Easter Sunday saw Stagecoach revise services 9/9A and 5. The 9 links Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham, Hull Interchange, Garden Village and North Point, while the 5 links Hull Interchange with the Avenues, Orchard Park and Kingswood.
Service 9 sees the biggest changes. In West Hull the service had been operating hourly Monday to Saturday daytimes routing via the Bricknell Estate and Chanterlands Avenue. It still does operate hourly, but via Endyke Lane, Hall Road, Inglemire Lane, Cranbrook Avenue, Newland Avenue and Princes Avenue. Endyke Lane, Cranbrook Avenue, Newland Avenue and Princes Avenue already have EYMS services every 20 minutes to Castle Hill Hospital via Cottingham, however the Bricknell Estate and Chanterlands Avenue no longer have a link to Castle Hill Hospital and Cottingham. The peak time service has also been withdrawn which may impact those with early or late appointments at Castle Hill Hospital; the first arrival at Castle Hill Hospital is now 0900 weekdays/1000 Saturday rather than 0749, and the last departure is at 1600 rather than 1800. Apart from one morning EYMS service 61C, the 9 is also the only service along St Margarets Avenue in Cottingham.
Service 9A, which had previously operated only in East Hull, is now extended into West Hull. It will follow the service 9 route from Hull Interchange to Inglemire Lane, then 'loops' via the southern part of Hall Road, Fairfax Avenue (not served since the 23 was withdrawn in November), the Hull City Council part of the Bricknell Estate - replacing service 9, Hotham Road North and Hall Road again back to Inglemire Lane, Hull Interchange and East Hull. The 9A in West Hull will operate hourly Monday to Saturday off peak, co-ordinating with the 9 to provide a half hourly Hull to Inglemire Lane service, with less frequent peak time journeys. Some peak time journeys will operate as service 9 due to their route in East Hull.
While the Hull City Council part of the Bricknell Estate does regain links to the Avenues, the route into Hull Interchange is less direct and longer, taking around 42 minutes inbound as opposed to around 28 minutes (timing points on the old 9 and new 9A aren't exactly the same in the Estate so not directly comparable). The apparent 'loop' on the route map also seems to include a 28 minute wait on Grammar School Road each hour to maintain the even interval frequency with service 9 over common sections of route.
This wait makes it even more disappointing that the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) part of the Bricknell Estate becomes unserved - Lythe Avenue and St Mary's Avenue. ERYC had been providing 6p per passenger journey towards this part of the route - the balanced scorecard used by ERYC to decide what got cut in their reduction in bus subsidies at the start of April was weighted against routes that received less than 25p per passenger journey, probably on the basis that operators maybe able to convert such services to commercial operation without any major changes. Stagecoach evidently don't agree and the area becomes unserved - despite a vehicle and driver appearing to be waiting for 28 minutes an hour in a very nearby residential area.
The December revised ERYC proposals refer to the contract as "Bricknell Avenue-Cottingham" so maybe the funding was not for a service into Hull? It might just about be possible for the 9A to do Bricknell Estate to Cottingham and back in 28 minutes off peak (but not Castle Hill).
Whatever the contract was exactly for, these changes are not good news, unless you are on Fairfax Avenue, need access to the Avenues and University, or are on Inglemire Lane. I think I'm correct in writing that new Hull University halls of residence have been opened on Inglemire Lane, and the Lane also serves the Northern part of the university campus and some residential areas. So it is good to see Stagecoach trying to tap into a new market, and I doubt the 9 is a runaway commercial success - not only had ERYC been contributing, but Hull City Council still do for the Hull part of the Bricknell Estate and in parts of East Hull - so Stagecoach making changes as funding is reduced is perhaps understandable. However with all the negatives I can't get too excited by this service revision.
The times of services 9 and 9A in East Hull are also revised throughout the day, but with no change to the frequency - half hourly 9 at peak times and half hourly 9 and 9A combined during the off peak period. Inbound into Hull Interchange the Saturday 1602 9A from North Point now operates at 1555 Monday to Saturdays, providing a later last weekday 9A from North Point. The 1632 and 1732 service 9's from Noddle Hill become a single 1700 from North Point - the Noddle Hill peak time variation no longer operates in the afternoon. From Hull Interchange the 1545 service 9 to Noddle Hill becomes a 1550 to James Reckitt Avenue only and the Saturday only 1615 9A becomes the Monday to Saturday 1620 service, providing a later last 9A from Hull Interchange on weekdays. The service 9's from Hull Interchange at 1645, 1720, 1750, 1820 and 1850 to Noddle Hill now use the daytime route to North Point, and the 1645 moves to 1650.
Service 5 only has minor changes apart from Monday to Saturday evenings when it is substantially revised. At these times the route in Hull City Centre will be revised to terminate in the Old Town at the Market Place, with inbound journeys stopping at Paragon Square instead of serving Hull Interchange - the Paragon Square stop is on the opposite side of Ferensway to the Interchange. This provides access to one of the main areas of nightlife in Hull City Centre. It is also reduced in frequency from every 15 minutes to half hourly which is disappointing for Orchard Park and Kingswood.
However the southern part of the 5 will also be served by new Monday to Saturday evening service U5 between the Market Place, Avenues, Inglemire Lane and Hall Road/Endike Lane roundabout. On weekdays the U5 will operate half hourly, combining with the 5 to maintain a service every 15 minutes between Hull City Centre and Cranbrook Avenue. On Saturdays the U5 will operate every 10-20 minutes, combining with the 5 offer a service every 10 minutes over the common section of route. This is a frequency increase from every 15 minutes, with the Avenues being another key area of nightlife/the evening economy.
The U5 provides an evening service for Inglemire Lane, to go along with their new daytime 9/9A's. For the university student market this will be an important part of the overall 'service offer'. I'm not sure if the Hall Road/Endike Lane roundabout being a good place to 'turn' non-Kingswood journeys is also part of the reasoning behind this change? Despite the U prefix, the U5 will round year round, not just during university term times. Some late night U5's extend to/from Kingswood.
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