... from the Preston front line.
Two embattled and angry locals at the Tudor Avenue service 16 terminus on Monday were bitter about the number of buses using their street. It’s a pleasant road, largely of substantial and smart red-bricked semis. It just happens to be at the edge of the city and the chosen point to turn buses back to Preston on this frequent service up and down the A59 radial.
It’s been the terminus of the Preston-Farrington Park service 16 for many, many years. And a fortnight ago, in addition to up to 12 Preston Buses an hour, Stagecoach has added its own eight.
One pointed out that Stagecoach was using what in actual fact were Solos. Smaller they might be and easier to negotiate the road, he remarked that they were also so very much more noisy. In warfare, this is termed collateral damage.
And why, asked the other, had Preston Bus now suddenly countered with the same type of vehicle, when there’d been nothing but elderly double and single decks? He was not impressed that the latest Preston Bus Solos had been on order for some months and arrived just last week. I suspect he would be even less impressed that the Scanias for this route due in June were now delayed till the end of July. But buses are not like cars: rarely do they come one off the peg.
A passenger, though, felt that Preston Bus had served the corridor successfully, frequently and particularly cheaply for many years. Why was there a need to add to it? Another felt that there were now too many buses travelling around with too few passengers.
It was clear that Preston Bus was taking the majority – just. It was equally clear that Stagecoach’s Citi cheap deals were tempting a number of passengers, enough to worry Preston Bus. And enough to ensure Stagecoach wasn’t complaining.
A female passenger felt that the cheap fares wouldn’t last. “They will put them up as soon as they have finished off the Corporation”, she said. But to be fair, Stagecoach’s publicity does point out its current fares are introductory in nature. And the use of the pre-1974 word “Corporation” is also telling. There’s still the feeling that Preston Bus is Preston-owned; that will count for a lot, especially with older passengers.
As of Monday, Preston Bus strikes back, even in the face of more Stagecoach competition due at the end of July. Preston Bus now competes with Stagecoach on its 8/hr Citi 3 Preston to Penwortham. Preston Bus is calling its new venture “Your Citybus”. Whether Fishwick’s 111 via part of Penwortham will be caught in the crossfire remains to be seen. And Preston Bus is offering four ‘excursion’ buses a day between Preston and Southport, competing with Stagecoach’s half-hourly 2/2A, in the hope that full Preston Buses will affect Stagecoach’s margins on the route. “Watch out for other special offers on the bus”, Preston Bus’ publicity states.
1. Kate Aidie (middle) samples Citi's competing services
2. A massive publicity campaign complements the arrival of Citi
3. A Stagecoah Solo follows a Preston Bus Solo on the 16, along the A59
4. One of Preston Bus's new Solo, in service from last week
i Words by Kate Aidie with cameraman Omnibuses’ Northern Correspondent
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
... from the Preston front line.
Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2007