When an operator provides a Saturday service between Christmas and New Year, usually any Monday to Friday only routes not aimed solely at commuters will operate as normal on the normal weekdays between Christmas and New Year, to avoid leaving routes unserved for over a week. Likewise any less than five day a week services will usually operate as normal on the non-Bank Holidays. For example East Yorkshire Monday to Friday service 88 operates as normal on Friday 27th/Monday 30th/Tuesday 31st, and Tuesday and Friday only service 197 operates as normal on the 27th/31st, despite East Yorkshire operating a Saturday service on the vast majority of it's network. Stagecoach are operating most if not all of their Lincoln depot Monday to Friday/'certain day of the week only services' on 27th/30th/31st despite otherwise providing a Saturday service (with some extra early morning journeys).
So what would you expect the service level to be between Christmas and New Year for the following two tendered services in North Lincolnshire, operated by Stagecoach who are providing a Saturday service on their commercial network?
- Service 10: Scunthorpe Town Service, operates Tuesday, Thursday and Friday only with two journeys into Scunthorpe/Ashby and one return.
- Service 260: Barton Villager, operated by Stagecoach Monday to Friday with seven circular services Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri and six on Thu. (A CallConnect 'timetabled' service provides a single Saturday return service).
For service 10 I would have expected a normal service on Friday 27th and Tuesday 31st. For the 260 I would have expected a normal service on the 27th/30th/31st, or at the very least CallConnect to operate a Saturday 'timetabled' service.
However what will be provided on both routes on the 27th/30th/31st is no service at all. With regards to service 10, this means no 'timetabled' bus service to Burringham for two weeks, none to Ashby Parkland for nine days, nor along Brumby Wood Lane in Scunthorpe.
Service 260 doesn't go a week without service, as the usual Saturday CallConnect 'timetabled' service operates on Saturday 28th. However as CallConnect has a weekday service on the 27th/30th/31st, there is no 'timetabled' 260 provided to replace the Stagecoach 260. Essentially the service is ''caught in between' the two differing service levels. The day of the week with the lowest service level (apart from Sunday with no service at all) becomes the only day with a service for a week.
It is worth noting that the demand responsive CallConnect service is available on the 27th/30th/31st in rural areas, that Barrow on the 260 route will have the 450 operating and that New Holland and Goxhill on the 260 route do also have the train. However this service provision remains bizarre and disappointing.
It gets even more bizarre though. Whilst Stagecoach are providing a Saturday service on their North Lincolnshire Council (NLC) tenders on the 27th/30th/31st, Hornsby Travel are providing a normal weekday service (with early finish on the 31st) on their tenders and commercial services. So the tendered Barton Town Service operates as normal on the 27th and 30th, and the X4 and 94 operate as normal on the 27th/30th/31st rather than the 'basic' Saturday only C4. There is no consistency between different NLC tenders. It appears to this observer as if tendered service levels are being aligned with the operator's commercial service level. If Hornsby operated the 10 and 260 would they have operated as normal between Christmas and New Year? If Stagecoach operated the Barton Town Service would it not operate at all between Monday 23rd and Friday 3rd?
Plus if Traveline East Midlands is correct, the Black and White Coaches operated morning peak 252 from Goxhill to Barton is operating on the 27th/30th/31st. So Goxhill and New Holland get a morning peak service to Barton, but no daytime service on service 260 and no return bus service from Barton on these days.
It's one thing Stagecoach operating a Saturday service on the 27th/30th/31st on service 60 for example, a Monday to Saturday NLC tender with slightly less journeys on a Saturday. However the communities on the 10 and 260 have been dealt a very short straw between Christmas and New Year, whether it be by NLC, Stagecoach or a combination of both.