Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Stagecoach in Scunthorpe

Now the details of Stagecoach's recent changes have been reviewed, I want to take a more general look at Stagecoach's operations in the region, starting with Scunthorpe. Scunthorpe wasn't too badly affected in April's changes. By my calculations the PVR (peak vehicle requirement) was only reduced by 2, and half of this was a tender loss.

However it could have been worse - Stagecoach had cancelled the 90 (PVR 2) but North Lincolnshire Council stepped in to save it on an emergency tender pending a longer term solution being found. No one can say Stagecoach haven't tried with their Brigg and later Crowle services, the 909, 909/910 then the 90; increased frequencies, and for Brigg a far quicker route. However it clearly hasn't worked.

Why? In part this may be down to competition. Between Brigg and Scunthorpe the main service is Hornsby's established route 4 (and there is also tendered service 95). Stagecoach and RoadCar have no recent history of being the main provider of services between the two towns. The 365 which existed before the 909 returned was only every 2 hours, and it's been a while since the 'original' 909 operated. And between Scunthorpe and Crowle there is competition to a more limited extent from Sweyne Coaches, and tendered Saturday service 357 (operated ironically by Stagecoach). That competition has already seen Stagecoach withdraw from commercial services in Garthorpe, Luddington and Eastoft.

It's not just the 90 that faces competition. Within Scunthorpe Hornsby Travel have a significant presence on town services. Some are co-ordinated with Stagecoach (the 6), some have found gaps from routes given up by Stagecoach (the 22) while other duplicate parts of Stagecoach services (the 12 - and this has seen a boost from Stagecoach reducing services 33/34 to hourly). There is also competition for tendered services; Hornsby have the contract for services 16/35/60/94-95, all of which have been operated by Stagecoach/Road Car in the fairly recent past (the 35 in it's old 357? form).

Competition means a fragmented market. As well as Hornsby and Sweyne, Isle Coaches, Holloways Coaches and EYMS (the latter in co-operation with Stagecoach) also operate 'public' bus services in Scunthorpe.

All this means that Stagecoach don't have the dominance and scale they have in other places. This need not be a problem by itself, but a look at the fleet reveals a major lack of investment by Stagecoach since they took over Road Car in late 2005. Using the fleet list in the January/February edition of the Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire Transport Review, correct as off 15th January, Scunthorpe has a fleet off 33 vehicles. Only six of these where delivered new under Stagecoach (the 6 MAN/Enviro's for the 350 Humber Fastcat) of which two are outbased at Hull. Other than 3 recently cascaded 2005 Volvo B7RLE's (for the 103 to Lincoln) the rest of the fleet dates from before 2004 or before, i.e. at least 8 years old - thats 25 out of the 33 based vehicles, 75% of the allocation. I should note here the Interconnect 100 which serves Scunthorpe has newer vehicles, but is not operated by Scunthorpe depot.

Since January changes to the fleet have taken place with some 'newer' low floor double deckers arriving to replace Volvo Olympians, but I don't think the proportion of vehicles under 8 years of age has significantly changed. What this shows is a lack of investment by Stagecoach in the fleet in Scunthorpe and where the investment has occured it has been for 'out of town' routes - the 350 is just as much a part of the Hull network as it is the Scunthorpe network for example.

Which leads me nicely onto the town network, no investment in vehicles in over 6 years, and cutbacks which started under Road Car and continued over Stagecoach. For example, back in March 2003 High Leys Road had 5 buses per hour into Scunthorpe, now 2 per hour. The 15 minute frequency for Bolsover Road tried in 2005, now every 20 minutes. Dewsbury Avenue down from every half hour in 2005 to hourly now.

So competition, a declining network and lack of investment in the fleet. I don't know the finances of Scunthorpe depot but what I have described doesn't paint an encouraging picture. I hope I'm mis-interpreting all of the above and things aren't as bad as I'm describing. However it doesn't look good.


Anonymous said...

I think the time has come in Scunthorpe for (another!) complete network recast. When the current network was launched around 2008 it seemed to work quite well, but as more and more services have been chopped changed, and added, it has been left with quite a messy network of mostly hourly services (except the 6/31/32). If it was me I would...

- Merge the 37/38 into one service, running via the Hospital, Crosby, then Dewsbury Ave, Speedwell Cres, then extend to Tesco via the orbital road, running every hour. Would make no difference to PVR, as could be run by 1 vehicle.

