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?

Categories: Rant, stagecoach Tags:

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,

Categories: Rant, stagecoach Tags:


May 21st, 2009 tj 1 comment

I’ve found myself with a spare evening so I thought I’d finally get around to updating you all about my travels, even though I’m sure most of you have already seen the photos on Facebook.

First up was Beijing.  I stayed there for 3 nights and if I could only use one word to describe it that word would have to be ‘massive’.  Honestly, the scale of the place is absolutely mind-boggling.  Everything is huge.  The buildings, the sprawl.. everything!  After visiting a little restaurant down a back alley on the first night we went the train station the day after to get some tickets and then had a wander around a tiny part of the city and ended up in the national art gallery, where there was a Turner exhibition on with loads of paintings on loan from the Tate!

The next day was the Great Wall of China.  We ended up going to Badaling, which is the most reconstructed and touristy bit of the wall, but it still didn’t dissapoint.  Again, the scale of the thing is amazing.  You can see it snaking on along ridges for as far as the eye can see.  Also, if you ever go yourself be prepared to be asked countless times to pose for photos with Chinese folk.  They love taking photos of Westerners!  AAnd that goes for everywhere, not just at the Great Wall.  I lost count of how many times I posed for photos.

Next up after that was the Forbidden City, which is the old Imperial Palace.  I know I keep saying this, but again, it’s massive!  Close to 10,000 rooms, loads of huge open courtyards.  Very ornate as well.

Then after a 15 hour train journey we reached Xi’an, the ancient capital, surrounded by big walls.  There we saw some gorgeous temples and pagodas and spent a nice relaxing afternoon in the gardens of a Buddhist temple (before trekking round in the boiling heat trying to find somewhere to eat, ending up in a place where the waiter could barely understand what we wanted.  Very frustrating!).  It’s from Xi’an that we went to visit the Terracotta Army, which was an awesome sight.  Line upon line of life sized terracotta figures, all stood to attention.  Words can’t do it justice really, especially not in a brief summary like this!  Xi’an also brought what was possibly the silliest moment of the trip, but still brilliant.  Due to a mix up and a bit of bad planning we each ended up lugging our entire possessions (getting on for 20kg) half way up a mountain and back down again in the pissing rain.  Well worth it for the spectacular views though.  I also met a Chinese guy half way up who started talking about United!

Then a 22 hour train journey to Hangzhou.  That was a killer!  Hangzhou itself is a lovely place though.  Really relaxed vibe in parts of it, and there’s a massive, and beautiful, lake right next to the city.  We didn’t do as much here as we did in Beijing and Xi’an, which was a welcome break really.  We visited Longjing to see the tea village there and ended up having a cup of tea and something to eat in what was basically some old woman’s front yard.  And then we went for a wander around what appeared to be a Chinese national park.  Not quite like one of our own though.  All rebuilt houses and roads through the scenery.  Still, it was nice enough!  We also ended up in a jazz bar one night, which was expensive compared to the rest of the places we’d been to, but it was a tad more civilised I must say!

And then back to Beijing for one last day, when I finally got to enter Tiananmen Square, which, surprisingly enough, is massive!  I could have gone to see Mao’s body as well, but the queue was huge and I’d been told it’s not really worth the wait, so I didn’t bother.

And then home again!

And for any of you who are interested, here are the links to some photos…

Beijing and the art gallery
The Great Wall
Beijing and the Forbidden City
The Terracotta Army
Hua Shan
Tea village and countryside outside Hangzhou
West Lake, Hangzhou
Beijing again

And there you have it!

Categories: China Tags:

May 2nd, 2009 tj No comments

Gone to China.

Back in two weeks.


Categories: China Tags:

Five word film reviews

March 5th, 2009 tj No comments

I’ve added a new, and slightly whimsical, page to the site…

Five word film reviews

Check it out!

Categories: Films Tags:

Following on…

February 25th, 2009 tj No comments

…from my last post, here’s a video of Ben Goldacre on Newsnight doing a fine job of questioning the ‘scientist’ that wrote the ‘paper’ about social networking and it’s affects on health…

And here’s a fantastic article from the aforementioned Mr Goldacre.

Is it me, or is it very disheartening to hear the Director of the Royal Institution (for so long a bastion of reason and scientific endeavour) using the phrase “There is no evidence…” If there’s no evidence do you not think it might be best to stay quiet instead of shouting from the rooftops?

And for Dr Sigman to state that his ‘paper’, entitled “Well connected? The biological implications of social networking”, was “not about social networking” was just the icing on the cake really.

Having said all that, Goldacre and Paxman do a good job of pouring scorn on the whole thing.

Now if only that happened more often. One things for certain, if it did happen more often the Daily Mail and Express would be a lot thinner!

Categories: Rant Tags: , , ,

God bless the Daily Mail

February 19th, 2009 tj 3 comments

They’ve really outdone themselves this time!

Facebook causes cancer

It’s almost too good to be true.  I had to double check that I’d not been tricked into visiting a spoof site.  The only thing that’s missing is a link to falling house prices.

Categories: Rant Tags: , , ,

Elbow with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Chantage

February 8th, 2009 tj No comments

It’s disappeared from BBC Interactive and iPlayer now, so if you didn’t see it you’re too late.

But, because I’m kind to you, here are a couple of videos to show you what you missed out on…

If you missed it I urge you strongly to seek it out somewhere.  It’s awesome stuff.

Categories: music Tags: ,

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!

Categories: Rant, stagecoach Tags: , ,

Billy Bragg

November 26th, 2008 tj No comments

I went to see Billy Bragg last night.  At the Bridgewater Hall of all places!  It was a really good night.  The setlist was brilliant too.  I can’t think of many songs that he didn’t play that I wish he had, apart from maybe Tank Park Salute (though I’d probably have cried like a baby) and Help Save The Youth Of America, but you can’t have everything!

We did get The World Turned Upside Down, A New England, Waiting for the Greap Leap Forwards, Levi Stubbs’ Tears, Accident Waiting To Happen, There Is Power In A Union, NPWA, The Milkman of Human Kindness, Greetings To The New Brunette… (and that’s just mentioning my favourite songs!)

And as a little treat, what with being in Manchester, he got Badly Drawn Boy out to play Walk Away Renee.

And if you’re bothered, here are a couple of vids…

Categories: Gigs, music Tags: , , ,