Friday 29 June 2012

Traveline East Midlands new timetables

Traveline East Midlands has timetables for some forthcoming service revisions.

Stagecoach Interconnect 51 (Grimsby-Louth)

As already noted in this comment, Stagecoach are extending the Monday to Saturday daytime Grimsby-Holton Le Clay 'shorts' to Tetney from July 23rd. New evening peak 'shorts' to Tetney are also being added, bringing the Grimsby-Holton Le Clay peak frequency to half hourly, as in the daytime. Oddly though while Tetney has an evening peak service, there is no morning peak link into Grimsby provided. 

There is also a wider timetable recast, which seems to require an additional vehicle. Departures from Grimsby are generally 5 minutes earlier, and from Louth 10 minutes later, and journey time to/from Louth is increased by 7 minutes to 60 minutes.

It is welcome to see an hourly service for Tetney. Does the attempt to develop a Tetney service suggest that Stagecoach may have no plans to return the Grimsby-Louth corridor to a half hourly frequency? Or is the Tetney extension just about using otherwise dead time as the timetable is recast to improve punctuality?

Hornsby 68 (Brigg-Barnetby-Kirmington)

Despite this being a September change, details are already available. And it would seem my guess about the Thursday 366 being amalgamated into the 68 was correct, with one Tuesday and Thursday journey from Ulceby to Brigg and return formed by extending a Kirmington-Brigg service. Good to see a Tuesday link added from Ulceby and Wootton, but with layovers at Kirmington on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this could have been done every weekday.

Other changes are that a schools service seems to be interworked with the 68, and a new timing point of 'Humberside Airport, near Airport Terminal' added. I wonder if that means the 68 will be using the Humber Flyer bus stop at the airport? Probably just an easy place to turn around, but might pick up the odd passenger. In one case a current Kirmington journey (1055 from Brigg Cary Lane) is terminating 'short' at the airport, but this seems to be to facilitate a more clockface timetable. Finally it seems only afternoon services will continue to serve Brigg Leisure Centre.

(Warning - Traveline doesn't seem to have the right codes for some journeys, so I am making 'educated guesses' for the above. According to Traveline the current timetable remains beyond September as well as the new one, with buses from Barnetby at 0912, 0930 and 0950!)

Scunthorpe Hospital Park and Ride open to the public

As noted in a comment on this post, from next week the Scunthorpe Hospital staff park and ride from Glanford Park will be open to the public. Services run on weekdays between 8.30am and 5.50pm every 15 minutes.

Scunthorpe Telegraph article

The change coincides with Amvale taking over the contract to operate the service.

Monday 25 June 2012

Hornsby September changes, 2 Way Tender Wins

Three interesting registrations on VOSA today from Hornsby, all with effect from late August/early September.

Firstly the 68 (Wolds Villager) between Brigg, Barnetby and Kirmington, is getting a new timetable. Also Hornsby have registered the 366 on Saturdays only between Goxhill and Scunthorpe. Both are North Lincolnshire Council contracts, and the 366 is currently operated by Stagecoach's Scunthorpe depot. The 366 also has a Thursday service between Ulceby and Brigg, and I wonder if it is to be amalgamated into the 68?

Two interesting points. Hornsby have registered the 366 as one service, rather than Stagecoach's 'split' registration to keep the service within domestic driver hours rules. Secondly the loss of the 366 Saturday service means Stagecoach will cease to operate between Brigg and Scunthorpe - though remain serving Brigg with the 450 from Immingham and Barton.

Hornsby have also cancelled the college day 642 between Redbourne and Scunthorpe, via Hibaldstow, Scawby and Broughton. Traveline East Midlands shows that 642, another North Lincolnshire Council tendered service, is simply passing to 2 Way Transport in September. 2 Way have also picked up various schools services to South Axholme School from September.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Bus reregulation

I'm not a party political person, and I have voted for different political parties at different elections. I also don't what this to become a political blog. However this Labour policy review, 'Empowering communities to improve transport' can't really be ignored. The principle of less power for Whitehall, more for communities is near impossible to argue against. It is some of the suggestions in the policy review that I absolutely do not agree with.

