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Stagecoach Manchester, Part 4: An unsatisfactory reply

November 6th, 2009 tj No comments

So Stagecoach replied.  Not as quickly as I’d hoped for, but quick enough I guess.  However, the reply itself was far from satisfactory.  Here it is in it’s entirety:

Dear Mr Hyde

Thank you for your e-mail concerning the 231 service on the 30th October 2009 and your other comments.  I am sorry that you have had cause to complain about our services once again.

At the moment practically all of the main arteries in and out of the city and some of the minor roads that our services travel along are subject to road-works with traffic control and some with diversions.  This is true for the 231 service, but also the combined knock on effect from these disruptions brought Piccadilly to gridlock on Friday evening.

I apologise for the inconvenience that is being caused to your journeys due to these circumstances.  We have arranged for an extra vehicle to operate to support the 231 service from now up until Christmas and hopefully this will help alleviate serious delays.

Yours sincerely

Forgive me if I sound a little cynical here, but I’ve heard it all before.  Just like last time, they completely fail to address most of the points I raised in my complaint.

So I sent this response whilst I was on the bus home (efficient use of time or what?!)

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for your reply. I appreciate that the situation with roadworks at the moment is far from ideal, but your reply also spectacularly fails to address a number of points I raised in my initial complaint. Why are out of service buses able to get through this supposed gridlock yet in service buses aren’t? More to the point, with the situation as it is at present, why are out of service buses going through Piccadilly in the first place? Surely it would be a better use of resources to serve the customers waiting at the stop?

I also note that you have failed to address my query regarding your staff at the stop. Why are they not afforded the power to alter a driver’s final destination if it would benefit the customers waiting at the stand? On Tuesday why did your employee not step in to ask the Littlemoss passengers to step aside and let the Ashton passengers on first, given that there were 2 Littlemoss buses nearby?

Finally, I appreciate the gesture of adding another bus, and assume that it will be running the full route to Ashton. What time will this bus be scheduled to run? Also, I note that the bus will only run until Christmas. What steps will be taken after Christmas to ensure that the service remains punctual and adequate?

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours Faithfully

What next I wonder?

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Stagecoach Manchester, a complaint: Part 3

November 3rd, 2009 tj 1 comment

Yet again, Stagecoach Manchester appear to want to outdo themselves when it comes to providing an abysmal service.  Yet again I’ve been pushed to complain.  Yet again I’m posting it here for you all to see.

And if you like it and/or agree with it and/or know someone who would,  then please, share it with your friends!  Let’s spread the word.

Dear Sir,

I’m sure you’re probably sick of hearing from me by now but I am afraid that I once again feel the need to complain about the ‘service’ you provide to your loyal customers; who, by the way are only loyal as they have no real alternative, especially as you seem to delight in driving all competition to the point where they feel they must sell their business to you. Such a rampant display of sheer greed and capitalism cannot have been envisaged when the decision was taken to privatise public transport. Indeed it seems to fly in the face of the idea that privatisation would benefit the customer through increased competition. Anyway, I digress (forgive me, I’m a frustrated and non-practicing economist; it comes with the territory)…

I had thought my relationship with your company couldn’t possibly reach a lower level than that reached over the festive period last year, but once again you have managed to go beyond all my expectations and provide a service even worse than I could have imagined almost a year ago.

The sorry tale starts on the evening of Friday 30 October.  After a week of work I left my office at 5pm, looking forward a nice, relaxing weekend at home.  Imagine my disappointment then when I got to the bus stop in Piccadilly Gardens to catch the 17:08 231 to Ashton and it didn’t arrive!  “It’s ok”, I thought to myself, “It’s probably just late.”  So I waited.  And waited.  “Ok, so it looks like it’s not going to come.  Nevermind, there’s another one at 17:23.  I’ll be late, but it’s Friday so it’s not so bad.”  17:23 came and went.  “Ok, this is getting pretty annoying now, but I guess it must be late, I’ll wait a bit.”  Now in between all this, at least two 231 buses came through the stand, only they were turning back at Littlemoss, which is no good for me!  And that’s not to mention the few Stagecoach buses that came straight through bearing the destination no bus traveller wants to see… Sorry Not In Service.  I have no idea where this place is, but I can only imagine it’s overrun with buses.

An Ashton bus finally arrived at 17:38 and I was able to get on my not so merry way.  Take note of that time.  17:38.  That’s half an hour of waiting.  That’s two buses ‘missing’.  Where were they?  Has the Bermuda Triangle finally got tired of the fame and relocated to somewhere between Manchester and Ashton and developed a taste for buses?  Probably not, but that’s the only rational explanation I can find.

