Thursday, 10 May 2012

Humber Connections

In last month's service changes, Stagecoach revised the 45/150/250/450 to operate as the 45/150/450 under the Humber Connections brand. It's a change for the better, as I noted at the time.

However Stagecoach have let themselves down big time with a timetable that makes no sense at all. They have split the timetable into one for the 45 only, and another showing the 150/450, and supposedly all services, including the 45, to South Killingholme. Yet the two do not match up. Here are some of the inconsistencies I have found between the two:
  • The 0715 from Grimsby serves South Killingholme on Saturdays only according to the 45 timetable, but on Monday to Saturdays according to the 150/450 timetable
  • The 1445, 1545 and 1645 from Grimsby serve South Killingholme on Saturdays only according to the 45 timetables, but not at all according to the 150/450 timetable
  • The 1715 and 1745 from Grimsby continue beyond South Killingholme to Ulceby on Monday to Fridays obly according to the 45 timetable, but on Monday to Saturdays according to the 150/450 timetable
  • The 0715 450 from Barton to Immingham (and onwards as a 45 to Grimsby) operates Monday to Saturday according to the 150/450 timetable, but is just a 0750 45 from South Killingholme on Saturdays according to the 45 timetable
  • The 0800 from Habrough operates on college days only according to the 45 timetable, but on Monday to Saturdays according to the 150/450 timetable
  • The 1520, 1620 and 1720 45's from South Killingholme are shown in the 45 timetable, but omitted from the 150/450 timetable meant to show the entire South Killingholme service
  • The 1805 and 1835 service 46's are shown as starting in South Killingholme in the 45 timetable, but are omitted from the 150/450 timetable
There could be other inconsistencies I have missed! However what is the real timetable for Humber Connections, because I haven't a clue! North Lincolnshire Council have their own version in their 'Barton and Immingham' timetable (NLC Leaflet 1) but while that seems to clear up some of the Stagecoach inconsistencies (e.g. the 0715 from Barton does not operate on Saturdays) it has errors of it's own.

Moving on, some complexity on the corridor is inevitable, however I do wonder if some simplification could be made. Firstly Stagecoach show the 45/450 as being split at Immingham (route number change) and Barton to comply with domestic hours rules. Yet as the 2009 version of the 45B showed, Grimsby-Immingham-Barton can be done under domestic hours as it is under 30 miles. So why not just split the service in the timetable once and make it simplier to understand. Even more odd is that 45/150 journeys are shown as being split in Immingham. Grimsby-East Halton is way under 30 miles.

Next there could be some service number simplification. The 150 made sense when it served Barton and provided an hourly weekday Grimsby-Barton service alongside the 250, connecting into the 350 and 450. But that all finished in 2006. Personally I would renumber it the 45E. Then if the 45/450 renumbering moved from Immingham to Barton, all South Killingholme services would be the 45, or a variant off.

Looking at the timetable there seems to be some dead mileage that could be reduced. Stagecoach currently have a Baysgarth School (Barton) contract 552. The vehicle from this used to operate the 0900 250 from Barton to Grimsby, but not any more. I wonder if it now goes onto the 0935 150 from East Halton. If so, why not start it back from Barton on schooldays and offer a slightly earlier alternative to the 0945 450/45?

Also there is a 1415 45/450 from Grimsby to Barton, arriving at 1523. This almost certainly provides the bus for the afternoon 552. But on School Holidays and Saturdays this has to run dead from Barton. Why not run it back in service though? There is no 450 from Barton to Immingham between 1345 and 1715, so a new 1545 would fill a gap, and may help develop connections between the 450 and Humber Fastcat. Anyone from Ulceby going for a dayout in Hull currently has to leave Hull at 1305 or 1635 to meet their connection at Barton to return home. Yet at 1545 450 from Barton would connect out of the 1505 from Hull, offering more flexibility for passengers. If this 'messed up' the South Killingholme-Grimsby timetable, then why not run it as an additional service between these points - better than dead mileage surely?

Talking off connections at Barton, there isn't even a footnote about them in the Stagecoach timetable. Missed opportunity?

The 450 timetable also has quite a bit of 'slack in it'. Buses wait 22 minutes in Brigg - but could sometthing better be done with this? The use of double deckers restricts the options, but what about extending to Brigg Garden Centre (should take about 5-7 minutes each way)? Could be a useful link, and replace the 3 day a week Brigg Town Service 93 in the process.

The biggest bit of slack however is on Saturdays and School Holidays when the 450 waits in Brigg from 1438 to 1630. Even allowing for the driver's break, this seems wasteful. The 1630 from Brigg is needed as it forms the 1715 from Barton, which is useful for connections from Hull and Scunthorpe to Barrow, Ulceby etc. However could it run earlier, say at 1530 as on schooldays, and then, as on schooldays, also serve Barrow and Goxhill before returning to Barton for 1715? This could enable the withdrawal of the 1603 service 260 Barton Villager.

Another possible idea is a couple of minor re-routings in Barton. Firstly could the 450 serve Tesco (about 2 minutes extra). Secondly could it also divert to serve Meadow Drive (as the X21 did about 15 years ago) - currently served only by the 3 day a week Barton Town Service, Meadow Drive serves a fairly substantial housing estate and would only take about 2-3 minutes extra in each direction. If all this does take up too much time, the 450 doesn't really need to serve Barton Market Place twice!!!

Finally the 150 also has a lot of 'slack' within the timetable - 28 minutes in East Halton. Could this be better used to serve sides roads within Immingham en-route (such as routing via the Church and Emmersons Coaches depot). This may slightly mess up the even interval frequency to South Killingholme, but only 3 times a day. It would however provide useful new links within Immingham.

So Humber Connections - great principle. More efficient and smarter working. But please proof-read the timetable. And it could be made simplier. And a few minor changes could generate some extra custom and serve more places - without any siginficant time or fuel penalty.


Anonymous said...

There was a 450 Immingham for Grimsby bus at Barton railway station this morning Saturday 12th

Humber Transport said...

Thanks. In which case it's a bit odd the 0605 Grimsby-Barton Humber Flyer doesn't run on Saturdays

Anonymous said...

I rathew suspect that 'Humber Connect' was a rush job when Stagecoach realised that it was politically unacceptable for the council to let them cancel the 12 and evening buses in Grimsby, but mileage still had to be saved somewhere. It would explain the incomplete timetables and lack of any PR!