The policy review backs a return to reregulation of the bus market outside London. In fairness it should be noted that the policy review implies this will not be imposed where it is not wanted - "Labour’s Policy Review is looking at how to strike a better balance between the desire for a bottom-up approach to reregulation and the need to provide the backing from government for those authorities that wish to make use of the legal powers that exist." However is reregulation really needed?

Just within the Humber Region, Hull is a brilliant example of how the deregulated market is delivering for customers. Passenger Focus survey results reveal 85% satisfaction from users of commercial bus services within the city. This is what Graham Hall, Assistant Head of Service for Transport and Asset Management for Hull City Council said in response to the results:

"Hull is known for being a bus city and these results show that there is high public satisfaction with local bus services and the frequency of commercial bus services. This has been achieved through a partnership approach with our local bus companies."

Bus use in Hull has risen by 30% in the past nine years. Here are couple of quotes:

"Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Sir Brian Souter said: "In Hull, we have a winning package of attractive and easy-to-use bus networks, long-term investment, good value fares, and effective transport policies from the local authority. With the same initiatives and political will, the prospects for buses across the UK could be really exciting.""

"Graham Hall, Hull City Council’s Assistant Head of Service, Transport and Asset Management, said “The Council is pleased to work in partnership with Stagecoach and East Yorkshire Motor Services to deliver an excellent bus network for the residents of the City. The growth in passengers experienced in recent years proves that when bus companies and local Council's work together they can deliver real results and a credible transport alternative to private cars.”"

It would be incorrect to say the Hull bus network is perfect. It isn't. Satisfaction isn't 100%. More can be done. However no system can ever be perfect, 85% satisfaction with a 30% increase in bus use is a success story. The deregulated market can work with willing bus operators, and a strong partnership with the local authority.

It's not just the local Hull network. The Humber Fastcat is a great example of the deregulated bus market delivering an enhanced service for passengers, with investment in new buses and increased frequency. In Lincolnshire there is the Interconnect network. There is Brighton and Oxford, and no doubt many other examples where the deregulated bus market provides comprehensive successful networks for passengers.

Of course many other places have issues that need addressing. The deregulated bus market delivers what are considered high fares, poor services levels and cuts to services in some areas. However is reregulation the only answer? There are statutory quality partnerships (SQP) that can be imposed to require high standards in terms of vehicle standards. Competition is still permitted, innovation is still permitted - for a case study, see Nottingham. These are certainly part of the answer to overcome some of the issues with the deregulated bus market. It certainly isn't perfect.

Labour's policy review notes this issue for example:
"Services often do not join up and the absence of integrated ticketing and co-ordinated timetables put barriers in the way of making use of public transport".

In terms of co-ordination of services and timetables, it needs partnership working, and arguably the right personalities and culture. Maybe SQP's need to be altered to allow transport authorities to specify co-ordinated timetables? However in terms of integrated ticketing, the deregulated sector can deliver on that. Just this week a multi-operator agreement for a York wide bus ticket was signed. Hull is set to launch a 'Hull Card'.

There is also this from the chair of the Tyne and Wear ITA in the policy review- "with fewer service changes".

Here is a change to the licensing system needed? 3 or 4 fixed service change dates per year, including the start of the new school year in September, with any exceptions requiring local authority approval.

I'm sure someone else could argue this better than me. However deregulation can work, and reregulation isn't the only answer to it's flaws. Has Maria Eagle, the shadow transport secretary visited Hull, or Brighton, or Nottingham when conducting her review?

Wednesday 20 June 2012

EYMS Bridlington Town Service Changes

EYMS are making various changes to Bridlington town services from July 1st.

Service 505 to Bridlington Hospital and West Hill (circular)
The school holiday only 0805 from Bridlington will cease to run and the 0905 from Bridlington will start in West Hill at 0925 on schooldays. The route will be revised, no longer serving Matson Road.

Service 506 to Bridlington Hospital and West Hill (circular)
The service will now serve Bridlington Hospital before West Hill. The weekday 0735 service from Bridlington will cease to run, with the first service now at 0835. The route will be revised, no longer serving Matson Road.

Services 507/517 to New Pasture Lane
These routes shall now operate as a circular service. Frequency to/from New Pasture Lane remains half hourly.

