Newest Review: ... that there are a huge number of stop bells, no more wobbly walking down the bus to press the bell! Western Greyhound have both double dec... more
I'm glad I can drive myself around now!
Member Name: cornishchic
Advantages: Needed in Cornwall
Disadvantages: Drivers are ignorant, impatient, impolite - some buses need replacing
I only learnt to drive last year, before then I was a regular on the Western Greyhound buses, catching at least two a week and when I was working, catching two almost everyday. I live in a small village and getting anywhere outside the village meant having to catch a bus. There are two bus companies that occupy Cornwall, First and Western Greyhound.
Western Greyhound never used to really be a contender 10 years ago, but now I see more Western Greyhound buses. First don't even run through my village anymore! Western Greyhound buses really are the only way to get around in Cornwall if you don't drive.
----- Where do the buses go? -----
The Western Greyhound network currently serve the majority of Cornwall, they also have a couple of routes that will take you over the Devon border and one route will take you all the way to Devon.
Most of the main routes are for central Cornwall covering areas between Newquay, Truro, St.Austell and Bodmin. A few routes can take you to the West of Cornwall, Penzance, Hayle, for example. There are also a few routes for Wadebridge and Looe.
Western Greyhound is the only bus company that serve Newquay Airport. They have regular buses going to and from the airport. However, despite being an airport bus, they still use the same buses as they do for any other route, meaning once you have a few people and their luggage on board, there is little room for anyone or anything else. Perhaps, they could use a double Decker for the airport route, just for that little extra room.
----- What are the buses like? -----
In the last couple of years the buses that Western Greyhound use have improved a little. Before then, 75% of the buses were old stage coach buses with big seats, old fashioned, dirty seat covers, one stop bell on the whole entire bus and steps to board the bus. I always remember waiting at the bus stop, dreading one of these buses turning up, whenever they did I would be sure to sit towards the front of the bus near the stop bell. It was a nightmare having to try and make your way to the front of the bus to press the bell if you were sitting towards the back of the bus.
However, the last couple of years have seen a huge increase in modern buses. These newer buses are wheelchair and pushchair friendly as there are no steps to board and dedicated space with pull down seats to place the wheelchair. The best thing about these buses is that there are a huge number of stop bells, no more wobbly walking down the bus to press the bell!
Western Greyhound have both double decker and normal single decker buses. I have never been a passenger on one of their double deckers so I can't really comment on them. One thing I would say is that during the summer months the double deckers need to be used on the most popular routes. I was late for work on a number of occasions as the bus was full by time it got to my stop for me to get on, it wasn't even near the end of the route, it was a couple of stops after the start of the route so I wouldn't have been the only disappointed one trying to get on.
----- Fares -----
There are a variety of different tickets available to purchase from Western Greyhound. From the regular one way or return tickets to weekly and season tickets.
A standard day return ticket isn't that much cheaper than getting two single tickets. I return from St.Austell to Newquay costs around the £6.50 mark. It used to cost me almost £6.50 when I used to go to work a few times a week, I'd have to work over an hour just to make up the cost of travelling to and from work!
They do offer a weekly ticket, this is valid for journeys between two destinations. The price for this is usually four times the price of one day. This makes it only worth buying if you are going to be doing the same journey five days a week.
For people who enjoy catching buses (with poor service!) there is a day explorer ticket available to purchase, this costs £8.50 for adults or £5.50 for children. If you are considering going to two different places in one day, I would imagine this would work out cheaper than getting day returns.
Western Greyhound sell children tickets, I have no idea how much these are as this is for children between the ages of 5 and 15. I think the lower age limit on this ticket is fantastic, most places it's usually 3 years.
----- Travelling to attractions -----
Western greyhound work in conjunction without of attractions around Cornwall. Offering discount entries to a variety of places by travelling by bus. Just show your ticket when you enter the attraction and they should give some discount.
