nav search
Data Centre Software Security DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes
BOFH
Lectures

back to article
Buses? PAH. Begone with your filthy peasant-wagons

Anonymous Coward

Re: Buses are like HS2

Fine, except we still need to base some decision-making on rationality rather than ideology. Without buses the roads would be gridlocked twice a day on every working day. Less than half the population have access to a car (and when one family member is driving to work in the family's only car, that figure falls even further) and much of the population is too young / too old to drive safely. The concept of efficiency may be unfashionable here nowadays, but it is alive and well in the Far East.

6
0
Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: Buses are like HS2

"Technology has already made the issue mute."

What? It's all gone quiet?

7
0

Re: Buses are like HS2

AC posted: "Less than half the population have access to a car"

...really? Which planet does this population that you refer to exist on? Certainly not the UK!

mb

0
4

Re: Buses are like HS2

I look forward to a careful explanation how uber taxis are going to solve the capacity problem that occurs when you mix London streets with large vehicles taking enormous amounts of road space for a single passenger - in other words: cars. And no, taxis aren't fundamentally different; while they work around the problem of parking, they do that by constantly taking space on the road. There may be a marginal increase in utilisation, but I doubt it's much beyond a rounding error.

So when you're in the back of your uber cab at rush hour, do get started on that essay. You'll have ample time. If you don't get distracted by the cyclists passing you.

1
0

Re: Buses are like HS2

<blockquote>Without buses the roads would be gridlocked twice a day on every working day</blockquote>

What do you mean, would be gridlocked? They are. Twice a day. Every working day.

Except the Monday before Christmas. That was surprisingly good, traffic wise

0
0
Black Helicopters

Re: Buses are like HS2

You misunderstand. The HS2 is designed to solve a far different problem. What an EU central transport planning department is going to do with the billions its been given to develop a pan European transport system, without actually spending any of it on someone intelligent enough to provide cost effective solutions to real needs rather than high profile initiatives that end up in the majority of the cash being spent with the large businesses who support the EU and lobbies.

It has to be understood that it cots a lot less to bribe and lobby a bureaucrat to get your product defined as the only product to be sold, than it does to develop and market a truly better mousetrap.

0
1
Silver badge

taxis may not be subsidised....

... but I'm sure my town isn't the only one that let's them use the *extensive* bus lanes (about half the road capacity in Swansea City centre)

I still don't know why that is. A taxi is less green than a car, based on mileage per journey

2
2
Silver badge

"While a bus is massively subsidised..."

Well, if you're going to come out with blatant lies lies that, I'm going to stop reading.

3
8

My source for that may be a little out of date it was Ken Livingstone when I spoke to him on the Ask The Mayor programme.

4
0
Silver badge

Check your facts.

All "local" bus companies receive large subsidies, it's the only way they can exist.

For example, Sheffield's buses receive a subsidy of over £1.6 million a year from central government alone.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/better-buses-for-sheffield

In 2013 the council then spent £4.5 million on bus stops etc - another subsidy.

I couldn't find figures for the fare take, but based on passenger numbers I'd guess the subsidy is probably 10% of total revenue.

8
0
Silver badge

Re: Check your facts.

Yet these 'subsidies' go to private companies - who cannot make a private profit without public money.

1
3
Silver badge

Re: Check your facts.

