Friday, 29 March 2013

The Circular becomes The Pointer

The Hull [City] Circular is a service which has seen frequent changes over the past few years, as Stagecoach have tried to make it work as a commercial service. From Tuesday 2nd April, 'The Circular' becomes 'The Pointer', a name which no doubt comes from the new route it will take, see this map. This change, which sees a contraction in the areas served by the route, is a reflection that the service seems to be no longer an attempt to link multiple major estates without the need to change in the City Centre, but instead an attempt to serve certain specific cross-city flows, along with links into the city centre itself. The concept of the city circular appears to be dead.

The Pointer will retain the current service 10 number used by The Circular, and in the western half of the city the route is little changed. Clockwise from the city centre the route continues to serve Princes Avenue, Newland Avenue, Hull University, Hall Road and Greenwood Avenue en-route to the Orchard Park Estate. Here the route will now omit the Tesco car park, but continue to run via the Sutton Park estate to Bransholme's North Point Shopping Centre, which as well as being a shopping centre, is also a key interchange point onto other bus services.

It is in the eastern part of Hull where the route has it's biggest change. Leaving North Point the service continues to run via Midmere Avenue, but will now serve Sutton Village instead of the western part of Howdale Road (reducing duplication of the 51) en-route to Dunvegan Road, Salthouse Road and Wilberforce College. From here the service will now run directly via Holderness Road back into the city centre, omitting the Bilton Grange and Preston Road Estates, as well as the Hedon Road industrial area - this section apparently saw few passengers.

While the route has got shorter, the frequency is improved over much of the route. Currently a half hourly Monday to Saturday service operates between Hull City Centre, the University and Orchard Park, with weekday only extensions along the rest of the route. The Pointer however will operate half hourly over the entire route, Saturdays included. This provides much enhanced connectivity between Orchard Park and Bransholme, and also reflects changes to other services in Eastern Hull.

After operation on Easter Sunday, the 52 service between Hull City Centre, Bilton Grange and Salthouse Road will be withdrawn. This had provided the 'fast' link between the City Centre and Salthouse Road, a role which the 10 takes over, on an even more direct routing. As a result associated service 53 is altered, and will no longer serve Dunvegan Road or the eastern part of Howdale Road, a role the 10 also takes over.  

What Stagecoach must be hoping for is that the 52's current passengers transfer onto other routes, including the 10, thus boosting those services. The Pointer now appears the serve the role of 13/15 'relief' route in West Hull, providing an Orchard Park-Bransholme link, connecting Wilberforce College with North Point for onward connections, and offering a fast route between Salthouse Road and Hull City Centre - all 'stitched together' for convenience. Maybe I'm wrong, but I do wonder how much 'cross Bransholme' traffic there will be? Does it matter though? 

Some other notes on the revised 10, the 10W diversion via Askew Avenue appears to be withdrawn - this had provided a Wilberforce College link from parts of West Hull. Anti clockwise journeys will also now operate directly into the Interchange inbound, rather than via the City Centre loop.

As I mentioned earlier, the 52 is being withdrawn. The link it currently provides along Marfleet Lane to Bilton Grange will be replaced by the new 54A, though the Bilton Grange-Wilberforce College link will not be replaced. The 54A will be a variant of the 54, the main link between Hull City Centre and Bilton Grange, operating via Marfleet Lane instead of Maybury Road. The 54A will operate every 20 minutes on weekday daytimes, and every half hour on Saturday daytimes - an extra bus per hour on weekdays compared to the current 52, but with no Sunday service.

The impact on Maybury Road isn't that severe, as the 54/54A combined goes from every 15 minutes to every 10 minutes for much of the daytime on weekdays, thus Maybury Road will retain a service 54 every 20 minutes on weekdays, dropping to half hourly on Saturdays. Overall the change is surely a more cost effective way of serving Marfleet Lane, albeit adding a little complexity to the 54 in the process.

Finally the 52 currently forms a circular with the 53, which from Easter Monday becomes a stand alone service. It will continue to operate from Hull City Centre via James Reckitt Avenue, Lambwath Road, Ings Road and Savoy Road from where it will operate an anti-clockwise loop along Bellfield Avenue, Holderness Road, Salthouse Road and Middlesex Road (currently unserved) back to Savoy Road for it's return journey to the City Centre. Frequency remains half hourly Monday to Saturday daytimes, alongside an hourly Sunday and Bank Holiday daytime service.

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