early.

I'll rephrase that

My journey to work should involve a bus into the city from the stop outside my door. It is a regional service that originates about 40km away. Unfortunately for me, it is very often between 4 and 6 minutes early.

MagnusP
5th Feb 2014, 13:14
Our lot are constrained to a maximum 2 minutes before scheduled time, so I only miss my regular bus if I'm late, not 'cos it's early.

MadsDad
5th Feb 2014, 14:11
As regards busses being early I was told, long time ago, that if running early they must wait at the next 'timed stop' (by which I mean the stop for which a time is shown on the timetable) for their due time. The reasoning was that passengers could be certain that they hadn't missed the bus provided they got to the stopby the time on the timetable for their stop. I.e. if the bus wasn't on time it must be late.

Sounds like some drivers aren't obeying the rules.

dazdaz1
5th Feb 2014, 14:48
A slight aside thought... Why do train operators charge more for peak time services while buses and taxi don't'?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
5th Feb 2014, 15:17
Why do train operators charge more for peak time services while buses and taxi don't'?

They do (buses). My bus pass only works after 09:30 on weekdays (no restriction at weekends). Before that time, I'd have to pay half fare. After that time, travel is free.

To the taxi driver a fare is a fare. Peak travel is irrelevant to him.

To a TOC, off peak trains run less than full, so seats can be sold off cheaper to sell seats that would otherwise be empty. At peak time the train is full and all seats can be sold at top rate, so they are.

RedhillPhil
5th Feb 2014, 15:32
A slight aside thought... Why do train operators charge more for peak time services while buses and taxi don't'?


For the same reasons that airlines do - they can and do get away with it.


Seriously though, it's to try and spread the load of passengers. Encourage peoples to travel later and there's more room for earlier peoples.

dazdaz1
5th Feb 2014, 15:44
Red...."Seriously though, it's to try and spread the load of passengers. Encourage peoples to travel later and there's more room for earlier peoples." So why do earlier rail users have to pay more?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
5th Feb 2014, 15:58
Supply and demand innit. Full trains can be charged at full fares and they'll still be full. Off-peak, empty seats generate no revenue so best to sell them cheaply to at least get some income from them.

MG23
5th Feb 2014, 16:22
Most people in the UK have to use trains at some point. Few people use buses.

Plus, I've never been left standing for an hour in -40C windchill by a late train.

MG23
5th Feb 2014, 16:26
If there aren't any cars the buses run to time. Hence bus lanes etc.

Not sure if it's improved at all, but a Transport Research Labs study in the mid-2000s showed that bus lanes often slowed down all traffic, because they cause congestion for cars which prevent the buses from merging or getting through junctions when they have to interact with Evil Motorists.

Plus, we have no bus lanes here, yet the buses are usually on time when there isn't three inches of fresh snow on the roads. It's called building decent roads rather than building roads designed to force Evil Motorists out of their cars.

spekesoftly
5th Feb 2014, 16:40
My bus pass only works after 09:30 on weekdays (no restriction at weekends). Before that time, I'd have to pay half fare ........


So it does still work before 09:30 - just not so well! ;)

Sunnyjohn
5th Feb 2014, 18:41
In our city the buses are excellent and for pensioners are free anytime for the annual payment of 18 euros annually for a pass. Most services here have an interval of six minutes and they are so reliable that the buses that runs up and down our street pass each other almost consistently at the crossing outside our balcony (yes, I know - we've nothing better to do . . .!). To be absolutely fair, the metro, trams and trains are equally good. This crazy city (Valencia) has a lot of faults but public transport is not one of them.

meadowrun
5th Feb 2014, 19:01
Buses here used to be so so but now they are all GPS equipped and run pretty well to time with timing points at some stops. Used to be buses ran as fast as they could so the drivers could get to destinations for a longer break time. Now the only things that mess things up are the usual, rush hour traffic and inclement weather.

G-CPTN
5th Feb 2014, 19:20
I've never been left standing for an hour in -40C windchill by a late train.

-ugIoMD495E

Rail Engineer
5th Feb 2014, 20:42
Enjoy it while you can.

First class rail seating to be dumped | UK news | The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/feb/20/transport.politics)

Note the name of the articles author. :pThat'll upset the Guardianistas who travel first class then.


Not for them the intentional mixing with "the great unwashed" they claim to represent, after all one could catch something unpleasant and bring it back to the family estate.
http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/src:www.pprune.org/get/images/smilies/smile.gif

Rail Engineer
5th Feb 2014, 21:13
The continuing problem of comparing bus to rail travel are people's expectations. In many ways this has been driven by the modern railway.

The railway system is publicised on the basis of being punctual and reliable, it is at the interface between right time running and incidents where the problem lays.

Unlike a road, both railway signalling and on-train management systems (in which the Driver is a mere spectator) are complex and wholly unnecessary delays are brought about by the imposition of operating restrictions on the basis of "safety" when issues do arise. A perfect example is LUL. If a set of points fails to detect in one position they simple shut down the WHOLE route and wait for the engineers. The fact that the points are perfectly OK in the opposite position matters not because someone somewhere does not have the guts to make the engineering judgement lest one of the sewer-dwelling legal ambulance chasers gets on the case.