Not _all_ local bus services. I can think of one local bus system which was most emphatically NOT subsidised: the bus 'service' in Kingston, St. Andrew, and St. Catherine, Jamaica between about 1987 and 2001. Until the early 1980s it was a nice, normal, subsidised, bus system, the Jamaica Omnibus Service, JOS, a.k.a. Jolly Joseph. Jolly Joseph was executed by (socialist!) politicians so that the, ahem, 'small man' could make a cut out of the 'vast profits' of the bus business (and so that the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation, the KSAC, could stop losing money at a truly remarkable rate). The 'small man' was invited to purchase a franchise and run their own buses on the routes; low passenger-level routes such as the 67 (Cross Roads to Hope Gardens) didn't have anyone applying for the route, and so had no buses anymore. (Jolly Joseph went everywhere, even if at times there were one or two passengers on a bus designed for 70+; that was one reason why it lost money.) The 75 route (Papine to Duhaney Park), now that had _lots_ of franchises. Every one of them with two to six buses which were designed to hold 30-40 passengers. The 'small man' (not very small if he could afford a half dozen Isuzu buses, called 'Quarter Millions' because they cost Ja$250,000 at the time, before the Jamaican dollar crashed to its current level) quickly discovered that the only way he was going to make money was to pack 'em in as much as possible, which meant 60-70 passengers. (Yes. 70 passengers in a space meant for 30. Tokyo at rush hour ain't got nothin' on Kingston... How'd they fit? They didn't. Passengers would be hanging out of the windows and doors...) The local newspapers ran articles showing how there was actually more space on slave ships in the Middle Passage than on a Number 75 on Hope Road, and that the passengers were expected to pay for the privilege. (A quick trip to the Jamaica Gleaner's or the Jamaica Observer's sites should be quite revealing. Search for 'bus' and 'middle passage'. Be prepared to see a _lot_ of articles, somewhat fewer at the Observer 'cause the Observer didn't exist until around 1994 while the Gleaner goes back to 1838.) Because schoolchildren paid a special, reduced, fare, the bus crews tried their best to not carry any schoolchildren. This policy resulted in a lot of screaming and shouting, and policemen deployed to major bus routes to ensure that the 'schoolers' got packed in with the adults. (I'm serious. The only way to get the children on the bus was to arrest a few of the bus crews.) Jolly Joseph had a schedule, and usually kept fairly close to it. The franchises didn't move until the bus was full, and by full I mean until there were 60-70 fare-payers aboard. Plus a crew of three or four (a driver, a conductor, and one or two packers).

A look here http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20081123/ent/ent10.html might be revealing. And also http://www.onlyinnajamaica.com/video/2010/03/16/two-white-girls-pon-a-minibus/ which shows a packer in action, packing the bus ('Two White Girls' is hilarious... unless you actually had to ride the damn buses. Then it's not so funny.)

The franchise system has since been abolished and Jolly resurrected, complete with subsidy. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20000917/cleisure/cleisure1.html

10
0
Anonymous Coward

They're still subsidised in part, it's mostly done to try to generate a profit for the bus operating companies these days. Can you say blatent capitalism?

0
2
Silver badge

Re: Check your facts.

Yet these 'subsidies' go to private companies - who cannot make a private profit without public money.

Which demonstrates that bus services are more of a social service than just general transport. If they were expected to make a profit they could, but with reduced timetables and very carefully selected routes. The subsidy is effectively welfare spending, the alternative would be to provide free "taxi passes" or similar.

12
0
Anonymous Coward

Can you say blatent capitalism?

No, but thanks to my capitalist education I can spell blatant...

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Jolly Joseph

@James O'Shea

A wonderful comment! El Reg at its best, where the comment is worth more than the original article.

6
0
Silver badge

I don't know about London buses, though London does get a lot more public money than the rest of us.

Around here there's a Great Divide between subsidised and un-subsidised routes. The subsidised ones tend to be the very rural routes where they serve a largely social purpose, while the unsubsidised are those with sufficient demand to make a profit.

1
0

It's true, they are subsidized

""While a bus is massively subsidised..."

Well, if you're going to come out with blatant lies lies that, I'm going to stop reading."

IDK if you're pulling our leg, but just in case you're not, actually it's true. So also are trains, airplanes, and ... cars! No transportation system in the world actually pays for itself. Bus and train systems in particular run at a loss everywhere in the world. There's data out there, I looked this up a dozen or so years ago.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: It's true, they are subsidized

"IDK if you're pulling our leg, but just in case you're not, actually it's true. So also are trains, airplanes, and ... cars! No transportation system in the world actually pays for itself."

