Sunday, 14 July 2019

A convoluted mess

The 254 Barton Town Bus Service has gone through a few timetable and route changes over the 20 or so years it has operated. Back in September 2002 for example (the earliest timetable I have for the service), the Caistor Road Estate, Bowmandale/Tofts Road, Westfield Road and Dam Road/Far Ings Road all had an hourly service Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings/lunchtime to Barton Market Place and Proudfoots Supermarket (now Tesco). Fast forward to January 2006 and the even interval hourly frequency has gone; I believe to incorporate a driver rest break. In July 2008 the service moved to operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I don't have a timetable for it, but I'm sure at one point a fifth part of Barton was briefly included - East Acridge.

The 254 was revised again on Wednesday 8th May, the first major change for over 10 years to be fair. Until recently Barton's Library has been located in Providence House on Holydyke in the town centre, opposite the Fire Station. North Lincolnshire Council have however moved it to the Baysgarth Leisure Centre, on the edge of the town, on the basis that it can have longer opening times and can be co-located with the swimming pool, leisure centre, and relocated services from the Tofts Road Day Centre (or Community Wellbeing Centre as I think it's been known as for the past few years). There are 'pros' and 'cons' to this move, but it means that it is no longer possible to visit the Library whilst in the town centre.  As a result the Barton Town Service has been revised to include the Leisure Centre.

The end result is sadly a very messy and convoluted timetable, with five different routes for seven journeys. The 254 still operates Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and lunchtimes (now finishes at 1313 rather than 1254). I'm not going to attempt to describe all the details of the changes, but some key points:
  • The Dam Road/Far Ings Road area is no longer served at all (the 260 does serve Victoria House located just off Dam Road on Thursdays)
  • The Westfield Road/West Acridge area goes from two to three journeys, but anyone wanting to travel from Tesco to this area needs to go via the Market Place, Tofts Road, Bowmandale, the Market Place again, the Caistor Road Estate, Baysgarth Leisure Centre and the Market Place for a 3rd time!
  • All journeys from the Tofts Road/Bowmandale area to Tesco involve going through Barton Market Place twice
  • Most journeys from Tesco to the Caistor Road Estate involve two trips via the Market Place and a trip around Tofts Road and Bowmandale
  • Journeys from Baysgarth Leisure Centre to Tofts Road and Meadow Drive involve going via the Market Place, possibly West Acridge, Tesco and the Market Place again
  • All journeys now serve Barton Interchange
I have some sympathy here in that the bus service is having to adapt to serving a new edge of town location within existing resource, whilst still serving the Town Centre and Tesco. However does it need to be quite this complicated? I can think of two alternative options to run the service:
  • Run it as one route: Tesco-West Acrridge-Tofts Road-Leisure Centre-Bowmandale-Market Place-Caistor Road Estate - simple, but doesn't serve the High Street and a long route from the Caistor Road Estate to/from Tesco
  • Run it as two routes: Tesco-High Street-Market Place-Bowmandale-Leisure Centre-Tofts Road, and Tesco-West Acridge-Leisure Centre-Market Place-Caistor Road Estate
The 254 Barton Town Service is operated by Hornsby Travel and funded jointly by Barton Town Council and North Lincolnshire Council.

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