Helpful Councils

When it comes to the provision, some local authorities are better than others. Quite a number do get to providing a list of bus timetables while others merely tell you to take a hike over to Traveline. My preference is not to go criticising folk all the time so here’s a list of those who put in the effort. Sometimes, you can get the wrong end of the stick because the information is hidden so I’ll extract it from the back shelves where that appears to be where it has gone on them. This list will be a living one with new entries added as I go along so don’t let small beginnings make you think that councils are generally unhelpful to the public transport user; most support services that otherwise would be commercially non-viable.

Angus

This is the part of Scotland that you’ll find immediately north of Dundee. With visitor attractions such as Arbroath located there, it’s just as well that the local council does its bit to help folk get about without a car. Bus timetables and other information of the same ilk are there as one would expect.

Argyll & Bute

Just because areas are hilly and mountainous or that there are far-flung islands doesn’t mean that there isn’t a useful public transport service for getting about (the name of this part of the council website as it happens). There are timetables to be found for next to every means of travel imaginable with ferry and air services complimenting the more usual fare of bus and train information.

Bedford Borough
Central Bedfordshire
Luton

These unitary authorities replaced the now defunct Bedfordshire County Council and public transport information provision is continued by the replacement authorities. Luton does less well than the other when it comes to providing bus timetable information though it makes amends with its Travel Luton website. That provides live bus and train travel times as well as timetables for the new Luton busway.

Cheshire East

The now defunct Cheshire County Council didn’t do so badly when it came to travel information provision and it’s good to see that it is being carried on with listings of bus timetables complimenting that on train travel and other modes. It’s also where you find your way to the real-time bus tracker, limited to services between Macclesfield and destinations like Knutsford and Manchester for now but still useful nonetheless.

Cheshire West and Chester

This looks so eerily like its eastern neighbour that you get to wondering if having a single council for all of Cheshire might have been sensible in the first place. Clearly, others have disagreed and we get websites that are very similar apart from colouring, the actual content together with other aspects of look and feel. Regarding content, it is all focussed on the council area with a relevant bus timetable library and news of bus service changes all forming part of the offer.

City of Stoke-on-Trent

What gets this city council included here is its bus timetable satellite website. Together with the timetable collection, there is a service news page too.

Cumbria

Before this local authority came into existence, the Lake District was spread over parts of no less than three different counties. Now that it is included in one along with some Pennine hill country and coastal areas, the local council would need to do what it can to reduce the number of visitors bringing their cars to the honeypot. To be honest, it doesn’t look as if they are having a great deal of success but the more extensive service in the heart of the National Park do their bit when it comes to moving folk about. Satisfyingly, bus timetable provision is what you’d hope it to be and they make it easier to get information on lake ferry services along with providing something on rail travel too.

Denbighshire

This is a part of Wales that I suspect is passed by many while on their way to the more well known destinations in that part of the principality. However, it does have its own merits too and the council does its bit when it comes to informing the public about public transport. Like so many of their counterparts, bus timetables are shared here too. Perhaps strangely, there’s no mention of trains but I suppose that you’d find out about those elsewhere anyway. The Clwydian Ranger bus service information dates from last year at the time of writing and I do wonder if funding will allow it to reappear for the current year.

Derbyshire

A few years back, this local authority took an enlightened view and had a separate website offering travel information. Sadly, that no longer is the case and you are left having to work a little harder than before. Nevertheless, there is a satellite website with bus timing information that remains more than useful. In a way, it’s a shame that things like these are as easy to find as they were, particularly give that the county plays host to a very popular national park that gets crowded in places every bank holiday weekend, but that can be an outcome of piling more things into an already cluttered structure if you’re not careful.

Devon

As well as a section on their main website, Devon County Council also have JourneyDevon for promoting the use of public transport in their area. Like what Powys offer, there is an interactive map where you can click on a route number and see the timetable for that service. Community transport offerings are on there too and that’s important with two areas of wilder countryside within the county area: Dartmoor and Exmoor. Two stretches of coastline allow for the promotion of certain routes for their scenic value and videos show off these. For those unfamiliar with the use of buses and trains, there also are helpful guides on how to do just that. That is never to say that the main website section is redundant since there are links to district timetable guides in eBook form for those wanting a more traditional feel than an interactive map, as good as that is.

