Saturday, 10 December 2016

East Riding Bus Cuts final proposals

Earlier this year I covered (here, here and here), potential cuts to subsidised bus services by East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC). On Tuesday 13th December, the council cabinet will consider the final proposals. Most of the proposed cuts will go ahead as planned if approved, but some contracts have been 'saved' and demand responsive services will be introduced as partial replacement in parts of the county to avoid villages being left entirely unserved. Whilst a couple of decisions appear questionable, it is good to see some mitigation from the original proposals. The supporting papers for the cabinet contain extensive information, so I have picked out some key and interesting points.

The following services proposed for withdrawal entirely will now continue:
  • 124: Boynton-Driffield/Ruston Parva-Bridlington Wednesday and Thursday 'shopper' service - villages would have been left unserved by the bus network - average 6 passengers per journey at a cost of £2.49 per passenger journey
  • 173: Withernsea-Hull Saturday 'shopper' service - villages would have been left unserved by the bus network - average 18 passengers per journey at a cost of £4.05 per passengerjourney
  • 196: Aughton-York Tuesday 'shopper' service - may change day of operation, villages would have been left unserved by the bus network - average 18 passengers per journey at a cost of £2.18 per passenger journey
  • 486/487: Selby-Hensall-Snaith Monday and Friday 'shopper' circular - reason given as "Accept NYCC tender for local bus service (Cost Reduction)", has been costing 43p per passenger journey with an average 20 passengers
  • 488: Selby-Goole Wednesday 'shopper' service - reason given as "Accept NYCC tender for local bus service (Cost Reduction)", has been costing £2.47 per passenger journey with an average 17 passengers
Additionally the Monday, Wednesday and Friday diversion of the 221 Aldbrough-Hull via Garton will be retained to retain a link from the village to Hull. This diversion has an average zero passengers per journey, 97 annual passengers and a £8.79 per passenger journey cost. Why is this being funded still with such low usage, and why 3 days a week? If retaining such a little used service is valued so much, why not just fund it one day a week?

The following service groups have amended proposals:

45/46 Bridlington-Driffield-Pocklington-York:
  • The Saturday 0905 46A Pocklington-Driffield will no longer be funded between Midldeton on the Wolds and Driffield as previously proposed, and neither will the return 1255 46A Driffield-York between Driffield and Market Weighton. The weekday equivalent is not impacted.
  • The Monday to Saturday 1345 45 York-Bridlington will no longer be funded between Pocklington and Bridlington, as previously proposed, along with the return 1545 46 Bridlington-York between Bridlington and Pocklington.
  • The Monday to Saturday 1635 45 Bridlington-York will now continue to be funded but be retimed and rerouted via Bainton and Middleton on the Wolds to partially replace the 1545 departure from Bridlington. The return 1835 45 York-Bridlington will also continue to be funded. The justification given is the "adverse effect on journeys to work"
  • Subsidised evening and Sunday services will no longer be funded as per the original proposals
78/79/80/277 Hull-Hedon:
  • The Saturday 0640 277 Hull to Hedon and return 0727 79 will have funding withdrawn as planned.
  • Funding for the weekday 1102 and 1452 service 78's from Hedon to Hull to operate via Paull will cease as planned, but funding for the 1302 from Hedon to serve Paull will be retained, for Paull residents travelling back from Hedon. Remaining Hedon-Hull services via Paull will potentially be at 0827, 1002, 1302 and 1722 (depending on any commercial changes)
  • On Saturday's funding for the 0827, 1002 and 1452 service 78's from Hedon to serve Paull will be withdrawn, but funding for the 1302 retained. Remaining Hedon-Hull services via Paull will potentially be at 0915, 1102, 1302 and 1722
  • Weekday service 80 will still have funding withdrawn for diversions via Paull or the Westlands Estate in Hedon
  • The Stagecoach operated Monday to Saturday evening service would no longer be funded, except for the 1810 78 Hull to Hedon and 1850 277 Hedon to Hull return, which was proposed to have it's funding withdrawn along with the rest of the service. This is for the benefit of commuters and was 'mooted' as a possibility in the original consultation.
  • The Sunday service will have funding withdrawn entirely as originally planned.
142 Beverley-Middleton on the Wolds:
  • The Saturday extensions from Holme to Middleton on the Wolds will be retained. This service has an average 1 passenger per journey at a cost of £7.77 per passenger journey and has a weekday alternative. I do question if retaining these extensions is the best of use money with such low usage and an available alternative during the week.
  • Sunday services will have funding withdrawn as planned
246: Hornsea-Beverley-Hull:
  • Funding for the weekday 0605 Hornsea-Beverley and the 0700 Beverley-Hornsea as far as Brandesburton will be retained for commuters.
  • Funding for the Monday to Saturday 0635, 1030, 1230 and 1430 Hornsea-Hull between Hornsea and Beverley, the 1915 Hornsea-Beverley, the 0815 Beverley-Hornsea (Sat only) and the 0940, 1140, 1340 and 1750 Hull to Hornsea between Beverley and Hornsea will be withdrawn as planned, leaving a 2 hourly daytime services and limited later evening journeys.
  • Funding for Sunday journeys will be withdrawn as planned.
All other services proposed to have funding withdrawn will see their funding withdrawn as planned subject to ERYC's cabinet approving the final proposals.

Interestingly the following contracts being withdrawn received no comments during EYRC's consultation:
  • 270: Driffield-Beeford
  • 517: Bridlington Town Service, one peak journey
  • 523: Beverley-Molescroft, Sunday
  • 549: Withernsea Town Service
  • Village Link services in Holderness
Finally ERYC have published EYMS's response to the consultation earlier this year. They question the heavy weighting against evening and Sunday services with less people working the traditional 9-5 Monday to Friday schedule. They also question the effectiveness of demand responsive services as replacements to traditional bus services (as opposed to supplementing them); EYMS's submission note they are difficult to market to non-residents and of little use for short notice travel. A 2003 service in the Pocklington area is noted as having been replaced by traditional bus services at lower cost. 

EYMS state they will put any service due have funding withdrawn into one of three categories:
  • 'Free standing' services with no commercial future - these will be withdrawn, with the Market Weighton shopper services S1/S2/S3 quoted as an example.
  • 'Minor supplements to current commercial services' - these will be considered for continued commercial operation, with the Sunday morning service 105 quoted as an example
  • 'Major supplements to current commercial services' - these will require timetable recasts with services 45/46 and 246 quoted as examples.
EYMS then note that the loss of withdrawn contracts means margins "will fall well below the level that is essential for EYMS to continue to replace its assets". Most of the 'at-risk' services are off-peak, limiting vehicle savings to 4 and meaning a lower utilisation of vehicles. "Further economies from the commercial network are inevitable". EYMS state only a third of lost revenue will be covered by fuel and wage savings. Ominous.

EYMS included some financial information:
2013 Net Profit - £652,0000
2014 Turnover - £30.8 million
2014 Net Profit - £694,000
2015 Turnover - £29.93 million
2015 Net Profit - £156,000 (0.5% of turnover)
Capital spend on buses since January 2014 - £5 million

And also this interesting nugget:
Since 2002 bus speeds in Hull have slowed from 10.8mph to 9.1mph. The current network could be operated with 15% fewer buses if traffic conditions returned what they were in 2002/3.

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