Saturday, 14 November 2020

Humber Flyer Rerouted and 450 axed

Back in 2014, a revised timetable for Stagecoach's 250 Humber Flyer appeared on the Traveline East Midlands website, for a re-route of the service at the start of 2015. The Humber Flyer links Hull, Barton, Keelby, Grimsby and Cleethorpes with the plan back then being to re-route between Barton and Keelby away from Barnetby Top, Humberside Airport and Great Limber and instead serve Barrow, Thornton Curtis, Wootton and Ulceby. The change was intended to be temporary due to roadworks on the A18 rail bridge at Melton Ross, but never happened. Flash Forward to Tuesday 1st September 2020 and, aside from the first morning Grimsby to Hull journey, it did happen and not just as a temporary measure.

Saturday 29th August was the last day of operation for route 450 between Immingham, Barton and Brigg (having operated throughout the height of Spring COVID-19 restrictions as normal). The 450 was a North Lincolnshire Council tendered service operated by Stagecoach. It ran four times a day in each direction Monday to Saturday, though on schooldays the third journey from Brigg terminated in Barton and the fourth terminated in Goxhill, meaning the last bus from Barton to the villages of Thornton Curtis, Wootton, Ulceby and South Killingholme was at 1205 rather than 1605 as on Saturdays and in School Holidays. This was down to schools requirements, with the 450 itself providing a schools service to Brigg for out of catchment area students and also being interworked with a Baysgarth School (Barton) service (the 450 used two vehicles each day).

The only new mitigation provided to replace the 450 was the 250's re-routing as described in the first paragraph. This meant that the Barton to Ulceby section of route swapped a basic provision of two to four services a day Monday to Saturday for an hourly service that also serves Hull, Grimsby and Cleethorpes and the last departure from Barton on schooldays is now at 1943 rather than 1205. Quite an upgrade here! The 250 will probably benefit as well from more passengers, as Barrow, Thornton Curtis, Wootton and Ulceby will likely generate more custom than Barnetby Top, Humberside Airport and Great Limber.

As far as routing goes, in Barton, aside from some early morning exceptions, buses from Hull now serve the Market Place, Pasture Road and Butts Road before Barton Interchange, then retrace their route along Butts Road before operating along Falkland Way to Barrow. Last time I checked sadly no stops installed along Falkland Way. Some journeys divert into Wren Kitchens off Falkland Way.

In Barrow, rather than follow the 450 route via Ferry Road, Barton Lane, the Market Place, High Street, Church, Beck Lane and Wold Road, the 250 takes a more direct route via Ferry Road East, Barton Street, the Church, Market Place and Thornton Street. This means that at the Church and Market Place bus stops, the 250 departs towards Barton from the opposite side of the road to the 260 (not ideal), and the Ferry Road and Beck Lane bus stops are not served (still served by the 260). On the plus side the Barton Street bus stop gains it's first all day service in some years. The change is probably driven by a desire to maintain an hourly frequency with four buses whilst still serving the main Market Place and Church bus stops.

Wootton is 'skimmed' by the 250, stopping at the Nags Head public house at the east end of the village only. This compares to the 450 which provided comprehensive coverage of the village by serving the High Street. Again though journey times are probably the issue here; the 250 can do Thornton Curtis to Ulceby in 5 minutes whereas the 450 took 9 minutes.

In Ulceby the eastern end of the village is missed, the but main western part of the village is served and more comprehensive coverage of the village would require a reversal and consume extra time.

Looking at the 250's timetable, compared to pre-COVID-19, the Hull to Grimsby/Cleethorpes service is back to hourly Monday to Saturday daytimes. A planned two hourly Sunday service that was due to start in April (possibly Summer only?) never did. What has changed though is that there are no 'short' Hull to Barton/Humberside Airport journeys, apart from the 0723 Barton Market Place to Hull (that operates the 250's 'old' route/the 350's 'current' route around Barton). Pre-pandemic hourly shorts were provided between Hull and Humberside Airport, though these were due to be replaced in April with 255/255X 'shorts' between Hull and Barton only, that like the 250's Sunday service, never started. I will cover Hull to Barton, including the 255, in more detail in a separate post.

Returning to the 450's demise and for a lot of the remaining communities, North Lincolnshire Council's demand responsive service, which changed from CallConnect to JustGo in September, is now the only option. It's also the only option for anyone in Barton, Barrow, Thornton Curtis, Wootton or Ulceby who need/want to travel to Brigg or Immingham (school services excepted).

At the eastern end of the 450, South Killingholme two years ago had a 20 minute service to Immingham and Grimsby in addition to the 450. Now no 'scheduled' service at all apart from schools which is a very disappointing development. (To be fair, that 20 minute service was no doubt only so frequent due to the village's proximity to employment sites, rather than because the village itself justified it). Ulceby Skitter which the 450 served is home to Ulceby railway station, so here rail is now the only 'scheduled' public transport provision.

Turning to the Barton to Brigg section, the first village out of Barton was South Ferriby, which is served by the half hourly 350 between Hull, Barton and Scunthorpe. The main loss here is the Brigg link, and the service to the south of the village not served by the 350. Horkstow, Saxby, Bonby, Worlaby and Elsham now have no scheduled bus service apart from schools/college services. Finally Wrawby does have the X4 to Brigg and Scunthorpe as an alternative, but Monday to Friday only.

Barton to Brigg has been tried as a 6 day a week subsidised service for over 20 years at frequencies varying from uneven intervals to hourly, and with many journeys omitting Elsham to save time for a period. I myself used the service for 7 years for school/college travel and towards the end of that time had reason to use some of the non-schools journeys - they were never busy. Schools demand justified double deckers for the last 15 years, but North Lincolnshire Council are now diverting this traffic to Sherwood Travel schools services. Horkstow, Saxby, Bonby, Worlaby and Elsham are small villages. The only village that has much demand for Barton is South Ferriby, as noted also covered by the 350. In Wrawby the 450 hasn't been the 'main' service since the 68 Wolds Villager was introduced in the mid-noughties. Other than schools travel, people in Barton aren't likely to visit Brigg on a regular basis. People in Brigg aren't likely to visit Barton much at all. Barton to Brigg has been given a 'good go', particularly in the noughties. If it's not working as a 6 days a week service I can understand it - though I do think it's a shame at least a Thursday 'market day' bus to Brigg hasn't been retained.

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