When I first started with blogging on my outdoors, travel and photography website, it was a collecting point for a variety of subjects that included public transport. Relating an experience of being crammed into a Transpennine Express train while travelling to and from Edinburgh resulted in a comment from a regular contributor saying that trains were ghastly; it must be living on a commuter line operated by First Capital Connect that drew that ire though fellow passengers shared responsibility too. That got me thinking about what drew people to that blog and I decided to concentrate on celebrating experiences of exploring the countryside on foot or by bicycle on there, a focus that remains to this day.
That decision meant that I needed somewhere else for doing my bit for public transport information and so this site came into being in November of 2008. Since then, I have shared news, thoughts and information about bus and train services. Initially, it started as a blog but I wish to take it beyond that while not losing the ability to add timely entries as the need arises. The new developments and experiences will continue to come, albeit as part of a more rounded package that advances the knowledge of what public transport has to offer together with any changes that are coming our way.
The subject of public transport is one that is sure to draw rants inspired by experiences like the one mentioned above but that’s not what I am trying to achieve here. Yes, there will be constructive criticism where it’s needed but I also to share good stuff too. After all, those battling congestion in their cars on busy roads could do with knowing that there might a valid alternative. That especially is the case away from London and the southeast of England where services are likely to less used. Having travelled on business to and from Hertfordshire, I know well how busy transport is around London anyway and reports of commuters being crammed into trains hardly inspire anyone to consider that public transport is more pleasant than car travel.
A Continuing Age of Austerity
Since the establishment of this website in 2008, an ulterior motive has become all too real too. The hangover from the crash at the end of the noughties boom has left us with sluggish economies and public spending that remains under pressure, especially with the U.K. government elected in 2015.
While the current government has continued its investment in the railways, restraint has been applied to some of the plans that were in place prior to the election. Still, Crossrail is continuing towards completion and the HS2 initiative is moving towards reality. New trains have come on stream too and there are more to come. However, fare increases have been a contentious subject with increases above inflation becoming all too common and cheaper fares like the Cheap Evening Returns around Manchester sadly are meeting their demise.
Cuts to council-subsidised bus services have been more worrying and the ones that we have had already are affecting evening and Sunday service levels. Even the travel passes used by the retired and disabled are seeing restrictions with North Yorkshire County Council drawing criticism when they designated some services in the Dalesbus network as tourism services and the council tends to take a less favourable view of leisure services anyway.
With that sort of thinking about, organisations like Campaign for Better Transport and Passenger Focus need all the help that they can get or we could lose something valuable. Increasing awareness of the availability of bus and other services is one type of assistance and is much needed, especially with regard to those funded by council and transport authority budgets. Sharing information about what is available may increase patronage and thus preserve what we have got. After all, some operators are taking risks when there are signs that the economy is growing a little so they need to see some reward for that.
Thus, you’ll find postings of any new developments and discoveries as and when I encounter them. My hope is that they will inform along with more permanent articles covering a variety of subjects. Those include maintained listings of selected bus services along with links to train and bus company websites. Journey planning service listings are to be found here too as are those of councils who help users of public transport and local transport authorities. Fares are becoming ever more contentious, particularly those for rail travel, so some that I have encountered are being shared too. Hopefully, these will come in useful but please let me know if you have any other ideas as these will be welcome.