Friday, 13 January 2017

What is there to disagree with? and what's missing!



I saw this yesterday and I liked it. If only the Labour Party could be as succinct about where it stands on all these issues. The only thing which disappoints is the fact that there is no mention of housing, which has always been my top issue.

Hail the Beeston Bramcote Buggy Bus (mobility scooters too) – rethinking community transport

Click on map to enlarge.

'Community buses' are not a new idea. They have been around for ages, some succeeded, others failed, but, as far as I know, the idea has yet to be tried in Beeston and Bramcote.

A community bus should not be confused with local council subsidised routes like Nottingham City Council's L10 and L11 routes, which serve part of the area covered by the above map and the County Council's subsidised routes 510 and 536. Why? Because they serve fixed routes and have timetables. Community buses are hail and ride services, with the flexibility to be door-to-door.

If you question their feasibility, then also ask why Uber are investing in such networks? 

Here are a couple of links to press reports:

Uber launches… a very small bus (The Guardian).

Uberville… one small town at a time (The Verge).

From the latter report this wonderful illustration:



A Beeston Bramcote Buggy Bus would not be cheaper than existing bus routes, but it would be more flexible in terms of it goes and frequency. I see this as a daily 8am–10pm community bus, in time it could start earlier and finish later. It could pick up outside schools in the morning and then drop parents off mid-afternoon when schools close. It might have to serve schools on a rota system at first with a fixed pick up/drop off point in Beeston (the Interchange and Lace Street behind The Cricketers pub on Wollaton Road).

There would also be room for mobility scooters on these little buses. Living in Lenton I used the little L5 Nottingham City Council LocalLink service. A small, comfortable flat-floored bus a bit like Dr Who's Tardis. Very roomy on the inside. If you re-arranged the seats Underground train style and they were all fold-up you could probably get six buggies onto one of these little Optare Alero buses (they date from 2009, so there are more modern versions now).



Anyone who remembers what is what like to use a bus in Beeston twenty years ago will know that Trent-Barton buses used to run along Abbey Road and Central Avenue. It was only with the coming of the tram that Imperial Road lost its bus terminus bay, then there was the wonderfully numbered 2000 which served Beeston Marina, Wollaton Road before headin off to Stapleford and sandiacre. The 1997 County Council bus map below shows twenty-two bus routes serving Beeston! Now there are ten and with the Y36 being withdrawn of 12 February, there will be nine Bus routes plus the tram.


The world of local public transport is about to change beyond recognition and the people of Beeston can either let companies like Uber take over or they can make sure that they have a community bus network which keeps the money local.

Seems to me this is the way forward for community transport in towns like Beeston is to bring buses and taxis together to form a flexible, but no more expensive, network in which you pay a premium to have a taxis to yourself and pay less if you are willing to share.

The Knoxville, Texas, approach seems sensible. You cap journey charges in overlapping designated areas and as you move into another area or across it you pay a further, albeit lower, charge.

It doesn't have to be Uber calling the shots, but they will if bus operators and local communities and their councils don't start working together!

To understand the economics of all this, simply read the article in The Verge about what is happening in one small town in America. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

My very first Beeston Cafes map lost and found, and how it's progressed

Until yesterday I thought I had lost this map. It was my very first attempt at a Beeston Cafes Map, prompted by the fact that a few members of the Beeston WEA Writing Class I then attended had got in the habit of having coffee and a sandwich together after the Thursday morning class.

As we increased in number, so we needed to move cafes and it was this which led to map, inspired by my love of bus maps and the fact that growing up in Wembley, the first map I learned to read was the London Transport Underground map.



It quickly morphed into a class flyer...

I left the class at the end of 2013 because Susan and I had decided them time had come for us to downsize from our large Victorian-semi in Lenton to something smaller in Chilwell or Beeston. I then changed the orientation of the map for another leaflet.

I then created an extended version of the map...

...and another.


There was no master plan or vision. I just kept tweeking the map. The next extension was the inclusion of Chilwell's Creative Corner at the High Road's junction with Cator Lane after I met Gary and Gail, the owners.


By now I was on a 9th version of the map and wanted to pull Beeston Lock onto the map so I could draw attention to the Beeston Canalside Heritage Centre project (which, at this point, still had to receive 2nd stage Lottery funding). Matt Turpin of The Beestonian also spoke about pulling the University into Beeston and Judy Sleath, the Chairman of Beeston Civic Society asked me if I could include blue plaque locations, so another, large version of the map came into being. It went from A4 to A3 and Judy funded the printing of 500 copies.


A 2015 Heritage Open Days version followed with Judy printing another 500 a month before the HODs.


A number of versions of this layout have subsequently been produced, but I always had in my head to create a vertical version because it would be easier to read and adapt, which is how a few months ago I arrived at this...

It hasn't taken me long to adapt this version, so that I could extend the map in the top left-hand corner...

As anyone who looks at this blog regularly will know I have created three versions of this map: the 'master' aimed at students, a 'heritage' version and a 'Beeston Nights' version, all of which can be found in the right-hand column. It has taken me three-and-a-half years to get this far and I have enjoyed creating the maps. Looking back, it is something I have been doing all my life, with my first map being published in 1976. Somewhere I have a copy.

