Over 40 comments on the post about Damory down registrations on the 347/87 & associated services, plus a couple that have spilled over elsewhere. And, confirmation has now appeared on VOSA. Except Dorset & Damory have agreed to extend the 347/87 to Easter (at no charge to Dorset, to give more time). These changes have certainly exercised people’s minds. Here’s a selection of comments:
“It was mutually beneficial for Go South Coast to run [the 347/87] as commercial for a short while. It stopped Yellow Buses getting established with a base in Dorchester and enabled DCC to claim savings from its fiasco of a super-tender”
That, as they say, is commercial life. Over the past 25 years, many an operator has done exactly this as a defensive mechanism against incursion. It isn’t quite as common as it once was though an operator with the reputation of Yellow Buses would likely provoke such a response. Not that Yellow Buses was necessarily innocent—remember that it did hesitate.
It’s risky, though, as it bleeds resources and it threatens the wrath of the tendering authority—though there’s little a LTA can do about it. We understand that Dorset council is not actually best pleased (in spite of comments on Dorset Bus to the contrary) so I am not sure that the commercialisation could ever be remotely seen as a face-saver for them.
“By the way when are Damory going to get a working website with timetables on?”
This would seem to be a flaw. There were promises of such a site but they’ve never materialised, yet. It would be nice to see everything in a proper online home. I do, however, feel that the portion of the Wilts & Dorset website dedicated to Damory is acceptable. After all, on paper, Damory’s 347/87 has always been in the W&D Poole printed booklet. The Damory web pages have a different feel to those for W&D and it is the no. 1 and no. 2 Google search results for the term “Damory” (with Damory Vets being the third. I’m sure there is a joke there had I enough time to think of it).
“The deregistrations were agreed with DCC before they were submitted”
Let’s be straight about this. A local transport authority need not agree any registerable change unless it is (a) subsidised or (b) commercial but part of an agreement. Otherwise, a LTA holds no sway. It’s the operator who has the whip hand. What the commenter means is that Damory consulted with the council in advance, giving them more notice than the statutory 56 days. This is good practice, particularly in circumstances as this, where there might be future detriment. And, remember, this is a partnership (though in this particular circumstance, possibly an unequal one).
“The best place for the timetables is actually on a single Dorset Bus site”
Absolutely. This would be a useful addition and it would help build revenue for the council. Remember that Damory does not keep the revenue. It passes to Dorset. Revenue maximisation and publicity is Dorset’s responsibility. There is a link from the front page of Dorsetforyou (the Dorset councils’ website) to a timetable page where visitors can download the Dorset timetable booklets. I like the idea of complete books being available but individual timetables would be a good option, too. It also would’ve helped the traveller who commented that they tried to get information ahead of a visit but “In the end I gave up and used my car to travel the delightful back lanes of Shaftesbury”. (And I have to say, whether by bus or by car, this is England at its best).
“As a user, more importantly, are the tickets inter-changeable? There is no information as far as I am aware on the W&D website”
This is unfortunate but then again, Damory is at the behest of the LTA. It’s also difficult to get this information and drivers don’t always know the full facts. Remember, though, that the Damory service is somewhat geographically disparate and doesn’t function as a unified network in quite the way that W&D’s two halves do. And, from Easter, unless Damory wins stuff back, it will be even more fragmented.
“The Dorset book gives www.damorycoaches.co.uk, which has since disappeared”
This is also unfortunate. At the least, it should be possible for the damorycoaches.co.uk domain to point to the Damory part of the W&D website. The domain name registration runs out in February 2013. Wouldn’t that solve any problems? The trouble is that damorycoaches is something of a misnomer these days. Damory is far less a coach proprietor than an operator of local bus services and schools.
It’s interesting that the domain damory.com is actually registered through a registrant with the name Go Daddy (presumably *not* part of the Go Ahead Group, though you never know).
“Perhaps Poole-Dorchester is going to be a bit like Southampton-Ringwood”
We’ll have to see but it certainly has the potential to be. It’s also possible that Dorset will tender it (almost) as is… and that Damory might win it back. Stranger things have happened. In reality, though, my guess is that Dorset will necessarily have to chop the service a bit to fit it within the boundaries of its budget. Let’s see if I’m right.
“The company running the service doesn’t give two hoots about any new passengers because they don't retain the revenue (it returns to DCC) so if they carry one person a month or fifty a day it’s no skin off their nose. Hence the lack of service info both on the web and on the roadside”
“All Damory has to do is run the bus; the fewer passengers it stops to pick up, the less fuel it uses, and the more profit Damory makes”
I’ve previously tackled this type of situation. A number of urban LTAs already tender on the basis that revenue accrues to them and not the operator. There is no problem with this but an LTA will need to maximise its publicity to make the best of revenue. With Damory, it’s the council taking the risk. And they will have to make sure the operator declares the total revenue correctly—and runs all its journeys.
I personally don’t subscribe to the view that an operator who passes revenue to a LTA couldn’t care less about a service. If, through poor performance, passenger numbers decline, then it isn’t the operator’s *immediate* problem… till retender, when the LTA may be forced to cut the service and therefore cut the operator’s resources required. Or, remove the operator from the tender list altogether. It therefore isn’t in anyone’s long-term interest to adopt a careless attitude and, personally speaking, I see no evidence of Damory doing this.