Dorset

This is a website from more than one Dorset local authority since Dorset County Council is but one of these. Otherwise, there is Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council, North Dorset District Council, Purbeck District Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council. While it is admirable for resources to be pooled like this, it would be for nothing if the results of such a collaboration did not deliver for the public and this multi-modal website certainly does that. Live road travel information, a necessity given the stormy winter of 2013/4, is on here along with much needed public transport information. Bus timetables are available as is any other information that a bus user would need. For rail users, a lot more is offered than just links to the National Rail and train operating company websites. Air travellers find a link to Bournemouth Airport but that might be enough while Dorset’s coastal travel needs are addressed by the boat travel section. Walking and cycling are not neglected either and the information goes beyond mere commuting needs to include recreational opportunities too, an usual subject for a transport website. In summary, there is a lot on here so it deserves staying a while to survey what is on offer.

Dumfries & Galloway

This is one of the few local authorities that owns its own buses, primarily for school travel provision but also for less frequent socially necessary public bus services. Naturally, timetables for all bus services are available on here along with the sort of other local travel information that we have come to expect of local authority websites.

Dundee

There may be larger cities than Dundee but it gets its own dedicated travel information website. There may be more than public transport information on here but that makes it a port of call for all. Dundee City Council seems to have done a good job with this one though a browseable list of bus timetables would be no bad idea.

Gwynedd

Never let the usefulness of a list of timetables be downplayed when it comes to exploring an area and that’s how it has proven with the Gwynedd of the Snowdonia National Park. In addition to the usual sections on day-to-day bus and train travel, there’s a section devoted to the Snowdon Sherpa services for those wanting to get to know those hillier areas while leaving the car after them.

Halton

Another one of Cheshire’s unitary authorities and one that didn’t reach my consciousness until recently, this has a devotion to the provision of public transport information too. The area centres around Runcorn and Widnes together with smaller places such as Helsby and Frodsham too. There are bus timetables listed here like so many other council websites and its an area that I might go exploring too. After all, the Sandstone Trail starts in Frodsham so a walking idea has come into place.

Herefordshire

For a while, the difference behind Herefordshire Council and its Welsh neighbour Powys was night and day with the former coming off much the better in the comparison; since then, Powys has upped its game. Satisfyingly, that good level of information provision stays and bus and train timetable libraries are maintained for anyone wishing to have a look and they also have a Choose How You Move section to their website too.

Hertfordshire

This county is surprisingly rural given its proximity to London yet is a place that I wouldn’t have thought of going but for business trips within the last few opportunities. That’s not to say that there aren’t countryside walking opportunities for the locals so having buses for getting about would be handy. Usefully, the county council’s dedicated public transport website seems a good port of call for travel information with a library of bus timetables like the others on this page.

In addition, they also are involved in the Network St. Albans initiative for reducing the amount of traffic generated by single occupancy motor vehicles. Along with the usual mix bus and train travel options, cycling and walking are mentioned along with car-sharing.

Isle of Anglesey

It’s an island through which many pass to and from Irish Sea ferries to Dublin but it surprised me by having its own (county) council. Very useful, it does its share when it comes to providing public transport information and there’s a comprehensive list of bus timetables available too. In fact, there’s even a link to to the website of the local airport!

Lancashire

A recent announcement regarding curtailments of bus services as part of spending cuts reminded me of what this council does in terms of public transport. Bus services get a whole independent section of the website with a timetable listing being part of the offer. Nevertheless, that doesn’t meant that there isn’t a nod towards rail and tram (in Blackpool, that is) services either. Saying that, it might be an idea to pop over the Transport for Lancashire hub that they’ve create because the organisation of things on the council website is a little different from what I have seen elsewhere. The alternative would be to take your time in order to get your bearings on the main site.