Fast forward now, if you would, to tonight, the 3rd November 2009.  (I was lucky enough to get a lift home in a friend’s car yesterday so I didn’t have to suffer your service).  As usual, I arrived at the stand in time to catch the 17:08 231 to Ashton, and for once it was in the stand and people were boarding!  Quite a lot of people were queuing.  In fact, too many people were queuing and the bus left with quite a few of us still waiting at the stand.  To add insult to injury, just after this bus left two more 231s pulled into the stand.  Both were only going as far as Littlemoss, which again is no use to me.

Now where this gets interesting is that on both occasions you had a member of staff at the stand.  Is it really beyond the realms of possibility for you to ask your staff to keep your paying customers informed?  He has a radio so I assume he is in contact with the depot and possibly even the drivers themselves.  Failing that, we’re in the 21st century now, there are miraculous devices around called mobile phones.  I can only assume that he knew what was happening and knew where the missing buses were.  Why could he not let your paying customers know on Friday that they could expect a 30 minute wait for a bus?  Perhaps it’s because you don’t want to lose the business, I don’t know.

Perhaps of more interest to me is why your employee could not let people know tonight that there were two Littlemoss buses coming around the corner and ask the passengers who would be getting off between Manchester and Littlemoss to wait a little while and let us Ashton-folk, who have the cheek to live just a bit further away than the rest, get on first as they would otherwise have to wait 15 minutes.  But no.  Common sense does not seem to have a home in the corridors of power at Stagecoach Manchester and so it was just a free for all and I was left cold and bus-less.  Or even better, why could he not ask the driver of one of the 231s which arrived later to run the whole route to let us unfortunate Ashtonians get home?  I assume this is possibly something to do with overtime payments and your penny-pinching ways, but come on, your business is all about providing a service to customers so DO IT!  Having said that, I’ve come to the conclusion that customers are just an annoyance to you and you’d enjoy things far more if we weren’t around.

Your first letter to me, in effect, described me as a nobody.  I have to admit that such a display of honesty was a refreshing change from your usual question-dodging, buck-passing ways.

I would appreciate it if you could address my concerns and explain why two buses were missing on Friday, why your staff are not afforded the flexibility to provide a basic service and why you continue to provide a wholly unsatisfactory and inadequate service.  However, I won’t hold my breath.  I will also be sending a copy of this letter to the Service Delivery Director at the GMPTE, for what it’s worth.

Yours Sincerely,

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Stagecoach Manchester, a complaint: Part Two

December 22nd, 2008 tj 7 comments

So, after seeing that Stagecoach are running a Saturday service over 2 of the busiest days of the year, and suffering as a result, I decided to write ANOTHER letter of complaint. This time I’ll let you read it too!

Dear Sir,

Once again I feel I must complain about the service your company provides to its paying customers.

Quite frankly I am disgusted with your decision to only provide a basic Saturday service on your routes on 22nd, 23rd and 2th December.

When I got to the bus stop at Piccadilly Gardens just after 5pm tonight I was greeted by the sight of a single 231 with a large group of people waiting to board. This was coupled with a large number of people waiting for a 216. Shortly after I arrived, the 231 was full and was forced to leave the stop with 15-20 people still waiting to board. Roughly 10 minutes later a 216 showed up and again there was a rush of bodies trying to board the bus, and again it was forced to leave the stand whilst there were people, who had been waiting for as long as 10 minutes, waiting to board.

I appreciate that your drivers may want a break over the Christmas period but for a great many people the first three days of this week represent a normal working week and I am appalled that you think it is reasonable for customers to suffer this lack of service. As I have said, I appreciate that your drivers may want a break, however this is the same in all lines of work and sacrifices must sometimes be made. If you cannot find enough drivers to cover the regular timetable then I suggest next year you do not authorise as many holidays. This is the only reason I can see, other than your own greed, that you would run such an abysmal timetable during a period where commuters must also share buses with the large number of shoppers.

It is quite clear that whoever came up with the idea of running a depleted timetable during such a busy period has no experience of using public transport every day.

It is with some interest that I note that your competitors, First Bus, are able to run to a full timetable on 22nd and 23rd of December and also run to an expanded Saturday service on 24th December. May I suggest you take note of this yourself when it comes to planning next year’s Christmas timetables?

However, I must commend you on one thing; you are providing a shining example of why public transport should be taken out of the hands of private enterprise and be put back in the hands of people with the public, and not shareholders, in mind.

I look forward to receiving your reply to this letter and hope it is of more use, and less contradictory, than your reply to my previous complaint. As before, a copy of this letter has also been sent to the GMPTE for their comment.

Yours Sincerely,

John Hyde

Let’s see what kind of response I get this time!

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