I'd be surprised if, in the UK at least, cars did not pay for themselves. I guess it depends on what you mean by the cost of the service, but car-based taxes were at one point six times higher than the Department of Transport's budget. Maybe that has changed, although I expect if it has it's become more than six, after budget cuts.

0
0

Re: Check your facts.

On many (labour) council provided transport services, the subsidies of one sort or another comprise so much of the income that the companies involved really dont care whether anyone rides them or not.

I had that from a senior executive at a major rail company some years ago.

0
0

Re: It's true, they are subsidized

I believe that trains in the UK now receive more subsidies than they ever did in the British Rail days.

0
0

Re: Check your facts.

The main subsidy for buses in the UK is a grant that offsets some of the tax on fuel. If fuel tax and subsidies for diesel trains were accounted for in the same way, the rail subsidy figure would be much higher. The government also spend somewhere north of £1 billion every year on free rides for old and disabled people but this is a subsidy to the riders, not the mode.

0
0

Has the author not heard of TFLs Live Bus Arrivals?

"Then you have to wait for the bus. If I walk down to my nearest bus stop and a bus arrives as I get there I think it’s a fantastic, special happening. If I walk out of my house and my car is there I think “that’s normal”."

http://countdown.tfl.gov.uk/#/

I sit in my chair at home/work/pub and keep an eye on what time the bus will arrive and time my departure to meet the arrival of the bus I want. The bus arriving a minute or two after my getting to the bus stop is absolutely normal for me.

Yes, that is a London only solution, but the author does live in London.

11
0
Silver badge

Re: Has the author not heard of TFLs Live Bus Arrivals?

Does little good for you, though, if you have to make a connection that never coincides...

4
0

Re: Has the author not heard of TFLs Live Bus Arrivals?

"Then you have to wait for the bus. If I walk down to my nearest bus stop and a bus arrives as I get there I think it’s a fantastic, special happening. If I walk out of my house and my car is there I think “that’s normal”.

There's also an app for that.

I found a couple of applications for my smart phone- "One Bus Away" and "Transit".

Both will work with our local bus systems bus tracking services so you get updated live as to arrival times.

Check application, set a timer on the phone, walk out door, meet bus.. Profit!

Pretty life changing actually.

2
0

Re: Has the author not heard of TFLs Live Bus Arrivals?

You can get "live" departure information for bus stops in West Yorkshire, but where the system falls down is it's inability to tell you that there's a problem, at which point, it defaults to telling you the scheduled departure time for the service. It does this if your bus has broke down, or been cancelled, but it also does this if your bus is delayed by more than about 15 minutes. So you have no way of knowing if you should make other arrangements.

I've tried on numerous occasions to persuade the local transport authority to include a cancelled flag but been told it can't be done as the existing system is designed to support SMS and there are no spare characters. Oddly enough, the system will append the characters "LF" to the time to tell you if the bus has a low floor for wheelchair users. So there's no way of knowing if your bus won't to turn up, but at least if you're disabled, you can feel satisfied knowing whether the bus that's left you stranded could you carry you or not.

There's also no protection against bus drivers gaming the system. I've been left stranded on more than one occasion where the bus is alleged 5, 4, 3, 2 minutes away, then suddenly disappears off the face of the earth, usually when it's the last service of the day, running a bit late and the driver obviously wants to clock off early. I've been assured this can't happen, that drivers can't interfere with the system, but unless the transponders have an independent power source, the drivers can disable it because THEY HAVE THE FECKIN KEYS!!!

4
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Has the author not heard of TFLs Live Bus Arrivals?

Most buses don't have keys, just an "OFF/ON/START" switch.

And a clearly-marked battery isolator.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Has the author not heard of TFLs Live Bus Arrivals?

