Thursday 30 September 2010

Humber Flyer, and Barton buses to Hull

This morning I travelled to Hull on the 0807 Humber Flyer from Barton Market Place to Hull. What struck me was how quiet it was, considering it was the main peak time service from Grimsby to Hull. There was around 30 passengers travelling over the Humber Bridge, of which around a third boarded in Barton and could have used the Humber Fastcat instead. Indeed from a couple of glimpses of the 0815 Humber Fastcat from Barton Market Place to Hull that I saw, it wasn't busy either.

Now this was just one day, but surely a Thursday in late September should be rather typical of loadings (not being school holidays)? Assuming they were typical it raises two points:

1. It's not surprising the Humber Flyer has struggled in recent years if a key peak journey isn't very full
2. Are Stagecoach risking loosing Barton-Hull passengers on the Humber Fastcat in order to improve the viability of the politically sensitive Humber Flyer? I have expressed concerns over Humber Fastcat passenger figures before. While I am very happy to see 3 Barton-hull buses an hour, an unsustainable frequency isn't going to be good news long term. My fear is that the current frequency is unsustainable unless a marketing effort is made to attract car users.

Thursday 23 September 2010

X55 November Changes

EYMS will be making changes to service X55 'Petuaria Express' between Gilberdyke, Brough and Hull in mid-November. The service was introduced in April. From the VOSA website:

VOSA - Bus Registration Search Results: "PB0000328/360 - EAST YORKSHIRE MOTOR SERVICES LTD, 252 ANLABY ROAD, HULL, HU3 2RS
Variation Accepted: Operating between Hull Interchange and Gilberdyke, Village given service number X55 effective from 15-Nov-2010. To amend Timetable."

Friday 10 September 2010

X62 November Changes

Today the VOSA website reveals Stagecoach Hull will be amending the X62 (Hull-Brough-Goole-Leeds) service from November 1st.

Thursday 9 September 2010

EYMS Beverley November Changes

The VOSA website shows EYMS planning to make changes to Beverley town services 520/1/3 from 1st November, as well as service 182 to Hessle.

Friday 3 September 2010

Stagecoach Grimsby Cleethorpes September Changes

In addition to the Humber Flyer, Stagecoach Grimsby-Cleethorpes are also making slight revisions to other services from Monday 6th September.

In addition to the morning peak change to the 45 (Immingham-Grimsby) noted last month, the 45B from Grimsby to Barton finally disappears, having been cancelled apart from one journey in April. Instead the current 1740 45B from Grimsby on weekdays becomes a 45H operating via Habrough and terminating at Ulceby. (Thanks to a comment on the morning peak changes blog post for noticing this).

The 450 (Barton-Brigg) also sees a slight schooldays change while Stagecoach in Lincolnshire's Lincoln depot operated Interconnect 3 between Grimsby and Lincoln also has a revised timetable.

Humber Flyer Changes

From Monday (6th September) Stagecoach's Humber Flyer (Hull-Barton-Humberside Airport-Grimsby-Cleethorpes) will see changes. As I posted last month the service will now terminate at Cleethorpes Pier not Pleasure Island. However instead of an extended wait at Humberside Airport, the service will now operate via the Market Place in Barton, resulting in a fully revised timetable between Cleethorpes and Barton. Times remain the same between Barton and Hull. Oddly the Stagecoach announcement does not mention the new route in Barton.

This change has a major advantage in that it now serves more of Barton, but on the other hand it does increase the journey time for non-Barton passengers.

The change also raises an interesting issue again - are Stagecoach wanting to attract Hull-Barton passengers onto the Humber Flyer or not? On one hand it would seem so - mostly co-ordinated timetable with the Humber Fastcat, same stand in Hull Interchange and now identical route in Barton. Yet there is no publicity for the co-ordinated service and perhaps most crucially no inter availability of tickets between the Humber Flyer and Stagecoach operated Humber Fastcat journeys.