- Scrap the 33/34. Keep the 10 in its new circular form, Running every hour, with an early morning/evening short runs from Ashby via Westcliff to replace the lost 33/34 runs (Would save 2 vehicles)

- Extend the 31/32 from Enderby Road to Quebec Rd, High Leys Road, then pick up the current route into town from Angerstien Road. It would take around 55 minutes to do a 'loop' instead of 47 minutes now, so would add 1 to the PVR.

- Increase the 11 to half-hourly, and run via Lincoln Gardens/Cemetery Rd instead of Ashby Road, timed to run between the 12 to bring back the 15-min frequency (add 1 to the PVR). If there is no demand to run via Valley View/Ogivley Drive every 30 minutes, an 11a could run from Cambridge Avenue to Timberlands, going the same way as the old 344 used to, and serve some of the side streets (e.g Caistor Avenue) which has lost its direct bus recently.

By my calculations, this would mean no overall change to PVR (so keeps the savings already made), but would also mean most areas would have the same, or better service. Only areas that would loose out, would be...

Hilton Ave that would loose its service once again (could the Hornsby 35 not serve this area, using some of the slack in its timetable?)

Bristol Road (and Bridges Road) would go from Every 30 minutes, to Hourly into town, but the 31/32 still serve the top end, and Bridges road is roughly half way round the new 10 circulars.

If it was not for the almost new depot, and all the workshops that are in Scunthorpe (I understand a lot of work the all of SEM takes place here?), Roadcar tended to renew the Scunthorpe fleet around every 8 years, with the 8 x metroriders in 1996, followed in 2004 by 8 x optare solo's. I believe a batch of the brand new 'roadrunner' minibuses arrived in the late 80's, but not sure of the year or exact vehicle type.

In my opinion, the most vunerable depot in Gainsborough - The 100 could easily be split between Scunthorpe/Lincoln, and the town services running empty at the start/end of the day from either of the above - Just depends how much it costs to keep the depot open v dead mileage.

Anonymous said...

TO Anon, I would suggest you email head office with these ideas. There do listen sometimes, and as you have explained everything you would have a good chance, it does seem to be lower down there list.

Scunthorpe does need something major, and it’s a bit surprising that the town is being left to rot, from anyone looking in, its seems to be affect/effect by "First bus problem" lack of new buses, lack of proper ideas, Its becoming like Grantham…… and we all know what happened there…….
I wonder why stagecoach has lost interest in the town as a whole:

• Over 70’000 residents
• Major hospital
• Hugh Steel works.

Network as it stands is still a mess, why does No13 STILL operate? 31a/32a again is somewhat complicated, running on top of its self. Why has nothing been done to simplify whole network with proper early morning and evening services, instead of a spreate service, does a lot of people know about the No13? I feel sorry for people going to their work in the mornings, nothing to the hospital for 7am start. There 4 other industrial estates in the town again with no decent links for workers.
No90 could have replaced the No10 between Morriosn –Frodingham – bus station, without increase the running time.

The town needs something MAJOR but what? And how?

Anonymous said...

Just a few comments on Scunthorpe bus services and their absolute decline. In 1972 I moved to Sunningdale Road in the Riddings area and, at that time the district was served by 3 regular bus routes; the 233 From Low Leys to town via Spilsby Road, Priory Lane and Lloyds Avenue, the 230, also from Low Leys to town but via Yaddlethorpe Cross Roads and Ashby Road to town (both these routes were interworked ie. the 230 continued as the 234 and vice versa, effectively a circular but was never advertised as such so there were lost opportunities even then), and the 233 from High Leys to town via Willoughby Road, Priory Lane and Lloyds Avenue. The 233 and 234 followed the same route from the junction of Spilsby Road to town and were timed so as to provide a 20 miniute interval service throughout the day although there was an 08.20 from both High and Low Leys on weekdays, both detailed for double deck vehicles and joined by a third double deck vehicle as a duplicate fron Willoughby Road, all three usually were full. Fast forward forty years to a similar departure time from Low Leys in March, 2012 with a single deck vehicle which also serves Westcliff and elsewhere, just 20 passengers some of whom were students alighting at John Leggot College. What a change, a depressing indication of absolute decline and a situation which is crying out for reversal although I'm not sure as to how it could be achieved.

David Barrett said...

For a historical perspective I will try to summarise the Scunthorpe Town Services as shown in the LRCC timetable of 11th. June 1973.

210 Scunthorpe/Hudson Avenue. A basic 30 miniute interval service during the day (hourly evenings) with extensions to Appleby Frodingham Steel Works at shift times.

