Saturday, 29 September 2018

When Two become One

Until Saturday 30th June, North Lincolnshire Council (NLC) had funded two Saturday 'shopper' services which served both Brigg and Scunthorpe - the 94/94 from Redbourne and the 366 from Goxhill - using two buses. From Saturday 7th July new Saturday only route C4 partially replaced these services, using just one bus - and with one bus trying to replace what two did before, the rather predictable result was a reduced service. The old 94/95 and 366, and new C4 were/are operated by Hornsby Travel.

The Saturday service 94/95 had comprised a single service each way between Redbourne and Scunthorpe via Brigg. The route operated as service 94 between Redbourne and Brigg, serving Hibaldstow and Scawby en-route, before using the 95 number between Brigg and Scunthorpe, serving Scawby again as well as Lakeside Retail Park. A quirk on the old Saturday 94, which still continues on the new C4, was/is the use of Pyewipe Farm in Redbourne as the terminus, south of the village centre, as opposed to the village itself. This is a legacy of when the Saturday 94 started at Bishop Norton and was partly funded by Lincolnshire County Council (LCC). When the LCC funding went, the service was cutback back to the NLC boundary, in this case a farm.

Service 366 had been a Saturday only service in recent years, partly acting as a Saturday service for the 68 Wolds Villager route between Ulceby and Brigg, but also doing more than that. One return journey was provided between Goxhill, New Holland, Barrow, Thornton Curtis, Ulceby, Wootton, Croxton, Kirmington, Melton Ross, Barnetby, Wrawby, Brigg, Lakeside Retail Park and Scunthorpe, along with an Ulceby to Scunthorpe 'short' in each direction; this 'short' wasn't much use for travel to/from Scunthorpe but was useful for Brigg shoppers. All but one journey also served Scawby (the one that didn't was due to the 95 operating at a similar time).

The new C4 officially runs between Kirmington and Redbourne, but is effectively two separate interworked services; Kirmington to Brigg and Redbourne to Brigg. Between Kirmington and Brigg the C4 uses the X4 route, which unlike the 366 also includes Humberside Airport and Tunnel Road in Wrawby, partially replacing the 91 Brigg Town Service in this part off Wrawby. Four services are provided each way between Kirmington and Brigg, though two services from Brigg operate direct, omitting Wrawby Tunnel Road, Barnetby and Humberside Airport. Compared to the 366 this is slightly better than the two journeys each way provided on this section of route. Between Redbourne and Brigg there are two journeys each way, one which follows the same route as the 94 including Hibaldstow The Nookings and Scawby, and a direct 'in service positioning journey' that omits The Nookings and Scawby.

So whilst looking in isolation at what the C4 replaces, the service is the same or slightly improved, there is quite a lot which the C4 doesn't replace. Goxhill, New Holland, Barrow, Thornton Curtis, Ulceby and Wootton no longer have a service to Scunthorpe and need to use the 260/450/train/CallConnect to Barton to catch the 350 instead. Goxhill and New Holland need to do likewise for travel to Brigg from Barton/Barrow on service 450, whilst Barrow, Thornton Curtis, Wootton and Ulceby are also on the 450 route to Brigg, but from Ulceby and Wootton in particular the 450 via Barton is a rather long way round to get to Brigg. Croxton is left without a traditional bus service. (These notes ignore school & college day only services).  It is worth reminding that the Tuesday and Thursday 68 Wolds Villager extension to/from Ulceby, Wootton and Croxton was not replaced either when the 68 was withdrawn at the end of June.

Kirmington, Melton Ross, Barnetby and Wrawby have lost their Saturday Scunthorpe link as well, though do now have a regular Monday to Friday through service on the X4, and can connect on Saturdays from the C4 onto service 4 at Brigg to reach Scunthorpe (0820 C4 from Kirmington connects onto the 0900 service 4 Brigg to Scunthorpe arriving at 0954, return service 4 from Scunthorpe at 1300 to connect onto the 1405 C4 from Brigg to Kirmington). Barnetby also has a rail link to Scunthorpe, but the location of Scunthorpe Station isn't ideal for the main shopping area.

Redbourne and Hibaldstow are also now without a Saturday Scunthorpe link but retain through Monday to Friday services on the 94+X4. Scawby is now without a Saturday daytime Scunthorpe link as well, and it's Saturday daytime Brigg service is cut from four services into Brigg/three from Brigg across the 94/95/366 to just one each way on the C4. It does keep it's weekday services on the 4/94+X4, and also it's Saturday evening service on route 4 though ... which offers 23 minutes in Scunthorpe Bus Station before the last service home.

Ideally NLC would still be funding two Saturday buses. One could operate on service X4 between Kirmington and Scunthorpe, with the first and last journey at least starting in/extending to Goxhill, and the other could operate on service 94+X4 between Redbourne and Scunthorpe, perhaps with some Brigg to Scunthorpe 'shorts' in between Redbourne journeys. This would restore most of what was lost, and be more consistent with the weekday network. Something for the future maybe?

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