If you were running a national bus company, and you had a website, and there were disastrous floods that might disrupt services, and people would want to know what was going on… what would you do? Well, at the time of writing, the most recent news item on Stagecoach‘s website is self-aggrandizing, pointless blurb about them hiring the same advertising agency as Irn Bru. This news item is dated 18 June.
If you ring their contact telephone number—a 10p/minute regionless number, of course—then you can be on hold for twenty or thirty minutes. They say on their Contact us webpage that “Contacting us is easy”. Yes, really. A company which cares so little about its (potential) customers that it doesn’t even consider putting e.g. a running list of service disruptions on the front page of its “Web Site”. A company that almost certainly (from today’s experience) understaffs its call centre. A company that’s all over Private Eye like a rash, stiffing its passengers when it can’t stiff the local councils.
In the end we just walked down the hill to the bus depot to ask people who might actually know what was going on, what was going on. It turns out that there are simply no bus services. They claimed to be two hours behind schedule, which probably actually means there hasn’t been a single bus for two hours (whereas being behind schedule merely implies the non-zero bus frequency that the timetables would declare for a few hours ago). Not only that, but Carterton and Brize Norton—the RAF infrastructure that basically feeds the 100 bus service through Witney to Oxford with enough people to make the route pay its way—are flooded, as is the main eastwards route out of Witney, through the confusingly named West End.
A bus driver warned us off driving—which is the Witney equivalent of warning you off wearing shoes, or brushing your teeth: considered bizarre and subversive without context—given the state of the roads into Oxford. These, we were told, were either flooded or gridlocked. With a sigh, resolving that the various options proffered by i_ludicrous, cleanskies, j4 and addedentry would have to be declined remotely, electronically, we turned round and trudged back home. We were, we reminded ourselves, relatively lucky: we could be warm and dry in minutes.