Okay – it came to me that I never got round to finishing the review, which was started here. Sorry! Since the first part of the review was done, some of the books were reissued for minor tweaks to Service 7 in the Autumn, but now all the 11 books have been reissued once more from January, which ties in with their recent service changes. I particularly like the 77 (what replaced the 39 in Fife after just two months!) being included into the North East Fife guide, together with a brand new Cupar town bus map. As well as these, the list of points served by each bus changes to show them in the order served (was alphabetical), alongside adding the connections on the 41 to/from Leven to the North East Fife guide too. The new guides get rid of some gremlins too!
We still have to review the Express Guides. There are six of these. I’ll do the Edinburgh and Glasgow ones first, and then onto Dundee, Perth, Livingston and Edinburgh Airport.
So… first of all… Edinburgh Express Guide. (Upon being reissued, the top band has been changed to include service numbers – once again very useful.) The most recent issue, 3rd January 2017, has 56 pages. The Express Guides are all what is dubbed “slimline” in the south, or 1/3 A4 to be technical, or indeed DL (usually an envelope size). This carries all the X-series Edinburgh express services, but the Airport and Livingston are in their own guide (as is the 40 Queensferry service). The books have a large amount of information on the service changes, as well as ticketing ideas. Information included also mentions the Park & Ride facilities. There are separate panels (split over two pages) so that the book reads upright. Separate timetables are included for the X54/X59, X55 (includes X56 and 55), and X58/X60. The last two double page spreads consist of summaries of connectional facilities for those in Aberdour, Burntisland and Kinghorn, where it is recommended they change from X58/X60 to 7 at Inverkeithing or Dalgety Bay. The centre spread includes the aforementioned Express City Connect map, and a blow-up of city centre bus stops. Most recent issue is dated 3rd January 2017, which would be the third after August and October.
For passengers who usually use their Express services to Glasgow, the Glasgow Express Guide covers both Glasgow and Glasgow Airport. 40 pages crams in a lot of information, but only includes East Scotland services in these areas. Mention is made of the extension of Service X24 to Glasgow Airport, although the more recent edition has information on the January changes instead. The book comprises similarly-formed panels of timetables for Services X24 and Service X27. After this there is a summary timetable of the combined 20 minute service from Halbeath p&r/Dunfermline to Glasgow, which I found useful when it was in a separate guide. An Express map is in the middle pages, following which is a stops plan at Glasgow Airport and Glasgow City Centre. Most recent issue is dated 3rd January 2017, which would be the second after August.
While it is possible to make every journey using the five A5 (and Edinburgh/Glasgow Express) guides, there are a further four, packed with more locally relevant information. Dundee Express Guide is 44 pages of information, tailored to suit the Dundonian. The second edition has the cover strip revised to include service numbers, but these show X7, X54 and X55, instead of X53 in lieu of the latter. The timetables for X7 and X54 show only journeys serving Dundee, as well as the full X53 timetable (similar to that shown in the Glenrothes, North Fife and Kirkcaldy guides). There is a composite Glenrothes/Cupar – Dundee summary timetable, showing the two buses an hour now offered. More interesting is a summary of all Stagecoach buses between Dundee and Ninewells Hospital, together with a service frequency chart of all other Stagecoach services in the City. The map in the centre is the Express map, together with an Edinburgh and Dundee City Centre blow ups. However the Dundee map does incorrectly show the X53 running the full length of Perth Road, which should show Westport and Hawkhill as with the X7. Most recent issue is dated 3rd January 2017, which would be the second after August.
In a similar vein to the Dundee one, is Perth Express Guide. This doesn’t have the list of other services, as that is covered by the Perth City Guide. However, it does give more than justice to all the Perth services on the X7 and the X55, in it’s 36 pages. There are two further summary timetables – Edinburgh Airport to Perth (change from 747 to X55 at Halbeath Park & Ride), and to show connections from Perth to Kirkcaldy and Leven (changing from X27 to X55 at Halbeath). Centre spread shows the Express map, together with an Edinburgh city centre blow up. The last two pages feature a blow up of the stops in Perth, in the city centre and further out. Most recent issue is dated 3rd January 2017, which would be the second after August.
Service X51 from Dunfermline to Livingston is featured in the Dunfermline & West Fife guide in full, taking up one A5 page. However, there is also Livingston Express Guide to show off more about places to go. The guide is 16 pages, including details of tickets, and a regular Service X51 timetable. You will also find a complete route map for Service X51 (no stopping arrangements as it is actually all stops now), plus summary timetables for connections from Kirkcaldy (change from X58 to X51 at Ferrytoll Park & Ride), and Glenrothes (similar but X54/X59 to X51). The Express map is added over the last two pages. Most recent issue is dated 15th August 2016 with updated connections from 3rd January 2017, which would be the second after August.
A similar situation existis with the last title to be reviewed – Edinburgh Airport Guide. While Service 747 (Dunfermline/Halbeath – Edinburgh Airport) takes up three A5 pages in the Dunfermline & West Fife guide, this one takes things a little further. Mention is made of the improvements to Service 747 last year, including newer buses, free WiFi, and a 24 hour a day service. The plain 747 timetable takes up two double pages, and the rest is used for Summary timetables. There is an interesting one for Dunfermline to Edinburgh Airport (changing from 19/19A to 747 at Halbeath, as the daytime buses don’t come into the town centre). There are more summaries, including Dundee to Edinburgh Airport (change from X54 to 747 at Halbeath P&R), St Andrews/Glenrothes to Edinburgh Airport (change from X59 or X54 to 747 at Halbeath), plus the Perth summary mentioned in the Perth guide. Finally there is a Leven/Kirkcaldy/Dalgety Bay to Edinburgh Airport summary (changing from X58/X60 to 747 at Ferrytoll). The final two pages have the Express network map, with a blow-up of stops for the 747 at Ingliston, Ratho, Newbridge and Edinburgh Airport. Most recent issue is dated 15th August 2016 with updated connections from 3rd January 2017, which would be the second after August.
These guides have also gone down well with the travelling public, I was told. It does prove that quality information in one place – our tag line or not! – does get appreciated. The various connection summaries remind me of similar which appeared in previous Stagecoach Express guides done by Fife. It was possible to travel not just down the line of one route, but also following connections. Some of the interesting ones were Cumbernauld – Dunfermline – Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy – Dunfermline – Glasgow, and many more like showing X24 and X59 also connected at Glenrothes. This information was presumably important in building the brand in the mid 1990’s, and I was surprised then. If these books generate any more traffic and sales (even just occasionally), isn’t it worth the time? These books give a much better information value, than a simple photocopied timetable sheet!