This will only be a short extension to one of the themes covered in the previous post, that being working together as an industry to not look like a bunch of squabbling children.
Meanwhile in Wiltshire…
I was recently made aware (via an email group) of some changes coming up to the Nadder Valley services out of Salisbury (services 25-7), which will continue to be operated by Go Ahead group owned Salisbury Reds, formerly Wilts & Dorset. After i’d finished trying to decipher the timetables, i also cast my eye across the rest of the remnants of the Wilts & Dorset rural network. Whilst Salisbury Reds have retained much of the Salisbury urban work (aside from a few off-peak journeys run by Wheelers under contract to Wiltshire Council), their retrenchment from much of the rural work is in stark contrast. Those routes which do remain tend to be the cross-country services to major towns and cities. X3 to Bournemouth and Poole, X7/R to Southampton, 8 to Andover and X5 to Swindon are notable for having mostly been improved since the Go Ahead takeover.
X5 is the main reason for this post. I downloaded the current timetable for the service and noted that it (along with an X4 service variant) now covers the former Amesbury & Larkhill local service 16. Interestingly, there are only two journeys shown for the longer X5 service on a Sunday or Bank Holiday. These appear to be positioning journeys from Pewsey to run the daytime service between Larkhill and Salisbury. There is no reference made to service provision further north of Pewsey, nor to any other journeys than those two trips in each direction. So there isn’t a Sunday service through to Swindon, right?
Stagecoach Swindon provide a Sunday and Bank Holiday service 5 over the whole route from Swindon to Salisbury. In stark contrast to co-operation which has existed between Wilts & Dorset and Stagecoach over the past few decades and in some cases still exists (service Activ-8 between Andover and Salisbury is jointly operated), neither party here admits the existence of each other. Salisbury Reds’ X4 and X5 timetables do not mention a Sunday service. Stagecoach have a relatively odd looking timetable which suggests that the whole route is served only on a Sunday, although given their activities of providing Sunday services over routes normally provided only by Thamesdown in Swindon, perhaps it isn’t that odd to those with a knowledge of the local status quo.
I admit that i’m at the other end of the food chain to either Stagecoach or Go Ahead, but publicity that i’ve produced has always tried to mention any other services which may be relevant to the travelling public, even if only as a footnote. Giving somebody an operator name and a service number will give them something they can Google and get an answer. I appreciate in some situations (Wiltshire’s 77/85/87 services, which always seem to have at least four different operators at any given time spring to mind) that this may be complicated to achieve, but as an industry we owe it to our passengers to make sure that they know as much about their travel opportunities as possible. Even if it means that somebody else will be getting the £0.9224 for carrying them as a concessionary passholder.