The Barton diversion of the Humber Flyer doesn't seem exceptionally well used from my observations. Stagecoach really need to promote it, not just for travel to Hull, but also for links to North East Lincolnshire. Lets hope Monday's change also sees some promotion. A few posters on the Humber Fastcat buses would be a start in raising awareness amongst Barton customers. Not exactly a hard or expensive thing to do.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Stagecoach Hull's Other September Changes

In addition to the 10 and 110 changes, plus the new 123 and takeover of the 242 contract, Stagecoach Hull are making other more minor changes to their network on Monday 6th September.

Satellite monitoring has allowed Stagecoach to monitor services better and a result timetables are being altered to be more reliable - resulting changes affect the 1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 28, 32, 42, 43, 51 and 54.

There are also some enhancements planned. Monday to Saturday evening frequencies on the 13A/14A and 42 increase to half hourly, making this the minimum evening frequency on all core routes. The 15 minute evening frequency on the 15 will operate until 2100 while the Saturday daytime frequency will be restored to operate every 10 minutes, reversing an April 2009 cut. Monday to Friday afternoon 43B/54B journeys now operate as normal 43/54's as a through service.

Furthermore while not officially announced, the new service 30 timetable shows 3 new weekday evening peak short journeys from Hull Bowl on Holwell Road in to Hull City Centre - I guess to serve Sutton Fields Industrial Estate. Meanwhile the final two departures on service 30 from Hull Interchange at 2240 and 2320 daily are now numbered 30W. In the past the W suffix indicated an extension to Wawne. There is nothing to say this is happening in the timetable, but unless it is a mistake in the timetable, why else the renumbering?

Finally an interesting end to the press release on the changes: "This is only the beginning. More information soon". The beginning of what? Better reliability as the changes intend or something more? Could it just be referring to the as yet officially announced 123/242. Or further frequency increases planned for the future? Or new services? Or new investment in the fleet (maybe all frequento services to actually be low floor operated)?

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Hull Circular (Service 10) enhancements

From Monday (6th September) Stagecoach Hull are making some changes to their troubled service 10 (Hull Circular), the second time in a year. But these changes seem to be positive for once.

Firstly the service will now serve Falkland Road in Greatfield, restoring links to the Preston Road Medical Centre lost in changes last year when service 40 was withdrawn. For a small time penalty, a 'quick win' here.

Perhaps more significant are changes to the peak time service. Firstly it is pleasing to note these changes are enhancements. The evening peak clockwise service and morning peak anti-clockwise services will become 10A's with a revised route. In West Hull they will operate via Cottingham Road, Hull University and Cranbrook Avenue, omitting Orchard Park. In East Hull they will operate via Leads Road, Sutton Road, Ings Road and Bellfield Avenue instead of Sutton Village - a route taken by the Hull Circular in the past.

The aim of the changes is to link East Hull to Hull University in the morning and return in the evening. While Orchard Park looses out in the peaks, I would suspect it generates more custom for the circular in daytime providing access to places such as Ennerdale Leisure Centre and North Point Shopping Centre, as well as for visiting friends and relatives in other parts of the city. But I am slightly baffled why the 10 is serving Sutton but the 10A Ings Estate? Is it the time saving routing via the university that allows Ings Estate to be served by the 10A but not the 10?

Whatever the reason though the 10A runs anti clockwise (East to West Hull) at 0730 and 0800 from Hull Interchange Monday to Friday (currently service 10 journeys). Clockwise the current 'short' journeys at 1625 and 1725 from Hull Interchange to the Bricknell Estate now extend as service 10A's back to Hull Interchange via East Hull. There is also a new 1717 Hull University-East Hull-Hull Interchange 10A to provide a half hourly frequency in the evening peak.

One slight cutback however; the 1600 service 10 Monday to Friday operating anti clockwise appears to be withdrawn, leaving an early last departure of 1515 from Hull Interchange on weekdays. The 1615 on Saturdays remains. Full new 10/10A timetable.

The 109 returns - as the most pointless service ever?

