One of the perks of not being in the classroom any more is the ability to take a holiday in term time. Last week I took my first term time holiday, choosing to visit the Lake District.
Not only was the holiday half the price of our usual August holiday, the Lake District was a much nicer place to be with fewer holidaymakers and empty parking spaces. I can see why parents of autistic children might need to take their children out of school in term time (although heads are divided if holidays can be authorised in these circumstances)
I can’t imagine wanting to go away in the school holidays again!
When they extended the Nottingham Tram to Toton and Clifton I was a supporter of the idea. I like the idea of catching the tram into town. You can park your car and ride in. Like the train you know where the stops are but unlike the train, you don’t need a timetable as the service runs every few minutes. I also like the fact that you can get a discount by using one of the contactless travel cards and you don’t need to queue at the machine to buy a ticket.
I don’t use the tram on a daily basis but I probably use it two or three times a month. My experience of using the tram is the reliability is rubbish and leaves much room for improvement. In the last two months, fifty percent of my journeys have been disrupted. Perhaps one reason for so much disruption due to medical emergencies is that there is only a driver on the train. The design of the network features very little redundancy and a blockage on a route soon has an impact (especially since so much of the route is shared with other traffic)
The worse thing about the delays on the line is the total ineffectiveness of the NET Tram operator to cope with it. When a train doesn’t run a replacement bus service is commissioned with the same destination. When a bus service has an issue it can be routed around the problem. When a tram doesn’t run you are told to hop on a bus and from that point on you are on your own (with no knowledge of the bus timetables, routes or bus stops)
Today I found myself at QMC hospital with a service delay. The departure board appeared to be operating a random number generator as the time to the next tram went up and down as the travellers on the platform waited anxiously for an update (there was a tiny scrolling message at the bottom of the screen but nothing to indicate it would be a problem further down the line here at QMC).
I checked the tram website but it hides the delays/updates information on a tiny bar on the homepage so I missed it. This isn’t good for a mobile site – NET pass this information to your web designers – a menu option would be handy.
Perhaps the worst thing is the social media people telling people to catch specific bus services with little other guidance. Where do these buses go? I’d just tapped my Mango card on the reader – would I have to pay twice? How could I get back to my car at the park and ride car park? Whilst the social media team ignore customer queries, they do find time to respond to positive comments left by customers (which makes you wonder why there are there?)
My faith and confidence in the tram has been further shaken and I’m not alone. Speaking to others who commute into Nottingham many of them chose to pay more and drive in because doing so is more reliable than the tram. I do hope NET manage to find a solution to their poor reliability if they are to expand and take more cars off the road.
This was my leaving gift from work. It took several hours to put together…