First: 51 bus ‘falls short on punctuality’

51 bus service: First has responded to questions about frequency and reliability
51 bus service: First has admitted that it falls short on punctuality

First, the operator of Crosspool’s main bus service, has admitted that the 51 falls short on punctuality at certain times of day.

The operator carried out a month-long review of the service and identified several issues that the timetable doesn’t adequately allow for.

In response, a more resilient new timetable is being designed and extra buses and drivers will be deployed to improve the service. These changes will be implemented from late October to coincide with any route changes arising from the current Sheffield Bus Partnership consultation.

If these changes don’t make a difference then Crookes ward Councillor Geoff Smith intends to hold a meeting with First to discuss the 51 bus service. In the meantime, he will be at the next Crosspool Forum Open Meeting on Thursday 26 July if anyone wants to make any comments.

Full information from First regarding the 51 bus service below:

We’ve just completed a month’s study of issues and factors affecting the punctuality of the 51. Inputs to this have been:

  • Satellite bus tracking data that records a time at every bus stop on every journey.
  • Observations of traffic and other delays.
  • Journey monitoring to simulate the passenger’s experience, i.e. waiting at bus stops, travel on buses at times of delay (identified from above).
  • Comments from bus drivers, passengers and supervisors.

The conclusion reached is that, yes, the service does fall short on punctuality at certain times of day. This review has perhaps been long overdue as for key periods during the day the timetable lacks the robustness to withstand the external forces exerted on it. Having said that the journey time within the timetable does expand and contract to reflect known delays but here are a few examples of issues that we don’t adequately allow for.

The start of the school day at Crosspool, the operation of the crossings and the characteristics of the school time bus journeys. That certain buses encounter large numbers of children travelling out from the City and then encounter similar numbers from Lodge Moor. So a delay to Lodge Moor through this, the school run traffic and the crossings and then the same on the way back.

Peak traffic around the hospitals and University remains at buoyant until 0930-1000 hours.

Similar characteristics exist at the end of the school day to those at the start but it’s perhaps more intense as there’s less of a stagger.

Crossing Brook Hill roundabout continues to be a source of significant delay particularly when travelling out from City. Traffic crossing the roundabout from right to left slows entering Upper Hanover Street and obstructs the exit from Broad Lane.

Traffic queues on Rockingham Street at peak times.

Difficulty negotiating Mappin Street due to parked vehicles.

You may have noticed that on the Sheffield Bus Partnership consultation there is a proposed route change to avoid Broad Lane.

So where do we go from here? Well, hopefully the above route change will be implemented, together with a new timetable that is presently being designed. The new timetable will be much more resilient, incorporating longer journey times to reflect delays and greater recovery time at Lodge Moor before departure on the next journey. More buses and drivers will be required to operate it but deployed to maintain the present level of service where we’re falling short.

I hope this is good news. The date of introduction is 28 October 2012 to coincide with the launch of the Sheffield Bus Partnership. Generally, during the summer period there is an improvement in punctuality anyway as school and university related traffic subsides.


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