"Oddly enough, the system will append the characters "LF" to the time to tell you if the bus has a low floor for wheelchair users."

IINM, THAT flag can't be helped because of disability accommodation laws. In America, we have the Americans with Disabilities Act. I believe England has something of the like.

Have you tried telling the bus people to adapt existing parts of the SMS to multitask. The only way they can REALLY be out of letters is if all SMS-valid characters for the entire length of the text is spoken for. Under those conditions, I don't think they can REALLY say that, and I would think they can find SOME way to cram in more indicators in existing text locations.

0
0
FAIL

Re: Has the author not heard of TFLs Live Bus Arrivals?

Upvote from me!

I live in West Yorkshire and hate this...how hard is it to show a different symbol for cancelled? Really?

1
0

Re: Has the author not heard of TFLs Live Bus Arrivals?

Quite often for me, using One Bus Away, it says the bus is running 5 minutes late, and then suddenly it's 5 minutes early and I still have a 3 minute walk to the bus stop. How the bus gains 10 minutes in just a few minutes I have no idea. Methinks the bus location data is not accurate...

0
0

TWM has one too......

http://www.networkwestmidlands.com/Apps/phone_app.aspx

It works very well, and the bus connections usually work well too.

As someone who has to use a car to get to work on the days when I am not able to work form home, (25 miles away and no direct bus or train service)

I was pleasantly surprised how much things have changed since I used to be a commuter.

I regularly use it now to visit the town centre for restaurants and theatres etc.

6
0
Rol

Driverless. It's the future don't you know.

Driverless cars are the answer, or rather will be the answer in a decade or so.

They could be owned by municipal authorities, businesses or individuals and be allocated to customers based on the nearest available and not the next in line.For that matter, the likes of Ford could decide never to sell a car ever again, but to rent them by the journey.

So, basically, a driverless taxi. Without a family and mortgage to support the cost should plummet.

The booking system would allow the vehicle to be shareable on request and thus lower the cost to the commuter even more by accepting the car will divert to get more customers who are going in your general direction.

With such a responsive and cheap service on hand, the need to own your own car would be negated. The need to fill the road and pavement outside your house with parked cars will be gone, along with the obligatory car park that consumes four fifths of retail sites and the like.

Also, as an individual car no longer has a need to keep going to the end of the day, an electric model with the most pathetic of batteries could do whatever it can manage before heading off to recharge thus making electric cars a very practical option. We could even see motorway services becoming shuttle stops as commuters continue their extended journey in a fully charged car, leaving the one that had got them thus far to recharge.

5
4
Silver badge

Re: Driverless. It's the future don't you know.

"an electric model with the most pathetic of batteries could do whatever it can manage before heading off to recharge"

Probably right in the middle of someone's journey.

1
1
Anonymous Coward

If you are going to describe a future, make it aspirational.

I like driving most of the time which makes your driverless cars a no no.

I want to personalise my space so communal ownership is a no no.

How about I get to drive my car when I want but can put it on autopilot when I want (or am required to by city limits).

Cars on autopilot can entrain with other autopilotted cars going in the same direction.

Entrained cars could travel at a higher average speed and a higher density than manual cars.

Entrained share a connection, one of the vehicles could be an inline mobile charging station.

The incentive of faster and cheaper journey times will lead people to choose freely to entrain where available.

Because my car can do both modes I still keep the freedom to choose between community transport and individual transport as needs be.

6
1
Silver badge

Re: Driverless. It's the future don't you know.

"the need to own your own car would be negated."

Along with the freedom to "just go" at the weekend or during holidays. You'll have to plan it all out well in advance to make sure there's a range extended JohnnyCab available with manual override on routing so you can just go where you feel like going as the mood takes you.

That's a major part of freedom. Doing what you want, not being limited by what the computer programmer has decided for you. I'd expect the sort of people who read here to understand that.

4
1
Silver badge

Re: If you are going to describe a future, make it aspirational.

