Readifare is Go - Almost!
Reading Buses are getting ready to introduce the first phase of their exact fare system on Monday. Overnight the entire Reading Buses fleet has had Readifare stickers added to the front and sides. There are a few vehicles where the front sticker was placed inside on the front dash; 723, 902, 929, 931, 944, 945, 947, and 949 being noted. 457 had its applied on the outside and so is now even more multicoloured than before! Apart from these oddities each vehicle type appeared to have had the Readifare details added in the same locations.
In addition to the notices and leaflets on the vehicles, a group of four people armed with leaflets hit the streets around the town centre this afternoon to tell passengers about the new system. One from the group had come from Birmingham, where exact fares have been operated for a number of years. It was a fun moment when one of the helpers at the station noticed the driver that is featured on the front of the new Readifare leaflet driving one of the Deltas on route 12. He made his way across the road and hopped aboard to tell all the passengers about the new system, and presumably to point out the face on the leaflet! Otherwise the helpers were just explaining things to the people whilst they were waiting at bus stops.
FastTracking no more!
The first of Reading's displaced FastTrack Excels was in service today. It seems that this batch will also notable because they will be the first Excels wearing the simplified LowRider livery first used on the low floor Spectras. Previous Excels (notably 946-60) have appeared without the "Roll On, Roll Off" blurb below the green stripe, but this is the first without "Here comes the" in the maroon band above the windows.
913, seen today on route 7 at Reading Station, is also the first vehicle with Readifare notices showing on the outside of the vehicle, one attached just above the right headlight and the other in the side window.
Readifare - Travelcards
In connection with the introduction of Readifare a new range of driver issued Travelcards will be made available from 30-09-02. Each will be valid for 8 days rather than a week to allow prices to be rounded up to values requiring fewer coins. They are summarised below:
All of the other Travelcards and Day Tickets remain unchanged, and a weekly (7 day) Travelcard will still be available from the Travelshop for the old price of £8.50.
A range of stored value Smart Cards will be introduced in the autumn.
Thames Travel takeover Route I
Thames Travel have taken over former Chiltern Queens Route I to Woodcote. It seems that technically the service was on hire from Thames Travel to Chiltern Queens (under the control of Horseman) until the end of September after Thames Travel took over all of the other CQ bus routes last month.
Former Chiltern Queens East Lancs W992 BDP was operating the route today, but below we see native Thames Travel V270 BNV which was operating the route yesterday:
The regular vehicle over the last month or so, Dart KP51 SXU has been in use with Horseman this week on a schools contract because they have a driver (probably ex Chiltern Queens) with only with an automatic licensee. The bus will eventually pass to Thames Travel.
Thanks to Mac Head for passing on this update.
Reading Buses have announced the dates for the introduction of their exact fare policy - Readifare. The network is to be converted in three stages:
The hoppers, fitted to every bus will accept bank notes as well as coins (although coins are be preferred), notes should be shown unfolded to the driver before folding once and placed in the hopper. The special NightTrack tickets can also be deposited. Some on-street ticket machines will be put on trial in another attempt to speed up boarding (it is not yet clear whether these machines will give change or not), and the introduction of Smart Cards is on the horizon.
It is interesting to compare this system to that used by a large, established 'no change' operator - Travel West Midlands. The TWM system only allows the use of coins (there isn't really the need for notes because weekly tickets etc aren't available from the driver, only a £2/£2.50/£4 DaySaver) and their fare scale is much more complicated. For a start they don't have a simple zonal system like Reading, making it harder to calculate your fare before boarding, and then there are also a large number of possible fares. The values are more awkward and mostly require a number of coins unlike Reading's which only require one or two. The child fares are exactly half, and although cheaper than the two thirds Reading charge they do mean under 16s regularly have to find all the change required for a 42p or 47p etc. Thats not all with TWM fares though, they also have a maximum off peak fare, which for most people means the fare is different depending on the time of day. This adds to the confusion of finding the right change, and the system definitely acts to put people off using the bus.
The new system in Reading seems to have been well thought through, and implementation is taking place in a very positive manner. Hopefully the scheme will prove to be a success, especially if the aim of reducing boarding times and attacks on drivers and is met. The use of a simplified fare scale has been shown to have great potential by Brighton and Hove who experienced steady passenger growth after they introduced a flat £1 fare for any journey, and apparently Reading are aiming for something similar in about three years time.
New look for Loddon Bridge FastTrack
The first bus in a new look fleet for the Loddon Bridge Park and Ride "FastTrack" service entered service for the first time today. The contract for the service was recently retained by Reading Transport after the initial five year contract came to an end. The Loddon Bridge FastTrack was the first of the Reading Borough Council sponsored "Track" services, and has always been very popular with visitors to the town centre. Newer T-registered buses will replace the current P-registered buses in an altered livery which uses pale green in the areas which previously were grey.
932 in the town centre today, its first day in service wearing the new livery.
October Bus Service Changes
There have been a few articles in the press relating to the forthcoming changes, the full details of which have still not been announced. Here are links to some of them:
And an unrelated news item I also came across:
Reading Service Changes Due
As details come to light about the major service revision that has been in the pipeline since a number of Reading routes were withdrawn in March 2002 come to light they will be added here. Here is a summary of what is known or assumed so far:
Partial details of major service changes commencing 28-10-02: