Monday 28 December 2020

Barton Town Service Update

When the 254 Barton Town Service returned from it's COVID-19 suspension in August, it did so with a new - and much better - timetable. The 254 is operated by Hornsby Travel under contract to North Lincolnshire Council and with some funding contributed by Barton Town Council. It operates every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

In May 2019 the service was significantly altered following the move of Barton Library from the town centre to Baysgarth Leisure Centre, with the resulting service being what I called a convoluted mess. It was slightly improved in December 2019 and also revised to include Lidl.

Now the 254 is operating an almost consistent circuit of Barton on every journey. Every service leaves Tesco and operates direct to the Market Place and Barrow Road before serving the Caistor Road Estate via Meadow Drive, Caistor Road, Eastfield Road (turn round at the end) and Caistor Road. The service then routes via Preston Lane and Brigg Road to the Leisure Centre, before double backing down Brigg Road to Holydyke and then turns onto Bowmandale. From Bowmandale the route goes via Millfields and Forkedale to Lidl, then via Warrendale, Tofts Road, Ferriby Road, Holydyke, Market Place, Whitecross Street and Burgate to the High Street. All but two journeys then go to Tesco, but the other two serve Westfield Road and West Accridge en-route. Departures from Tesco are at 0915, 1015, 1115, 1230, 1315 and 1400 (to Baysgarth Leisure Centre only).

Is the new timetable and route perfect? No. The Caistor Road Estate to Tesco for example involves going via Baysgarth Leisure Centre, Lidl and the Town Centre. Westfield Road to the Market Place involves a 24 minute wait at Tesco. Tesco to Westfield Road requires a half hour tour of Barton en-route. The simplification has also slightly reduced the number of services in parts of the town, for example Westfield Road has two rather than three services per day.

However at least it's more simple. For example the December 2019 timetable had six services via Forkedale; the 0936 went via the Market Place and Westfield Road to Tesco, the 1017 via the Market Place to Tesco, the 1117 and 1317 via the Market Place, Caistor Road Estate, Leisure Centre, Market Place again and Westfield Road to Tesco, the 1232 via the Market Place, Caistor Road Estate, Leisure Centre and Market Place again to Tesco, but not Westfield Road, and the 1412 was a part route journey that went to the Market Place and Caistor Road Estate before terminating at the Leisure Centre. Now from Forkedale it's 0936, 1036, 1136, 1251 and 1336 to Tesco, the 0936 and 1136 via the Market Place and Westfield Road and the others via the Market Place but not Westfield Road. 

The timetable is trade off between offering a clockface service - provided in the morning - and making efficient use of the vehicle and driver - as done at lunchtime following the drivers break between 1151 and 1230. A roundtrip from Tesco has a journey time of 32 minutes excluding Westfield Road or 36 minutes including Westfield Road - too long for a half hourly service with one vehicle, not ideal for an hourly service (the morning timetable includes a 24 and a 28 minute layover at Tesco).

There are a couple of changes I think it would be worthwhile to make to this new route and timetable. Firstly between Caistor Road and the Leisure Centre, to serve the Market Place rather than Preston Lane; this would probably add a couple of minutes to the timetable, but would offer a direct service from the Caistor Road Estate to the Market Place, and from the Market Place to Bowmandale, Millfields, Forkedale, Warrendale and Tofts Road. If time needed to be made up, then the Leisure Centre could be served by double backing from the Bowmandale/Millfields roundabout, rather than double backing along Brigg Road which I doubt generates much custom. Secondly I would include Westfield Road on all journeys since it wouldn't prevent the 45 minute interval lunchtime frequency.

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