The new 232 Daffodil Line has many things going for it, but so far perfect punctuality hasn’t been one of them. If you’re wondering why the bus is so often late and what we are planning to do to fix that, read on.
Why So Late?
Those of you who use the Daff regularly will know that it often turns up 10 minutes or more late.
Many of you have been kind enough to say that you don’t really mind. You know it’s going to turn up eventually and a late bus is way better than no bus at all!
But it does matter. Maybe not to those of us out for a leisurely trip to the shops or a walk in the country, But for anyone catching a train, or with an appointment, or taking the bus to work it is important that we are on time.
And it’s important for the drivers too. When the bus runs late they end up driving through their breaks to make up time, and that’s not fair.
So why do we almost always run late? Well, lots of reasons.
First, we’re carrying more passengers than planned for at this early stage. We’ll release full figures at the end of our first 3 months, but can tell you that in month 1 we carried significantly more passengers than the old Stagecoach services. This is a good problem to have. But loading passengers onto the bus – especially when it’s a new service and everyone has questions, takes time.
Then we have roadworks – so many roadworks! We did several trial runs before the service started, but I don’t think we ever encountered 4 sets of roadworks along the route. But this is what the Daff has had to contend with in her first month. Add to this general congestion and some spectacularly bad parking in our narrow town streets and the delays soon mount up. We need to build minutes into the timetable to allow for this.
Because it’s just one bus, going back and forth for most of the day, if there’s a delay on one run it’s difficult to catch up, and being a couple of minutes slow on each run quickly adds up to significant delays by the end of the day.
Can We Fix It?
Yes, we think we can.
Our timetable guru, Professor Les Lumsdon has been spending a lot of time riding the entire route, with DRM transport manager Andy Goodchild. They’ve been observing how the route works under real “live” conditions: looking at how many people get on and off, timings between different stops at different times of the day and on different days of the week.
Between them they have come up with some tweaks to the timetable which we think will make a big difference.
There will still be the same number of buses each day, leaving similar times to those you have got used to, and the full run from Ross to Ledbury will still take just under an hour. The main change will be doing a loop through Ledbury – in via the bypass and out via Deer Park – rather than going up and back down the Homend and Southend on each run. This will mean we spend less time on one of the most congested stretches of the route and should make running times much more predictable.
Deer Park residents will have to spend a few more minutes on the bus on return journeys (or get off at the Full Pitcher roundabout) but we hope you’ll understand why we’ve had to do this.
In response to feedback from parents, we are also taking the bus right into John Masefield High School for the school run. Also, pending approval from the Traffic Commissioner, we may have a very special extra stop for you on Sundays – watch this space.
Thank You For Your Patience
Thank you so much for being so patient with us. For waiting for the bus and for bearing with us whilst we get the timetable right.
We would love to have got the timetable spot on the first time around. Our friends at Gloucestershire County Council Transport Unit tell us though, that this is almost impossible with a brand new route.
We hope to launch the new timetable in early June. There are only slight changes in departure times at most of the stops, but we will be sure to keep you well-informed.
Thank you again for your patience and support and we look forward to doing much better with our timekeeping in the future.