A good Judge from say a 100 years ago had a far better grasp on the realities of the balance between risk and safety than most modern Judges and Inquiry Chairmen and many of todays problems which see trains being regularly taken out of service would have had their protagonists laughed out of the Court and probably subject to an interview about their intellectual suitability to continue in a legal career.

Today certain well-known individuals make serious money out of trying to find miniscule gaps in systems and procedures, and teasing out areas where engineering judgement has been applied in order to "find" a culprit who will PAY COMPENSATION

Matters are then not helped by this perception that Railways must be ABSOLUTELY safe. Well I am sorry but sitting in your own front room 40 years ago was more dangerous that being in a 100 mph passenger train in terms of absolute risk. There is something uniquely British and pathetic in the way that we burden our railways with ever increasing complexities supported by ever more complex arse-covering procedures.

As an Industry Britain's Railways are overly burdened with too many inappropriate, and unnecessary procedures which serve only to introduce more actual delay and have limited (or possibly no value).

Politicians seeking their next cynical attack on the Government and the media with a grudge and a complete lack of interest in understanding the problem push solutions which make great soundbites and headlines and deliver only the needs of their author.

Now an example, travelling down a motorway in a coach and some sort of alarm activates. It appears to relate to the tyre pressures as the coach driver got out and looked around kicked a few tyres and tried to silence it which it eventually did. A mile or two down the road, same problem. Quick look by the driver who decides that there is fault in the system and off everyone goes and shock horror we are here to tell the tale.

In the UK a train (or God knows a coach on hire to a TOC) would have stopped on the hard shoulder and waited for a recovery. Which is the most dangerous scenario ??

Sadly like Political Correctness we are too far down the road for the judgement of professionals to be exercised. Given that many railway bridges still standing were built over 150 years ago using Engineers "professional judgement" God only knows where we would be now if todays attitudes had prevailed. ?

With regards to non-technical issues such as leaves on the line, the pretty minuscule Green Lobby has managed to punch far and above its weight with regards to trees, and can one really envisage a landowner being sued for the REAL cost of an accident caused by one of their trees ? I believe recent figures state that some 80+% of all tree related accidents are now caused by trees falling onto the railway from lineside properties.

Now try suing the owner and see where the media takes the story ?

Bottom line folks is YOU have the Railway YOU wanted, as the Chinese saying goes "Be careful what you wish for lest it comes true"

Rail Engineer
5th Feb 2014, 21:41
Yep, thats the problem allright.............massive reality gap, "punctual and reliable"?, you're aving a laffAbsolutely.

the behaviour of
How MANY problems and delays are caused by PASSENGERS ?


unruly behaviour
fare evasion
vandalism
assaults on staff
assaulting other passengers
behaving inappropriately, and throwing up after drinking
using the toilets inappropriately
urinating on seats
plastering the contents of their curry and chips into the seating bay and area.



May I commend watch a series called First Great Western on Channel 5 tv on demand (on the internet, you never know it may (just) inch those rose-tinted spectacles of yours a little. Even if it does not it will be very educational to those who want to see how todays railways operate from as fly on the wall perspective.

Gertrude the Wombat
5th Feb 2014, 21:47
Not sure if it's improved at all, but a Transport Research Labs study in the mid-2000s showed that bus lanes often slowed down all traffic, because they cause congestion for cars which prevent the buses from merging or getting through junctions when they have to interact with Evil Motorists.
Yes, badly designed bus lanes are not helpful. As a councillor I have been involved in refusing at least one where the evidence just didn't stack up.
It's called building decent roads rather than building roads designed to force Evil Motorists out of their cars.
Wot the cousins don't always remember is that on this side of the pond we haven't had any spare land for at least 1,000 years.

To build roads in my city would involve pulling down 800-year-old colleges.

Of course if you ask a petrolhead "which college should we pull down then" to accommodate his "need" to drive round the city centre he'll probably have an answer, everyone has a least favourite college, but it ain't gonna happen.

RedhillPhil
5th Feb 2014, 21:53
Red...."Seriously though, it's to try and spread the load of passengers. Encourage peoples to travel later and there's more room for earlier peoples." So why do earlier rail users have to pay more?


Because people often want to travel earlier than later. By seat pricing you distribute them through the day. Early people don't pay more, late people pay less.

Rail Engineer
5th Feb 2014, 21:57
Of course...its the customers fault, pesky customers.
I know, why don't you run a rail system for the benefit of its employees?
....oh waitOh dear, the usual tired old retort, for which the quote by Matthew Henry (English Presbyterian minister and writer 1662-1714) "There are None so blind as those that will not see" seems most apt.

:ugh:

RedhillPhil
5th Feb 2014, 21:59
Of course...its the customers fault, pesky customers.
I know, why don't you run a rail system for the benefit of its employees?
....oh wait


Before trotting out that old guff why don't you follow the Rail Engineer's advice and watch the programme. I spent over forty years dealing with people who whine about late trains conveniently ignoring the drunks, the vandals, the louts, the people taken ill, the motorists who don't understand what crossing barriers are for, the on train fights......