Some of the more popular places that offer this are: Eden project, save £4. Blue reef aquarium, save £1. Dairyland, save £1.50. Newquay zoo, save £1.
This saving could work out quite well, you don't have to worry about petrol or parking costs and you get some discount on entry. You just have to work out with the bus price, whether it actually works out cheaper. Of course, it's good for the planet also.
---- What's the service like? -----
I suppose I better elaborate! As said previously, I was occasionally late for work as the bus was full before I could get on. The bus driver did nothing, I would stand at the bottom of the steps and they would simply look at me and shrug. I asked if another bus would be following but that was never the case. I would have to wait for the next bus... which was always an hour later!
As I got the bus to and from work, I would often catch the last bus back at the end of my shift. It was easy to tell that it must have been the drivers last route, they would often try and get you on the bus as quick as possible, not even checking my return ticket to make sure it was valid. On one particular occasion after finishing work, I got on the bus like normal and as it was pretty much full, I had to make my way towards the back on the bus to get a seat. Cue the driver pulling off in a hurry and turning the corner straight after the stop with speed. As the bus turned the corner I was already spinning around to sit down and ended up dislocating my knee! I gritted my teeth through the 45 minute journey, then hopped down the bus and told the driver he should learn to kill the speed as he was pulling off. To be fair, he did offer to ring an ambulance for me and took my details. I refused the ambulance and got my mum to pick me up from the bus stop. A lady from Western Greyhound then rang me to apologise. The phone call was a nice touch, however, the accident shouldn't have happened in the first place.
After the accident I had no other choice than to continue using the bus company. It certainly opened my eyes to drivers pulling off when people are still trying to find a seat. I had witnessed elderly people almost falling when the drivers pull off. I know they have a schedule to keep, but 20 seconds to let someone elderly find a seat isn't hard, in my opinion.
After having my daughter I used the bus for a totally different reason, to get out and visit friends and family or to go shopping. I avoided the bus when using a travel system just in case one of the older style buses came along. Then when my daughter was old enough to use an umbrella fold pushchair I began using the buses again. It was sods law that all the modern buses seemed to have disappeared every time I wanted to get on the bus. As soon as I seen the old style bus approaching the bus stop I would begin taking bags off the handles and taking my daughter out of the pushchair so I could fold it. That was a huge task in itself with only two hands. Then the part where I had to carry my daughter, the bags and the pushchair up the three steps on to the bus. The driver, 9 times out of 10, would just sit there in his seat staring down the steps watching my struggle, trying to juggle all of the items and get up onto the bus. It would have been quicker had the drivers quickly come down the steps to help carry something on.
Another incident that sticks in my mind was when I was going on a shopping trip with my Nan. We was waiting at the bus/train station in St.Austell to get on a bus to Truro. There was one bus sat in the station with Bodmin on the front, it got to the time our bus was meant to be leaving and it still hadn't shown up. 5 minutes later the dormant bus started its engine, the driver changed the number on the front and just left. Little did we know that the bus had just changed to the Truro bus. I ran after it like a loony but he didn't stop. Why didn't the driver change the sign to Truro while he was still sitting there? He obviously didn't end up going to Bodmin so there was no need in him having that sign on the front. I actually emailed Western Greyhound to complain after this accident but never got any kind of reply, not even an automated one!
Maybe I just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the service I have received from Western Greyhound has been quite bad in the years I have used them... thank god for learning to drive!
---- Overall ----
It's hard to say whether I would recommend Western Greyhound or not. The service really is dire most of the time, but at the same time it is the only way to get around Cornwall if you don't drive. The fares aren't particularly cheap but at the same time they aren't too expensive. Perhaps if the old style stage coach buses had a cheaper fare, due to the dated upholstery and having to try and reach the one and only stop bell, I would think it was better value for money. These old buses really do let the bus service down. I definitely dread my car going wrong and having to use one of these buses again.
Summary: Please don't let my car go wrong!!!