Sunday 28 January 2018

88 Goole to Thorne reduced to Rawcliffe Bridge shoppers bus

After operation on Saturday 3rd February, EYMS service 88 between Goole and Thorne will cease in it's current form. The route currently provides a Monday to Saturday daytime link between the two towns, via Rawcliffe, Rawcliffe Bridge and Moorends. The service operates every 90 minutes on weekdays and every 80 minutes on Saturdays, apart from a 2 hour 10 minute lunchtime gap. EYMS state the withdrawal is because "since taking over the service a couple of years ago after another operator withdrew from the route, there have not been enough people travelling to cover the costs of running the bus".

EYMS started the 88 in September 2015 when First truncated their Doncaster to Goole service at Moorends. In May last year the first and last round trips were withdrawn, before being partially reinstated on a trial basis in September.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council are stepping in to fund a limited replacement. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays one journey will operate from Rawcliffe Bridge to Goole at 0930, returning at 1230. EYMS will remain as the operator, and this ensures that Rawcliffe Bridge retains a bus service. If this revised 88 continues long term, maybe the route could be diverted via Airmyn and Hook which have limited bus services, or provide journeys to these villages in between Rawcliffe Bridge journeys?

As already mentioned, there is only one place on the 88 route that does not have an alternative service, Rawcliffe Bridge, population at the 2011 census: 837. Rawcliffe is served by Arriva's hourly Monday to Saturday daytime 400/401 route between Goole, Snaith and Selby (plus Thornes 488 into Goole on a Wednesday), whilst Moorends has frequent services into Thorne provided by First. In addition there is a hourly rail service between Goole and Thorne North station on the outskirts of Thorne. Put this together, and as disappointing as this change is, it starts to become a bit more understandable.

The uneven interval timetable probably didn't help either, especially on Saturdays. However in some ways it is a potential 'catch 22' situation. A 90 minutes frequency on Saturdays would need an extra driver, an hourly frequency any day of the week would need an extra vehicle and drivers on what is already a commercially challenging route, whilst an even interval two hourly frequency would have meant less journeys.

There is another factor potentially involved here. Until last April, East Riding of Yorkshire Council made a small 'de minimis' contribution to the 88 off 7p per passenger journey. (The consultation documents on the cuts gave an annual passenger figure of 45630 for the 88 and an average of 10 passengers per journey).

Monday 1 January 2018

Humber Fastcat Evening Reductions

Back in early September, EYMS's Monday to Saturday evening roundtrip on the 350 Humber Fastcat - 1935 from Hull's Paragon Interchange to Scunthorpe and 2110 from Scunthorpe Bus Station back to Hull - narrowly survived withdrawal after North Lincolnshire Council (NLC) stepped in with funding to it operating. This was a late decision, with paper timetables having stapled inserts to explain as the timetable leaflet had already gone to print without these journeys. It was only a short reprieve however as they operated for the last time on Saturday 30th December due to NLC withdrawing their funding.

The 'backstory' starts last April and East Riding of Yorkshire Council's (ERYC) cuts to bus funding, which included their contribution to these journeys. Hull City Council (HCC) also withdrew their contribution to the 350 at the same time, though no details were given of what journeys were affected. Whatever journeys where affected, it made no difference to users at the time as no journeys were withdrawn in April - a situation that can't have been sustainable in EYMS's opinion hence the near withdrawal of their evening roundtrip in September until NLC stepped in. Whilst the loss of NLC funding is the direct reason for withdrawal now, the earlier loss of ERYC and possibly HCC funding are contributory factors to the journeys ending.

In ERYC's assessment of supported bus services 3928 annual passengers were noted for the roundtrip, an average of six per journey. Subsidy was 82p per passenger though in the balanced scorecard used to assess what to cut and what to keep it was penalised for being an 'urban evening' service and for having 'substantially similar' alternatives.

So what are those substantially similar alternatives? The 1935 filled a 115 minute gap in Stagecoach departures from Hull between 1825 and 2020, so in this particular direction the worse case scenario is a user having to catch a service 45 minutes later - not good news for those concerned but no one need be stranded. Between Hull and Barton there is also a 1910 Humber Flyer, which also provides the rail connection at Barton. I wonder if a consequence of this journey being introduced in March 2016 was to take some passengers that may have used EYMS's 350 journey previously? Improving one route but impacting another?

In the other direction, from Scunthorpe, substantially similar means the last departure is now one hour earlier, at 2010 which is the most significant aspect of this cut. Again between Barton and Hull the situation is better however as there is a later alternative with Stagecoach's 2255 Barton to Hull service.

If the information on the VOSA website is correct, EYMS's contribution to the 350 is now fully commercial (as is Stagecoach's).