In praise of the X53

For the opening credits to our mini road-trip, you should hear John William’s rousing film music to Jurassic Park, but I haven’t quite worked out how to do that yet!

What First seem to have worked out though, is how to run a successful bus route! And I think that’s worth celebrating.

Sure, they’ve got a big advantage – some of the most stunning coastline in the world: the World Heritage Jurassic Coast of Dorset. Tourists are going to want to see that, right? Sure.

But there are all sorts of places there; from pretty little villages, through thriving market towns to larger conurbations.  There were a good proportion of people who were using the service to go about their business.

However.  First were also doing several things absolutely right:

  • They were offering a frequent, regular service, when people wanted to travel: hourly, starting early, and going on into the evening.
  • They used modern, comfortable, clean busses.
  • They published exactly where the bus was going to actually on the Bus Stop (one of the most worrying things about using a new service is wondering if you’re going in the right direction,  and where the bus is going to end up)
  • The drivers, to a man, were all polite and all friendly.  I know I’m turning into Mary Portas at this point,  but this is so important that you have to wonder why the detail isn’t taken into account everywhere, at all times.
  • Courtesy.  Not only did the drivers smile and exchange pleasantries, they waited until passengers were seated before taking off – especially important if you’re trying to negotiate stairs with youngsters, or if you aren’t as young or able as you once were.
  • But above all, the ticket price was attractive – a one day travel ticket – go anywhere in Dorset – was £7.50. Unbelievably good value. They’ve obviously worked out the economics of balance – a full bus of passengers paying £7.50 pays more than a few passengers paying more.

So okay.  Not every service has the advantages that the X53 has.  But they could all learn from the things First was getting right.


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