Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Stagecoach in Hull

Finishing my review of Stagecoach's operations in the region, today a look at Hull depot, and unlike south of the Humber, there are a lot of positives here. The April service changes generally weren't bad news, just the sort of changes that seem to happen every year in Hull. So I'm going to take a wider look at the past few years.

Over the past couple of years, Stagecoach have tried to improve the fortunes of many secondary routes, or find alternatives to replace them. The 20 has gone, replaced by changes to the 15, 28, 30 and K1, and in the case of the first three I'd argue that the cancellation of the 20 has boosted these core routes. The 30 has also been boosted by the new 30A Leads Road diversion, replacing the 31, and before that 38, along the road.

Many other secondary links remain part of secondary services, and often see regular changes, such as services to the Bricknell Avenue Estate and the city circular. Maybe April's service changes will be the answer to long term stability. Maybe not. Generally speaking secondary services and links seem to remain a challenge for Stagecoach.

Another challenge seems to be the nightbus network which is far from stable. From 24 hour services, to Friday cutbacks, to Saturday cutbacks and Friday improvements. From city centre starts, to the Welly Club, to Hull University and back to the city centre. I'm guessing the economic situation could have impacted on how many people go out at night, but whatever the reason for the regular alterations, surely the Nightbus network needs stability and promotion - a consistent product offering - to bring growth and hopefully allow previous cutbacks to be reversed in the future.

However away from secondary services, the core network seems to be holding up well. Some cutbacks, especially on Saturdays, have occurred in recent years, and efficiencies from better co-ordination of services did enable some PVR reductions - but nothing major. The controversial recast of the Greatfield and Bilton Grange network seems to have been a success, with significant investment in new buses for the 41/2 and most recently 43/54.

The new vehicles for the Greatfield/Bilton Grange services have just been part of the significant investment in the Hull fleet since 2009. New vehicles for the 1/2, 30, 41/2 and the 43/54 in the past three years, plus Hull has benefited from the 2009 relaunch of the 350 with new buses and an increased frequency. Significant investment like this is not made without reason.

The strong position, of the core network at least, in Hull is demonstrated by rising passenger numbers. In the past 9 years, bus use in Hull across Stagecoach and EYMS has increased by 30%. A success story.

Considering the size of the network in Hull, regular alterations and tinkering are inevitable. I'm curious for example if the 31 will be a success, I'm sceptical about the 10's future and need. Like all operations, the reductions in BSOG and fuel prices has had an impact. However from the outside it seems Stagecoach have a decent operation in Hull.

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