Is it really true that less of us travel at weekends?

A thought struck me while looking at the service frequency for D&G’s service 42 between Congleton and Crewe via Holmes Chapel. It is hourly Monday for the full route and two hourly on Saturdays for the same (it runs only between Leighton Hospital and Crewe on the intermediate hours); there is no Sunday service. Arriva’s 130 exhibits the same type of behaviour with an hourly daytime frequency on Saturdays and Sundays while it is half hourly during the other days of the week. Intuitively, you would have thought that, away from the rush hours, less folk would be using buses on a main work day in comparison to Saturday when the shops are open for the same hours and there are more folk off work to visit them. However, it doesn’t seem to go like that. Confounding factors might include folk spending their free time at home and not travelling about or people using services that are closed at weekends. Both of those could explain why the streets of Macclesfield are next to empty of an evening; if there is nowhere to go then nobody comes. Another thing to remember is that there is an inclination to spend a whole day going somewhere for some activity rather than dividing it up into short chunks. All of these must affect patronage and might explain why the service level of a Sunday simply drops over a cliff. All in all, the behaviour of hoards can be very odd and I suppose that it has its effects on bus timetables too.

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