Services 512/513 North Bridlington Circulars
Both services will now operate every 45 instead of every 40 minutes. The 513 will operate via West Crayke instead of Thorntondale Drive, which retains the 512.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Interconnect 51 to Tetney

Lincolnshire County Council reports that July's change to Stagecoach's Interconnect 51 between Grimsby and Louth will see the service now serving Tetney. The 51 has previously served Tetney on a Wednesday only, providing a shopping link to/from Louth. This link was withdrawn sometime in the middle of the last decade. The village is currently served by Amvale's Saltfleet to Grimsby service, operating twice a day Monday to Saturdays.

Late night buses in the Barton area

Last week's Scunthorpe Telegraph reports about plans to improve late night transport links in the Barton area (unfortuantely I can't find the article online). From North Lincolnshire Council's perspective this is about making use of council vehicles currently unused in the evening, as well as organising voluntary initatives.

However a suggestion at a Barton Town Council meeting was that a coach service was organised one night a week to Hull or Scunthorpe, with a return around midnight. with town councillors noting how public transport in Barton ceases after 10pm (some would quite rightly say lucky Barton for having buses and trains that late). I suspect this idea is very unlikely to become a reality, but if it was, a better idea might be to simply subsidise a later journey on the Humber Fastcat, or speak to EYMS or Stagecoach about funding an extension of a West Hull/Hessle service to Barton (and maybe even beyond), such as the N2 or 66 - this could even be done on a request only basis, reducing the cost.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Emmerson Coaches ceases trading

This weeks Route One magazine reports that Emmerson Coaches of Immingham have ceased trading, with staff made redundant on June 1st. School contracts have passed to other operators, while Amvale have take on the phone number and diary. Emmerson Coaches was formed in 1965

Friday 8 June 2012

New 90/590 timetable

The new timetable for Holloways 90/590, commencing on 9th July, is now on Traveline East Midlands. Holloways have won the tender for this service, currently being run by Stagecoach hourly on an emergency tender after they cancelled their commercial service in April.

On weekdays the 'new' 90 runs between Scunthorpe and Crowle only. From Scunthorpe Bus Station services leave at 0721, 0840, 1030, 1230, 1430, 1620 and 1725. From Crowle services depart Cranidge Close at 0750, 0909, 1109, 1309, 1509, 1650 and 1755. Off peak services operate via Scunthorpe Hospital, which is a good 'innovation', overwise the service seems to be following the same route as Stagecoach's current service.

On Saturdays most journeys extended beyond Crowle to Garthorpe, but do not serve Scunthorpe Hospital. Services leave Scunthorpe at 0915, 1215, 1515 and 1725 (to Crowle only). From Crowle services depart at 0750, 1015, 1315, 1630 and 1755. From Garthorpe services depart at 1000, 1300 and 1615.

The 'new' 590 from Holloways continues to link Eastoft and Crowle to the Scunthorpe Colleges on college days, but will no longer serve St. Bedes School or Scunthorpe Bus Station.

So that is the new service, and it's back to 'recent historical norm' in terms of frequency, thinking back to the former Road Car/Stagecoach 356. However what about Sweyne Coaches weekday service, and Stagecoach's East Riding of Yorkshire tendered Saturday service 357? The co-ordination is brilliant actually from Crowle to Scunthorpe and return on weekdays, with an hourly daytime service provided between Sweyne and Holloways. On Saturdays it is quite good as well, with at least 40 minutes between the 90 and 357, with one exception in the afternoon (1556 357 from Garthorpe, 1615 90).

Thought has clearly gone into the 90 timetable, and consideration made off Sweyne's commercial service, and the East Riding tendered 357. However the services will be fragmented between operators, and there is still the risk that the tendered 90 will abstract passengers from Sweyne Coaches commercial services. Personally I would have awarded a de minimis contract to Sweyne to fill the gaps. Maybe that was tried? At least though Crowle still maintains a decent bus service.

More buses to Amcotts

From 25th June, the 1020 and 1320 journeys from Scunthorpe on Hornsby's 35 will extend beyond Keadby to Amcotts. The 1420 from Scunthorpe will terminate at Queens Crescent not Chapel Lane in Keadby. Return journeys are amended accordingly.