"Cars on autopilot can entrain with other autopilotted cars going in the same direction."

IIRC this was envisaged and trialled on closed test tracks at least 30 years ago.

I like the idea of an in-train charging vehicle though. On motorways and main trunk roads, multiple "trains" could be running all day the full length of the road as cars join and leave. With route planning, solar cells on the car roofs could supplement and distribute power to those in the train with the least charge or who are due to leave the train soon too.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: If you are going to describe a future, make it aspirational.

'On motorways and main trunk roads, multiple "trains" could be running all day the full length of the road as cars join and leave.'

You could have charging trams entraining for a section of road with a high power cable above to boost in car charging.

In jouney refuelling (at a price), no more standing on a cold windswept forecourt pumping smelly diesel.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: If you are going to describe a future, make it aspirational.

Motorway trains were proposed by an engineering lecturer at Cambridge circa 1971, but I forget his name. He was envisaging something like the automatic couplings on OO gauge trains, because this was before technology came to mean electronics + software.

2
0

Re: If you are going to describe a future, make it aspirational.

""Cars on autopilot can entrain with other autopilotted cars going in the same direction."

IIRC this was envisaged and trialled on closed test tracks at least 30 years ago."

Yep, that's about right. I just learned it's called "platooning". A special section of Interstate15 was set up to allow about 20 specially equipped cars, buses and trucks to drive all together down the road. The project started in 1991, funded by USDOT, cancelled in 1999. And I got to watch Red Whittaker's (CMU Robotics Institute) huge van drive around the park in Pittsburgh in 1989-1991 time period, completely autonomously - at a slow walking speed. Back then it took 15,000 lbs. of sensors, cameras, and computers packed into an overloaded box truck, along with generators and air conditioners.

Related links:

http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1997-08-07/news/9708060541_1_bus-driver-san-diego-edmonson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_autonomous_car

1
0
Silver badge

Re: If you are going to describe a future, make it aspirational.

So I wonder. Why was the project canceled? Too difficult to implement or too many ways for Murphy to mess it up (thinking a blowout at one of the lead car or a sudden road obstruction creating a chain reaction)?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: If you are going to describe a future, make it aspirational.

"I like driving most of the time which makes your driverless cars a no no."

Then don't enter into a rental system. Nobody is forcing you, yet. Of course, once the car parks are gone, you might have trouble parking there, but then hey, sucks to be you then.

"I want to personalise my space so communal ownership is a no no."

OK then, but you'll pay much higher rental rates than everyone else if Ford, etc., refuse to sell you a car. And the car sales market will be much smaller if you want to buy one.

"Because my car can do both modes I still keep the freedom to choose between community transport and individual transport as needs be."

I would be highly surprised if, as long as you were alive and capable of driving, driverless cars don't have a manual override.

3
0
Gold badge

Re: Driverless. It's the future don't you know.

There are a fair number of two-car households in the UK that could meet your "freedom" requirement with one car and a reliable driverless taxi service. There are also a fair number of households who fly to their holiday destinations and hire a car there because they prefer to have their holidays further away than a reasonable drive.

I accept the freedom argument, but I don't think it is a clincher.

1
0

Re: Driverless. It's the future don't you know.

The technology isn't ready. It may be ready one day, but it's at least ten years away - and that's if it all goes smoothly. It's not just a matter of making a car drive-itsself safely. There are other aspects to deal with too. The issue of vandalism, and the mess left after a drunk passanger. Who'd order a self-driving taxi pod if they risked the previous passanger being a group of four on the way back from a pub crawl leaving the floor a sea of alcoholic vomit? You'd need to design dirt-detection capability as well so they know when cleaning is required. The legal issues will take another decade to work through - when a self-driving taxi gets in an accident, who is liable? You can't just pin it on the driver, and there will be accidents.

