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Six minutes late is ok

Bus operators aim to improve service....if they want to

Published on October 26th 2010.


Six minutes late is ok

Bus operators in Manchester are being challenged to increase punctuality by almost 20 per cent over the next two years – or face losing their licence.

Other services will be marked on punctuality - but standards on timings mean a bus can be almost six minutes overdue before being officially classed as ‘late’.

But a new operators’ code that sets a target of 90 per cent punctuality is voluntary, meaning bus companies can leave at a month’s notice.

According to a recent council report, there were 226m tickets bus users in 2009/10, with punctuality levels of 71 per cent.

Bus routes that run less than every ten minutes will be marked on regularity, with the operational standard set at 97 per cent. Other services will be marked on punctuality - but standards on timings mean a bus can be almost six minutes overdue before being officially classed as ‘late’.

The new code of conduct, drawn up by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, said the new code was ‘challenging, yet realistic’ and was eventually aimed at 100 per cent compliance.

It said that raising standards on punctuality and frequency should not be at the expense of lowering bus operating speeds.

The code will also look to improve the cleanliness of buses, levels of heating and ventilation, minor defects, vandalism and graffiti. Drivers should also be ‘courteous and recognise passenger needs...drive with an awareness of passenger comfort, and be mindful of the need to minimise energy use in line with wider environmental objectives.’ They must also wear a consistent uniform.

Arriva, First and Stagecoach, Rossendale, Transdev and Maytree have all agreed to sign up. The agency said that ‘not all operators have yet had opportunity to discuss the detail of the Code with GMPTE...discussions will continue over the coming months.’Stagecoach Manchester told Manchester Confidential it ‘fully supported’ the code. “We have agreed our individual operator targets and are confident that we will achieve these within the agreed timescales,” said a spokesperson.

“Punctuality targets contained in the voluntary code are part of a gradual process and will require input and support from GMPTE and local authorities in order to address many of the issues that affect the operation of bus services within Greater Manchester."

Councillor David Sandiford, Chair of the GMITA Bus Networks and GMPTE Services Committee, said he wanted every operator in the region to sign up to the code.

“The code has been developed in partnership with bus operators and is based on a range of common objectives, which are important to all partners,” he said.

“It is our ambition that all bus operators in Greater Manchester sign up to the Code of Conduct and we will work with those operators to ensure they continue to meet the standards and remain as signatories.”

A straw poll in the Confidential office found a mixed reaction to the quality of bus services across the city and its outlying neighbours.

“The 33 (First Group) is regularly late or just doesn’t turn up at all. It’s the only bus that links certain parts of Salford and Manchester so it’s either arrogance or incompetence on First Group’s part. And now they’ve just put the fares up. Infuriating.”

“The 85 from Chorlton to Manchester is a very frustrating beast. Several times recently there have been no buses between 8.15 and 8.40, even though they're supposed to be every 10 minutes. Then when one does turn up, it's full so you can't get on. This is peak time for getting into town for 9am starts, so they ought to be sending one past every two minutes or so.”

“When the person in front of you says ‘I’d like a 7day mega rider please’ you know you’re about to lose three minutes of your life stood on a bus step. Mega riders involve a printing process, a sifting action, a self-laminating operation and a smoothing motion. Why can’t these be sold in shops or at machines at bus stops like many other towns and cities in this country?”

They are some of the views – we’d be interestred in yours. Will operators stick with a code they don’t have to? Will the code improve bus services? Are they as good as we can expect?

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

DidsburyGirlOctober 27th 2010.

Mega Riders take 1 minute to buy! You can buy them online - but only for 28 days.

StuOctober 27th 2010.

BRING BACK REGULATION OF THE BUSES: PROBLEM SOLVED.

StuOctober 27th 2010.

Things won't improve unless we complain to GMPTE!!

Passenger 57October 27th 2010.

I would take just feeling safe. The morning commute is fine, but in the evening an air of menace is on many buses. Sitting upstairs requires you to smoke cannabis half the time and the only occasion when I've seen a smoker challenged by another passenger, a fight broke out. So most days the majority sit in silence and suffer.

BenOctober 28th 2010.

I've stood at the starting stop in Manchester City Centre after 6pm and waited 45 minutes (along with growing numbers of others) for a 192 for 45 minutes several nights in a row earlier this year. When two or three buses arrived at once they were all filled to bursting. It was particularly galling for bus staff to offer no explanation &/or claim ignorance that this had happened on days other than the one they were present to witness it. No problems on the road, either, so assume it was a staffing or fleet problem.

And if you're there later at night you'll appreciate the annoyance caused by the preponderance of buses that wait 10 minutes round the corner and then speed past displaying "000". Were they waiting until it was close enought to the end of a shift to warrant returning "out of service", you have to wonder? Even earlier in the day there are many more of these "000"s than in years gone by. It must be something to do with "efficiency"...

AnonymousNovember 23rd 2010.

I completely agree about the 85! It is the worst bus route ever. If it is always packed at peak times put more on. It really isn't that difficult.

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