A comment on this post - "Better Q. Why did stagecoach service to Briggs fail? It was quicker. Where fare costly?" - got me thinking about services between Brigg and Scunthorpe. I'm not quite sure about the fares, but I wanted to look at the service provision between the two towns.
The constant has been Hornsby's hourly service 4 via Broughton and Ashby. It's established and has tendered early morning, evening and Sunday daytime services. However other services between Brigg and Scunthorpe have been subject to fairly regular chopping and changing.
A service via Scawby has always operated, and until 2008 this was in the form of Road Car/Stagecoach 365 operating around every two hours. This also served Wrawby and Ashby. Since the 365 was withdrawn, Scawby and Sturton have been served mainly by the tendered 94/95/366. Currently the 95 provides 4 journeys on weekdays (plus 1 Brigg to Lakeside) and 1 on Saturdays; the 366 provides 2 journeys on Saturdays. Stagecoach;s 909/90 has also provided 1 service each way via Scawby.
However attempts at 'fast' services have struggled, and often have been part of wider links. The tendered 94 used to operate fast between Brigg and Scunthorpe. This was part of a wider Bishop Norton/Lime Sidings to Brigg and Scunthorpe link. Likewise the tendered 366 from Goxhill and Ulceby to Scunthorpe on Saturday used to operate fast from Brigg to Scunthorpe. However timetables were infrequent and they weren't really intended for Brigg to Scunthorpe passengers.
This all changed when Stagecoach 'reintroduced' the 909, which later became the 909/910 and then the 90. Here was an hourly Brigg to Scunthorpe fast service - and while opportunities for links to Doncaster and Crowle existed, one of the main purposes was to link Brigg and Scunthorpe. Stagecoach kept persevering with the Brigg to Scunthorpe section - they must have seen a market to be developed - but from July it appears to be axed.
So what is the issue? If it's fares I don't know enough to comment, but one possible factor is that the Brigg to Scunthorpe corridor has been split between two operators, Hornsby and Stagecoach, without any joint ticketing. So passengers, except for OAP's or those buying single tickets, don't have a choice of two services an hour. It's hourly Hornsby OR hourly Stagecoach. If Brigg to Scunthorpe has the demand for two services an hour, then maybe the second service each hour needs to from Hornsby, offering a 'step change' in frequency?
If a second service each hour is to operate, what route should it take?
The fast route, as taken by Stagecoach's 90, is indeed the quickest between Brigg and Scunthorpe, but serves very little other than Lakeside Retail Park en-route. Do Brigg to Scunthorpe services need to the support of 'intermediate' passengers? Was this Stagecoach's downfall?
Another option would be to increase the 4 to half hourly - is there the demand in Broughton for this? Or possibly to operate one service an hour via Broughton, and one via Ashby - i.e. 2 'semi-fast' services, combined fast elements and intermidiate traffic. Though how substantial are Broughton to Ashby passenger flows?
Or how about routing a second hourly service via Scawby and Sturton instead of Broughton. This could replace the 95 so would have established passenger flows to build on. Though would it be enough for an hourly service?
Would an option be to have some services extending to Wrawby, as the 365 did, or even beyond. Could this contribute extra passengers to help make extra Brigg to Scunthorpe services work? Or would the costs outweigh the benefits?
Are Hornsby interested in boosting Brigg to Scunthorpe links? Or, with their far more extensive knowledge of the corridor than me, do they know it isn't worthwhile? Questions, Questions - but ones I think it's worth asking, especially for those with an interest in growing public transport usage.
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