Monthly Archives: February 2008

First Great Western

The DfT finally gets the message – as we all knew passengers in the west of England have had enough with the the poor performance of First Great Western. Well the vocal ones , including the blogs “I hate First Great Western” and “More Train, Less Strain” have been pretty good at generating mainstream media interest. A more balanced view from Christian Wolmar at the end of January got my attention, as he sees clearly the DfT role in the chaos, born out of the railway structures …

While other bloggers will go to great lengths to stick the knife in one more time I have thought more about the speed of the Remedial Plan process, which doesn’t generate confidence. This should be the guarantee that if things go wrong then they are put right pretty quick, but in this case the problems are fundamental – lack of rolling stock, demotivated staff and not enough of them, a complex mix of very local and very long distance services. I have a lot of sympathy with FGW on this, but managing the key messages in the public domain has not been their strength.

Compensation is going to be complex to payout fairly (and takes much needed cash away from the system) and discounting tickets may benefit off peak travellers who haven’t taken the commuting chaos. Better communication technology is fine, but if it isn’t used because your staff don’t know or can’t say the real reasons for delays/cancellations, then the money is wasted.

Still lets see how it all looks in 6 months time, but don’t hold your breath waiting.

Maglev Bus?

From Engadget:

Japan’s world’s fastest maglev train may still be quite a few years away from becoming a reality, but it looks like the country can now brag about another slightly smaller but similarly contactless vehicle, with a new suitably futuristic bus now making its debut at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. As if that bit of technology wasn’t enough, the bus is also a hybrid vehicle, and promises a sixty percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to those old 20th century-style buses. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of other details at the moment (and what is available is subject to the wonders of machine translation), but it looks like the first bus is already in service, and covering a 4.2 kilometer area around the airport.

White elephant or emerging technology? Airports are the usual proving ground for Maglevs – enclosed environment, cash to spend. From the article I am not convinced but would like to see more 🙂

Rockstar credibility

Chrissie Hynde

Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders rides a bus to promote public transport in Akron Ohio – not surprising knowing her support for “good causes” but will be interesting to see if a trend is starting… (bus pass rockers?) its a bid to get additional funding for local buses and a Dial a Ride service.

“If you feel you have to have a car, you feel trapped,” she said, adding that people who rely only on cars “forget what it is to walk and enjoy the city.”

(even in Akron?)