Monmouthshire

With the Brecon Beacons National Park on its doorstep and the Wye Valley AONB within its boundaries, there is a certain attraction to visiting the southeastern corner of Wales. With that in mind, it’s just as well that the council’s website features a list of bus timetables for those wanting to get about without a car. That the service level isn’t so extensive probably makes any information provision all the more important.

North Yorkshire

Another area worthy of attention from the outsider and one where the local council does its bit for ensuring that you know how to get around too. Some of the areas served are surrounded by hills and it may surprise you where services go. The list of bus timetables is split by area but a useful overview map ensures that you don’t end up scratching your head to work out where the likes of Craven is.

Oxfordshire (Oxon)

They may only list timetables for bus services that they subsidise but it still remains a good place to start when it comes to finding out what public transport services operate in this part of the Home Counties. In any case, Traveline Southeast isn’t shabby when it comes to timetable provision so they’re a good back-up option; a pre-Christmas look at that for the 66 between Swindon and Oxford revealed a section communicating what was running over the Christmas and New Year period. Also, finding out what operators serve a county can be a useful option too for the curious; well, as long as there are timetables on there, that is.

Pembrokeshire

While my two visits to this part of Wales were separated by a number of years, it is heartening to see that information useful for planning a long overdue return to the area remains easily accessible. Included among the available bus timetables are those for leisure services that enable the exploration of the spectacular coastline that is to be found down there. Pointers for rail and ferry information are to be found too.

Perth & Kinross

Is it telling that clicking on a link named Public Transport Information takes you to information about trains? Do they feel that an apparent bias towards bus travel would be unfair? I am not going to venture an answer to either of these questions about that one but a spot of concentration will fish out the bus travel information for you. Saying that, an obvious suggestion would be to have a general landing page for public transport information rather than arriving on the train one like now.

Shetland Islands

They may be Scotland’s, and hence Britain’s, most northerly islands but that is not to say that regular travel services do not operate. Given that these are a set of islands, it should as little surprise to find bus running information complemented by that for air and sea services too. The latter pair are necessary for getting from one island to another, let alone connecting them to the rest of the world around them.

South Gloucestershire

This was found via Travelwest and its associated live bus tracker; both of these shared with Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol City Council, and North Somerset. That doesn’t stop its own website having a full list of bus timetables for its area, unlike others in the same vicinity. Naturally other means of travel such as rail are featured too though the aforementioned does take such good care of itself that councils need not do so much for its users. All in all, there seems to be an attempt to sell the transport network too, something that apparently has become rarer in these austere times.

Vale of Glamorgan

It may be overshadowed by nearby Cardiff but this coastal district is good at supplying public transport information too. The nigh on obligatory bus timetable directory is on there along with news of any changes. At the time of writing, they are facing the rather inconsiderate withdrawal of Veolia from the British bus market. Hopefully, they’ll work through this upheaval to a better future since Veolia hasn’t been much good at sharing information about their services anyway.

Western Isles (Na hEileanan nan Iar)

Some may find it a surprise to discover that these outliers from the Scottish mainland have their bus services too along with the requisite ferry and air travel links on which any island is so dependent. However, given the size of the grouping (spending a few days getting from top to tail or vice versa is likely), those bus services prove invaluable if you are without a car and they very handily link in with ferry and air services too.

Worcestershire

This section of Worcestershire County Council’s website may run under the heading of Buses in Worcestershire but there is a page on rail travel in here too. Bus timetables and all the other information that you’d hope to get is to be found here for this more rural part of the West Midlands. The presence of the Malvern Hills in the county makes it a visitor so any information about public transport around cannot be anything but useful.

Wrexham

It may be a largely urban borough but it has inviting countryside on its doorstep too. Since I last had a look, the website has had an overall with the addition bold text and colours that give it a very contemporary feel. Strangely, there isn’t a single public transport landing page with bus and train sections jostling for attention with those for schoolbuses, taxibuses and highways maintenance. Mind you, the overall thrust of the part of their website devoted to Transport and Streets is related to public transport anyway, even if finding their useful collection of bus timetables requires a little more clicking than might be ideal.