Crosspool buses painted in traditional colours to mark centenary

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Two 51 buses have been painted in traditional livery to celebrate 100 years of motor buses in Sheffield.

Look out for the repainted 51s on the Crosspool route
Look out for the repainted 51s on the Crosspool route

The first motorbus began operation between Broomhill and Lodge Moor via Crosspool on 15 February 1913. As part of the centenary celebrations, two modern buses painted in 1913 and 1960 colours will be used on the 51 route.

And on Sunday 12 May a bus rally will take place at First’s Olive Grove depot where you can see a selection of old and new buses and take part in fun activities.

Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First UK Bus said: “It is very exciting that people and organisations in Sheffield are coming together to celebrate 100 years of motorbuses in Sheffield.

“Sheffield has grown tremendously in the past century and buses have been at the forefront of this development.

“It is only right and proper that we organise a series of events to commemorate this anniversary and the public should look out for these spectacular buses that represent the history of this great city.”

History of the 51, the least changed bus route in Sheffield

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.

New ticket machines on 51 buses

The new ticket machine on a 51 bus
The new ticket machine on a 51 bus

New ticket machines and tickets have arrived on the 51 bus serving Crosspool.

The new machines issue new-style of paper ticket and are also expected to be part of First’s plans to offer contactless payment for passengers.

This means that you’ll be able to wave a pre-pay card, or debit/credit card in front of the machine to pay your fare. The new system will also have the capability to accept payment via mobile phone.

The new-style paper ticket issued on the 51 bust
The new-style paper ticket issued on the 51 bust

It doesn’t look like the new contactless payment systems aren’t yet active on the 51 route, so in the meantime you’ll still receive a paper ticket when paying by cash.

FirstGroup announces £27m investment in groundbreaking bus ticket technology

51 bus: First responds to comments regarding frequency and reliability

51 bus service: First has responded to questions about frequency and reliability
51 bus service: First has responded to questions about frequency and reliability

At the last Crosspool Forum Open Meeting, residents raised the issue of the frequency and reliability of the 51 bus service. Our local councillor Geoff Smith has contacted First and asked us to publish the response he received.

He appreciates that it does not take us any further but thought our readers should know what was said. He has also contacted Stagecoach about running a service on the 51 route as well but has not received a reply yet.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive has a role in keeping bus companies to their advertised timetables. However, they need specific examples to take any action. If you have a specific example you wish to bring to their attention then you can do so by using pam.horner@sypte.co.uk or 0114 221 1452.

Response from First to Councillor Smith’s email:

Dear Councillor Smith,

Thank you for your email in relation to the problems passengers are receiving in Crosspool on Service 51.

Firstly, I am sorry to hear that passengers are unhappy with the service being received. There have been a number of timetable changes in recent times all with the objective of improving punctuality.

I have received feedback from our Scheduling Department as follows;
We have been analysing data for each journey over a period of a typical month and adjusting the timetable to account for known and predictable delays. For example, the slow queue up to Broomhill at the afternoon peak period, delays at school start and finish times etc. This has resulted at certain times in scheduled and published breaks in the timetable of slightly longer than the general frequency of 10 minutes. It’s the unexpected that can cause unscheduled breaks and there can be a variety of factors outside of our control.

There should be the facility for passengers to text “Your Next Bus” at the bus stop, if they have a mobile phone and this should provide the customer with an estimated arrival time of the next bus.

We can’t really draw comparisons between different services. It was always the case that different areas merit different frequencies and solutions. The population density along the 52 route is much stronger and so are passenger numbers. And another bus company has chosen to operate alongside First on the 52 route.

I hope the information provided is of assistance to you, however if you have any further questions then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely
Amanda Maybury
Lead Customer Service Advisor
Subject: Update – 51 Bus Service

Route 51 bus fare discounts to continue

Bus operator First has announced that the current discount fares on the 51 bus running from Lodge Moor to Charnock via town are to continue until at least March 2011.

The promotional fares, which were launched last June, mean that a single journey from Crosspool to town costs £1.60, compared to the previous price of £1.95.

The operator says that the 51 has seen encouraging growth in passenger number and the price reductions continue the company’s strategy of using promotions to stimulate passenger growth.

The promotional prices for route 51 are:

  • Most single fares reduced
  • ‘Local hop’ single fares from 85p
  • Maximum single fare £1.95
Crosspool bus stop
Route 51: discounted fares have stimulated growth in passenger numbers