It's also going to be impossible for the taxis to handle anything out of the ordinary, like roads blocked by accidents, people standing in the road arguing, outdated maps, some idiot redrawing road markings to keep their driveway clear, etc. The obvious approach is to have a 'call center' of drivers who can be called upon to remotely direct a taxi via cell-net whenever they encounter something beyond their programming.

0
0

Re: If you are going to describe a future, make it aspirational.

Solar cells on a car roof will make no significant contribution to the power. Physics is against you here. Wrong inclination, for a start. Plus you've got the extra weight to haul around. Far more efficient to put them beside the road.

The only use I can see for solar power on a car would be for camping. The car's huge battery would be great for running a caravan, with a solar panel to keep it topped up.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: If you are going to describe a future, make it aspirational.

"Solar cells on a car roof will make no significant contribution to the power. Physics is against you here. Wrong inclination, for a start. Plus you've got the extra weight to haul around. Far more efficient to put them beside the road."

I accept that in terms of current production technology. But then there's this on the horizon or any one of a number of current research avenues as well as others we've not thought of yet.

The problem with fixed power generation is getting the power to a moving vehicle. Wireless power transmission is still significantly lossy and with solar PV we're already currently only at 25% efficiency. I accept that will probably improve too, as may wireless power transmission. Using a "charging car" in a "train" on the motorway might mean we need a standard mechanical method for the vehicles to connect while in the train. A standard as ubiquitous as the "fifth wheel" on lorries.

It's good to think about this stuff :-)

0
0

Re: Driverless. It's the future don't you know.

And what if the last 'customer' has left it full of their crap?

Not a such a pleasant journey then

0
0

Some points

For many people, it is more cost effective to get the bus.

The bus only needs to have ~5 people on it for it to be space effective (vs 5 cars)

point to point bus service is called ring and ride.

Some sums:

Price of bus pass for my area: £51 /cal month (£612/yr)

vs

£1000 car spread over 3 years: ~£333.34 (rounded up)

Insurance: min £1000 for 1st year insurance: £1000+

(as e reference my 72 yr old Dad pays £553.90/yr fully comp for his 4yr old fabia)

Tax: ~£140

MOT:~£50

= over £1500 not including petrol/service/repairs

(less for no claims, more for more expensive car)

Sooo... I can spend £800 on taxis/delivery fees and still be ahead

even something as simple as:

Parking in city centre = £4.80 for 4 hours

Daysaver = £4

I'm a single guy living on the outskirts of a major city, so YMMV.

There are logical reasons for having/using a car, but its suprising how many people think of a car as something your *supposed* to have without really thinking it through. They think anyone who doesn't have one is a weirdo.

Fuck those people.

16
6
Silver badge

Re: Some points

Buses can be cheaper, but there's a price for that, of course. In my car I can travel when I want, with whom I want and with my choice of temperature and music. I can change my plans at the last minute. I can also use it for long journeys where bus/train simply isn't fast or convenient enough.

Of course I'll take the train when it is more convenient, it's all down to personal choice. I certainly don't consider not having a car as weird, many of my family members don't drive, but personally I couldn't imagine not having a car.

7
0
Silver badge

Re: Some points

"I'm a single guy living on the outskirts of a major city, so YMMV."

And I'd guess you have a direct bus route reasonably convenient to work from home.

At my last gig I had a car commute of about 40-45 minutes all being well. Once I tried to work out if I could do the trip easily by public transport. The best I could come up with was a three leg journey by bus. It was, of course, much less direct than my car journey. Between the first two legs there was a 20 minute wait. Between the last two there was a 4 minute gap which could have been tricky as the intermediate leg included the transpennine section of the M62 which couldn't be relied on for such critical timing. It worked out that I'd have had to leave home at about 6.25 to get to the client site at just after 9.00 if everything went well. I didn't bother working out the return journey.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Some points

"I'm a single guy living on the outskirts of a major city, so YMMV."

<snicker>, I assume that was an unintentional pun?

1
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing