Friday, 27 February 2009

Introducing the Humber Fastcat

Its what I've been waiting for the details on for a while, but now the details of the 350 improvements have been released.

We already knew it was going half hourly Monday to Saturday daytime and the new times will be 15 and 45 minutes past the hour from Scunthorpe and 5 and 35 minutes past the hour from Hull. Times change at peak hours to accomodate the heavier traffic. It will take a bit of getting use too, but the greater flexibility of a half hourly service will make that worthwhile.

Another key point of the improved service is that journeys from Hull will run via Primark Monday to Saturday daytimes, following the city centre loop used by almost all other services down Anlaby Road in Hull. The route map produced by Stagecoach indicates only a stop at Primark on Carr Lane, and no stop on say Prospect Street. But great for laden down shoppers, or those not wanting to walk back to the Interchange.

In Scunthorpe, the service will operate via the current 360 route along Frodingham Road - I would presume the current 360 service that supplements the 350 between Scunthorpe and Winterton is withdrawn.

The roubustness of the connections to the train from Barton to Cleethorpes are improved, with buses now arriving in Barton at 40 minutes past the hour from Hull for a 58 minutes past departure. Arriving trains at 48 minutes past connect to a Hull departure on the next hour. Though evening arrivals 1957 and 2157 at Barton Station makes connections onto the 1958 and 2158 train departure very tight - for some reason the current 1925 and 2125 departures from Hull are put back 5 minutes in the new timetable.

Which leads me nicely onto discussing the evening service. No more changing at Barton in the evening; all buses run through from Hull to Scunthorpe and vice versa, and the 2130 departure from Hull to Barton is restored on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays (plus the 2158 from Barton to Hull). The early evening service is also improved with the 1830 from Hull being replaced by a 1810 and 1840, and a new 1845 from Scunthorpe. That 1840 from Hull is especially welcomed by me!

The only 'split journey' at Barton remains the first service of the day, which still only operates on weekdays. The first service from Scunthorpe has been moved forward to an 0620 from Scunthorpe to connect with the 0653 Barton to Hull.

The Sunday and Bank Holiday service increases from 5 to 6 journeys a day, with new services from Ashby (the Sunday service extends from Scunthorpe to Ashby) to Hull at 0855 and from Hull to Scunthorpe at 1930. In effect these seem to be positioning journeys. The other journeys are at existing times, based around connecting with trains at Barton. Therefore there remains some 3 hour gaps at key times for Sunday shoppers. There is no bus from Barton to Hull between 1055 and 1355, and no departure from Hull between 1530 and 1830. The publicity produced so far makes no reference to Veolia, current operators of the Sunday service alongside EYMS. Have Stagecoach taken Veolia's Sunday services on?

Indeed as yet there is no information on what journeys will be operated by Stagecoach Hull, Stagecoach Scunthorpe and EYMS, though EYMS will probably operate the journeys timed closest to their existing one. Also it is not yet clear which early morning, evening and Sunday journeys remain subsidised.

Another question is the provision of services from Barton to the Scunthorpe Colleges. Currently there is a dedicated 350 service, and a special 360 service that starts in East Halton. The new timetable indicates one service 350 journey will serve the colleges at start and finish times, but that alone is unliekly to be enough.

There will be a new £25 weekly ticket called the megarider fastcat, which is great for regular users. But will EYMS sell what is a Stagecoach ticket? The introductory price will be £22.

The new timetable has a Hull Royal Infirmary timing point, which is great to highlight this stop. Details of the improved service are also on the Stagecoach Hull website which will help create awareness on the North Bank.

There will be a new brand, called the Humber Fast Cat, and Stagecoach's new buses will wear a distinctive orange livery. Oddly the new route branding will mention Hessle, despite the service only serving the outskirts of the town.

There is even a new mini website for the service -

Overall you might be able to tell I am very exixted and impressed with the imprivements and can't wait for them to start on March 23rd.

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