211 Scunthorpe/Avenue Vivian. Similar in pattern to 210.

212&213 Scunthorpe/Dewsbury Avenue or Lodge Road. Basic 30 miniute interval service to Berkeley Circle then hourly to each terminus.

214. Scunthorpe/Newlands. An off peak service of 6 journeys on Weekdays only via the Hospital. Leaving the Bus Station at; 09.15. 11.30, 14.00, 15.45, 18.00 and 22.00, returning at; 09.30, 11.45, 14.15, 16.00, 18.15 and 22.15.

215 Hospital. A small number of runs between the Bus Station and the Hospital at visiting times on certian days of the week.

220 Hudson Avenue/Timberlands via the Hospital. A cross town service operated jointly with Hornsby on an hourly frequency throughout the day.

221 Scunthorpe/Byrd Road. Basic 20 miniute interval service throughout the day.

222 Scunthorpe/Collum Avenue via Bushfield Road. A basic 40 miniute interval service throughout the day with additional runs on Friday and Saturday mornings giving a 20 miniute interval.

223 Scunthorpe/Collum Avenue via Revesby Avenue. As 222.

224&224 Scunthorpe/Ashby. Jointly with Hornsby and Millard, Every 10 miniutes running alternately clockwise and anti-clockwise in the Ashby area.

230 Scunthorpe/Low Leys Via Ashby Road. A basic 40 miniute interval service with additional runs on Fridays and Saturdays from 09.00 to 18.20 between Scunthorpe and Yaddlethorpe Cross Roads giving a 20 miniute interval service between these two points.

231 High Leys/Ashby. Thursdays only; hourly from 09.45 to 15.45, 09.30 to 15.30 return.

232 Low leys/Ashby. Thursdays and Saturdays only; hourly from 09.45 to 15.45, 09.30 to 15.30 return.

233 Scunthorpe/High Leys via Priory Lane. Basic 40 Miniute interval service with additional Friday and Saturday journeys between 08.10 and 18.50 giving an odd 10/30 miniute headway during the times when the additional runs were operated.

234 Scunthorpe/Low leys via Priory Lane. Basic 40 miniute intervals throughout the day.

235 Scunthorpe/Ashfield via Ashby Road. Basic 40 miniute intervals throughout the day.

236 Lichfield Avenue/Ashby Broadway. Thursdays and Saturdays only; every hour from 09.15 to 15.15 and 10.00 to 16.00 return.

237. Scunthorpe/Lichfield Avenue. 40 miniute intervals throughout the day with some early morning shift workers journeys. Every 20 miniutes Friday and Saturday Mornings.

251. Enderby Road/Lysaghts Works. A single Weekday only journey at 06.50.

252&253 Sunningdale Road/Dryden Road to Frodingham and Lysaghts Works via Westcliff, Riddings and Ashby. Srevices at shift,day and office staff times.

254 Ashby/Appleby Frodingham Works. Services at shift and day staff times.

255 Ashby/Santon. Services at shift and day staff times.

256&258 Scunthorpe/Lysaghts Works. Services at shift, day and office staff times.

259 Hudson Avenue/Scunthorpe/Santon/Appleby. An irregular service providing local, works and rural needs. Operated throughout the day including early morning shift times.

On Sundays the works services operated mostly as weekdays with the exception of those provided for office staff, and the town services generally commenced around mid-day running to Weekday frequencies thereafter. Town services countnued running up to around 22.30/2300 daily.

Anonymous said...

Last week, for the first time in around a year I actually used the bus in Scunthorpe rather than just observing from a-far. I travelled from Bottesford to Scunthorpe on the 33, followed by the 31 down to Berkeley, then returned on the 32 and 34.

Although you should not judge too much from 1 journey on one day, It did not paint a good picture.

Firstly, my outbound journey, which was undertaken around 12.
The 33 I caught into town had 6 passengers on when I boarded. All 6 got off at Ashby Market, leaving just me on the bus all the way into town - Nobody else got on or off! From town, the 31 had about 10 on when it left the town centre, which was also very low.

Returning on the 32, in the late afternoon. Leaving Berkeley circle, the bus had just 4 on, all of whom stayed on into town. Then the 34... It turned up 5 minutes late, which meant of the 10 or so waiting at the stand - 6 went over the catch the 11 as this appeared on stand first. This left just 4 on the 34 bus leaving the bus station. A couple got of those got off in Lincoln Gardens, and a handful got on again at Ashby.

I knew things had gotten bad, but if this is what its like everyday, it does not bode well for the future in Scunthorpe. Stagecoach need to do something quickly to sort this out.