Wednesday 31 August 2011

Is the Hull City Circular service viable?

Another set of service changes in Hull, and once again the City Circular service 10 is included. Over the past few years since Stagecoach took the service on commercially it has seen regular changes as Stagecoach try to cut costs and/or increase usage. For a time in late 2008/early 2009 the city circular was half hourly on weekdays, with a service 11 variant, and hourly on Saturdays. Since then Bricknell Avenue Estate has been added to the route, Kingswood removed to speed up journey times and peak time services via the University of Hull trialled. Earlier this year the Saturday service was withdrawn and now further cutbacks to an already basic weekday service are planned from Monday 5th September.

The 1325 clockwise service from Hull Interchange will terminate at Greatfield, the 1425 will cease to run and the 1525 will now start from Bransholme North Point at 1610. Anti-clockwise the 0745 from Hull Interchange now departs at 0730, the 1410 terminates at North Point rather than running full route and the 1510 short to Bilton Grange is withdrawn.

It's clear Stagecoach have been trying with the service, but the regular changes, cutbacks, and seemingly failed initiatives to increase usage lead me to wonder, does the Hull City Circular have a viable future? It's the sort of service which is 'sensitive', providing cross city links, and therefore not easy to withdraw, but it appears to be struggling. It is worth mentioning that I'm not familiar with usage of the service, but if it didn't exist would the City Circular be missed?

Looking at the route in detail, clockwise from the city centre, it duplicates the 13 between Hull and Orchard Park, except for the diversion into the Bricknell Avenue Estate. This part of Hull is only a recent addition to the City Circular, and it too does not appear to be good bus territory. It's services have been chopped and changed over the past few years too, and I guess was added to the City Circular to try and get one good service out of two bad services. The Estate currently has the hourly weekday 10, and the hourly Monday to Saturday 110 between Hull and Cottingham, of which the diversion into the Estate receives council funding.

If the 10 didn't exist, would the 110 be enough - it's certainly deemed enough on a Saturday. And even if it was not deemed enough it does not need the 10 to give the Bricknell Avenue Estate a half hourly service into Hull. Extra short journeys on the 110 or a half hourly 110 along the whole route could do that.

However it should be noted that the Bricknell Avenue Estate is home to Wyke College. I am not at all familiar with travel patterns to/from the college, but suspect this may generate some traffic to Orchard Park and Bransholme. Even still these passengers could change in the City Centre, or extra college buses be provided, including a limited daytime service for those with part days at college; the 10 would appear to currently need either 3 or 4 vehicles, such a service to the college would only need 1.

The next major link the City Circular provides is Orchard Park to Bransholme via the Sutton Park Estate. Without the City Circular such links could be made by changing at Kingswood or on Beverley Road. Or possibly the newly extended Orchard Park Tesco journeys on the 13, or the newly extended 28A journeys to Kingswood could be further extended to maintain Orchard Park-Bransholme links.

The 10 is the only service along a small part of Cheltenham Avenue in Sutton Park, but if this road requires a service then possibly the K1 could be diverted to service it.

Links between Bransholme and Midmere Avenue/Sutton provided by the 10 are duplicated by the 51 and 32 respectively; the next major destination served by the 10 is Salthouse Road, also home to Wilberforce College. Salthouse Road to Bransholme passengers could change from the 53 to the 52 to complete their journey, and there is also the college day lunchtime 123 between Beverley, Bransholme and Wilberforce College. Essentially other options exist.

The City Circular then serves Bilton Grange, Greatfield and Preston Road. Passengers from these areas wishing to reach Bransholme could either change in Hull City Centre, or on Holderness Road. The 10 does provide access from these areas to Wilberforce College, but again other options exist. Bilton Grange has the 52 to Wilberforce College, and Greatfield/Preston Road passengers can connect onto the 52 on either Holderness Road or at Bilton Grange (using the 43/54).

Finally the 10 does have a role for some local journeys within Bilton Grange, Greatfield and Preston Road. It is the only service along part off Hopewell Road, but if that needs a service the 50 could be extended. The 10 also links Falkland Road and Preston Road Medical Centre, but some 46 journeys could be diverted from Marfleet to serve Falkland Road instead.

Changing isn't ideal, but that combined with alterations to some other services lead me to believe, as an outsider, that if the City Circular didn't exist it would not cause any major hardship. Withdrawing services is not easy, and I've witnessed the anger of Greatfield residents at a Hull Bus Forum in the past, but if Stagecoach ever concluded the 10 was no longer viable, I think Hull could live without it.

Any comments welcome.

1 comment:

BA533 said...

Just to let you know, some journeys on the 13 to OPE are numbered 13s in the morning peak, and serve Bricknel Avenue, something which would have been useful in the opposite direction when we was at college!
Just after I left last year, Wyke college and EYMS introduced an additional service from Kingswood, Bransholme, Sutton Park and Greenwood Avenue, which did seem to be popular.

Also worth mentioning was that the 10 that we sometimes caught to college was always late for our 9.00 start, even though it was timed to arrive abit earlier (can't remember the timings now) but the service did get used by students, but it was sometimes alot easier to get a 13 and make onwards connections, such as the 51 and 20 at Kingswood, 28 at Bransholme.