There’s been a lot of comment on roadworks recently.
Here’s a good example of a bus company getting it right.
It’s an occasion where the operator knows well in advance and has publicised matters accordingly. The web notification even advises passengers to check out bus and stop notices should the roadworks over-run. A sensible precaution, I’d say.
But, even so, there are problems. What about people who don’t read the notices and aren’t aware? The usual service operates every 10 minutes as a circular. The temporary timetable splits this into two 20-minute sections. There’s potential for confusion. And loss of revenue, of course.
I’ve known going to a lot of trouble to get things right, close stops, create bespoke timetables and so on for a temporary timetable during roadworks, including plenty of advanced publicity, only to find the works started several days late. What happens in such situations? Run the old timetable or the new (which is dated)? The answer is the new… but it can look a little daft.
Most roadworks actually seem to spring up overnight without much warning. Most are simply shuttle workings that delay rather than divert. It’s very difficult indeed to react to these sorts of problems. Other traffic will eventually filter away, taking whatever rat runs it can find and this sometimes means bus delays are minimises. But on other occasions, things can actually get worse, particularly if they over-run or if they lapse into holiday seasons. And they *do* have a habit of over-running. But, say the utility adds two days to the roadworks just in case of an over-run… and say this isn’t required… any temporary timetables that are timestamped will instantly cause confusion.
Roadworks cost operators dearly. Slow progress means that buses consume more fuel. Delays will mean that short distance passengers may give up altogether. Buses can end up off-timetable, a cumulative effect as the day progresses. This will drive passengers away. Or one service can affect others where buses inter-work. Those miles away from roadworks see the problems but don’t understand why.
In both these circumstances, it may be prudent to stick another bus in the respective cycle. This, too, comes at a cost at the very time when revenue goes down. Using your spare driver duty for this opens up a vulnerability elsewhere should something else go wrong.
Why then do utilities always seem to think that provided they’ve told bus operators of the disruption that they can then disown the whole affair? There’s absolutely no prospect of compensation should the local highways engineers decide to dig the roads up. There may be in other circumstances but it’s a battle royal getting any cash.
The answer is to undertake roadworks in the evenings & overnight, under floodlights. Disruption is minimised for all concerns… general traffic, bus services, passengers… except for those who live on the roads themselves and the utilities who will obviously have to pay more for their work. But for once, that would actually benefit other people than themselves.