Review of "Uno Bus Company"
still around ... hibernating most of the time
According to Transport for London, where I live, I am still in Zone 6 for trains (and underground if they had built that far out) and also within the boundaries of TfL when it comes to busses. Living on the far edge of this zone also means that there is not much by way of bus lines serving the town but there are still two lines that get you to the nearest underground station. Oyster cards are sold in a couple of shops and you're in London within 20 minutes if you take a train from our local station. So far so good.But what to do when you want to go the other way, further north into Hertfordshire, towards St Albans, Hatfield and other towns but don't have a car or want to take a train?
There's not much choice, really. There are a couple of local InterLink busses operating within the town only (and to St Albans on a Sunday). There's an Arriva bus service to Watford once an hour which will set you back £3.00 for a single or £4.50 for a return/day ticket.Step up UNO. UNO used to be called 'University Bus' because it was laid on mainly to get students to and from Hatfield's "University of Hertfordshire" to various towns around Hatfield. It was founded in 1992 and has become a part of the local bus landscape since then. It used to operate rickety old white busses with 'The University Bus' written on the side but over the past few years has undergone a major facelift. The colour scheme has changed and the busses, some band new, are bright pink and purple. And the name of the company was changed to UNO, after all, it was not only serving Hatfield University but also allowed everyone who wanted to get on, travel on their busses. Their slogan is 'the university bus for everyone'.
Considering this bus operates from Hatfield in Hertfordshire, its main routes are in and out of Hatfield and into the neighbouring towns and villages. Routes go as far as Hemel Hempstead, Watford in the west to Hitchin in the north, Broxbourne and Enfield and the East and as far south as Queenbury in London and Rayners Lane in Middlesex.There are more than a dozen routes in and out of Hatfield and it's easy to catch a bus from towns and villages along the routes. Most routes run at least an hourly service, some of the more important routes have half hourly services while there are designated 'express' routes that only run at peak times and stop at major intersections.
UNO run a number of different fares. You can pay the driver for the journey, either as a single or return journey. Depending on where you get on the bus, the fare will rise. There are day tickets for a flat rate of £4.00, a weekly bus pass for £16.00 and a monthly pass for £52.00, these prices are for adult tickets only.Where I live, there are at least 4 different fare stages, so depending on where you get on in town, the more expensive it is.
For me, a return ticket to and from work was £2.60 and it could sometimes work out cheaper to buy a monthly pass, other times I paid on a day to day basis. That way I could keep a log of when the bus was late.One week in January, UNO decided that a fare increase was on the cards and without much warning, they increased the price per journey by 10 pence for adults. Child fares were not affected. Suddenly, one morning I was asked for an extra 10 pence on my return ticket. It soon become apparent that a monthly pass was more cost effective and I bought one.
The advantage is that you can you a pass on any route, all across the network, at any time. Well, considering that the busses run mainly weekdays with few on Saturdays and even fewer on Sundays, there isn't really that much chance to use the tickets outside work. But I do, very occasionally use the ticket to go to London Colney's big retail park or even Watford on a Saturday.The busses are generally well maintained and fairly comfortable. On average, you will get the drivers on your route, most do the route on a regular basis, others step in occasionally but you get to know the drivers and you also know if you can actually point out that they are late or not - some of the drivers are right little so and so's and you don't want to mess with them as they are most likely to kick you off the bus.
UNO onlineUNO bus have a website that is accessible on www.unobus.info/index.html. It gives company information as well as time tables of all routes and busses running on their network.
I often look up their time tables online when I have to go somewhere, in particularly at weekends. I noticed that the time table of the bus leaving Borehamwood on Saturdays is not online - and it hasn't been for a while. The time table is not displayed at bus stops either, making it very hard to find out when busses are running.As a first stop for information, the website is certainly a good place to start. It will give you information on where the busses are going and what route the bus is on, and of course, how frequently it will pass through your town or village.
My day to day experienceI started working for a company that operate from a small village about 3 miles from where I live. I don't currently have a car so I have to take a bus to work, or the alternative would be to walk.
As luck would have it, the UNO bus company runs an hourly service from my town to Hatfield which stops at the village where I have to go to. If all goes well, an ordinary journey should only take about 10 minutes from my bus stop and would get me to my place of work with time to spare.
