Thursday, 28 February 2013

Response to FirstBus SimpliCITY consultation

First Glasgow recently announced an major change to their service network in Glasgow.  Although I think that Glasgow’s bus network needs an overhaul, I don’t believe that First’s plan is the solution.  Below is my response to their consultation.

The first thing that jumps out at me in this proposal is the unwelcome extension of an existing problem — that of bus services with the same number that have different destinations (and, in come cases, different sources).  This problem exists at the moment — for me on the number 23, which goes to both Blairdardie and to Summerston — and would be exacerbated on the proposed new 19 service which not only goes to two different destinations, but has two different sources (Easterhouse or Robroyston).  A similar problem will exist on the proposed new service 6, which seems to just merge the existing 20 and 66.  The worst culprit seems to be the proposed service 38, which has no less than four different sources and four different destinations!

There is no current shortage of numbers available to us, or even letters, if you want to indicate that two services are related; there is a time-honoured tradition of appending an ‘A’, ‘B’ etc to the end of a route number to indicate a variation.  The only justification that I can see for this change is so that you claim a high headline frequency.  Of course, this is merely misleading window dressing — just because the service runs every 10, or even 5, minutes along some core part, doesn’t help anyone travelling from, or to, the extremities of the route.

Examining the proposed changes, it seems that you are also falling into the trap of designing a ‘star’ network, with a hub — the city centre — and spokes, similar to Glasgow’s rail network.  In my opinion, this is a mistake.  Forcing people to change buses in the city centre merely lengthens journeys and frustrates passengers.  Having longer point-to-point connections, some of which bypass the city centre entirely, would help to reduce city centre congestion and connect the city up, especially the somewhat neglected East End of the city.

The proposed changes seem to make no effort to connect the East End with other parts of the city, particularly into the West End, which also seems to be lacking connections to the South Side, at least without having to to along one of the spokes into the hub and change in the city centre.  I urge you to look again at longer routes that connect all parts of the city.

Finally, I am worried about the withdrawal of services in “unprofitable” areas.  This is something which is unconscionable as it will leave poor and/or elderly people stranded, with no way to get to their local shops or around to other parts of the city.  I am uncomfortable that you may end up creating ghettoes in areas that are not served by other forms of public transport.

I approve of this attempt to look at Glasgow’s bus network from a completely fresh point of view, trying to determine what the needs of a modern city are and I hope that my comments will help improve your current proposals and that we end up with a network that we can justifiably be proud of.

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: