Fails all round

It is reasonable to suggest that most people who use the road network find roadworks and road closures frustrating, especially when they’re not done properly. There is currently a water main being replaced in at Bromley Road in Stanton Drew, here is the detail available on One.Network.

Note that none of these logged disruptions indicates that the road is closed.

Fail 1: Wessex Water. It is possible to log on One.Network where a road is closed. Wessex Water have failed to do this. The items headed as “Roadworks, delays likely” should be “Road Closure”.

Now, there are several parallel routes between the A368 and the B3130 between Pensford and Chew Valley Lake. None of them is particularly good, but they are all accessible if required. This means that some well placed Diversion signs at either end will help people to not get caught out. On arrival back from Weston last week, i pointed this out to WECA via the medium of Twitter.

WECA (having been tagged as Travelwest) replied to me on email (two different people). Nothing has been done.

Tuesday 3rd August at Stanton Drew – still no clue that the road has a closure ahead.

Fail 2: Go Traffic Management (GTM). This gang of clowns (contractors for Wessex Water) can’t manage to put appropriate signage up where roads are being closed. Or perhaps this one was down to B&NES or Wessex Water for not getting the site plans correct and telling them to put signs in nonsensical places?

Fail 3: WECA. I had a fairly lengthy email exchange with one of the staff at WECA who was very keen to get me trained on their super-whizz-bang roadworks monitoring system (apparently First, Stagecoach and HCT use it and are positive about it) and joining in tri-monthly meetings about it, but less interested in actually addressing the problem in the real world. Unsurprisingly, service 134 (which was loaded on from National PTI data) is wrong and still showing the route from prior to Easter. Apparently their super-whizz-bang roadworks monitoring system also only reports to one page on the website, which in the era of open data and site such as BusTimes being a popular resource because of how simply and effectively it presents the data, reporting data to WECA’s single niche resource is not an economic use of time and effort.

But this epic tale of failure doesn’t end here. I decided to pay a visit to Stanton Drew this morning to assess what (if anything) was still possible to access in the village. I found the following notice attached to the bus stop:

Fail 4: B&NES Highways. Obviously B&NES Highways are aware of this closure, but couldn’t be bothered to talk to bus operators about it. If they had, they would know that there are a number of issues with this notice. Firstly – if we can’t get to The Crescent, we’re not going to be service the Druids Arms either. Secondly – i doubt many members of the public know what the code bthagdw refers to, particularly when the WECA generated timetable display below instead uses the NaPTAN code to identify the stop. Thirdly – the only bus service which uses this stop outside of the hours shown on the notice (672) isn’t coming through Stanton Drew at all, which brings us to…

Fail 5: HCT. The current operators of the 672 are HCT, AKA CT Plus, AKA Bristol Community Transport. During their three year tenure during which they’ve operated at least two different timetables and experienced many diversions such as this, they have not once mentioned service 672 on their Twitter feed, let alone inform their passengers of disruption or changes. During the period of this particular closure, they appear to be operating via Pensford instead of Stanton Drew. This information doesn’t appear anywhere on their website or social media. The only place it appears is on WECA / TravelWest’s “Bus Disruptions” page, although only in one direction (towards Bristol) and no disruptions are shown if you search just for the route timetable.

So what have we learned?
I think we’ve learned plenty about how this sort of stuff shouldn’t be done, but that doesn’t mean that the situation will improve. Plenty of people involved in these matters for the organisations above simply haven’t the slightest understanding of how bus services work, particularly outside of urban areas. As such, their responses are often unhelpful, useless or just downright wrong. In particular, WECA aren’t interested in developing or adapting their systems because they’ve decided what their systems are and everyone else must adapt to work with them.

This post has been revised to note that the works being carried out in Stanton Drew are Wessex Water rather than Bristol Water. We apologise for any confusion caused.

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