Wednesday 29 December 2010

Isle Shopper to be withdrawn

North Lincolnshire Council are currently consulting over proposals to withdraw the two day a week Isle Shopper network, based around Epworth and extending to Crowle and Wroot. Subsidy is over £7 per passenger journey (the becnhmark is £3) and usage is low. With such high subsidy being required, it is not surprising withdrawal is being considered, but it would lead to some local links being sadly lost.

Wolds Villager cutbacks

From 31st January 2011, North Lincolnshire Council operated service 68 'Wolds Villager' between Brigg, Wrawby, Barnetby and Kirmington will have it's Saturday service withdrawn, as well as the last two weekday journeys. The service is not expectionally well used, and North Lincolnshire Council have also had isues with their bus fleet and staffing, as noted on the 260 Villager post. Operation by a commercial operator was considered, but the tender prices were more expensive than 'in-house' operation.

From September 2011, costs potentially could be lowered through interworking with a schools service, though the council report does warn that "it will become more difficult to justify the cost" of the service medium term.

On Saturdays Stagecoach service 366 will still retain links to Brigg (and Scunthorpe) from the Villages concerned, so the 68 Saturday withdrawal seems a sensible saving to make. Again though, has an opportunity been missed to make further savings? An extension to Ulceby could allow the Thursday 366 to be withdrawn. Parts of the Brigg Town Service could also be incorporated into the 68, which could be diverted via Churchill Avenue or Woodbine Avenue in Brigg for example.

Stagecoach to takeover 260 Villager

From 31st January 2011, Stagecoach East Midlands will take over operation of weekday service 260, the 'Villager' bus service that links Barrow, Goxhill, New Holland and East Halton (Thursday only) to Barton. There is also a Thursdays only link to Victoria House in Barton, as well as a schools service in Barton operated as part of the same diagram. The service is currently operated directly by North Lincolnshire Council.

In the current climate of spending cuts, you may think this is an attempt to make savings. However the cost of the service will actually rise, short term at least. Instead the motivation for contracting the service out is the age, and therefore increasing unreliability, of the North Lincolnshire Council bus fleet, as well as difficulties covering abscences from the council's small pool of bus drivers.

After putting the 260 out to tender, North Lincolnshire Council received two bids, with the winning bid being from Stagecoach. No mention of who the other bidder was, but I suspect Hornsby Travel (operators of the Barton Town Service), or less likely either Holloways Coaches or Johnsons. Stagecoach bid was for £38.729 per year, or £1.08 per passenger journey (including the interworked schools service). This is apparently higher than the council's current costs, but under the council 'limit' of £3 per passenger journey subsidy and can be offset by savings elsewhere. The contract will for five and half years, and the current timetable will be only slightly modified. No mention of what Stagecoach depot will operate the service.

Clearly the aim here is for a more reliable service and with less of a burden in terms of vehicles on the council. However have opportunities been missed, especially in terms of making savings that inevitably will have to be made next year? My idea to integrate the 260 with the Barton Town Service potentially could produce some signficant savings, eliminating the three day a week town service contract without any substantial changes in the level of service provision. In their defence, North Lincolnshire Council have not yet confirmed future budgets, but it won't be long before cuts have to be contemplated.

North Lincolnshire Council report

Thursday 23 December 2010

Stagecoach Grimsby Cleethorpes 366 Split

From the VOSA website it looks like the Saturday service on route 366 operated by Stagecoach Grimsby Cleethorpes between Goxhill, Barrow, Ulceby, Brigg and Scunthorpe, is being technically split into two sections; Goxhill-Ulceby and Ulceby-Scunthorpe, in the new year.

Variation Accepted by SN: Operating between Scunthorpe and Ulceby given service number 366 effective from 04-Jan-2011. To amend Timetable.
Registration Accepted by SN
Starting Point: Ulceby
Finish Point: Goxhill
Service Number: 366G
Service Type: Normal Stopping
Effective Date: 08-JAN-2011
Other Details: New Service to provide connections between Ulceby and Goxhill on Saturdyas only."

This means that Stagecoach's Grimsby depot only have summer Sunday service X51 (Grimsby-Louth-Skegness) that remains under EU driver hour regulations (due to the length of the route). The X51 could easily be 'technically split' into two sections at Louth if desired. Over recent years the amount of EU drivers hours work at Grimsby has been reduced, with the Interconnect 3 transferred to Lincoln depot (and then later split itself at Market Rasen) while the Humber Flyer has been technically split at Humberside Airport, and a previous evening peak service 250/45B service from Barton having a diversion via New Holland and Goxhill withdrawn, bringing it into domestic driver hours regulations.