From Monday 6th September service 109 returns, again operated by EYMS. It last ran between August last year and February this year Monday to Saturday mornings/early afternoons between the Bricknell Estate, Cottingham, St Margarets Avenue and Castle Hill Hospital. In February Stagecoach's 110 between Hull, Bricknell Estate, Cottingham and Castle Hill was rerouted to serve St Margarets Avenue as a replacement. The 110 was also diverted via New Village Road and Cottingham Station to replace the Cottingham Station-Castle Hill Hospital link lost by changes to EYMS service 154.

The new 109 is slightly different. It operates Cottingham Station-Cottingham Green-St Margarets Avenue-Castle Hill Hospital and return, then Cottingham Station-New Village Road-Bricknell Estate and return. The service operates between 0925 and 1715. The timetable is available here. At the same time Stagecoach's 110 will no longer serve New Village Road or Cottingham Station, but will continue to serve St Margarets Avenue retaining the daytime link into Hull.

So whats the issue? Firstly a couple of relatively minor points - New Village Road is left with just the two hourly EYMS service 60 into Hull when it currently also has the hourly 110, and 109 passengers from Bricknell Estate to Cottingham and Castle Hill have a 10 minute wait at Cottingham Station.

However far more important is the total lack of co-ordination between the 109 and 110. The hourly 109 leaves Bricknell Avenue for Castle Hill 10 minutes before the hourly 110 but by Cottingham Green the gap has closed to 8 minutes (with the 110 having overtaken the 110). From Castle Hill the gap is even worse - one, yes one, minute.

Additionally I can't see the need for extra capacity between the Bricknell Estate and Cottingham. At the start of the noughties such a link was just provided two mornings a week (service 31B), so I can't see that a standalone service 109 is needed in addition to the 110 which has a wider role in linking Chanterland Avenue and the wider Stagecoach Hull network to Castle Hill.

The 110 is funded by Hull City and East Yorkshire Council's, and I suspect the 109 will be as well (it was when it last operated), so this is a huge waste of taxpayers money. The changes offer nothing new and the three minute time saving on the 110 simply becomes additional recovery time at Castle Hill. What is wrong with the current 110 route - it effectively serves Bricknell Estate, New Village Road, Cottingham Station and St Margarets Avenue in one hourly service providing to links to Castle Hill, Cottingham and Hull Centres. The 109 is just duplication and with council cutbacks inevitable, what communities could end up seeing cutbacks in services because of this.

I would love to know the rationale for the new 109, because it sure ain't obvious.

The 123 - Not exactly as expected - but better?

Predictions on this blog of Stagecoach entering the Hull-Beverley market against EYMS have been proved wrong. Their new service 123 doesn't go into Hull City Centre at all.

The new 123 is instead a new Monday-Saturday shopping link from Beverley, Woodmansey and Dunswell to Kingswood and Bransholme's North Point Shopping Centre, using time where the vehicle from the newly won 242 contract (currently operated by EYMS) would otherwise just be doing nothing in Beverley. It might be a simple idea - but it is just the sort of idea that can improve the network with little effort and Stagecoach should be comended for giving the service a try.

Some may wonder why a Beverley resident would wish to visit North Point in particular when they have a very good selection of shops in their town centre. Well it's nice to have a change and visit somewhere different every now and then. Furthermore by interworking with the 242, the costs incurred by Stagecoach will be lower than for a stand alone service - which should reduce the break even point of the service.

Also of note is that on College Days the service will be extended to Wilberforce College, which should be useful for those students wanting a lie in, or to go home early. Do Stagecoach operate morning/evening services from Beverley to Wilberforce College?

New 123/242 timetable. Starts 6th September.

While Stagecoach don't seem too interested in trunk routes outside of Hull, it's interesting to see them go after 'between school time' contracts such as the 242 in the East Riding. This is the sort of thing Veolia used to do, and should help provide some competition for EYMS for this type of contract. And could it lead to Stagecoach going after other tenders in the East Riding that could viably be worked out of it's Hull depot?

One final note - neither the 242 or the 123 are mentioned in the new Hull Bus Guide. The 242 hardly serves Hull, while the 123 isn't really designed for Hull residents, but I'm surprised they didn't even get a footnote or something similar.