On the doorstep, I’m often hearing that residents find the P bus unreliable…they wait at the bus stop, but the bus doesn’t turn up. And when they are returning to Cowick, the rest of the routes to West of Exe [A, E. F1 and F2] turn up but the P is often missing.
I took the opportunity to quiz Robert Williams, Commercial Director of Stagecoach South West, about this at last week’s Exeter HATOC meeting, although the exchange wasn’t minuted.
Since the meeting, I’ve been in correspondence with Mr Williams.
He tells me that in 2014 Stagecoach SW ran 99.7% of our scheduled mileage on the P, which is in line with the rest of their network in Exeter.
During the course of the year there is very little variance from this – 99.5% in November and December when the traffic and weather are worst, 99.9% in the spring and summer when the traffic and weather is best.
“This demonstrates that even if the buses are delayed, the vast majority still run, and so you can depend on them to get you home if they encounter a delay.”
So if the P route runs most of its scheduled miles, the problem must be punctuality.
There are many pinch-points long the route from Crossmead to Pennsylvania and back again – not least the chaos often encountered at Exe Bridges [more often then not at the yellow box junction leading to Fore Street] and rush-hour congestion elsewhere.
Stagecoach SW are in the process of setting up a Bus Punctuality Improvement Partnership with Devon County Council, part of which will involve sharing data from both sides with the aim of improving punctuality. Once this is up and running, I would like to think we might get some meaningful information on bus punctuality in the city at regular intervals to pass back to residents.
And I’m told that with the introduction of the Real Time Information system later in the year Stagecoach SW expect to be able to simultaneously monitor 90% of departures from every location, which will greatly improve our ability to predict journey times and timetables. At present, Stagecoach rely on manual observations and driver & passenger feedback, which can never give us the accuracy that the system developers promise!
We are currently looking in to your separate email about the 1500-1530 period and will respond shortly. Christina has just gone onto maternity leave, so Simone Smith our acting manager is looking at this in her place.