Electrification for Hull (and Cleethorpes?) moves forward?

Construction News reports (you'll need to try and get round the paywall) Network Rail is searching for contractors to join an alliance for electrification work covering routes to Hull and Cleethorpes, amongst other destinations.

The mention of Cleethorpes is rather odd as the article refers to it as a branch of the main North Transpennine Route (which it isn't), and mentions nothing about electrifying the South Transpennine Route (which Cleethorpes is on). Plus there has been no previous indication of Cleethorpes electrification even being considered.

It is good to see Hull electrification possibly moving forward however.

(Article first posted on the wnxx forum)

Thursday 7 June 2012

Brigg to Scunthorpe

A comment on this post - "Better Q. Why did stagecoach service to Briggs fail? It was quicker. Where fare costly?" - got me thinking about services between Brigg and Scunthorpe. I'm not quite sure about the fares, but I wanted to look at the service provision between the two towns.

The constant has been Hornsby's hourly service 4 via Broughton and Ashby. It's established and has tendered early morning, evening and Sunday daytime services. However other services between Brigg and Scunthorpe have been subject to fairly regular chopping and changing.

A service via Scawby has always operated, and until 2008 this was in the form of Road Car/Stagecoach 365 operating around every two hours. This also served Wrawby and Ashby. Since the 365 was withdrawn, Scawby and Sturton have been served mainly by the tendered 94/95/366. Currently the 95 provides 4 journeys on weekdays (plus 1 Brigg to Lakeside) and 1 on Saturdays; the 366 provides 2 journeys on Saturdays. Stagecoach;s 909/90 has also provided 1 service each way via Scawby.

However attempts at 'fast' services have struggled, and often have been part of wider links. The tendered 94 used to operate fast between Brigg and Scunthorpe. This was part of a wider Bishop Norton/Lime Sidings to Brigg and Scunthorpe link. Likewise the tendered 366 from Goxhill and Ulceby to Scunthorpe on Saturday used to operate fast from Brigg to Scunthorpe. However timetables were infrequent and they weren't really intended for Brigg to Scunthorpe passengers.

This all changed when Stagecoach 'reintroduced' the 909, which later became the 909/910 and then the 90. Here was an hourly Brigg to Scunthorpe fast service - and while opportunities for links to Doncaster and Crowle existed, one of the main purposes was to link Brigg and Scunthorpe. Stagecoach kept persevering with the Brigg to Scunthorpe section - they must have seen a market to be developed - but from July it appears to be axed.

So what is the issue? If it's fares I don't know enough to comment, but one possible factor is that the Brigg to Scunthorpe corridor has been split between two operators, Hornsby and Stagecoach, without any joint ticketing. So passengers, except for OAP's or those buying single tickets, don't have a choice of two services an hour. It's hourly Hornsby OR hourly Stagecoach. If Brigg to Scunthorpe has the demand for two services an hour, then maybe the second service each hour needs to from Hornsby, offering a 'step change' in frequency?

If a second service each hour is to operate, what route should it take?
The fast route, as taken by Stagecoach's 90, is indeed the quickest between Brigg and Scunthorpe, but serves very little other than Lakeside Retail Park en-route. Do Brigg to Scunthorpe services need to the support of 'intermediate' passengers? Was this Stagecoach's downfall?

Another option would be to increase the 4 to half hourly - is there the demand in Broughton for this? Or possibly to operate one service an hour via Broughton, and one via Ashby - i.e. 2 'semi-fast' services, combined fast elements and intermidiate traffic. Though how substantial are Broughton to Ashby passenger flows?

Or how about routing a second hourly service via Scawby and Sturton instead of Broughton. This could replace the 95 so would have established passenger flows to build on. Though would it be enough for an hourly service?

Would an option be to have some services extending to Wrawby, as the 365 did, or even beyond. Could this contribute extra passengers to help make extra Brigg to Scunthorpe services work? Or would the costs outweigh the benefits?

Are Hornsby interested in boosting Brigg to Scunthorpe links? Or, with their far more extensive knowledge of the corridor than me, do they know it isn't worthwhile? Questions, Questions - but ones I think it's worth asking, especially for those with an interest in growing public transport usage.