All the maps have reverse text sides, the A3 ones with a Beeston Bus Map showing all the places you can reach by bus from Beeston (over a hundred). Again, you can find the latest version of the bus map in the right-hand column.

Anyway, that's it for now, all prompted by finding my very first Beeston Underground style map (which I had filed away on my computer in a directory labelled Beeston Writers).

Monday, 2 January 2017

A Nottingham City Centre Pocket Map two years on

This map dates from April 2014 and was printed as a hand-out to accompany my 35 History By Bus map and day. Afterwards I parked it, intending to re-work it when I got the opportunity. Looking at it nearly two years later it has stood the test time well and I already have ideas on how I can improve the map, which I see as a post-op project.

I have placed a copy, together with a list of the 60 locations shown on the map, in the right-hand column. To see see the map more clearly, click to enlarge.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Beeston vertical maps get their own links

I have added the two vertical maps of Beston which I have as good as completed insomuch as they will need to be regularly updated to keep pace with changes as and when they occur. Over the next few months I am sure the maps will not be updated as regularly as I would like them to be, but my last post explains why this is likely to happen. I hope you find the maps of interest. 

You will find links to them at the top of the column to the right. Just click on them to open.

Below is a section from the Beeston (vertical) Heritage map.



Friday, 30 December 2016

Home-made maps, writing and a garden – 2017 looks good

2017 will be a big year for me. One of the biggest ever in fact. I'm seventy-two years old and counting. Open heart surgery promised by my surgeon for 'January' and my life depends on it, so that makes January pretty big in the order of things!

It's also odd finding out that you were born with a congenital heart condition and have managed to survive so long. Others with the same condition have been less lucky, whilst others live longer than me without knowing. In the order of things I am one lucky bunny!

Me aged 2 getting in the habit.

Had I not cut the grass in April 2015 at our new home in Beeston for the first time, I would not have found out that I had a condition known as fibrosis of the lungs (I did a post about finding out on 20 May 2015). My first visit to the City Hospital led to the doctor I saw asking me 'How long have you had a heart condition?' to which I replied 'What condition?' 

This set off a whole load of parallel tests and scans, which resulted in a visit to the Cardiology Unit at the City Hospital in August 2015 to be told that, at some point, I would need open heart surgery, but at first they would monitor me for six months, as I had no symptoms. I was walking as normal, pulling a loaded shopping trolley up Wollaton Road a couple of times a week. All this at the same time as my lungs were being monitored. My lungs were assessed as having '90% normal normalcy' and that has remained the case after another summer of tests and scans. 

My wonderful thoracic doctor decided I was OK for heart surgery and this led to another visit to Cardiology and another summer of scans (including 45 minutes in the large MRI scanner at the QMC during which I fell asleep twice) and procedures, during which they discovered that my aortic heart valve has two cusps instead of three (a condition I share with 1–2% of people), which has resulted in me being diagnosed with 'severe aortic stenosis'. It has now reached the point where I can no longer pull my shopping trolley when full and whilst I can still walk some distance on the flat, I can no longer manage hills without becoming breathless. I did think this was a symptom of my lung fibrosis, but the hospital told me it was my heart.

For some months now I have described myself as 'a half-day person', pacing how much I do. I tire easily and sleep a lot more, but on the plus side not a week passes by without lunch with friends, four of whom go back to my Wembley days, where I grew up, whilst others came into my life in the 1970s and 80s, then there's family and grown-up grandchildren. Lunch on Thursday (yesterday) with one of them, talking politics and history. Life doesn't get much better. I am surrounded by love and is yet another reason to consider myself one lucky bunny.

Topping it all is Susan, who came out of nowhere in 1975 to take my heart and life by storm. We took off like a rocket and were planning our future together within a couple of days.

The last eighteen months have made me think about life, and I have decided that my post-op world will be occupied by my maps, writing, gardening, delivering for the Labour Party, and friends. Family are a given  

I tell you all this because this blog will become a different beast from 1 January 2017. It will be home to my Beeston maps and related bus maps, plus a link to my writing. I really have enjoyed the blog, but life is moving on.

Happy with the me I am.

Robert Howard.








Saturday, 24 December 2016

YourBus to ditch Y36 in February

Last month I posted a blog asking how long it would be before the Y36 was withdrawn by Yourbus?

Yesterday I got my answer from the Nottinghamshire County Council webpage which publishes a monthly list of forthcoming changes to bus servives in the county. YourBus are withdrawing the Y36 as from 12 February 2017 and introducing a 'revised route' for their Y5 service from the same date. I suspect the change will be through Beeston. As yet there are no details of how the route will be 'revised'.


There can be no doubt that the arrival of the Y36 in 2010 made both Nottingham City Transport and Trent-Barton improve their services, especially in the case of the former (remember the often overcrowded single-deckers which we used to have on the 36?). We will have to wait a few weeks to find out how the going of the Y36 will effect the Y5 and, in time the 36 and Indigo services through Beeston.

I believe urban public transport services should be frequent and operate every day of the year. Rural services should run at least hourly. If you want people to use public transport it has to reliable, frequent, modern, cheap and if you make a profit doing this, then you should regard it as a bonus.

I will be sorry to see the end of the Y36 because YourBus has made a big contribution to the fact that we enjoy good bus services in Lenton, Beeston and Chilwell.