I have to take the first bus out from my town, there isn't an earlier service, there isn't another bus company serving that particular route either. It means that UNO have the monopoly on that particular route.I have to take a bus at 8.46am and that is not too bad a time to leave for work. But on most occasion, the bus that was due to arrive at my stop at that time arrives between 5 and 10 minutes late. This is not a mean feat, considering that my town is the beginning of the route and not somewhere in the middle. If you challenge the driver about delays, you are likely to get the standard reply: "traffic". There is no apology or anything from the driver.
It does get a little more than irritating when the bus is in excess of 25 minutes late and taking the bus (when it eventually arrives) would mean arriving late for work. The alternative is a taxi ride which costs £7.00. And yes, I have opted for the taxi on a number of occasions as I couldn't afford to get into work an hour late.The worst trouble is that the drivers don't even bother to apologise for delays, a little 'sorry I'm late' would go a long way, but not with this company. You are lucky to get anything out of them.
Getting home in the evenings is not much better. The bus back to my town is rarely ever on time. Of course the standard excuse is 'traffic' but that is wearing thin. There's always traffic and they should make sure that they work that into their time tables.There is hardly a day when the bus is less than 5 - 10 minutes late. Other days the bus is up to 30 minutes late (market days in St Albans - but then again, the bus company know that).
It was only the other day that the bus happened to be on time and I almost missed it because I was walking to the bus stop with a colleague and I was arriving on time when the bus was already at the stop. It would have gone past me if there hadn't been someone getting on, hailing the bus, giving me a chance to get to the stop. It was the first time the bus was ever on time…
Using the rest of the network
Apart from using the bus to and from work, I sometime use the bus to go to Watford (may be a bit of a detour but at least I paid for it in my monthly pass). There are two busses an hour to Watford on the line I normally use (only one an hour where I live, same route number, though), or I take a bus to get to St Albans or London Colney. While it would be nice to have more than one bus an hour getting you home again (and getting you there on time), there isn't always a bus for me to take.There were times, and I can recall a number of them in December and January in particular, when I sat in Watford, waiting for my bus to get me to the next stage of my journey and it didn't come - or it came with a massive delay. It's not a problem is you have all the time in world but I want to get home at a decent time and don't want to sit in the freezing cold and wait for a bus that never comes.
Delays on routes are an everyday occurrence and tend to get brushed under the carpet, it almost appears the company do not care one way or another about their customers.
Okay, things sometimes go wrong (or on route 602 Borehamwood to Hatfield regularly) and there is reason to complain. I must say, getting in touch with the company is fairly easy. They have a telephone number you can call, an email addresss that is regularly answered and a mailing address that can be used.I had a few occasions where I has to complain about the shockingly bad service I received and I always got an email reply within 24 hours. There was a case in January where I sent two separate emails and they were dealt with initially by email and then followed up by proper mail.
It seems that, although it sometimes seems the company don't listen to what the customer says, ultimately, they do respond and they do respond positively. My last lot of complaints resulted in receiving vouchers for future travel. I was not quite satisfied, I would have expected a little more but it was a start. (the vouchers were for a day short-changed on my February pass when the expiry date should have been 29th Feb but my ticket finished on Feb 28th. They did not compensate me for the day I had to take taxi because the bus was running more than 35 minutes late without explanation.
While the UNO bus company are offering, on most occasions, a well run service. However, there is still much room for improvement. All you ever hear from fellow passengers is the inability to keep to the time tables and delays of more than 10 minutes or more or not unusual. There are a lot of occasions when the company could avoid delays by just sending out the bus a few minutes early to avoid commuter traffic. A bus company should be aware of things like school holidays and listen to traffic reports and react accordingly. This is something I have always criticised when it comes to UNO. I have told in no uncertain terms that I will not accept excuses relating to 'traffic' any longer as the traffic situation is always the same and they should know about it. The only excuse for lateness I will accept is a couple of inches of unexpected snow.It is a great help to have UNO serve a lot of smaller villages and town with their busses, the hourly service is only working when the bus actually turns up on time and gets you to where you want to go to.
If you live in a small village or town in Hertfordshire and need to go places, I suggest you save up for a car or get used to long waits for UNO busses to get you where you want and back...
Product Information : Uno Bus Company
Manufacturer's product description
Listed on Ciao since: 24/01/2008