With the conditions attached to EU driver hours compared to domestic rules, splitting routes makes commercial sense, though perhaps a bit confusing at first for passengers. It does show though how a 'well meaning' European rule is adding bureaucracy and complexity to the bus industry.

Whats hapenning to Sunday services 356, 400 and 401?

North Yorkshire County Council appears to be going ahead with it's planned withdrawal of financial support for evening and Sunday bus services within the county, including Monday to Saturday evening journeys between Goole and Selby. This is one of many evening and Sunday supported services operated by Arriva Yorkshire's Selby depot, and as a result Arriva has announced that Selby depot will be closed in the evening Monday to Saturday, and except for the main York service, also on Sundays.

That implies that the Sunday service between Selby, Snaith and Goole on services 400/401, and the interworked 356 between Goole and Swinefleet, are to be withdrawn. But on Sundays these are funded by East Riding of Yorkshire Council, not North Yorkshire County Council and therefore were not proposed for withdrawal in the North Yorkshire consultation. So what is the status of these Sunday services? Withdrawn? Staying? Going to another operator?

Lincolnshire County Council Bus Cuts

Not the first, won't be the last, but Lincolnshire County Council is planning to make cuts to the bus services it supports. This could affect cross-boundary routes into North and North East Lincolnshire.

These cuts are as result of reduced council funding following the comprehensive spending review.

Stagecoach Hull 46/49 Changes

From Tuesday 4th January Stagecoach in Hull are making revisions to services 46 and 49 which link Hull City Centre with Hull Marina (46 only), Victoria Dock Estate and parts of East Hull including Marfleet (service 46) and Bilton Grange (service 49). The timetable is revised while morning and afternoon peak journeys into Hull City Centre will operate via Drypool Bridge to reduce delays as either service 46D or 49D. This is instead of the usual route via Myton Bridge, the Marina (46 only) and Hull Old Town.

New Timetable
Route Map

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Stagecoach Scunthorpe area Christmas and New Year 2010-11

Stagecoach have released Christmas and New Year service plans for their Scunthorpe area services:

Christmas Eve - Normal Friday service with early finish
Christmas Day/Boxing Day - No services
Bank Holidays Monday 27th/Tuesday 28th - Sunday service
Wednesday 29th/Thursday 30th - Normal service
New Years Eve - Normal Friday service with early finish
New Years Day - No services
Sunday 2nd/Bank Holiday Monday 3rd - Sunday service

Stagecoach Leaflet

Stagecoach Grimsby Cleethorpes Christmas/New Year 2010-11

Stagecoach Grimsby Cleethorpes have released details of their Christmas and New Year service plans:

Christmas Eve - Normal Friday service with early finish
Christmas Day/Boxing Day - No Services
Bank Holidays Monday 27th/Tuesday 28th - Sunday service
Wednesday 29th - Saturday service on all routes except services Interconnect 3 (Grimsby-Lincoln-Newark), 25 (Grimsby-Binbrook), 51 (Grimsby-Louth) and 150 (Grimsby-East Halton) which will have operate a normal weekday service. Service 366 shall not operate
Thursday 30th - As the 29th but the 366 (Ulceby-Brigg) shall operate a normal Thursday service
New Years Eve - As the 29th with an early finish
New Years Day - No services
Sunday 2nd/Bank Holiday Monday 3rd - Sunday services

Stagecoach leaflet

NB - Stagecoach services 250 (Grimsby-Barton) and 450 (Barton-Brigg) shall be operating a normal weekday service on the 29th/30th/31st according to Stagecoach however the School Holidays weekday service is the same as the Saturday service. I suspect North Lincolnshire Council requires a weekday service on these tendered routes on these days, but why confuse the customer by saying these services are an exception to the general operating pattern when they aren't?

Where is the rail replacement bus?

As you will you know, there has been a lot of snow and ice recently, and a lot of it is still about. It's still causing problems for bus and train services. I'm a bit reluctant to start saying when services should be suspended and when they shouldn't - professionals should generally do that. But some things don't add up.

Currently the Northern Rail Cleethorpes-Barton train service remains suspended. No idea why, but presume there is a good reason. However what I can't understand is the lack of replacement buses. Some of the smaller communities maybe inaccessible still - I note the 260 Villager bus is not serving Goxhill currently - however buses are running in Barton, Grimsby and Cleethorpes. The 260 is reaching New Holland. The 250 bus is operating again now so there is a bus to Ulceby. While for most of last week a replacement bus was impractical, by now it is a clear a replacement bus could run to some stations. So why isn't there one?